My second book from Library Thing's Early Reviewers program is The Cybrarian's Web 2 ~ An A-Z Guide to Free Social Media Tools, Apps and Other Resources by Cheryl Ann Peltier-Davis. This is the second book on this topic by the author, who is also the Digital Initiatives, Cataloguing and Metadata Services Librarian at the Alma Jordan Library at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, so this is obviously information she works with every day.
In the introduction she shares her goals in compiling this book, and I'll quote here:
". . . to offer an 'environmental scan' of available eresources and to methodically identify, select, and evaluate tools that information professionals can introduce and integrate into their workspaces, communities, and even their personal lives."
As the host of a blog devoted to finding free resources for writers I know how much time it takes to track down, investigate and even test drive free software, services and online tools; I've been doing it for ten years. It's definitely a lot of work. The payoff is sharing the information with other users who need these resources but can't afford to pay for them -- and this includes but is not limited to not-yet-published writers, students, the unemployed or underemployed, folks on fixed incomes etc. Since these folks are usually also regular patrons of public libraries, the information in Ms. Peltier-Davis's book can enable librarians and media specialists to do the same with this reference.
The book contains over sixty unique resources arranged alphabetically and also by website, type of service, and those available for mobile devices in the back of the book appendixes. The author covers each resource with website URLs, a detailed overview of the free services and each service's particular features. She then discusses in depth how information professionals can effectively use the resource in one or more ways. There are also scattered through the book little FYI boxes with more information, background notes and important tips.
How valuable are these resources? I'll give you not one but two examples: After the problems I've had with Google Docs I've been looking for a low-cost, no-hassle service to host my free e-book library and my weekly Just Write stories. In fact, I've been looking since December with no luck. Then I read this book and found a free hosting service to do that on page 111. I'd never heard of this service before, either, but when I went to check it out it appeared to be exactly what I need. Then my daughter came to me to ask if I knew of a web site for free online courses for a friend of hers who needs to brush up on her maths, and that was on page 33 of the book.
I rarely use the words must-have in relation to any book, but The Cybrarian's Web 2 is a reference that should be owned by every library and school out there, not only to help the professionals provide better services but to make available the kind of free eresources that are needed by so many of their patrons and students.
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