Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Desktop Delivery: A Science and Technology Virtual Reference Library

Vol. 1, No. 4                                   
September/October 1996

Desktop Delivery: A Science and Technology Virtual Reference Library
by Gerry McKiernan

Beginning in the summer of 1994, a series of queries requesting
information on then current efforts to organize Internet resources were
posted to variety of appropriate newsgroups and listservs
(bit.asis.listserv, PACS-L, LIBREF-L, AUTOCAT, STS-L, LITA-L, INDEX-L, and
so on).   We learned of a number of noteworthy efforts that sought to
provide some added value to accessing World Wide Web resources.  However,
few provided the type of structure, organization, or description that
could effectively enhance access and use of the rapidly increasing number
of scholarly resources that were being made available on the Internet.  A
year later, in the fall of 1995, our prototype virtual library called
CyberStacks(sm) was formally established on the homepage server at Iowa
State University:


As a digital library, CyberStacks(sm) seeks to enhance access to Web
resources by providing users with an organizational framework in which
they can navigate a selective collection of links to significant Web

Enhanced access to the collection is provided by use of the Library of
Congress Classification system, a classification scheme used by a majority
of research libraries throughout the United States and throughout the
world. Using an abridged Library of Congress call number, Cyberstacks(sm)
allows users to browse through virtual library stacks to identify
potentially relevant information resources. Resources are categorized
first within a broad classification, then within narrower subclasses, and
are finally listed under a specific classification range and associated
subject description that best characterize the content and coverage of the
resource. The majority of resources incorporated within the collection are
monographic or serial works, files, databases or search services. All of
the selected resources in CyberStacks(sm) are full-text, hypertext, or
hypermedia, and of a research or scholarly nature.

While the Library of Congress classification system permits the
incorporation of all fields of knowledge within its scope, the current
implementation of CyberStacks(sm) is restricted to those classes within
Science (Q), Technology (T), Medicine (R), Agriculture (S) and related
areas and limited to Web resources with reference value. These include
such standard types of reference works as dictionaries, encyclopedias,
directories, handbooks and manuals, as well as abstracting and indexing
services, bibliographies, and biographical sources. 

In selecting World Wide Web (WWW) and other Internet resources for
CyberStacks(sm), we have adopted the same philosophy and general criteria
used in the selection of non-Internet reference resources. Among the major
features considered in the selection of items for the CyberStacks(sm)
collection are authority of the source, accuracy of information, clarity
of presentation, uniqueness within the context of the total collection,
timeliness, existence of favorable reviews, and applicability to community

From the inception of CyberStacks (sm), we believed that users should be
offered a direct opportunity to develop the collection.  A variety of
features have been integrated to facilitate their involvement. During the
month of September 1996, we are inviting users to participate in
prioritizing the selection of resources for full incorporation within
CyberStacks(sm) by simulating the selection of topics and sub-topics in a
special hypertext outline of the Agriculture (S) section of the Library of
Congress classification scheme. The URL for this experiment is:


[Gerry McKiernan is the curator of CyberStacks(sm) and a faculty member at
Iowa State University in Ames, IA.  He can be reached by e-mail at