The enormous number of pages on the Orthopaedic Internet and the difficulty of finding them, makes a directory of orthopaedic addresses and attractive idea. OWL
has been attempting to fill this role since 1996
. It is an interactive searchable database of addresses of orthopaedic pages in roughly three areas - orthopaedic surgery teaching material, patient education and institutional/commercial. Each area is subdivided into several different major categories, and they in turn have sub-categories. Each resource listed has been validated by one of the editors, who are all fully trained orthopaedic surgeons. The URL used for the link is directly to the resource, not to some index or list of contents, although the contents list is usually also listed as a different resource. Both the size of the task and the temporary nature of many web sites complicate the creation and maintenance of such an index. To succeed, OWL must solve many complex problems and secure the cooperation of larger numbers of orthopaedists, encouraging them to use the index and contribute to it. Currently, the OWL collection of resources is the largest on the Internet by several orders of magnitude.
Other institutions also maintain directories of orthopaedic information. OMNI
and the Karolinska Institutet
are supported by Medical Libraries or Computer Departments. The Hardin MetaDirectory
from the Medical Library of the University of Iowa is a "list of lists" referring to several directories and image archives. In general these directories and the numerous commercial directories focus on information for patients and tend to direct their users to the top level "home page" of an information source, rather than the actual information.