The technology for presenting reference information changes rapidly. Many print reference sources are now available in electronic format. You will find that some reference tools moved directly from print to the Web, (the Idaho Department of Commerce & Labor’s County Profiles of Idaho, http://community.idaho.gov/Profiles/tabid/440/Default.aspx#countyProfiles), while some electronic sources were developed specifically for the Web (Idaho Small Business Solutions, www.idahobizhelp.org). Meanwhile, others migrated first to CD-ROM and then to the Web (Statistical Abstract of the United States, www.census.gov/compendia/statab/ -- currently available in all three formats).
Reviews of CD-ROMs and DVDs may be found in all the standard reviewing journals. Remember that these resources should be evaluated using the general criteria discussed in Evaluating Reference Sources in a previous section:
Advantages to CD-ROMs and DVDs are that they are often less expensive than their print counterparts, and also that, unlike Web resources, they contain no advertising. However, these advantages can be offset by other factors, such as degree of user-friendliness, hardware/software requirements, and the need for licensing and updating.
In evaluating them it is important to consider the following:
It’s easy to overlook CD-ROMs when books and the Web are so handy; however, there are times when a CD-ROM may contain exactly the information you need or be the best source on a subject at a price you can afford. In particular, many of these are interactive products (often games) and are good learning tools for children.
In the next section we will discuss the issues involved in evaluating Web sites.
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