For Some Schools, Online Reference Collections Now A Better Option Than CD-ROM Libraries

MultiMedia Schools, September/October 1998, p. 26

Online reference services may now be at the point where they are a better option than in-house CD-ROM collections. If you have a fast and reliable connection to the Internet, then the advantages of an online service could be significant.

First, you won’t have to manage volumes of CDs on individual machines or through complicated high-maintenance hardware like networked CD jukeboxes. Second, publishers perform updates to information on their Web site automatically—so there’s no need to order and install new volumes of CD-ROMs. Third, students and teachers can access the online collections from their homes or in locations at the school outside the media labs.

But there are still some advantages to having CD-ROM titles. Often they are less expensive than a subscription to an online service. Plus, your school will own the CDs it purchases, so you won’t have to rely on the availability of an outside connection to the Internet or pay annual subscription fees.

Editor’s note: MultiMedia Schools also publishes a useful chart on pp. 30-32 that compares the price, platforms, and features of the top online and CD-ROM reference collections—worth reading if you’re rethinking your school’s reference collection or planning to invest in one soon.

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