BOOK AND SOFTWARE REVIEWS
Peltier-Davis. Cheryl Ann. The cybrarian's web: an A-Z guide to 101 free Web 2.0 tools and other resources. London: Facet Publishing, 2012. xxvi, 486 p. ISBN 978-1-85604-829-3. £44.95
Do you like to play with new Internet tools and applications? I do and I think that this is a very useful guide to many of them that I had never even heard of. I realize, of course, that the guide is not really written to satisfy a passion of some enthusiast or help in hobby-related activity. It is a work by a very experienced and diligent librarian and bibliographer as it follows all rules required for this type of guide to information resources and tools.
There is a preface explaining the goal of the book and the targeted audience, i.e. the book should serve as 'a research tool and provide practical lessons for librarians and other infomration professionals in all kinds or libraries' who would like to use the potential of Web 2.0 technologies in their libraries (p. xvii). The preface also provides comprehensive explanation of the structure of the record for the described tools and resources that are presented in alphabetical order of their names. So, basically finding any known tool should not be a problem. But if you do not know the name, there is a category of application (also could be named a function) assigned to each tool that is clearly visible on the contents page. The preface also explains the criteria of choice of the tools and resources: usefulness to information professionals, being established and known, longevity, good reviews and evidence of technical support. These seem to be quite reasonable selection criteria. The resulting range is wide, covering services and systems such as blog publishing, wikis, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, instant messaging, tagging and tag clouds, social bookmarking and social networking sites
The Introduction deals with the question: 'What are the benefits that libraries can derive from using Web 2.0 applications in a broader sense?' The author convincingly shows that they can not only provide customized service to the customers, but also help to create new services in difficult economic climate, build alliances and improve communication, and achieve other important aims.
Each tool and resource is described in detail in a very structured way. The name, the category and the url where the tool can be found start each description. The Overview explains the functions of the tool, its origin and development, nearest analogues, use statistics, sometimes provide data about the company or licence information. The features explain the main steps required to use the application. The element of the description titles How cybrarians can use this resource provide examples of application in libraries and potential possibilities of its usage in library or information service context. A box with the FYI letters (for your information) provides data about interesting facts, like awards, usage statistics or interesting developments. Each section is closed by endnotes to the sources used for the description.
At the very end of the book a reader will find the appendices. One of them can be interesting for those who teach modern Web technologies (Appendix 1: Tips and teaching tools for keeping up-to-date), the other provides a glossary that I myself found very useful. Appendix III lists referenced Websites.
The guide is quite impressive in its organization and detail. But it is not only the book that matters. Here is a link to the Cybrarians web, which is related to the book. It provides direct links from the list of resources to their urls. It also lists new tools that are not included in the guide and there is a blog kept by the author of the book. One can find more information about the book and the author on the site as well, but the main function of it is to keep the readers up-todate and complement the printed book.
I would suggest that this book will help to save money and enhance creativity of librarians in different libraries and countries. It will also be interesting for other information professionals wherever they may work. I would recommend it to my colleagues who teach our student to produce websites and other online resources.