Sources Select Resources
 
   

Introduction to Summer 1993

By Dean Tudor

Something momentous happened on May 25, 1993: the American House of Representatives passed Senate BUI 564, The Government Printing Office Electronic lnformation Access Enhancement Act of 1993 (H. Rept, 103-108). This act will provide direct electronic access to public information through an online system, free of charge through the Depository Libraries setup, and at the incremental cost of dissemination to others. On the system will be the Congressional Record, the Federal Register, agency publications, electronic directories of names, addresses and phone numbers, and other resources. This means that now every American will have free and total access to all publicly-available federal materials through the library system. This electronic data can be brokered through various bulletin boards and FreeNets. Can the American state governments be far behind? Can the Canadian federal government be far behind?

All of this is by way of introducing this new section of Sources. The number, the kinds and the scope of resources available to editors, reporters and researchers is growing rapidly. Through SOURCES SELECT RESOURCES, sources expands ever further your access to these resources. Complementing our now regular book reviews will be reviews of current reference works, CD-ROMS, online services-any materials cataloguing human contacts.

Here's the nitty gritty of our reviews: the role of the reviewer is to provide context and information, as well as opinion, to the users of sources. We'll overview the contents and structure of important resource tools, providing brief, rounded descriptions of their nature and purpose. We'll examine the user-friendliness, quality and authority of the information. And we'll tell you how to get your hands on and head into this host of fresh sources, providing all relevant ordering and/or online access information (publisher, number of pages or size of the database, price, date and frequency of publication, phone, facsimile and online numbers, now called VOX, FAX and DAX, respectively...,)

In this inaugural issue, Kate Kaufman's review of Carl Jensen's latest book, CENSORED: The News that didn 't Make the News, examines the ever-salient censorship issue from some fresh angles. Stacey Cohen reviews two significantly-updated print databases, the Third World Almanac and the Canadian Global Almanac, both full of useful facts, names and numbers. And we delve into the wide world of electronic information through coverage by Barrie Zwicker and Kate Kaufman of the Institute for Scientific Information's remarkable range of electronic information products, and my review of Sam Stcrnberg's Data Access diskette.

This issue's "University Resources" section gives you a rundown of university print and online databases providing access by subject to key academic experts, The plan is to furnish you with access to key primary sources in different fields with each new edition, and to publish a cumulative index of. these resources.

In coming issues of sources SELECT RESOURCES we'll look at various BBS's (electronic bulletin boards) and Nets. These resources have an incredible number of contacts. Many announcements now are carried first through fibre-optic and satellite networks. The people that write these announcements are great sources, and they're clearly identified with E-mail addresses. In most cases you can reach them by E-mail in a matter of minutes. The system is, by and large, free or of nominal cost to media organizations.

Here's one that just opened up: Guild-Net, for members of the Canadian Wire Service Guild and other journalists who can be "associates". It's run by system operator (SysOp) Colin Perkel. The BBS number is (416) 694-4411. You'll need a computer and a modem: set the modem for N-8-1, ANSI and zmodem, GuildNet can handle 1200, 2400 and 9600 baud. Currently it' s based in Toronto, but upon joining the Nets it can be accessible from anywhere in the world. If you have any questions, call Colin at his VOX number,  (416) 691-8711.

Which brings me back to the American Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act I opened with. I found this particular information by accessing my BBS and joining the FidoNet conference, "Information Power", which is hooked to the InterNet Within one day, I had all the details through the ALAWON newsletter of the American Library Association-available only by accessing the InterNet node (it doesn't exist in print format). I paid nothing to get this data. I'm convinced that if you don't get onto the various Nets and BBS's, you're being left behind.

Welcome to the 21st century, Enjoy!

 

Published in Sources, Summer 1993



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