Best Information on the Net (BIOTN), an award-winning collection of Internet resources compiled by librarians at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, has many useful components. The "Hot Paper Topics" page (http://www.sau.edu/cwis/internet/wild/Hot/hotindex.htm) is one part of the site that is sure to be appreciated by undergraduates whose professors let them use webpages as references.
The page provides links to websites on topics that librarians will recognize as hot topics for their own library's patrons, including affirmative action, the death penalty, drug issues, gun control, human rights, and smoking. The majority of the links have annotations; all appear to be well-chosen and informative. The Hot Paper Topics organizers have taken care to provide a variety of resources; site domains are a mix of government, non-profit, educational and company sites. Some of the sites have been reviewed elsewhere in library literature. Site visitors will find a mix of primary (content sites), secondary (lists of links to primary sites) and tertiary sites (lists of links to secondary sites).
An additional link on the Hot Paper Topics page, labeled "Index," leads site visitors to a page on Internet search engines that includes information about particular engines as well as guidelines for selecting a search engine. Below this link is another to UCLA librarian Esther Grassian's page on evaluating web resources.
Navigation of the Hot Paper Topics page could cause some visitors problems. Some topics are anchored to lists on the same page, while others have their own page. At the bottom of these separate pages is a link to the main BIOTN page but not to the Hot Paper Topics page. Clicking on "Censorship" takes the visitor to the "Useful Links for Librarians" page, which could be confusing. At the main BIOTN page visitors will encounter resources that are restricted to Saint Ambrose University students, faculty and staff. Taking into account this limitation, the Hot Paper Topics page is a useful bookmark for any general-reference desk.
Head of Reference Services and User Education
University of Portland