Chapter 10:
Other Links


At the Penn Library we have been experimenting with the publication of our online pages on a CD/ROM disk for distribution far and wide. This is a relatively new concept which some people are referring to as a "web-enabled CD." This disk is an example of this technology.

The University of Pennsylvania Library online Sampler

During Homecoming 1996 the Library distributed 1500 free copies of our first Web-enabled CD to alumni and visitors. The University of Pennsylvania Library online Sampler, as the experimental disk is called, has been designed so that it can be "read" using any standard web browser, allowing home users to view large graphic files at high-bandwidth speeds. Our web-enabled CD works on both the MAC and Windows platforms. The viewer navigates the disk just as he or she would any web site.

The disk contains the full text and images from four "online exhibits" that have been mounted on the web by the Library's Special Collections Department. In addition to the four online exhibits, we include a significant portion of the Library's "Visions" site--in other words, our "pitch" for the Library's plans and dreams. An updated version of this site is on this disk.

Since Homecoming, we have taken the disks on the road with us when we visit alumni clubs. Invariably, every disk is taken home by interested alumni, all of whom seem to have friend or relative who has access to the Internet.

Advantages of this technology:

  • The material is right there on the disk, ready to use. The reader does not have to search through hundreds of thousands of sites to find the exhibitions. So: you have "instant find."

  • The pictures will load very quickly. For people who are used to accessing the web with 14.4 or 28.8 modems, the speed of access will seem miraculous. So: you have "instant bandwidth."

  • A third advantage is that all links work--even those that are "off" the disk. This means that if the exhibition has a link to another site somewhere on the Internet, when you click on the link, you will go to that site. Hit the "back" button and you are back on the disk. So: the disk acts as a "platform," or even a "trampoline" which allows the viewer to jump back and forth from "local" reading to "networked" reading.

  • The fourth advantage is that everything on the disk can be read without the host machine being connected to the Internet. That is, you can view the material without having to have an Internet account, and without having to have a modem. So: the disk allows for a "simulated virtual Internet experience."


The cost of such disks is remarkably low. If an organization already has a CD-Recording machine (under $1,000), the cost per disk is simply the cost of the blanks: about $8.00. Once the prototype disk is complete and ready to publish, then a "master" disk is created. If the master is used to produce 500 disks or more, the unit cost drops to less than $3.00, depending on how fancy the packaging is. Unit costs of under $2.00 are achievable in runs of over 2,000. (See the next chapter for complete details on "how to burn your own disk.")

At $3.00 apiece you can give the disk away. You can mail it to your Friends. You can use it as a "premium." You can set it out on a table and encourage visitors to help themselves to a copy. You can make it your Holiday Card. Why not? It is great publicity for your institution.

Or you can sell it. A "Greatest Hits" of your library or institution ought to be worth $10.00, maybe more. After all, with audio CDs selling at $15.00, you have a bargain!

The Library Case Statement

At the Library we asked ourselves whether we could build our Case Statement around our web-enabled CD. After all, it already contained our "Visions" pages, and it was a "must-read" for anyone who had a CD/ROM drive. Far better than a printed piece, it demonstrated that the Library is at the cutting edge of information services for the 21st century. And it connected viewers to the much larger--and extremely impressive--main Penn Library Web site. As this is written, we are still revising the disk for release as part of a "package" that also contains instructions and a printed brochure. We plan to introduce video clips with welcomes from the Library Director and the Provost or President.

We also will include our full range of gift opportunities, as well as a hyperlink which would allow the reader to review the latest list on our web site. We will have a pledge form, and a "tell me more" form on the disk. The disk will be part of a boxed package that contains a modest (16-page) printed case statement (cover in color, rest in B&W;). In addition, we will include a letter from the Director which describes the package as an experiment and solicits detailed feedback. A response form will be enclosed, with a pre-paid response envelope. The Library Development 800 number will also prominently featured.

We hope that the package will be such a novelty that it will encourage investigation and that recipients will make a special effort to get a friend or family member to show them the disk, if they don't have a computer. As with a printed Case Statement, we do not expect our web-CD Case Statement to raise money directly. Rather, it will help to prepare the way, and will help to build an interested constituency. It will also give fundraisers and fundraising volunteers something pretty snazzy to present to a warm prospect.

Other Uses of the Web-Enabled CD

  • A Library could put the entire text of one or more manuscripts on a disk. A good example might be the nineteenth century diaries of Susan Sherman and Margaret T. Spaulding, both currently available online ( Or Duke University's Papyrus Archive (, which contains images of 1,373 papyri from ancient Egypt. These disks could make available valuable resources for scholars to use at their workstations.

  • This same sort of scholarly disk could also be distributed by the Library for networked use by other libraries. The contents of the disk could be uploaded to a server, thus allowing for creation of a campus "mirror" site that would run faster on the campus intranet. Or the disk could be used in a network disk-farm scheme for CD stations. We can imagine libraries establishing "swap" arrangements for such publications, or even selling them to each other.

  • The readings for a course could be assembled on a disk. This might include images of manuscripts, works of art, comments by the professor, links to other sites of interest, and even copyrighted material (with permission or under "fair use" provisions). Such disks would be particularly useful for students who do not have direct access to a high-speed campus network--including "Virtual University" students who may be thousands of miles away.

  • Web-enabled disks could be produced as companions to print publications--as we have done with this book. That way the reader can use the disk to navigate to interesting sites. Such disks could also contain extensive additional material, including full-color images that would be too expensive to reproduce in a print publication. You are using such a disk right now!

  • Web-enabled disks could be produced instead of books and journals.

  • Recruitment disks could be created, just as college recruitment videos are prepared today. Such disks could contain the best of the campus web, with pictures galore. And they could contain links to other "hot" campus sites. A student could fill out an application form, right on the disk, and rush it off to Sywash U. by clicking "send."

  • Athletics departments could produce a yearly disk for distribution or sale to diehard boosters. The disk would contain the complete schedules for all games, all sports. They could contain profiles of star athletes, and golden moments from the past. The disk could also include a ticket-ordering electronic form so that viewers could purchase seats online. See Penn's ambitious Athletics web site as an example of a cutting-edge web site ( .

  • Any non-profit of substance could create a disk that starts with whatever has been placed on the web and builds from there. Amnesty International, with its extensive online country-by-country human rights reports would be a prime candidate for issuing a quarterly disk to its most active members. (

In the following chapter, we will provide advice on how to cut your own CD. Just think, your first "album!"

Jump back to
"Chapters and Other Links"

From the CD version of Fundraising and Friend-Raising on the Web: A Handbook for Libraries and Other Non-Profit Organizations. ALA Editions, 1998. Copyright © 1998, Adam Corson-Finnerty and Laura Blanchard, all rights reserved.