The author attempts to provide a basic introduction to the internet. The focus is on what tools are available to access internet resources, and how to use them. Pointers are provided to network bibliographies and to repositories of resources guides, with less emphasis on exploring the resources themselves, although several resources of primary interest to librarians are discussed.
This paper is not meant to be a comprehensive review of the Internet, instead offering a basic introduction to the internet. The focus is on what tools are available to access internet resources, and how to use them. The goal is to provide enough information for the reader to feel confident in exploring the internet on their own, since any static listing of what is available would be out of date even before this article is published.
The Internet may appear daunting, but it is really not that complicated. There are just a few basic things that are important (except to computer systems staff).
The most commonly used Internet tool is electronic mail. E-mail, remote login (Telnet), and file transferring (FTP) are the most fundamental tools available on the Internet. In her excellent book on the Internet, Tracy LaQuey calls them "the Internet equivalent of the hammer, screwdriver, and crescent wrench in your toolbox."2 Other programs which have expanded on this toolbox include Hytelnet, Gopher, WAIS, WWW, and Mosaic – all of which are designed to make it easier for users to find their way around and get what they are looking for.
For example, John Chan would send a message to LISTSERV@UHUPVM1 to subscribe to PACS-L (a Public-Access Computer Systems list quite popular with librarians), with nothing in the subject line, and with the message saying SUBSCRIBE PACS-L John Chan. In fact, there is even a mailing list for librarians in Hong Kong. To join, send a message to MAILSERV@HKUCC.HKU.HK saying SUBSCRIBE HKLIB-L your name. These list servers can also archive and distribute files. For example, users can obtain a more complete directory of mailing lists, Diane Kovacs' subject-oriented directory, by sending the following e-mail message to listserv@kentvm or firstname.lastname@example.org:
SUBSCRIBE List First Name Last Name
The list server will send you these files as e-mail messages. Make sure that you have plenty of room in your e-mailbox before you do this, however.
get acadlist readme f=mail
get acadlist file1 f=mail
get acadlist file2 f=mail
get acadlist file3 f=mail
get acadlist file4 f=mail
get acadlist file5 f=mail
get acadlist file6 f=mail
get acadlist file7 f=mail
get acadlist file8 f=mail
Again, make sure that you have plenty of room in your e-mailbox before you do this.
get ejournl1 directry f=mail
get ejournl2 directry f=mail
telnet <hostname>(e.g. telnet ustlib.ust.hk or telnet 188.8.131.52 to log into the OPAC at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology). This establishes a connection between the local and remote machines, much like dialing the telephone. And it is just as simple to use.
anonymousand using their actual e-mail address as the password. The author would use email@example.com. The reader should remember never to use the password for their home system's account! The file transfer site will reject their connection, and a file on that computer which records all anonymous login transactions will contain a record of the password. Any user who makes this mistake should change their password immediately.
ftp <hostname>. Once logged in, a limited understanding of some basic UNIX commands will usually be necessary. The most important are:
File transfers will usually be of text or programs or formatted documents. Text transfers are the usual default. If non-text documents are to be transferred, it is important for both computers to know about it, because these need to be transferred in a different manner. To tell them, the user types
list files. Dir will work on many systems as well.
change directory. Usage: cd <directory name>
print working directory. The computer will tell the user where they are – it is easy to get lost.
change directory 'upwards'. Go back one level.
get a file. To transfer a file from the remote computer to the local computer. Usage: get <filename>
binary. To go back to text transfer mode, they type
% ftp nic.merit.edu
220 nic.merit.edu FTP server (SunOS 4.1) ready.
Connected to NIC.MERIT.EDU.
Name (NIC.MERIT.EDU:lbspodic): anonymous
331 Guest login ok, send ident as password.
Password: [type your e-mail address here]
230 Guest login ok, access restrictions apply.
200 PORT command successful.
150 ASCII data connection for /bin/ls (184.108.40.206,3770) (0 bytes).
-rw-r--r-- 1 nic merit 20843 Oct 15 00:10 INDEX
-rw-r--r-- 1 nic merit 16326 Oct 22 23:18 READ.ME
drwxr-sr-x 2 root system 512 Sep 15 20:03 bin
drwxr-sr-x 3 cise nsf 512 May 12 16:56 cise
drwxr-sr-x 3 nic merit 512 Aug 4 18:25 conference.proceedings
dr-xr-sr-x 2 root staff 512 Aug 6 05:50 dev
drwxr-sr-x 9 nic merit 512 Feb 22 1993 documents
drwxr-sr-x 2 root system 512 Aug 6 06:12 etc
drwxr-sr-x 11 nic merit 512 Oct 14 22:33 internet
drwxr-sr-x 2 nic merit 512 May 28 01:24 introducing.the.internet
drwxr-sr-x 2 root staff 512 Aug 6 05:55 lib
drwxr-sr-x 2 nic merit 512 Oct 13 19:26 maps
drwxr-sr-x 8 nic merit 512 Jul 26 22:46 michnet
drwxr-sr-x 7 nic merit 512 Oct 14 23:39 newsletters
drwxr-sr-x 6 nis merit 512 Oct 26 19:17 nren
drwxr-sr-x 13 nic merit 512 Oct 13 23:13 nsfnet
drwxr-sr-x 2 omb omb 512 Sep 10 15:26 omb
drwxr-sr-x 5 nic merit 512 Mar 17 1993 resources
drwxr-sr-x 4 nic merit 512 Jul 26 22:55 statistics
drwxr-sr-x 3 root system 512 Jun 12 22:54 usr
drwxr-sr-x 3 nic merit 512 Jul 15 1992 working.groups
^this 'd' means that this is a directory, not a file.
226 ASCII Transfer complete.
1427 bytes received in 00:00:01.56 seconds
FTP> cd introducing.the.internet
250 CWD command successful.
200 PORT command successful.
150 ASCII data connection for /bin/ls (220.127.116.11,3771) (0 bytes).
-rw-r--r-- 1 nic merit 4433 Oct 6 17:47 INDEX.introducing.the.internet
-rw-r--r-- 1 nic merit 15034 Jun 21 14:05 access.guide
-rw-r--r-- 5 nic merit 91884 May 15 1992 answers.to.new.user.questions
-rw-r--r-- 1 nic merit 1966 Jan 26 1993 how-to-get.companion
-rw-r--r-- 1 nic merit 3047 Aug 26 23:25 how-to-get.cruise
-rw-r--r-- 1 nic merit 11182 Aug 19 18:13 how-to-get.resource.guide
-rw-r--r-- 1 nic merit 71311 Oct 6 17:44 information.sources
-rw-r--r-- 1 nic merit 12265 May 28 01:24internet.basics.eric-digest
-rw-r--r-- 3 nic merit 27089 Mar 3 1993 internet.books
-rw-r--r-- 5 nic merit 7116 May 27 02:12 intro.internet.biblio
-rw-r--r-- 1 nic merit 91214 Jul 28 1992 intro.to.ip
-rw-r--r-- 5 nic merit 71176 Jan 14 1993 network.gold
-rw-r--r-- 5 nic merit 104624 Jan 7 1993 users.glossary
-rw-r--r-- 5 nic merit 27811 May 27 02:12 what.is.internet
-rw-r--r-- 5 nic merit 95238 Aug 19 1990 where.to.start
-rw-r--r-- 3 nic merit 492397 Mar 24 1992 zen.ps
-rw-r--r-- 3 nic merit 183742 Jul 13 1992 zen.txt
226 ASCII Transfer complete.
1258 bytes received in 00:00:29.49 seconds
FTP> get what.is.internet
200 PORT command successful.
150 ASCII data connection for what.is.internet (18.104.22.168,1286) (27811 bytes).
226 ASCII Transfer complete.
27811 bytes received in 00:00:41.52 seconds
telnet quake.think.com, or telnet to one of the other sites mentioned under WAIStation in Appendix B. This is also an FTP site which contains client programs for the WAIS protocol to run on various computer systems, as well as information files and a bibliography pointing to additional information sources. The Thinking Machines site also maintains a directory or WAIS servers, which is constantly being updated as more server are brought on line throughout the Internet.
gopher <gophername>. If nothing happens, or an error is received, the user should speak with their local computer systems support staff for assistance. If no local gopher client is provided, the user can telnet to a public-access gopher client at consultant.micro.umn.edu. There are a number of public Gopher clients which can be used. Refer to the FTP Gopher listing in Appendix B.
After exploring the options available, the author discovered that the Chinese University of Hong Kong had a functional gopher server (gopher info.csc.cuhk.hk), which included a great deal of useful information:
Internet Gopher Information Client 2.0 pl6
Root gopher server: gopher.tc.umn.edu
1. Information About Gopher/
2. Computer Information/
3. Discussion Groups/
4. Fun & Games/
5. Internet file server (ftp) sites/
--> 6. Libraries/
8. Other Gopher and Information Servers/
9. Phone Books/
10. Search Gopher Titles at the University of Minnesota <?>
11. Search lots of places at the University of Minnesota <?>
12. University of Minnesota Campus Information/
Press ? for Help, q to Quit, u to go up a menu Page: 1/1
Aside from text, graphics, sounds, and other files, gopher servers provide an interface to certain kinds of searchable information. One of the most useful are the phone books set up by an increasing number of institutions. The author recently saw a book of bibliographic cartoons4, and being on the Publications Committee of the Hong Kong Library Association, he wanted to know whether they could be used in the Association's Newsletter or Journal. The author of the book, Gary Handman, holds the copyright to the works, and the forward mentioned that the author lives in Berkeley, California, and works in a Library. By searching the University of California at Berkeley phone book using Gopher, Mr Handman's e-mail address was found, he was contacted, and permission and conditions were obtained – all in the course of less than 24 hours.
--> 1. Logo of the Chinese University of Hong Kong <Picture>
2. Computer Services Centre/
3. Department of Computer Science/
4. Department of Electronic Engineering/
5. Department of Information Engineering/
6. Department of Systems Engineering/
7. Faculty of Engineering/
8. Information Office/
9. Office of Student Affairs/
10. Research Institute for the Humanities/
11. University Library System/
12. Search CU Gopherspace by Veronica <?>
13. CSO Name server <CSO>
telnet www.njit.edu, or telnet to one of the other sites mentioned under WAIStation in Appendix B.
Here are pointers to an assortment of library-oriented tools and resources which are available. It is not meant to be at all comprehensive. Interested users will discover what is available, and what they prefer, primarily through personal exploration. This list is designed to give the current flavor of what is there.
For a comprehensive list of mailing lists and electronic
serials which serve librarians, refer to the Charles W. Bailey, Jr.'s list
of Library-Oriented Lists and Electronic Serials which is sent to all PACS-L
subscribers, and is available in many locations on the Internet
. The most recent version can
be obtained by sending the message
GET LIBRARY LISTS to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the best locations for all library-oriented Internet resources and information is the Gopher site at North Carolina State University. This Gopher has just about all of the library-related electronic newsletters and journals, a number of electronic reference sources, and many other things. But don't neglect the other tools and resources listed below it.
"Library Without Walls" site: dewey.lib.ncsu.edu (Gopher)
BUBL (Bulletin Board for Libraries) site: sun.nsf.ac.uk (Telnet) login: janet hostname: uk.ac.glasgow.bubl terminal type: vt100
Chronicle of Higher Education "Academe This Week," a newsletter available weekly via Internet, including job postings.
site: chronicle.merit.edu (via gopher)
Clearinghouse for Subject-Oriented Internet Resource Guides site: una.hh.lib.umich.edu (FTP) directory: inetdirs site: una.hh.lib.umich.edu (Gopher) directory: /inetdirs
Gopher Jewels site: cwis.usc.edu (Gopher) path: 1/Other_Gophers_and_Information_Resources/Gopher_J-ewels
HYTELNET (a program which gives instant-access to all Internet-accessible library catalogs, FREE-NETS, CWISs, BBSs, Gophers, WAIS, etc.)
site: access.usask.ca directory: pub/hytelnet
IAT Guides (UNC Chapel Hill Institute for Academic Technology) site: gandalf.iat.unc.edu directory: guides
Information Sources: the Internet and Computer-Mediated Communication site: ftp.rpi.edu directory: pub/communication filenames: internet-cmc.readme (and 9 other files)
Internet-Accessible Library Catalogs and Databases site: ariel.unm.edu directory: library
The Internet Hunt A monthly challenge for librarians and other browsers.
site: gopher.cic.net (gopher)
ftp.cni.org (ftp) directory: pub/net-guides/i-hunt/
Library Gopher Tree (Internet Library Catalogs) site: gopher.utdallas.edu directory: libraries
Library Gopher Servers (a collection at one gopher site) site: libmac1.anu.edu.au (gopher)
Library Policy Archive This is an on-line collection of library policy statements.
site: ftp.eff.org (22.214.171.124) directory: pub/academic/library
Library Resources on the Internet: Strategies for Selection and Use
site: hydra.uwo.ca directory: libsoft
Library Software Archives site: hydra.uwo.ca directory: libsoft
Manual for International Book and Journal Donations A guide designed to help U.S.-based donors place books and journals in appropriate libraries and institutions abroad.
site: burgundy.Oah.Indiana.Edu [126.96.36.199] directory: \Pub\acls
Network News (an irregular newsletter focusing on libraries and information sources on the Internet)
site: vm1.nodak.edu directory: nnews
The Online Book Initiative site: world.std.com (FTP)
Project Gutenberg (electronic texts project) site: sunsite.unc.edu directory: pub/docs/gutenberg/etextxx
(where xx stands for the year entered, e.g. etext93)
Search sheets for OPACs on the Internet : a selective guide to U.S. OPACs utilizing VT100 emulation / Marcia Klinger Henry, Linda Keenan, Michael Reagan. Publisher: Westport, Conn. : Meckler, c1991
UNT's Accessing On-line Bibliographic Databases site: ftp.utdallas.edu (188.8.131.52) directory: /pub/staff/billy/libguide
Below are listed a number of guides to the Internet which have proved useful for the author. Different people prefer different selections, layouts, and analyses – and thus different guides. No attempt is made here to describe the contents or utility of these guides. The reader is encouraged to begin exploring, or to refer to some local print guides which provide additional summary information. Basically, looking at any one of these will be enough to get started. Once a working knowledge begins to develop, the fledgling Internet explorer will prove the best judge of what guides are most helpful for them.
Bear in mind that most of these resources are created through volunteer effort. Some are scrupulously maintained and updated, while others rapidly become outdated. When looking for a guide or an Internet bibliography on a particular topic, it can be very helpful to consult the various library-oriented mailing lists and newsgroups for pointers. Avoid reinventing the wheel.
At the same time, if the resource being sought does not exist, consider creating it and making it available to others. The Internet is a powerful tool for sharing efforts, and it is important to use it as such.
The Big Dummy's Guide to the Internet site: ftp.eff.org directory: /pub/EFF/papers/big-dummys-guide.txt
(Macintosh Hypercard stack version)
Crossing the Internet Threshold from: Library Solutions Institute and Press or book vendor of choice
A Guide to Internet/BITNET: A Metro Library User Network Guide site: vm1.nodak.edu directory: nnews filenames: guide1.nnews
Guide to Network Resource Tools from: LISTSERV@EARNCC.BITNET command: GET NETTOOLS PS f-mail (Postscript)
GET NETTOOLS MEMO f=mail (plain text)
HitchHiker's Guide to the Internet site: infolib.murdoch.edu.au directory: hitchhikers.internet.gde
How to guides for e-mail, telnet, and ftp site: ftp.sura.net directory: pub/nic/network.services.guides filenames: how.to.email.guide
Inter-Network Mail Guide site: charon.mit.edu directory: pub/usenet-by-group/alt.internet.services filename: Updated_Inter-Network_Mail_Guide
Internet Resource Guide site: nnsc.nsf.net directory: resource-guide This Guide can also be browsed online through the CARL online library system.
Internet Tour Hypercard Stack (for Apple Macintosh computers) site: nnsc.nsf.net directory: internet-tour
Merit Internet Cruise (versions available for Windows and Macintosh) site: nic.merit.edu directory: resources/cruise.dos or resources/cruise.mac
Network Knowledge for the Neophyte: Stuff you Need to Know in Order to Navigate the Electronic Village site: hydra.uwo.ca directory: libsoft filename: network_knowledge_for_the_neoph.txt
NorthWestNet User Services Internet Resource Guide site: quartz.rutgers.edu directory: pub/internet-docs
NYSERNET New User's Guide to Useful and Unique Resources on the Internet site: nysernet.org directory: pub/guides filename: new.user.guide.v2.2.txt
Special Internet Connections (also known as the Yanoff List because it is compiled and updated biweekly by Scott Yanoff of the University of Wisconsin/Madison ) site: csd4.csd.uwm.edu directory: pub filename: inet.services.txt
Surfing the Internet, An Introduction site: nysernet.org directory: pub/resources/guides filename: surfing2.0.3.txt
SURAnet Guide to Selected Internet Resources site: ftp.sura.net directory: pub/nic filename: infoguide.10-93.txt
There's Gold in them thar Networks! or Searching for Treasure in All the Wrong Places site: nic.merit.edu directory: introducing.the.internet filename: network.gold
Zen and the Art of the Internet site: nic.merit.edu directory: resources
AUTHOR Frey, Donnalyn and Rick Adams. TITLE !%@::, a directory of electronic mail addressing and networks EDITION 2nd ed., rev. and updated. IMPRINT Sebastopol, Calif. : O'Reilly & Associates, 1991.
AUTHOR Krol, Ed. TITLE The whole Internet : user's guide & catalog EDITION 1st ed. IMPRINT Sebastopol, Calif. : O'Reilly & Associates, c1992.
AUTHOR Lane, Elizabeth and Craig Summerhill TITLE Internet primer for information professionals: a basic guide to internet networking technology IMPRINT London : Meckler, c1993.
AUTHOR LaQuey, Tracy TITLE The Internet companion : a beginner's guide to global networking IMPRINT Reading, Mass. : Addison-Wesley, c1993.
AUTHOR Malamud, Carl TITLE Exploring the Internet : a technical travelogue IMPRINT Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : PTR Prentice Hall, c1992.
Internet Tools Summary site: ftp.rpi.edu directory: pub/communications filename: internet-tools
Using Networked Information Resource. A Bibliography site: infolib.murdoch.edu.au directory: pub/bib filename: stanton.bib
LOTS of other bibliographies are located at infolib.murdoch.edu.au as well – mirrored for the Australian community. Go elsewhere if possible, but take a look around this site to see an excellent example of the centralization and organisation of available resources guides, bibliographies, directories, electronic journals, and other Internet tools and resources. They are organized in topical directories (bib, dir, jnl, gde, etc) with subdirectories for netinfo (network information) and netser (network services) under each. Another excellent place to look is the Library Software Archives at the University of Western Ontario (hydra.uwo.ca in the libsoft directory).
These resources include a guides to available resources on agriculture, architecture, law, business, religion, and other topics. They are the Internet equivalent of the standard library pathfinders created by librarians world-wide to help their user locate resources in their libraries.
Many of the tools available are new – and many are still under early development. Some of the sites are administered on an ad-hoc basis. Connections can go down, then mysteriously come back up. Something which worked beautifully yesterday may fail today. Whether they are problems, crashes, or gremlins, things will go wrong. A few tips should be born in mind: If something does not work, try again later; if you do not like using something, try something else; no matter what you do, you will not break the Internet; be willing to experiment.
And most important of all – have fun! Learning how to explore the Internet can be aggravating or exhilarating. Even when things are not working out right, it is best to chuckle rather than to use a sledgehammer on the computer monitor.
This paper has only skimmed what can be found on the Internet, and given only a glance at how to use the tools available for locating and accessing it. Nonetheless, it is enough for the reader to be able to begin their own explorations. In this case, the old maxim that "the best way to learn is by doing" is certainly true.
Each reader will find their favorite place for browsing – compilations of directories and files which they feel most comfortable with. They should be careful not to ignore other locations, for not everything will appear on their standard Internet dinner plate. They should read some discussion lists for resources discovery, stay current with the electronic, as with the printed, journal literature, and keep their eyes open for new and helpful tools and resources.
Librarians who do not maintain a level of awareness about the Internet will be ill-prepared to meet the needs of their profession, or their users. The questions are coming; librarians need to be ready to help find the answers, and even to help re-formulate the questions themselves.