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Response to Peter Jacso's Comments on the Awesome Library
by Awesome Library Staff

Gale Group published comments by Peter Jacso that Jacso billed as a review of the Awesome Library. We were surprised to find Gale Group publishing such a flawed work. His review lacked scholarship and accuracy. Specifically, we found the following failures in Jacso's assessment of the Awesome Library:

  1. Jacso claimed he sampled two categories in the Awesome Library, but the Awesome Library has many hundreds of categories. His sampling was too flawed for him to make generalizations about the entire Web site. A sample of the Web site reveals very different results from Jacso's summary. (See chart below.)

  2. Jacso claimed that the Awesome Library gained its leading role on the Web partly because it used words like "library" in its self-description. The Awesome Library has been ranked among the 10 for the word "library" on Google for over three years. The Awesome Library has been among the top ten out of over 100 million sites that use the world "library" in their self-description. Awesome Library's placement among the top 10 libraries in the world has been market-driven, not media hype, advertising, or branding. The Library of Congress, the British Library, the New York Public Library, the National Medical Library, and the American Library Association have also been among the top ten and deserved to be there because they provide useful information to millions. We are honored to have been recognized in the same way and at the same level because of the usefulness and quality of our work.

  3. Despite what Jacso claimed, we find Web visitors to be very discriminating. For months we were among the "top 10" most popular sites for "current events." As soon as we cut back slightly on our support for "current events," the Web page dropped precipitously from popularity. (We were competing directly with CNN, PBS, and similar news media.)

  4. Jacso did not determine the percent of "dead" links within the Awesome Library, but made generalizations about them anyway. Jacso's generalizations were incorrect. (Dead links have averaged around 2.5% in our tests.)

  5. Jacso claimed that Awesome Library failed to contribute in any of its areas of interest, such as "multicultural" or "world peace." Jacso failed to base his assertion on any research or scholarship.

  6. Awesome Library is #1 on "multicultural training" on Google. Awesome Library is #1 on "Multicultural Toolkit" on Google. EDI and colleagues conducted pioneering research (through a federal grant) to determine how communication breaks down--and can be repaired--between diverse ethnic or cultural groups. Multicultural specialists and trainers throughout the U.S. have asked permission to include our Toolkit in their training. In addition, Awesome Library is one of the top ten resources listed in Google for "middle east conflict," "sustainable planet development" and dozens of other searches related to finding peace in the world. These are Awesome Library contributions in research and finding solutions, not just providing links.

    The Awesome Library remains high on Google lists only as long as its information is more useful for visitors than other sources.

  7. Jacso's assessment of the Awesome Library did not meet minimum national standards for a professional evaluation (

Awesome Library welcomes feedback. We receive many reviews each day and some of those are posted on our "Recognitions" pages. Jacso did find a typographical error and several omissions within the Awesome Library. For example, we did have an accidental comma between "Equitorial" and "Guinea." Some countries had not yet been added because we were adding our "Countries" section during the time Jacso conducted his review. These particular errors and omissions were corrected.

In summary, Jacso did not demonstrate that he sampled Awesome Library's content sufficiently to characterize it. Instead of doing the hard work of research and inquiry, he provided mostly unfounded generalizations. We are sorry to see that a normally reputable company like Gale Group would publish Peter Jacso's article as if it were a scholarly work for those dealing in reference works.

Fortunately, the Web supports a diversity of views instead of allowing only professional reviewers to have space for commentary. Readers can find this response to Jacso's article as easily as they can find Jacso's article about the Awesome Library. In our opinion, this is a wonderful way for the world to be. We look forward to readers making their own judgments about the quality of the Awesome Library.

The Challenge

We took Jacso up on his challenge at the end of his article. He asked the reader to compare the Awesome Library and LII on some searches to see which provides better, more authoritative information. We made 25 searches on Awesome Library and then LII, covering a sample of subject areas in 2003. The results are below. We invite the reader to select a variety of subjects and then make an independent comparison. We would like to hear your results.

Comparison of LII and Awesome Library on a Sample of Searches

Search terms

Awesome Library Matches

LII Matches

  • Super string theory
  • 7 (includes relationship between relativity and quantum theory, bridging theories about the largest and smallest objects in the universe)

    1 (no direct link)

  • James Earl Carter
  • 5 (former president of the USA, mostly biographical)


  • Black-footed ferret
  • 3 (includes picture and description)


  • Gulliver's travels
  • 2 (provides entire text)

    1 (provides entire text)

  • Time-series analysis
  • 1 (link to 18 lessons)


  • Kronecker delta (math)
  • 1 (links to description)


  • Schwarzenegger
  • 12 (biography and news)

    8 (news, no biography)

  • Comanche
  • 7 (includes a detailed history in three parts)


  • Winnebago
  • 4 (includes history, government, etc.)


  • Consumer price index
  • 1 (definition)

    8 (1 direct link, 3 useful links)

  • Flute
  • 3 (describes three types of flute)

    3 (music and descriptions)

  • ESL (English as a second Language)
  • 11 (lessons, grammar, quizzes, the works)

    14 (ditto)

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • 44 (the works)

    13 (good variety)

  • Homeland security
  • 48 (reference information, news)

    28 (reference information, news)

  • American flag
  • 38 (includes pictures and history)

    9 (includes pictures and history)

  • Iraq
  • 576 (history, news, editorials, etc.)

    164 (history, news, editorials, etc.)

  • biodiesel
  • 18 (descriptions, diagrams, uses, essays)

    4 (descriptions, diagrams, uses, essays)

  • moon titan
  • 4 (news, description)


  • rewritable drive
  • 1 (shows how to choose)


  • bullying
  • 38 (how to prevent and handle)

    8 (how to prevent and handle)

  • mitosis
  • 2 (descriptions and lessons)

    1 (lesson)

  • photosynthesis
  • 4 (lessons, drawings, descriptions)

    3 (ditto)

  • Mesopotamians
  • 10 (lessons, history)

    1 (limited)

  • trigonometry
  • 33 (lessons, types, etc.)

    6 (lessons, types, etc.)

  • gymnastics
  • 12 (instructions, news, animation, illustrations)

    3 (one direct link)

    Results: Good results on Awesome Library on all 25; good results on LII on 14.

    Comparison of LII and Awesome Library on Features


    Awesome Library


    Purpose, origins

    Designed by educators to meet the needs of educators and students

    Designed by Peter Jacso and other librarians to meet the needs of librarians and patrons

    Search Engine

    Accommodates natural language; identifies placement of search results in the site's directory tree; handles some misspelling

    Sometimes does not accept multiple words; handles some misspelling.

    Type of link

    "Drills deep" into the site to provide a precise search response

    Sometimes links to Home pages; reader must then find the link(s) to the information

    Dead Links



    Quality of work



    Consumer-driven rather than profit-driven



    Directory tree for ease in locating resources

    Yes, five levels

    Yes, three levels

    Organized for different audiences



    Updated daily for current events



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