Lately, it seems as if libraries have come back...There was a cartoon
this summer, showing the typical librarian, an old-lady-with-her-hair-in-a-bun,
sitting at a reference desk, a sign ("Librarian") in the
wastebasket, and a new sign in front of her, "Search Engine"...
The new mood reflects the changing patterns of searching for data
on the Internet, the complexity of multi-layered Boolean searches,
the concept of "the invisible Web", and the need for old-fashioned
"pathfinders" , a library term indicating a monster cheat
sheet showing where all the bodies are buried, a separate one for
every single subject area. Ah, yes, "subject areas" are
That's what Yahoo, Mining Company, and Open Directory have been
telling everyone for years. But subject areas still need co-ordination
from libraries. After all, SOMEBODY has to write them up, as a guide
to budding writers or old hand journalists who want to know the
basics and a kickstart to searching for newer stuff.
So what's new with libraries and the Internet? The Ottawa Citizen
had a story about the Collaborative Digital Reference Service (CDRS).
Librarians are going online to pool their collective knowledge and
answer hard-to-crack questions posed by end users. CDRS aims to
connect libraries and universities around the world, allowing librarians
to route tough questions to academics and to other librarians with
expertise in a particular field. There are different scales of service
for laymen and experts, with an online query service remaining free
The Canadian government is a member. The Library of Congress sponsors
it, and of course it is available 24/7, shifting through different
time zones if reporters need an immediate response. Users simply
pose queries and "somebody" passes it along. They can
expect back brief respopnses that include primary source excerpts
and short bibliographies for further reference. Full details are
at <lcweb.loc.gov/rr/digiref/>. This is all terrific because
librarians have access to huge collections of credible information,
many of which are at a distance or global. Unfortunately, though,
many people have difficulty articulating their needs. So as journalists,
we all should clarify our queries.
At the same time, locally, online research could start at the Web
site of a nearby library. Many times, library sites -- especially
local libraries for local history and local events -- will conduct
several searches at once and help guide reporters and journalists
to pinpoint relevant material on the Web. Librarians have the knowledge
to access newspaper archives and databases, as well as paying (licensing)
for the right to do so, on your behalf. These resources often go
further back than most other Web archives.
Library sites may also host a real-time live chat with a librarian
or allow for quick E-mail correspondence. Also useful are online
newspaper indexes such as <onlinenewspapers.com> and <newsdirectory.com>,
or magazine indexes such as <www.magportal.com> and <www.findarticles.com>.
And if you have money to burn, there is also Nexis, which can be
accessed through your media library. If you don't have a media library
or morgue (or if you're a freelancer), try the nearest academic
library for free service. You'll have to make a personal visit,
since this licensed service is not available for free over the Internet.
Librarians have access to the "invisible Web", that is,
the UNINDEXED or INACCESSIBLE Web sites. These are mainly databases.
You can find out more at Direct Search <gwis1.circ.gwu.edu/~gprice/direct.htm>
and IncyWincy The Invisible Web Search Engine <www.incywincy.com>...It
really is getting tougher for the uninitiated to do comprehensive
searches on the Internet.
Every reporter and journalist needs to know how to build quick
and dirty expert subject pages, for their own use either as bookmarks
or as a self- promoting Web page. A good set of basic links, for
what we used to call "pathfinders".
The first trick is knowing what kinds of resources to look for.
This will vary with the topic, but should include the basic resources:
glossaries, dictionaries, directories, FAQ files, statistical sources,
biographical sources, chronologies, calendars of events, even maps
and graphics. You'll definitely need some links to experts and expert
Web directories, and to any specialized search engines for that
field. You'll also need some relevant professional and research
organizations, which often provide basic guides to important Web
Background, archives, histories: you'll need these, as well as
professional and legal magtters such as ethics, certification/licensing,
career progressions, multiple viewpoints, government documents and
regulations, court decisions. Topical and policy issues also need
to be covered, but that will depend on what kind of story you are
You could begin building your book mark at the Scout Report Archive
<scout.cs.wisc.edu/archives/>, which has over 11,000 REVIEWED
sites of substantial quality. Also <about.com> and <mingingco.com>
have guides, and they might even have most of what you need, but
probably not for Canadian material. That you'll have to do on your
own, searching through the National Library and larger Canadian
academic Web sites. Search in Google with the parameter "Canada".
Other places include the Librarians' Index to the Internet <lii.org>
and the Internet Public Library <ipl.org>. To find all kinds
of FAQs, just use a search engine like Google, inputting the words
"[topic]" +FAQ. Use of FAQs will allow you to find both
answers to common questions and the experts and organizations who
are constructing them.
A good "pathfinder" will have links to enough Web resources
to cover all the basic sources of information listed in the paragraphs
above. Here's one I use all the time (my specialty is "wine
writing"), and there is no reason why you shouldn't be able
to construct a similar one for your own subject/expert field, plus
any others for new topics you are moving into...
Want to find out how much that Chateau Haut-Batailley 1989, the
one in your cellar, is now worth? Or, what wine goes with Cantevaar
cheese? Perhaps you need some lodgings in Menton, France. Your brother-in-law
in Australia needs a birthday gift, maybe some wine accessory or
even some wine. And you may be fed up with paying hundreds of dollars
for foreign wine magazines full of adverts and stale news. Any one
of these questions or needs can be answered or met through searching
for wine topics on the Internet.
The 'Net offers many things about wine, such as breaking news,
many (some may say "too many") diverse opinions about
a wine's taste, references you cannot get from other sources, such
as breaking news, reference books online, business details for the
corporately curious (R.Mondavi? Read all about the company's business
endeavours), auctions, accessories, travel, data from obscure vineyards
around the world, more food and wine pairings than you could ever
consume in a score of lifetimes, current prices, global outlooks...
Some sites are interactive, with chat rooms, or they sponsor E-mail
listgroups. Both serve as a forum for discussion about wines (tasting
notes), sales, news of stores, food pairings. Other sites are "personal
So there are thousands of Web sites on the Internet which deal
with wine. Which ones are the best, the ones which won't waste your
time, which will maximize your searching endeavours? In listing
top sites to visit, in a pathfinder mode, I have listed gateway/portal
all-in-ones, fast loading, few ads (or they are non-commercial),
quick linkage to other sites, depth of material, frequent updating
or changes, reasonably accurate, user-friendly. And I have just
listed sites about wine, except for the first source where you can
also access similar information in the same pattern about beer,
cider and spirits (cognac, bourbon, tequila, cocktail recipes).
These are the fastest, most comprehensive sites that will give you
the most bang for your "free" wine buck; all of them will
respond to you if you E-mail queries for journalism articles, either
about the site itself or about wines.
No. 1: www.ryerson.ca/~dtudor/wine.htm
One of the Web's oldest sites, running continuously online since
1994. It is also one of the few NON-COMMERCIAL and text sites, and
is a prizewinning major portal/gateway to thousands of sites dealing
with Wines, Beers and Spirits on the Internet. This makes it a universal
index to anything vinous on the 'Net. Arrangement is by category,
with sections on discussion groups, Usenet groups, reference materials,
clubs and personal home pages, wine regions and wineries of the
world, homewinemaking, beermaking, accessories (software, corkscrews,
shelving). Use it find links to trade associations, breaking news,
hundreds of thousands of tasting notes, wine magazines, auctions.
Anything. Make it your bookmark; you can easily download the source
No. 2: www.wineupdate.com
Here's a fast look at wine news, reviews of wines, what's happening
where, pointing out different "sites of the day" on the
Web, and a searchable archive going back past a month. All sections
have URLs marked for quick linkage to the sources. There are selected
stories from Decanter, Wine Spectator, WineX, E-mail newsletters,
Frank Prial's weekly New York Times article, material from personal
home pages, restaurant wine lists. For Beaujolais Nouveau 2001 it
had overthetop coverage. Definitely worth a daily visit.
No. 3: winebusiness.com
One of the better B2B sites, meant for the industry. Important news
includes the latest on glassy-winged sharpshooters, viticultural
fairs, statistics on consumer drinking trends, mergers and acquisitions,
imports and exports (all US of course), wine region weather reports,
government action and inaction from around the world. Conferences
such as Vinitech 2001. And a GLOBAL wine industry yellow pages directory
section. Just the stuff for wine junkies who wish to be informed.
(If you cannot say anything about the wine in the bottle, then talk
about the bottle!)...
No. 4: www.vintners.com
Global directory to wine, beer and spirits beverages, news, business
profiles, contact data for brewers, winemakers, and distillers.
Easy links to media on the Web, competitions, trade shows, and associations
-- all setup by country.
No. 5: www.wineryexchange.com
Winery Exchange is a B2B site, with excellent breaking news and
financial data about wines in an international context. It serves
mainly as a wine broker for California. It has good articles on
mergers and acquisitions, internet integration, glassy-winged sharpshooter,
and US legislation. Also has excerpts from the Gomberg Report on
trends. It always has about 12 international news articles every
No. 6: www.stratsplace.com
One of the oldest of the personal home pages, devoted to wines.
Here you will find a wine glossary, quotations about wine, thousands
of wine labels, pronunciation guide to wine regions and their wines,
personal pictures of wine cellars from around the world, thousands
of tasting notes, 100,000 wine auction prices, about 10,000 wineries
listed, over 3,000 wine stores, wine study courses around the world,
reviews of wine storage units, daily breaking news from the wine
world, practical matters (how to hold a wine tasting, removing labels,
selecting/cleaning stemware, decanting/racking, building cellars,
removing wine stains), books on wines, maps, wine articles by columnists,
vintage tables, and more. Over 200 MEG, searchable.
No. 7: www.winefiles.org
Subtitled "the database for wine professionals and wine lovers"
and produced by the Sonoma County Wine Library, offering access
to its collection of articles on wine, winemaking, grapegrowing,
wine business, and the history of wine. With a strong emphasis on
California winemaking (over 30,000 references), the files are searchable
by keyword or by an advanced search form. International in scope:
for example, there were hundreds of references to wines from South
Africa. Many of the items link to articles or off-sites. Others
are available by Interlibrary Loan in hard copy (these usually have
abstracts which you can read). Articles have been sourced from trade
journals, consumer wine periodicals, newspapers, government documents,
press releases, and go back to 1849 in some cases. More information
on accessing information is available at the site. A tremendous
asset for background/reference material.
No. 8: wine.miningco.com
The Mining Company has a nifty guide, also covering fruit wines,
newsletters, classes, stemware, gifts of wine, jobs in wine, organic
wines, recipes using wine, reference sources, software, tours of
wineries, even a winery Webcam! There are also forums and chat rooms,
along with topical holiday articles: Beaujolais Nouveau, turkey
wines, best sangria recipes, champagne punches, how to store that
half-bottle of wine.
No. 9: bestwinesites.com
A comprehensive wine resource for novices and connoisseurs alike.
The owners select what they consider to be the "best wine sites":
wineries, winemaking (amateur and professional) with equipment and
supplies, directories and associations for newsletters and chat
rooms, wine stores, wine publications, wine acccessories, wine tours.
Of course they want your money with "suggested shopping".
No. 10: www.tastings.com
Subtitled "buying guide to wines, beers and spirits",
here is comprehensive information and tasting notes by the Beverage
Testing Institute in the USA. Over 30,000 wine notes are searchable
by score, price range, varietal and producer. The best producers
(as determined by tastings) are also listed by varietal. Directory
of wineries and wine stores (especially the major ones in Napa,
Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Buffalo), wine tutorial, and a
dictionary complete the package.
No. 11: wine-searcher.com
Billed as "a gateway to specialist wines", they have about
600 wine merchants (from most countries, but mainly US, UK and France)
listed with about a quarter of a million offers. Search by name
(e.g., Opus One for 1990), by date (e.g., all wines from 1960),
or a range (e.g., a vertical of Mouton Rothschild). You can even
type in your own wines to find out what your cellar is worth. The
site is a medium between buyer and seller.
No. 12: bluewine.com
Another huge searchable site: material on wines, beers and spirits,
ciders, from the whole world, with stuff about hardware and supplies
(tanks, barrels, cork services, software, media and shows, publications,
events, clubs and associations, travel. 44 sites were listed for
Canada, including the Opimian Society. Well worth a visit, especially
if the other big sites are jammed.
No. 13: www.tradeworlds.com
A more commercial site. Click on wine (or, beer if you want that
beverage) and drill through such categories as shops, wholesalers,
seminars, grapes, training, accessories, fairs and expositions,
publications, organizations - - even headhunters for jobs in the
wine or beer business! Lots of top news stories posted daily.
Some others, mostly with adverts, but selective in coverage, include
o hol/Wine/>. For wine events, just add: Events/ to the URL;
for wine magazines, add: Magazines/ to the URL; for wine clubs,
add Wine_Clubs/ to the URL. The listing is ad hoc, whatever Yahoo
wants to put in...
Open Directory <dmoz.org/Recreation/Food/Drink/Wine/> is
a bit more organized, with specific access to Google, HotBot, AltaVista,
InfoSeek, and Deja for you to input your topic to these search engines.
Covered are accessories, auctions, festivals and events, guides
and directories, health benefits, kosher wine, magazines, tastings,
viticultural science, winemaking, and the business side of it all
For more information about products sold in each province, try
the local monopolies' URLs, such as:
Dean Tudor (email@example.com) is Professor Emeritus in
the School of Journalism, Ryerson University, Toronto. He writes
about (and drinks) wine....
Sources, 489 College
Street, Suite 201, Toronto, ON M6G 1L9.
Phone: (416) 964-7799 FAX: (416) 964-8763
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