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Welcome to the Internet: Help for Librarians

by Edward Spodick
Journal of the Hong Kong Libary Association, No. 16/17, 1992/1993
©1993 Edward Spodick


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reader to feel confident in exploring the internet on their own, since any static listing of what is available would be out of date even before this article is published.

What is the Internet?
The literature is full of articles about the Internet. References to it are even becoming common in the newspapers. The Internet is a fact of life, growing in importance as a carrier or information – as an electronic superhighway. Simply put, the Internet is a conglomeration of independent computer networks – a network of networks. Isolated networks link to the Internet in order to share information and resources with other networks. The Internet is not a person, company, or agency. It is just a collection of networks, each administered independently, and each of which contains resources that are considered more or less useful to those with Internet access.

It is helpful to realize that there is no one person, organization, agency, or government in charge of the Internet. It is jointly maintained and administered by those who connect to it. In Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Academic and Research Network (HARNET) has established a connection to the Internet by leasing a line connecting this network to a network in the United States.

Until recently, only Hong Kong's tertiary education institutions have been able to connect to HARNET, and thus to the Internet. This has now changed, as the HARNET administrators have received permission to permit non-UPGC (University and Polytechnic Grants Committee) funded institutions to connect to the network.1 In addition, several commercial internet providers have emerged in the Hong Kong market, positioned to offer both dial-up and direct access to the Internet for businesses, institutions, or individuals. One of the more recent of these is the Hong Kong SuperNet, which was developed out of the HKUST RandD Corporation at the new University of Science & Technology. Given the apparent level of interest, it appears that the explosive expansion of the internet going on in many areas of the world will soon be found in Hong Kong.

Why Should You Care?
Librarians traditionally work to store, organize, and provide access to information in order to make it more usable for their users. Electronic information has already become included in this category, and the need to access information stored beyond the bounds of the library has been recognized for years (e.g. Inter-Library Loan, DIALOG, BRS/Orbit, and OCLC, to name few).

The amount of information available on the Internet is literally mind-boggling. Library users are discovering this sea of knowledge, and not always through their libraries. As with printed materials, librarians are active in the electronic realm. Every day, more information is placed in a computer connected to the Internet, and made available to all comers, often at no direct cost to the user. And every day, people connecting to the Internet become frustrated at the lack of organization present. This is a situation which cries out for the intervention of librarians.

Librarians need to learn how to navigate the Internet for a variety of reasons. They need to be able to assist their users in discovering the resources available, just as they do for print materials. They need to know what resources are available to make their own work easier. They need to discover new methods of exchanging ideas with others in their profession, and beyond. They need to take advantage of the Internet's potential for improving services – from document image transmission for ILL to being able to field a wider array of reference questions (from a recipe for Hungarian Goulash to economic statistics for Afghanistan).

Basic Information

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).

Computers on a network need to have some sort of common standard in order to communicate with each other. These standards are known as protocols. The computers on a given network must all be using the same protocol at the same time in order to communicate. Some common network protocols are Novell, DECnet, and Appletalk.

Most of these protocols are proprietary, meaning that they are owned by one company, and may not work with networks provided by their competitors. Since the Internet is a conglomeration of networks running dozens of different protocols, a non-proprietary network communications protocol was developed for use on the Internet. most common of these is called TCP/IP. If a computer is connected to the internet, and is running TCP/IP, it can communicate with the other thousands of computers similarly equipped. Users can also access the Internet by using a modem to dial in to an account on a computer which is running TCP/IP.

Computers on the Internet need to have a unique address. This is known as an IP address (for Internet Protocol - the second half of the TCP/IP acronym). This address is in the form of a string of numbers, separated by periods. Since humans generally like to deal with text instead of numbers, most IP addresses are also assigned a name.

As an example, the online public access catalog (OPAC) at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology has an address of, and its name is ustlib.ust.hk. The convention for names is to have the most general location (or domain) on the right, with the information getting more specific with each component to the left (in the United Kingdom, this convention is reversed). In the example, hk stands for Hong Kong, ust stands for the University of Science & Technology, and ustlib stands for the UST LIBrary catalog.

The link between the IP address and the domain name is maintained by a domain name server – a computer which interprets address information passing in or out of the local network. For computers which permit connections from other computers, or which receive electronic mail for users in its local domain, the domain name is also known as the hostname.

UNIX is a computer operating system for multi-user systems, just as DOS is a computer operating system for most single-user personal computers (PCs) Internet users will often be connecting to computers running UNIX. Most users will not need to learn anything more than a few basic commands. These commands are discussed in the section on FTP below. The most important thing to remember about UNIX is that it is case-sensitive. Archive and archive are not considered the same thing. To get a file called NeXT_Programming requires typing the filename in exactly the same way in which it was stored. This can be frustrating, although many archives make a point of having their filenames in lower case.

Clients and Servers
When accessing the internet, a client/server model is used. Clients are what the user interacts with in an Internet session. They are computer programs which run on the user's computer, or on the host computer used to access the internet. They take advantage of the abilities of the machine they run on, and may provide a line-oriented, menu-driven, or graphical interface. Clients communicate with servers, which are programs running on machines reachable through the Internet. The servers act like waiters in a restaurant, serving the client (and thus the user) with the information available from the computer it is running on. This is usually either an interface to a database or a set of files and programs.


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.

E-mail is the electronic equivalent of exchanging letters or faxes. At the moment, most e-mail consists of text only, although it is possible to send graphics by using utilities to encode the graphics as text. When users begin to feel more comfortable with e-mail, they may want to explore this capability. There are also several projects underway to permit the exchange of formatted text, images, video, sounds, and other formats in a manner transparent to the user. One of the most promising of these seems to be the MIME (Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extension) protocol, which "offers a way to interchange text in languages with different character sets, and multi-media mail among many different computer systems that use Internet mail standards."3 Hong Kong users will want to keep their eyes open for more information on this protocol.

As a general rule, everyone on the Internet has an e-mail address. Using e-mail, users can exchange letters with other people anywhere on the Internet, or on other networks such as Compuserve. They can even subscribe to electronic magazines and newsletters, or group e-mail exchanges where a number of people discuss issues relating to different area of interest.

An e-mail address has two parts – a username and a hostname – and look like username@hostname

The username is login name or userid of the person receiving mail, and the hostname is the domain name of the computer they are connected to (their point of entry into the Internet). For example, the author uses the ID lbspodic to log into the local machine called usthk.ust.hk, so his e-mail address is lbspodic@usthk.ust.hk. This should look familiar, since the hostname is in the form discussed earlier under addresses.

Unfortunately, there is no one place to go to find out someone's e-mail address. There are some options, however. One of the simplest is to send them a letter or fax asking them to provide that information. Another is to use the phone book servers discussed in the Gopher section below. For more detailed information on how to find people's e-mail addresses, follow the instructions under FTP below to retrieve the file finding_addresses from rtfm.mit.edu in the directory pub/usenet/news.answers. Related files have been grouped into the pub/nic/directory.services directory at ftp.sura.net

Mailing Lists
Along with exchanging messages with individuals, users can join discussion groups. These are generally divided into two groups – mailing lists (usually running on a host computer using the LISTSERV software) and USENET newsgroups.

Mailing or discussion lists are just a group of interested users sending messages to each other about particular topics. The software used to support these lists is typically referred to as the "list server." Subscribers send messages to a central list server, which redistributed the messages to all the other members of the list. There are thousands of mailing lists accessible through the Internet, on almost any topic one can think of, from AFAS-L@KENTVM, on African American Studies and Librarianship, to Z3950IW@NERVM, which focuses on the Z39.50 Implementors Workshop.

Subscribing to a list just involves sending a sending a simply-formatted message to the listserver at LISTSERV@HOST, where HOST is the part of the address after the "@" character. The format is usually:
SUBSCRIBE List First Name Last Name
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 listserv@kentvm.kent.edu:
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
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.

USENET Newsgroups
Another category of discussion lists are USENET newsgroups. Instead of coming directly to the user's e-mail box, these messages are stored in a central location on the user's host system. In many instances, a host site will translate a mailing list subscription into a newsgroup. This saves computer storage space by having only one copy of each message, which all the users on the system can read, rather than having a number of users each receiving the same messages.

Newsgroups are organized into a hierarchical structure, with prefixes including alt. (alternative), comp. (computer), misc. (miscellaneous), news., rec. (recreation), soc. (social), and others. There are very few specifically library-oriented newsgroups (comp.internet.libraries and soc.libraries.talk), although there are several others which will prove useful. These include alt.books.reviews, alt.books.technical, alt.hypertext, alt.internet.services, alt.online-services, comp.doc.techreports, and comp.infosystems (and all of its subgroups, such as comp.infosystems.gopher), . Reference librarians will find USENET helpful for the breadth of the interests present. Institutions can also buy a subscription to the United Press International newswire, and have it received in newsgroup format, with the prefix of clari., for ease of use. This is very popular with Universities. Contact your local systems people to find out if your host carries the USENET newsgroups.

Electronic Serials
The growth of electronic journals and newsletters has been tremendous, and a number of them relate to librarians. This format allows the sharing of information in an extremely timely fashion, and to a readership which might not be large enough to support the costs of a printed publication. Some of these serials compile information from different sources (e.g. Current Cites), while others are moderated peer-reviewed journals in a non-traditional format (e.g. Public Access Computer Systems Review). Other examples include: ACQNET (The Acquisitions Librarian's Electronic Network); ALCTS NETWORK NEWS (Association for Library Collections and Technical Services); Journal of Academic Media Librarianship; LIBRES: Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal; and the Newsletter on Serials Pricing Issues. For more information concerning library-oriented electronic serials, refer to Appendix A.

Michael Strangelove has compiled a helpful directory of electronic serials. To retrieve this directory, send the following e-mail message to listserv@uottawa or to listserv@acadvm1.uottawa.ca:
get ejournl1 directry f=mail
get ejournl2 directry f=mail
Again, make sure that you have plenty of room in your e-mailbox before you do this.

Remote Login (Telnet / TN3270)
After e-mail, the most common use of the Internet is for remote login, using an application called Telnet. This permits a user on one machine connected to the Internet to contact and log into another machine on the Internet. This could be a user on vacation using a friend's account at their institution to log into their own account 'back home' to read accumulated e-mail. Or the user could want to know what materials are available in other libraries on the subject of the Cultural Revolution in China. Many users at the UPGC institutions in Hong Kong use telnet to log into other UPGC OPACs and see if one of the other university or polytechnic libraries has a book or journal article they are looking for for their research.

A variant of this application is tn3270, which is sometimes required when logging into an IBM mainframe computer. This allows the local machine to act like (emulate) an IBM 3270 computer terminal.

To use telnet, log into a computer on the Internet and type telnet <hostname> (e.g. telnet ustlib.ust.hk or telnet 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.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
Another extremely useful tool is FTP, or File Transfer Protocol. Like, telnet, FTP creates a connection between one machine on the Internet and another. But this time, instead of logging into the other machine to use its resources, the goal is to locate files and programs of interest on a remote machine, and transfer them to a local machine. Generally, these files are transferred into the user's account on the local machine, from which they can download them onto their hard or floppy disk. This means that there has to be enough room for the retrieved file(s) on the local user's account in order for the transfer to be successful.

There is a way to avoid this two-step process. If the user's computer is located directly on the Internet, rather than logging into an account on another machine before they can get to the Internet, they can run a local client program which will establish the connection directly between their computer and the remote site; and the files will be transferred directly to their hard or floppy drive with no intermediate steps.

The vast majority of file transfers use what is called anonymous FTP. A remote site creates a file transfer login which can be used by anyone – a guest account. Users connect by using the account name anonymous and using their actual e-mail address as the password. The author would use lbspodic@usthk.ust.hk. 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.

To use FTP, log into a computer on the Internet and type ftp <hostname>. Once logged in, a limited understanding of some basic UNIX commands will usually be necessary. The most important are:
ls list files. Dir will work on many systems as well.
cd change directory. Usage: cd <directory name>
pwd print working directory. The computer will tell the user where they are – it is easy to get lost.
cdup change directory 'upwards'. Go back one level.
get get a file. To transfer a file from the remote computer to the local computer. Usage: get <filename>
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 binary. To go back to text transfer mode, they type ascii.

A sample FTP session may look like this:
% 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.
FTP> ls
200 PORT command successful.
150 ASCII data connection for /bin/ls (,3770) (0 bytes).
total 57
-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.
FTP> ls
200 PORT command successful.
150 ASCII data connection for /bin/ls (,3771) (0 bytes).
total 1324
-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 (,1286) (27811 bytes).
226 ASCII Transfer complete.
27811 bytes received in 00:00:41.52 seconds
FTP> close
221 Goodbye.
FTP> quit

There is so much material available on FTP sites, that trying to describe it all would be hopeless. And as all Librarians are aware, knowing something is available does not help much if there is nothing to help them find out where it is. Enter a program called Archie, developed at the McGill University School of Computer Science.

Archie is designed in the client/server model discussed earlier. The server software sits at a remote site keeps track of where hundreds of anonymous ftp sites are located, and keeps a regularly updated index of the names of the files and directories available on each one. The client software sits on the user's local computer and asks the server where a certain file can be found. This client can be on a remote site, which the user can telnet to, or can be an interface program run directly from the user's computer desktop.

To access Archie, users telnet to a server (e.g. archie.ans.net) and log in as "archie." Help in using Archie is available by entering the command "help." There are a number of Archie servers which can be used. Refer to the FTP Archie listing in Appendix B.

Wide-Area Information Servers (WAIS)
WAIS is a protocol which permits the user to search and access many differing type of information from a standard user interface. They can access text, sounds, images, and other materials throughout the network. The WAIS protocol was developed at Thinking Machines as an extension of the ANSI Z39.50 information retrieval protocol.

The WAIS client allows the user to specify one or more servers ("sources"), and to generate a query to be used in searching those sources for specific information. To use WAIS, log into a computer on the Internet and type 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.

Internet Gopher
Each of the programs discussed above is considered a 'basic' Internet function. In recent years there have been a number of very exciting developments in the organization and presentation of information on the Internet. One that is popular and easy to use is called the Internet Gopher, because it burrows around the internet looking for goodies.

Gopher is a tool developed at the University of Minnesota that provides the user with a hierarchical, usually menu-driven, display of the information available on a particular gopher server. To use it, log into a computer on the Internet and type 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.

As with FTP, there is also a program designed for locating folders and file on gopher servers. It is called Veronica, and is usually used from inside a gopher server by selecting an option looking something like "Search gopherspace using veronica at UNR."

A sample Gopher session starts like this:
% gopher
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/
7. News/
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
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:
Campus Information

--> 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>
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.

Several gopher client programs have been developed for use on different computer systems. Most of these provide a graphic interface where the user uses a mouse to point-and-click, rather than using the arrow keys to move through a text-based menuing interface. One popular example is TurboGopher for use on Apple Macintosh computers.

One of the most important things to know about Gopher is that it is easy. Easy to set up, and easy to use. It is much simpler than WAIS. This is why the number of gopher servers available is expanding at an almost exponential rate. Even the United States' Library of Congress has set up a gopher server, providing an easier interface to the files available, which include images of a number of the items on display in their Vatican and Soviet Archives exhibits.

World-Wide Web (WWW)
Another tool which has been developed is the World-Wide Web (WWW or W3). This is designed to permit the user to use hypertext links to browse through the 'web' of information available on the Internet. To use WWW, log into a computer on the Internet and type telnet www.njit.edu, or telnet to one of the other sites mentioned under WAIStation in Appendix B.

As with WAIS and Gopher, WWW clients are available for different computer systems. By far the most popular is called NCSA Mosaic, which is available in versions for DOS, Windows, and the Macintosh, among others. Its developers (NCSA – the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois) are working to incorporate the abilities of most other Internet tools into the program, including FTP, WAIS, and Gopher – providing what Edward Valauskas terms "One-stop Internet shopping."5 This is extremely exciting, and by the time this article is published, the software may have developed to the point where it can become the principle Internet resource access tool for librarians and other information professionals. NCSA Mosaic is available by anonymous ftp from ftp.ncsa.uiuc.edu (

Library-Oriented Tools & Resources

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 listserv@ubvm.cc.buffalo.edu.

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)
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)
site:una.hh.lib.umich.edu (Gopher)

Gopher Jewels
site:cwis.usc.edu (Gopher)

(a program which gives instant-access to all Internet-accessible library catalogs, FREE-NETS, CWISs, BBSs, Gophers, WAIS, etc.)
directory: pub/hytelnet

IAT Guides (UNC Chapel Hill Institute for Academic Technology)

Information Sources: the Internet and Computer-Mediated Communication
filenames:internet-cmc.readme (and 9 other files)

Internet-Accessible Library Catalogs and Databases

The Internet Hunt
A monthly challenge for librarians and other browsers.
site:gopher.cic.net (gopher)

ftp.cni.org (ftp)

Library Gopher Tree (Internet Library Catalogs)

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 (

Library Resources on the Internet: Strategies for Selection and Use

Library Software Archives

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 []

Network News
(an irregular newsletter focusing on libraries and information sources on the Internet)

The Online Book Initiative
site:world.std.com (FTP)

Project Gutenberg (electronic texts project)
(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 (


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
(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

Guide to Network Resource Tools
command:GET NETTOOLS PS f-mail (Postscript)
GET NETTOOLS MEMO f=mail (plain text)

HitchHiker's Guide to the Internet

How to guides for e-mail, telnet, and ftp

Inter-Network Mail Guide

Internet Resource Guide
This Guide can also be browsed online through the CARL online library system.

Internet Tour Hypercard Stack (for Apple Macintosh computers)

Merit Internet Cruise (versions available for Windows and Macintosh)
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

NorthWestNet User Services Internet Resource Guide

NYSERNET New User's Guide to Useful and Unique Resources on the Internet

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 )

Surfing the Internet, An Introduction

SURAnet Guide to Selected Internet Resources

There's Gold in them thar Networks! or Searching for Treasure in All the Wrong Places

Zen and the Art of the Internet

Some good books:
AUTHORFrey, Donnalyn and Rick Adams.
TITLE!%@::, a directory of electronic mail addressing and networks
EDITION2nd ed., rev. and updated.
IMPRINTSebastopol, Calif. : O'Reilly & Associates, 1991.

TITLEThe whole Internet : user's guide & catalog
EDITION1st ed.
IMPRINTSebastopol, Calif. : O'Reilly & Associates, c1992.

AUTHORLane, Elizabeth and Craig Summerhill
TITLEInternet primer for information professionals: a basic guide to internet networking technology
IMPRINTLondon : Meckler, c1993.

AUTHORLaQuey, Tracy
TITLEThe Internet companion : a beginner's guide to global networking
IMPRINTReading, Mass. : Addison-Wesley, c1993.

AUTHORMalamud, Carl
TITLEExploring the Internet : a technical travelogue
IMPRINTEnglewood Cliffs, N.J. : PTR Prentice Hall, c1992.

Internet Tools Summary

Using Networked Information Resource. A Bibliography

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.

When Things Go Wrong

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.


[1] Palmer, David. Hong Kong Academic and Research Network (HARNET) - an interview with Dr. Nam Ng, director of the HKU Computer Centre. Hong Kong Library Association Newsletter, 3rd series, no. 29, November, 1993.

[2] LaQuey, Tracy. The internet companion: a beginner's guide to global networking. Reading, Mass. : Addison-Wesley, c1993, p. 23.

[3] Goodwin, Tim, ed. comp.mail.mile frequently asked questions list (FAQ). version 2.9. USENET News: comp.mail.mime, 22 September 1993.

[4] Handman, Gary. Bibliotoons : a mischievous meander through the stacks & beyond. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., 1990.

[5] Valauskas, Edward J. "One-stop Internet shopping: NCSA Mosaic on the Macintosh." Online, September 1993, pp 99-101.

this page is maintained by Ed Spodick