Finders keepers

Abstract: Banks lists examples of online databases that are hidden from search engines, but contain useful and often free content (e.g. stock photos, historical data).


Banks highlights the value of the invisible web for reference. It is an argument somewhat similar to that made in favor of for-fee databases: these sources are often more edited and, thus, more reliable. And, yes, librarians certainly should add major “standards” of online reference (like the Librarians’ Internet Index) to their reference toolbox and their memory.

However, librarians should also be working with vendors and users in this filtering endeavor. We should share these toolboxes with end-users (perhaps through Web 2.0 social bookmarking sites). We should also work with vendors to make the invisible web more visible through shared standards: to our mutual benefit.  Even as we would benefit from a  more user-friendly and fully-indexed Web, vendors would have more people likely to pay for their content if a relevant snippet were pulled up on, say, Google Scholar.

Banks, Michael A. (2003). Finders keepers. Writer, 116(8), 17. Retrieved September 2, 2008, from from Academic Search Complete database.