The Web (also sometimes called the Internet or the World Wide Web) allows access to a remarkable amount of information on virtually any topic imaginable. It is useful to think of the Web as having two faces, what might be called the Public Web and the Library Web. For your research, you will generally save time and find more quality information if you begin with the Library Web and then move to the Public Web if you need more information or other points of view.
The Library Web
The Library uses the Web to make available to BCC faculty, staff and students a wealth of full-text journal articles, periodical indexes in every discipline, and numerous databases of images, statistics, maps, and other information.
Library Web resources are free for your use, because the Farley Learning Resources Center spends thousands of dollars to obtain access for the campus community.
Library Web resources are carefully reviewed and selected by librarians based on their reliability, relevance to BCC studies, and value to academic research.
Library Web resources are organized by the library in a variety of ways that allow you to quickly determine which databases and journals may be valuable to your research.
Library Web resources are meant to be kept permanently. A primary function of a library is to be an organized storehouse of information published throughout time. As well as finding very current information, one can find on the Library Web information, including back issues of journals, going back many years.
Library Web resources come with personal assistance. Librarians are available to help you with any information need you may have.
The Public Web
Public Web resources have many useful types of information...
Public Web resources generally do not go through a review process. Anyone can publish on the Web without passing the content through an editor. Pages might be written by an expert on the topic, a journalist, a disgruntled consumer or even a child.
Public Web resources are not organized. Some directory services, like Yahoo, provide links to sites in subject lists. But there are too many Web pages for any single directory service to comprehensively organize and index.
Public Web resources are seldom comprehensive. Rarely will you be able to use a search engine on the Web to collect information about your topic from earlier decades and different types of sources.
Public Web resources are not permanent. Some well-maintained sites are updated with very current information, but other sites may become quickly dated or disappear altogether without much if any notice.
Which Web to Use?
Think of it this way, access to the public Web is like free broadcast T.V. Anyone can get to those channels. But the Library Web space is like premium cable. The Library buys premium Web databases for our students to use, like one pays for premium channels on cable TV.
GO with the strengths of the public Web
- to obtain information on colleges, museums, non-profit organizations, or companies
- for very current information such as news, sports scores, weather, stock quotes
- to research a well-known event or individual
- to use online job postings, shopping, auctions, or travel services
- for opinions on a topic
STOP and think! There are better places to look than the public Web
- to find articles in scholarly journals
- to find articles published in popular magazines
- to search databases that index articles in many academic disciplines
- to find books on your topic
- to locate the full text of articles or books that are copyrighted
"But my professor said we can't use the Internet!"
If your professor has said that you can't use Web resources for your paper, you may wish to ask for clarification. Very possibly your professor will accept information on the "Library Web," much of which consists of online versions of materials the library once collected (or even continues to collect) in print form such as journals and reference works.