Yahoo, LII, etc.

Karen G. Schneider kgs at
Wed Nov 19 10:20:51 EST 1997

What intrigues me about Yahoo is that they do it at all.  We keep saying in
our profession that we can't possibly have one catalog for the Internet...
we can't possibly organize the Internet... yada yada yada... but  how do we
know that?  I can think of a number of cmpanies, Yahoo among them, that
believe they can classify the Internet, at least into a rough-sort.  Their
work is crude and does not meet the level of classification that
librarianship has accomplished with paper media--your average K-level
record has more access points than any of these tools offer--but if they
can do so much with so little, why CAN'T we organize the 'net?   Why
haven't we started with the proposition that this was doable?  Why is it
that we accept a mammoth union database like OCLC but can't project this to
the online environment?  Why haven't we done our OWN Yahoo, sans the
McInternet stuff?

I'm going to play make-believe with Librarian's Index to the Internet.  LII
is a nice tool--but it is small; this is not a criticism, but an
observation.  So let's grow this mustard seed.  Apply for grants, take a
pile of money and start hiring.  If there were one person assigned to each
subject area, it would be much larger.  If each citation had more metadata,
maybe a la the PICS label but used MARCishly for descriptive purposes, it
would take more time to maintain it, so let's double the number of
librarians working on LII.  But then let's add some brainiacs to the mix
who figure out how to extract a lot of the information--we'll call it fixed
data--that we now laboriously assign by hand when we catalog books.  So now
it's a little faster to do.  Now let's tack on a big government grant (kind
of like going public).  More staff, better indexing, more money for the
brainiacs to develop better tools for automating organization and
retrieval.  Now let's merge the RCLS kid's database with LII for a
children's room (similar to Yahooligans).  Another ggrant rolls in, and we
buy up a few more small collections and give 'em the big standardized
reorg.  The records also go into Intercat, of course.

As for the kids, Yahooligans was created to make money for Yahoo; Surfwatch
features a setting which can restrict Surfwatch to the Yahooligans
database, and lame it is, but the concept is interesting, if we are talking
about customizing a database so different users have different resources
presented differently.

So now we have the LII--perhaps renamed a little more slickly, like
Find-All--beefed up into a non-commercial database, cooperatively
maintained by funding, congruent with existing standards, searchable on its
own or through any library catalog--many views, same data.  High public
trust, high quality, all the good stuff we stand for... 

dreaming away in the Northeast... there are over 150,000 librarians in the
U.S.; we can't do this?
Karen G. Schneider |  kgs at
Director, US EPA Region 2 Library  |  Contractor, GCI
Councilor-at-Large, American Library Association
The Internet Filter Assessment Project:
Author, Forthcoming: A Practical Guide to Internet Filters
(Neal Schuman, 1997 ISBN 1-55570-322-4)
Information is hard work  -------------------------------------------

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