Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the ECHO Science and Technology Virtual Center is based at George Mason University's Center for History and New Media and provides an excellent entry into this wide-ranging field of study. The authors clearly identify three primary audiences for this eclectic, interesting, and many times entertaining site: historians of science and technology seeking further information on the use of technology to assist in crafting similar projects, the human subjects responsible for much of this knowledge-those living scientists and researchers who have contributed so much to the world's current base of scientific knowledge, and students and others interested in this subject. Due to its broad nature, I would also suggest the site as a general reference starting point for librarians seeking science-related materials.
ECHO might serve purely as a quality Web subject directory for many academic librarians seeking enhanced access to scientific materials and topics, although the site's defined purpose is more specialized than this.
ECHO would make a wonderful addition to any academic librarian's Internet search page. The authors classify the site according to a number of broad categories, including but not limited to the earth, physical, life, and medicine/behavioral sciences, aviation, engineering, and computers. All entries within categories are alphabetical and the majority of them include annotations. Many of the links are housed on Web servers running from academic institutions and professional organizations. Using ECHO, one can locate information on topics ranging from enzyme nomenclature databases to classifications of flowering plants to a "Determination of Latitude by Francis Drake on the Coast of California in 1579." Other useful links include lists of academic programs in the history of science, e-mail lists on scientific topics, and the current featured site "The Barbara McClintock Papers: A Profile in Science at the National Library of Medicine."
The ECHO Science & Technology Virtual Center will prove invaluable to a wide range of academic audiences. Its excellent structure, clearly written pages, and exemplary Web links provide a valuable service to anyone seeking scientific information, from student library users to teaching and research faculty. And an added bonus-it is simply interesting and fun to explore.
Central Washington University