boyIn many schools and libraries, electronic materials are now as common as books and other materials. A primary role of the librarian is to provide access to the best quality informational resources for the patrons.

With books, quality control is achieved by carefully pre-selecting books to purchase. The same care should be taken in selecting electronic materials. While it's easy to follow this idea of "pre-selection" with purchased material such as computer software and subscriptions to electronic databases, this kind of control isn't available over Internet materials.

With billions of resources now on the Internet, it's impossible to review all materials that might be appropriate for children and young adults. In order to provide high quality Internet resources for these patrons, the librarian must make use of a wide range of existing tools and resources. These resources including portals, search tools, and other starting points.

Portals, Search Tools, and Starting Points

Think of a portal as your "starting point" for use of the Web. It's a gateway providing access to useful web resources. Along with content area interests, it might provide directories, search tools, news, weather, maps, phonebooks and other services. Google is probably the best known portal.

For some people, their portal is simply the default page that appears when they open their web browser such as Apple or Yahoo.

firstgovFor others, it's the page they've set as their default home page such as their library page or the school website. is the portal for United States government resources. The is specifically designed for young people. Resources are organized by grade level.

video clipWatch a public service announcement for on YouTube called For the People. Go to the US Government Channel in YouTube. This is an example of a Video Portal for accessing US government video programs.

Thinkfinity is a popular portal for educators. It provides a gateway to many of the most popular educational organization websites including National Geographic Xpeditions, Science NetLinks, EconEdLink, ReadWriteThink, Literacy Network, ArtsEdge, Smithsonian's History Explore, Illuminations, EDSITEment, and Wonderopis.


WebMDSome schools subscribe to a service such as netTrekker that pre-selects quality websites. The portal helps young people choose quality resources at their reading level.

Increasingly, young people are using mobile apps on their handheld devices. Use services such as iTunes Apps Store to access these mobile apps. For instance, WebMD Mobile is a popular app for information about health and fitness (see image on right).

Many educators and librarians have created their own web page containing their favorite links. This has become their personal portal. Some libraries and schools have a way to personalize their website to include favorite resources.

eye means readRead the online article Web Portals: Rabbit Holes to Grand Gateways by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson to learn more about portals.

eye means readExplore portals, search tools, and other starting points using the following links:

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