Joining the Virtual Library
Welcome! and thank you for your interest in joining the Virtual Library. What is involved?
The key quality we are looking for is sites which are or aim to be the definitive reference guide to online resources in a particular area.
Can you create a truly useful guide to your area of expertise? and can you maintain that, with input from readers and others?
That's what the Virtual Library is really about. As it is a community project, we also ask that you stay in touch, via mailing lists, and that you participate to some extent in the overall project, by voting in elections, giving your opinion, and linking in to other relevant VL sections.
There are also some technical requirements on the content and layout of VL pages, to ensure minimal quality standards and a clear VL identity for each site.
What's in it for you? Well, everyone has their own reasons, but some of the benefits that members have reported include:
- Expertise - researching sites for your VL section is a great way of learning about resources on the web.
- Professional advancement - VL sites are renowned for often being the best online resources in particular areas. Being the VL maintainer for your specific area will raise your profile, and can lead to useful opportunities and interactions with some of the leading members of your field. Some VL sections are maintained by organisations rather than individuals, and these also gain great positive exposure from their VL affiliation. If you already have a good specialist website, affiliating with the VL is a powerful stamp of approval and traffic generator.
- Personal satisfaction - the web is a wild and disorganised place. Creating and maintaining a high quality guide to part of the web can be personally very satisfying and a great way to do some good for the many visitors that will rely on your guide. We have all benefited from the net, and maintaining a VL site is an excellent way to take advantage of your own expertise to give back to the net and help thousands of others in your field.
- Technical Assistance - The VL provides a community of like-minded individuals which can provide support and technical help. A number of other services include a powerful search engine, automatic submission of pages to major search engines, and others under development.
There are a few technical requirements to maintain a section of the Virtual Library. However, far more important is that you share the overall goals of the other members of the Library: to provide a clear, current, easy-to-use and unbiased guide to the most important online sources in your field. If you believe in doing that, to make life easier for web users, then pick your area and join us! Maintaining a Virtual Library section is a great way of getting recognition in your field, a good way of keeping abreast with what's available on the net, and a unique way to contribute to the internet.
Each section should contain an unbiased and relatively comprehensive guide to the most valuable sources in their field. The site should aim to be one of the best resources in its area. Maintainers should not overlap with the information offered by another Virtual Librarian, without their prior consent. Virtual Library sites are largely collections of links to other sources, rather than primary data, but a brief introduction to the field, for the unexperienced visitor, is encouraged.
How do I start?
- Step 1. Pick your field
- See what area you would like to manage, usually something you work on or have expertise in. Check to see if there is already such an area listed in the Catalog. If there is, see if you could take care of a subset of that area, or a neighboring area, and consider contacting the maintainer of that area to discuss some kind of collaboration.
- Step 2. Get in touch
- Write to the Catalog maintainer with your proposed addition, to see if it fits with the VL objectives and isn't already under development. Once you hear back you can go on to.
- Step 3: Prototype
- Start exploring the web and put together a prototype page or set of pages on your area. Include the technical requirements for the VL. When you are happy, send the URL to the Catalog maintainer for initial review.
- Step 4: Trial membership
- Once passed by the catalog maintainer, the site is added to the Catalog on a trial basis for one month, while other members are free to comment on the site's suitability. At this point, you will be asked to register your site with the VL database, and subscribe to our mailing lists. If no major unresolved problems arise, the site automatically becomes a full member after one month.
- Step 5: Keep it going
- The web changes quickly. Plan on spending some time every month or so on checking links from your pages, responding to user feedback and exploring to find new resources to add to your site. Keep involved with your fellow members via the mailing lists and participate in the direction of the overall project where you can. An hour or two per month is usually sufficient to keep up management of a small-to-moderate sized site.
To the Virtual Library catalogue.
Contact the Catalog maintainer
Last modified December 29th, 2004.
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