Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship Fall 1997

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Book Reviews

John Bergman Napp
Jones & Henry Engineers, Ltd.

Environmental Guide to the Internet, 3rd edition. Carol Briggs-Erickson and Toni Murphy. Rockville, MD: Government Institutes, 1997. 384p. paperback $59 (ISBN 0-86587-578-2)
The scope of this book is broader than the title might first suggest. Rather than deal only with environmental issues, such as pollution, endangered species, and the protection of natural resources, the authors have also included topics such as vegetarianism and sustainable agriculture. Intended as a handbook for researchers and students as well as general users, rather than as a bibliography, not all relevant sources are included.

The book is divided into five chapters. Chapter 1 provides historical information about the Internet from its origins as ARPANET to the development of the World Wide Web.

The second chapter is a list of discussion groups and mailing lists. The group's name, e-mail address, subscription information, a description of the purpose of the group and its users, level of activity, and a contact person with e-mail address are provided for each group. While the activity levels and user information may be subjective, the annotations supply useful information to potential subscribers.

Chapter 3 deals with newsgroups. The group's name along with a summary of its purpose are provided. The summaries range from 3-6 lines of text.

A list of journals and newsletters is given in Chapter 4. The URL and a summary of its scope and purpose are given for all of the titles. Most of the listings also include a contact person or organization. The summaries in this chapter are slightly longer than in the previous chapter.

The last chapter provides URL, a summary and contact person or organization for World Wide Web sites. This is by for the longest chapter, reflecting the general nature of the Internet today. Each chapter is arranged alphabetically. An index at the back will aid in finding information on specific topics. The index distinguishes between journals, Web sites, lists, and discussion groups. A separate index at the end of each chapter might be more useful. The annotations provided for each listing are sufficiently informative to make locating relevant information easy.

I question the inclusion of topics totally out of the scope of environmental issues such as vegetarianism. Those seeking information of the Clean Water Act might look in this guide, but I doubt that anyone seeking information on vegetarianism would given its title. Since Internet sites come and go without warning I decided to see how current this guide is. Chapter 5 contains a citation for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). Early this year the MDNR split its functions. Recreation and hunting are still under the MDNR, while ecology and conservation functions are under a unit called the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. No mention is made of this new entity. Such occurrences point out the need for caution when using print Internet guides.

Carol Briggs-Erickson is an electronic services/reference librarian at Muskegon College in Muskegon, Michigan. Toni Murphy is an associate librarian at the Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical Research Division of Warner-Lambert in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They co-authored A Guide to Environmental Resources of the Internet, Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Resource Guides {http://edss.vitro.com/environmental_sites.html}.


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