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The state of PA dept of Education has recently purchased Nettrekker for use 
by all citizens of Pennsylvania.  I recently attended a 2 hour workshop to 
learn more about it.  I admit that I was the cynic in the audience. 
Nettrekker is advertised at the "academic google".  And I have to admit that 
for those students who only google, this would make sense.  But for those of 
us (librarians) who know to look for authority and accuracy in websites, I 
was amazed (sadly) at some of the search results I got.

For those not familiar with Nettrekker, it is a database of recommended 
academic websites.  Recommendations for inclusion come from educators who 
have found a website and feel it is worthy.  The set of criteria is very 
vague and I think that is what disturbs me most.

During my workshop session, I searched for topics I know my 5th graders are 
working on now.  I searched for explorers.  My results were a personal site 
from a middle school teacher; a 5th grade class' website from a public 
school; and wikipedia.  Only wikipedia had cited sources.  I have no way of 
knowing if the other two sites were accurate!  Does anyone else see a 
problem here?  If the educators recommending these sites were not concerned 
with cited sources, what do you think will happen when teachers in my 
building use these websites for research reports?  How is this any better 
than using google?  I think it gives users a false sense of security -- if 
it's on Nettrekker it must be good.

I looked in the LMNET archives and found that most people who have tried 
Nettrekker love it.  Is it because I am in an elementary school that I don't 
see it as useful as most?  I know we teach and preach to look for authority 
in website evaluation, but if you point students to a subscription database 
won't they assume everything they find is valuable?

The state of Pennsylvania is fortunate to have free online databases 
accessible to all public schools and public libraries.  I'd rather spend my 
time educating my students on using these databases than Nettrekker.  This 
is my humble opinion, but I'd really like to know if I am alone in my 

Barb Parfitt, Librarian
East Ward Elementary School
Downingtown PA 

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