Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Monday, April 26, 2004

Book and website on free web resources

Nicholas G. Tomaiuolo, The Web Library (Medford, N.J.: Information Today, 2004). $29.95. Tomaiuolo, a reference librarian at Central Connecticut State University, compiles an impressive collection of resources that are freely available on the web. Frequently he qualifies this description, showing that a free resource may be incomplete or be frustrating to use (such as, which provides access to thousands of scholarly and popular articles, but offers little flexibility to the searcher.) Throughout the book, the author documents how a savvy user can save costs on subscriptions and monographs and have access to a wide range of periodicals, preprint servers, electronic books, news sources, reference books, archival materials and images; where there are toll resources, Tomaiuolo shows what one can expect to get for one's money. The book doesn't discuss open access as such; however, Tomaiuolo has an interesting section on scientific literature in particular, stating: "There is probably no category of periodical literature generally more expensive to access then the scientific, technical and medical (STM) literature. Ironically, there is probably no greater need for inexpensive access to a category of literature than STM. In order to promote health, treat diseases, and make informed research, administrative and clinical decisions, medical researchers generally agree that the dissemination of this literature should be rapid and free." (p.53) The author goes on to summarize initiatives such as publishers' extending access to developing countries, the growth and variety of preprint servers and tools such as the Cross Archive Searching Service. Furthermore, he maintains a web page linking to all the resources that he cites and providing updates with new material or a focus on a particular topic. So while one is waiting for more of the literature to become open access, one can take advantage of resources already openly available, as Tomaiuolo amply demonstrates.