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The WWW Virtual Library

Posted by Marcus Zillman

The WWW Virtual Library

The WWW Virtual Library (VL) is the oldest catalogue of the Web, started by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of HTML and of the Web itself, in 1991 at CERN in Geneva. Unlike commercial catalogues, it is run by a loose confederation of volunteers, who compile pages of key links for particular areas in which they are expert; even though it isn’t the biggest index of the Web, the VL pages are widely recognised as being amongst the highest-quality guides to particular sections of the Web. Individual indexes live on hundreds of different servers around the world. A set of catalogue pages linking these pages is maintained at The catalogue pages started life on the original web server at CERN, and have been hosted at various locations around the World since then. They moved to a new server in Geneva in 2004, not many kilometres from their first location. Each maintainer is responsible for the content of their own pages, as long as they follow certain guidelines. The central Catalog pages are maintained by the Council of the VL. The VL was first conceived and run by Tim Berners-Lee, and later expanded, organised and managed for several years by Arthur Secret, before it became a formally established association with Gerard Manning as its Council’s first chairman. The late Bertrand Ibrahim was a key contributor to the pre-association phase of the VL’s development, and then served as its Secretary until his untimely death. The central affairs of the VL are now co-ordinated by an elected council. The first council took office in Jan 2000, following elections the previous year. Major decisions, including a set of bylaws are decided by the membership at large. In February 2006 Arthur Secret was elected president of the association. He chairs the new council, which was elected in January 2006. Michael Chapman serves as secretary. Many volunteers have given a great deal of time and effort to the VL, ever since the early days of the web. There is a partial list of VL alumni to recognize their contributions. This has been added to Directory Resources Subject Tracer™.

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