E-town College Professor Provides Easy Academic Research Access
The WWW Virtual Library: International Affairs Resources is an Internet directory housing over 2,000 links to English-language academic resources for international affairs, relations and studies, global studies and global education. Dr. Wayne A. Selcher, professor of international studies emeritus, created, edits and maintains the Virtual Library hosted at etown.edu. Selcher selects sites to host based on long-term value and relevance. In July 2012, he worked with the College’s ITS department to update the website’s format for improved user-friendliness.
Selcher explained that the website is the result of his interest in international relations trends over the past few decades. Though Internet directories are considered outdated, he said his website’s angle toward academic value and the daily worldwide traffic it receives continue to prove its use to online academic research. Most recently, Selcher found out the International Association for Political Science Students placed a link to his Virtual Library on its website. The association plans to post information on the Virtual Library to its Facebook account, as well.
The Virtual Library is positioned highly on Google search rankings, which tend to be quite competitive. “My site competes with similar websites at larger institutions, including major universities,” Selcher said. “But mine is run by only one person, as a volunteer academic service, not by a large institutional team, with a profit or business motive.”
My site competes with similar websites at larger institutions, including major universities.”
The Virtual Library began in 1997 as a directory of academic resources for the International Business and Modern Language departments at Elizabethtown. At that point in his career, Selcher spent more time at the College than traveling but, because he wanted to stay involved in international relations, he learned how to build online databases and websites. “Email and the Internet opened up tremendous possibilities,” he said. However, Selcher also said that serious academic use of the Internet is limited today. Few institutions teach proper research methods, and many people who use online resources lack serious research skills. Students who practice online research techniques primarily utilize subscription databanks through their universities or libraries rather than searching for academic content through databanks or Google’s advanced search.
The Virtual Library offers a serious academic resource for free research tools and websites. “I tried to take what I knew and share it with others,” Selcher said. He knows of several people using the Virtual Library for doctoral dissertations. Others ask to add sites they think might be useful additions every day. The Virtual Library receives heavy daily traffic, which Selcher keeps updated through use of a hit tracker. The tracker shows the country of origin, browser, operating system and resolution of the computer’s visitor’s use, which allows Selcher to keep the website as up-to-date and user-friendly as possible. Countries where the Virtual Library is commonly used include The United States, Slovakia, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Nigeria, Chile and China.
Selcher is a graduate of Lebanon (Pa.) Valley College with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. He earned master’s degree in Latin American studies and a doctoral degree in political science at the University of Florida. Selcher retired from full-time teaching in 2007, but remains an adjunct professor and volunteers assistance in promoting E-town’s international studies program through the Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking. His current research comprises Internet use in international academic studies. To contact him about the WWW Virtual Library: International Affairs Resources website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his personal website.