Library Resources on the Internet (ALA)
LIBRARY RESOURCES ON THE INTERNET:
STRATEGIES FOR SELECTION AND USE
Reference and Adult Services Division
Machine-Assisted Reference Section
Direct Patron Access to Computer-Based Reference Systems Committee
Sally Wayman Kalin
This project grew from initial discussions at the Direct Patron Access
Committee's meetings at the 1990 annual meeting in Chicago when the
Committee was chaired by Peggy Seiden. Committee members contributed
their expertise and ideas for the structure of the guide, and wrote
or compiled sections. Committee members included:
Laine Farley, University of California, Office of the President,
Library Automation, 1989-1991 (Chair, 1990-1991)
Greg Finnegan, Dartmouth College, 1989-1991
Eddy Hogan, California State University, Sacramento, 1987-1991
Lee Jaffe, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1988-1991
Sally Wayman Kalin, Pennsylvania State University, 1989-1991
Jo Kibbee, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1990-1991
Karen Snure, Ohio State University, 1990-1991
Roy Tennant, University of California, Berkeley, 1988-1991
E. Paige Weston, University of Illinois, Chicago, 1987-1991
The Committee thanks ad hoc volunteers Mary Engle for writing the
section on technical tips, and reviewing other sections, and Sue
Dentinger for reviewing several sections.
The Committee also acknowledges the interest and suggestions offered by
a number of PACS-L participants, and members of OPAC vendor user groups
who reviewed entries in Appendix B.
I want to acknowledge the excellent contributions of each committee
member. They not only reviewed the entire guide and made
improvements, but also provided the moral support and enthusiasm to
keep the editor on track. In addition, each member contributed
individually as follows: Greg Finnegan compiled the section on
"travel guides"; Eddy Hogan contributed most of Section 5 on other
online resources; Lee Jaffe wrote section 4.2 and 4.3 on using system
successfully; Sally Kalin contributed to Section 2 and Section 5.3 on
specialized databases; Jo Kibbee compiled the bibliography in Appendix
A; Karen Snure researched system models for Appendix B; Roy Tennant
contributed Section 1 and Section 3.5; and Paige Weston compiled
I am also grateful to my co-workers at the UC Division of Library
Automation, Mark Needleman, for making the text available via FTP; and
Genny Engel, for her careful reading of the draft and many useful
Laine Farley, editor
LIBRARY RESOURCES ON THE INTERNET:
STRATEGIES FOR SELECTION AND USE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction: Scope and Purpose of the Guide
Section 1: Getting There From Here
1.1 The Internet: Some Background Information
1.2 How to Get Started
1.3 References for Getting Started
Section 2: Why Search Library Catalogs Via the Internet?
Section 3: Road Maps and Travel Guides
3.1 The Road Maps: Sources for Identifying Library Catalogs on the Internet
3.2 References for the Road Maps
3.3 The Travel Guides: Sources for Selecting Library Catalogs
3.4 References for the Travel Guides
3.5 Beyond Road Maps and Travel Guides: Gateways and Clients
Section 4: Using Systems Successfully--Survival Tips
4.1 Making and Breaking the Connection -- Technical Tips
4.2 Search Strategies -- Understanding System Basics
4.3 Beyond the Basics -- Discovering the Real Power of an Online Catalog
Section 5: What Else is Out There--Other Online Resources
5.1 Companion Databases to Online Catalogs
5.2 Campus-Wide Information Systems
5.3 Specialized Databases
Appendix A: Libraries and Network Resources: Additional Readings
Appendix B: System Models
Appendix C: Glossary
Appendix D: An FTP Primer
INTRODUCTION: Scope and Purpose of the Guide
The analogy of a superhighway has been used to describe the emerging
system of networked computers known as the Internet, which connects
research and educational institutions nationally and internationally.
Libraries were one of the first institutions to set up shop along this
superhighway, beckoning travellers to their electronic doorways to
explore bibliographic riches in a new guise--the online public access
catalog, also known as the OPAC (a controversial but convenient acronym).
Why is this guide needed?
The lack of reliable road maps and informative travel guides to the
Internet initially made this journey appealing only to the intrepid.
Many groups currently are working to establish consistent and reliable
sources of information about Internet resources. At present, however,
there is no general overview or practical handbook to introduce users
to the Internet when they have a specific destination in mind. This
guide seeks to give users practical strategies for identifying and
using one type of resource--library catalogs on the Internet.
Who is the audience?
The guide provides a general approach that can be followed by any
user, or by librarians for their clientele, in producing a more
customized guide to specific systems of interest. You can use it as a
sort of erector set or kit, including the parts of most value to your
interests, and filling in the details for your own situation. Some
parts may be more meaningful to librarians, for example, the section
on "travel guides". But this section may alert other users to the
idea that resources exist to help make choices. In concert with
librarians, users can explore and create more focused guides.
Portions of the guide may be reprinted or adapted for nonprofit
purposes, providing the material is accurately quoted and the source
What does it include?
The guide provides background on the purpose and services of the
Internet, gives examples of types of library systems and companion
resources, identifies directories and other sources for locating
currently available systems, and relates strategies used by
experienced searchers to make the most of exploring new resources.
What does it exclude?
Because our committee's life span was coming to an end due to a
reorganization of all MARS committees, we had to limit the scope of
our project to something we could finish quickly. The guide will not
be updated, but if it proves valuable, perhaps others will develop its
successor as it becomes outdated.
For these reasons, the guide does not describe individual library
catalogs. Other sources provide that function and have a mechanism
for incorporating updates quickly. We also recognize that library
catalogs are not the only valuable resource on the Internet. One of
the major benefits of the Internet for users is that many different
kinds of resources, such as specialized scientific databases, regional
business information, or research-in-progress, have much higher
visibility now that a common structure links them together. A few of
these resources are described briefly in Section 5 and some
generalizations made about categories (although they defy
categorization, even by a group of librarians). These resources are
much more difficult to identify and understand. They lack even the
surface commonalities shared by library catalogs. Although beyond the
scope of this guide, we hope that other groups will pursue this
intriguing area in the future.
The guide also concentrates on resources available for remote login,
not the many and diverse documents, data, software, or other items
that can be captured using FTP. Some FTP-able documents are
mentioned because they are resources for identifying or using
library catalogs, or because they provide essential background
information. Electronic mail and e-mail discussion groups are
mentioned only briefly, again because they are tools related to
discovering information about library catalogs on the Internet.
But this guide does not cover sources for e-mail discussion groups,
mail etiquette, or other details of this service.
Where it is available
--In electronic format via FTP on host dla.ucop.edu, directory
pub/internet, filename libcat-guide. It will remain until it is
obviously out of date or until it has a successor.
--In print as an RASD Occasional Paper, available for purchase.
Available for loan at the LOEX Clearinghouse on Library Instruction.
SECTION 1: GETTING THERE FROM HERE
Whether you plan to become a full network participant or want to use
the network only for reaching other library catalogs, it is useful to
understand the basic network organization and the services it
1.1 THE INTERNET: SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The Internet is a network of hundreds of computer networks spanning
the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia (Quarterman, 1990 and
LaQuey, 1990). This vast interconnection of computers provides an
unparalleled infrastructure for resource sharing. An Internet user
can connect to a computer on the other side of the world as quickly
and easily as if it were in the next room. Mail messages can be
delivered to any of thousands of individual mail boxes in dozens of
countries. Large computer files can be transferred quickly with a few
brief commands. These capabilities are bringing a vast array of
resources to our desktops at little or no charge to users.
Since the Internet is comprised of separately administered networks,
Internet support tasks are accomplished by cooperative arrangements.
Two major Network Information Centers (SRI International and Bolt,
Beranek and Newman) provide direct support to network users by making
network documents and other information available, by keeping track of
network hosts, and other services. The Internet Activities Board and
its subsidiaries coordinate Internet design, engineering and
management (Cerf, 1990). The Coalition for the National Research and
Education Network is working to develop a National Research and
Education Network (NREN) which would provide more interconnectivity
and much higher communication speeds than the U.S. Internet currently
provides (Coalition..., 1989). The Coalition for Networked
Information was recently formed by the Association of Research
Libraries, CAUSE, and EDUCOM to promote the provision of information
resources on existing networks and on proposed interconnected
If disparate computer systems are to communicate, they must be able to
understand and respond predictably to other machines. This is accomplished
by requiring that each machine on a network support a particular set of
protocols, or agreements on how certain basic functions are to be handled.
For the Internet, these protocols are presently the Transmission Control
Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite of protocols (Hedrick, 1987).
In the future, the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) protocols of the
International Standards Organization (ISO) may supplant TCP/IP as the
glue that holds the Internet together. TCP/IP provides for three basic
services: electronic mail, remote login and file transfer.
All three of the major services provided by the Internet protocols may
come in handy for the Internet explorer. It is the remote login service,
described below, that makes it possible to connect to other library
catalogs on the Internet.
. Remote Login: The TELNET command initiates a connection to a remote
machine over the Internet. It allows you to log in to a distant
computer and use it as if your terminal were directly connected.
This function is described in more detail in Section 3, "Using
. File Transfer: The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) of the TCP/IP protocol
suite allows users to transfer files quickly from machine to
machine on the Internet. It is possible to transfer files in
various formats, allowing you to retrieve software programs,
graphic images, and other files which are not ASCII text. Since
a particular set of commands must be used to perform these
tasks, it is best to refer to specific instructions (Bowers,
1990), although a brief "FTP Primer" is included as Appendix D.
Many of the directories of resources on the Internet and
other networking information are available via FTP.
An example of research-related applications of FTP is obtaining
files such as directories, catalogs and bibliographies of resources
that are posted on the Internet. For example, the Oxford Text
Archive, a database of the full-text of books, plays, essays, and
poetry, makes its updated catalog of materials available for
capture with FTP. Also available via FTP are the full-text of
electronic journals and copies of software packages.
. Electronic mail: E-mail is a fast, inexpensive, and efficient way
to communicate with people on the network around the world. It
is possible to send messages or files to another user on the
same network or through a "gateway" to a different network such
as BITNET. As you explore library catalogs on the Internet,
this function may be used to contact people responsible for
online library catalogs for information about a catalog's
contents or other services.
Electronic mail has many applications for research. Since this
is an easy way to transmit text, it is possible to share quickly
notes and drafts of works-in-progress with co-authors, reviewers,
and editors. It is also possible to send e-mail to more than one person
at a time; a working group of colleagues all over the world can
keep in touch quickly and easily. Large mailing lists called
listservers function as electronic discussion forums, allowing
members to track trends and communicate about common interests.
1.2 HOW TO GET STARTED
If you are affiliated with an academic or special library, you should
check with your computer staff to see if your organization has access
to the Internet. Users at other locations may need to establish a
computer account at a local college or university that offers Internet
access. An account is not always necessary, local conditions
permitting. Some online catalogs provide a connection to other
selected catalogs on the Internet as an option from the local catalog.
The CARL system in Colorado, Dartmouth College, and the University of
California's MELVYL System are examples of this alternative. These
online catalogs may offer a limited selection of systems, but make it
easier to get started since a computer account is probably not
necessary. Some systems will also handle any login instructions for
you, so that you don't have to know how to use Telnet commands or
remember login sequences.
To get started "internetworking", there are several good beginning sources.
Britten (1990) offers a good brief overview of both BITNET and the
Internet for librarians, and his "networkography" lists some excellent
sources. An overview not directed at librarians is offered by Krol (1989).
For the most authoritative source on network resources, obtain the National
Science Foundation's Internet Resource Guide (1989). The essential
bibliography of Internet information is Bowers, et.al. (1990).
No matter how much you read, however, there is no substitute for your
own experience. If you have access to the Internet you should take the
plunge and start using the three functions offered to network users.
Electronic mail, remote login, and file transfer have already proven to
be important tools for many users. In the future, the ability to
use computer networks effectively will be a fundamental skill required
to satisfy basic information needs.
1.3 REFERENCES FOR GETTING STARTED
Bowers, Karen, et. al. FYI on Where to Start - A Bibliography of
Internetworking Information. Network Working Group, Request for
Comments 1175, August, 1990. [Available via FTP on host nic.ddn.mil,
directory rfc:, filename RFC1175.TXT]
Britten, William A. "BITNET and the Internet: Scholarly Networks for
Librarians." College and Research Libraries News, 51(2) (February 1990):
Cerf, Vinton. The Internet Activities Board. Network Working Group,
Request for Comments 1160, July 1990. [Available via FTP on host
nic.ddn.mil, directory rfc:, filename RFC.1160.TXT]
Coalition for the National Research and Education Network. NREN: The
National Research and Education Network. Washington, DC: Coalition
for the National Research and Education Network, 1989.
Hedrick, Charles. Introduction to the Internet Protocols. Piscataway, NJ:
Rutgers University Computer Science Facilities Group, July 3, 1987.
[Available via FTP on host topaz.rutgers.edu, directory
pub/tcp-ip-docs, filenames tcp-ip-intro.doc or tcp-ip-intro.ps]
Krol, Ed. The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Internet. Network Working Group,
Request for Comments 1118, September, 1989. [Available via FTP on
host nic.ddn.mil, directory rfc:, filename RFC1118.TXT]
LaQuey, Tracy L. User's Directory of Computer Networks. Bedford, MA:
Digital Press, 1990.
Malkin, G, and A. Marine. FYI on Questions and Answers: Answers
to Commonly asked "New Internet User" Questions. Network Working
Group, Request for Comments 1206, February 1991. [Available via FTP on
host nic.ddn.mil, direcotry rfc:, filename RFC.1206.TXT, or
via e-mail request to [email protected] with subject: RFC 1206]
National Science Foundation Network Service Center. Internet Resource
Guide. Cambridge, MA: NSF Network Service Center, 1989.
[Available via FTP on host nsc.nsf.net, directory resource-guide, or
via e-mail request to [email protected]]
Quarterman, John S. The Matrix: Computer Networks and Conferencing
Systems Worldwide. Bedford, MA: Digital Press, 1990.
SECTION 2: WHY SEARCH LIBRARY CATALOGS VIA THE INTERNET?
If you are comfortable with using your local online public access
catalog (OPAC) and are usually successful in searching it, you may
wonder why you should risk travelling across the Internet to distant
systems. Even if perusing other systems does not become a regular
part of your searching routine, you may find that access to other
library catalogs is an invaluable resource for specific needs. Some
of the main reasons for seeking out other systems are listed below.
Because Internet travel is free or low-cost, you can experiment and
be creative in your explorations.
A. To use a remote OPAC as a complement to your own OPAC.
A remote system may have different capabilities or features (keyword
searching, indexed contents notes, etc.), which can help identify
materials available but not easily identifiable in the local
A remote system may be available at hours when a local system is not, or
when the local system is down temporarily.
Students, advanced researchers, and the general public all need to
verify citations occasionally, as do library staff in reference,
interlibrary loan, preorder searching, and original cataloging.
Researchers at all levels can identify new materials on a topic, in a
collection that is stronger than the local collection, or that is
simply better represented online in a remote system.
B. To evaluate a collection.
Researchers can sample other institutions' collections in preparation
for research trips, or while away, they can use their home systems.
Academics need help choosing where to go to college or grad school, where
to spend a sabbatical year, or where to accept a job offer.
Nonacademics need help deciding where to locate a new business, whether to
fund a grant proposal, or with what institution to establish a contract.
Librarians can coordinate, and library users can benefit from, cooperative
Other libraries' examples can help librarians set local retrospective
C. To use a specialized database.
Some libraries have created special indexes to portions of their
collections that were not commonly included in their predecessor card
catalogs. Examples include indexes to song collections, slide
collections, or local newspapers. See Section 4 for other types of
databases. Some of the specific reasons to seek out these databases
include the following:
Researchers in a subject area may find specialized resources not
available anywhere else (e.g., University of Michigan's Meeman
Archive on environmental journalism).
Users can search readily available information in electronic form,
providing more flexibility or better access (e.g., full text of
Shakespeare plays and sonnets at Dartmouth).
Users needing regional information may discover indexes or even
full text of local newspapers or statistics (e.g., index to the
Florida Times-Union at Florida State).
Librarians can answer reference questions using specialized indexes
or using standard reference works available elsewhere (e.g.,
Carnegie Mellon's index to architectural illustrations, Choice
Book Reviews on Colorado's CARL system).
D. To test, evaluate, or play with different system capabilities.
Instructors and librarians can use remote systems to teach users
the basic concepts of information retrieval, comparing strategies
and capabilities in different systems.
Librarians, together with their university, city, or corporate
administrators, can decide which particular online system they
want to install locally, or can list and rank the system features
most desirable locally.
People not otherwise interested in bibliographic information management
can learn about online information management in general, particularly
since OPACs are explicitly aimed at a wide variety of users.
A hospital administrator might evaluate a library's strategies for
integrated information management; system developers for banks,
airports, retail outlets, etc. might evaluate an OPAC's screen
design or command structure, to learn what interface features work
well, or what will be familiar to users.
Librarians and system designers can gain fresh perspectives on what
works and what is confusing by becoming a "new user" on an unfamiliar
SECTION 3: ROAD MAPS AND TRAVEL GUIDES
Experienced travellers usually carry both road maps and travel guides
since the strengths of each resource are not easily blended into one
handy tool. The same division of labor prevails in the sources
currently available for library resources on the Internet. At this
point, the Internet traveller doesn't even have the option of choosing
to sacrifice quality for the convenience of having both map and guide
in the same place. Until an economical and timely way is devised to
blend the two, the prospective Internet traveler must rely on one set
of directories to identify resources connected to the Internet, and
another set of reference sources to determine collection strengths.
3.1 THE ROAD MAPS: IDENTIFYING LIBRARY CATALOGS ON THE INTERNET
Several directories have grown quickly in response to the need to
identify Internet resources, largely as the result of individual
interest and effort. Other directories are evolving more slowly
under the auspices of groups with a stake in promoting the use
of the Internet and assisting users.
Your local computer center may be willing to subscribe to the guides
that are available only in electronic format and make the updated
versions available centrally.
INTERNET-ACCESSIBLE LIBRARY CATALOGS AND DATABASES: Often referred
to as the St. George directory, this source can probably claim
to be the most comprehensive directory. It began with
only library catalogs but has expanded to include sections on
campus-wide information systems, and even bulletin board systems
that are not on the Internet. The library catalog sections are
divided into those that are free, those that charge, and international
(i.e., non-U.S) catalogs; they are arranged by state, province, or
country within each section. There is also a section giving
dialup information for some of the library catalogs.
Its main weakness is the lack of a standard format which makes it
difficult at times to find the needed information; also, not
all entries include the same type of data. Its informality
is also its strength since contributors can provide whatever
Usually, information includes basic logon information (sometimes a
copy of the screen giving system prompts and responses is listed),
a contact person, and sometimes a description of what the catalog
The directory is updated periodically and announced on a number
of listservers such as PACS-L, BI-L, CWIS-L and others. (See
the articles by Caroline Arms in the bibliography in Appendix A
for more information about listservers.)
UNT'S ACCESSING ON-LINE BIBLIOGRAPHIC DATABASES: This directory
is produced by Billy Barron, Systems Manager at the University of
North Texas, as an aid to his user community. It complements the
St. George guide by providing a standard format for all systems
which lists the Internet address, logon instructions, the system
vendor, and logoff information. The arrangement is alphabetic by
An appendix lists the major OPAC vendors and provides basic search
instructions for each (use it to update similar information in
Appendix B of this guide). Separate lists provide contact persons
for each system, and the numeric Internet addresses, a handy
reference if your system can use only this form of address rather than the
This directory is also updated periodically and announced on
INTERNET RESOURCE GUIDE: Sponsored by the National Science Foundation
Network Service Center (NNSC), this directory points to the wider
world of resources on the Internet. Its section on library catalogs
is much smaller than either the St. George or Barron guides, but
some listings contain more descriptive information. Other sections
cover computational resources, data archives, white pages or
directory sources for individual network users, networks and
e-mail gateways, network information centers, and a miscellaneous
Sections are updated periodically, and it is possible to subscribe
to the updates.
The directory is mounted as a searchable database on the CARL system
in Colorado. Issue a Telnet command to pac.carl.org or 184.108.40.206
and choose the section on Information Databases.
"SEARCHING LIBRARY CATALOGS ON THE INTERNET: A SURVEY": UCLA
librarians Karen Andrews and Aggi Raeder take you through a practical
tour of the library catalogs on the Internet listed in the St. George
guide (at the time, about 40 were included). Using a set of standard
queries, they tested each system and tried to download the results.
The narrative part of the article gives practical advice for getting
on, getting help, and getting around in the different systems.
The directory listings at the end of the article include system
name and Internet address, mailing address, logon procedures,
type of system, dial-in information when available, library size,
special features, how to get help, downloading procedure, and
SEARCH SHEETS FOR OPACS ON THE INTERNET: Again using the St. George
directory as a source, Marcia Henry has compiled detailed
information on library catalogs using a format similar to the
DIALOG Blue Sheets.
Basic logon and logoff information and a brief description of the
system's contents precede a chart listing commands, indexes, and
examples of searches.
The book is in press at the time of this writing, but we have seen
a preview of the entries. The publisher, Meckler, plans to provide
updates and corrections in its newsletter, Research and Education
SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS: Software developers are producing tools based
on one or more of the directories listed above to facilitate locating
library catalogs. These software solutions range from a way to
consult the directories from your personal computer to gateways
that provide directory information and initiate a connection, with
even more sophisticated front-end help on the horizon. See Section
3.5 for more information.
. For IBM-compatible personal computers, a hypertext utility called
HYTELNET permits easy browsing of the systems listed in the St.
George directory and those found in the Barron directory
described above. It is also possible to customize the program
by adding other sites or updating those sites already listed.
This memory-resident utility does not initiate a connection, but
can be a handy replacement for the printed copies of the
directories on which it is based. New releases appear periodically
with corrections and additions.
Available: Via FTP from several hosts including ftp.unt.edu,
directory library, filename HYTELN50.ZIP.
Contact: Peter Scott, University of Saskatchewan, at
[email protected] for further information on retrieving
and installing the program, and to sign up for a messaging
service for exchange of corrections and additions to the
. For Microsoft Windows 3.0, a hypertext version of the Barron
directory called CATALIST permits easy searching by geographic
location or name. It can be run alongside any Windows
compatible communications software so that you can use
CATALIST in one window and log in to use telnet in another
window. It also allows you to take notes about a library
catalog or even copy screens or other information from the
library catalog and store it with the directory information.
Available: Via FTP from host zebra.acs.udel.edu, directory
pub/library or host ftp.unt.edu, directory library/catalist.
Contact: Richard H. Duggan, University of Delaware, at
. For UNIX or VMS hosts, a shell script called LIBTEL lists most
of the entries in the St. George guide, including some of the
other types of databases and bulletin boards. It initiates the
connection to the requested system.
Available: Via FTP from host ftp.oit.unc.edu, directory pub/docs,
filename libtel. The UNIX version and a VMS version are
also located at host ftp.unt.edu, directory library,
filename libtel (for the UNIX version) or libtel.com (for the
Contact: At the University of North Carolina, Terry
Mancour at [email protected] or Paul Jones at
. For VAX/VMS systems, software is available for mounting
the St. George directory. The software makes it easy to select
the appropriate section of the directory, provides basic
information about the system when available, summarizes logon
and logoff commands, and presents the option to initiate a
Available: Via FTP on host sonoma.edu, directory pub, filename
Contact: Mark Resmer, Sonoma State University, at
[email protected] for more information or to be included on a
mailing list for future updates.
3.2 REFERENCES FOR THE ROAD MAPS
Barron, Billy. UNT's Accessing On-Line Bibliographic Databases. Denton, TX:
University of North Texas, 1991. [Available via FTP on host
ftp.unt.edu (220.127.116.11), in directory library]
Henry, Marcia. Search Sheets for OPACS on the Internet. Westport, CT:
National Science Foundation Network Service Center. Internet Resource
Guide. Cambridge, MA: NSF Network Service Center, 1989.
[Available via FTP on host nnsc.nsf.net, directory resource-guide, or via
e-mail request to [email protected]]
Raeder, Aggi W., and Karen L. Andrews. "Searching Library Catalogs on
the Internet: A Survey." Database Searcher 6, no. 7 (Sept. 1990): 16-31.
St. George, Art and Ron Larsen. Internet-Accessible Library Catalogs and
Databases. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico, 1991.
[Available by e-mail message "GET LIBRARY PACKAGE" to
3.3 THE TRAVEL GUIDES: SOURCES FOR SELECTING LIBRARY CATALOGS ON THE INTERNET
As more and more electronic resources are networked to end-users,
questions of selection and choice arise. This poses a classic
chicken-and-egg problem: an important reason for networking
electronic resources is to compensate for inadequacies of traditional
reference tools, but those same sources provide the foundation for
choosing to connect to one or another OPAC on the Internet. Once past
address and command-language issues, browsing all the available OPACs
is hardly efficient. OPAC directories tend to focus on technical
questions of addresses and compatibilities, with, sometimes, a few
notes about local resources or notable collection strengths; these are
rarely comprehensive and are usually written by automation, not
collection-development specialists. The scholar who already knows,
say, that the University of Texas at Austin has a flagship Latin
American studies collection will know to choose it when that subject
is desired. But how does the novice break in, until such time as
directories can flag individual OPACs in enough detail? The following
sources provide some interim assistance. Reference librarians can
advise on which of these to use, and often know of better sources for
Some caveats should be noted, however:
-- Online catalogs may be incomplete. Older materials in many library
collections have not yet been converted to a format that can be
read by computers, and thus many not be represented in online
catalogs. Some online catalogs indicate how much of the library's
collection is included, but others provide no warning.
-- These sources emphasize the United States and Canada. The number of
catalogs from other countries available on the Internet is steadily
growing. Reference librarians can assist in locating descriptiongs
of their collection strengths.
-- Remember the national union catalogs. The alternative to sifting
through subject guides and using several different online catalogs is
to search the large databases that approach being a national union
catalog, representing the collections of most libraries nationwide.
OCLC and RLIN are both on the Internet, although there is a fee
for their use. The Library of Congress's system is also available
through a number of state libraries, and may become more accessible
in the future.
SUBJECT COLLECTIONS: The standard print resource for someone
confronting questions of "who's strongest in what I want" is Ash
and Miller's SUBJECT COLLECTIONS (6th ed., 1985.) It is compiled
from questionnaires sent to libraries, and suffers from the usual
consequences of that method: entries are often outdated, have gaps
from non-respondents, and depend on widely varying levels of detail
supplied to the compilers.
Entries, by Library of Congress Subject Headings, can have glaring
omissions. Major collections may not be mentioned--"Africa, South"
includes Stanford/Hoover, but omits the other leading collection,
at Yale (whose Latin American collection is extensively described
elsewhere, however.) Worse than omission is partial description.
The University of Florida's major strength in Latin American
agriculture is duly noted, but to the exclusion of its equally
important collection of that region's social science and humanities
literatures. An apparently frequent routing of the questionnaires
was to Special Collections administrators, with the misleading
result that, for example, Africana manuscript collections at
Columbia and Yale are listed, but outstanding monograph and serial
collections are not. These special collections are even less likely
to be found in online catalogs.
An unavoidable limitation of SUBJECT COLLECTIONS is that, since the
latest edition dates from 1985, the present goal of identifying
electronic access to local catalogs couldn't have been envisioned.
The would-be Internet OPAC tourist has to juggle the 2-volume
SUBJECT COLLECTIONS with directories of accessible OPACs. Indeed,
the work is so oriented to identifying collections within
traditional library work patterns that it may even be shelved in the
interlibrary loan office, rather than in the open reference collection.
COLLEGE BLUE BOOK: This multi-volume work is not specifically about
libraries, but it is widely available and complements other
sources. It is completely inclusive of all accredited institutions
of higher education, and lists degrees awarded by field.
Institutions awarding a doctorate could be presumed to have
stronger collections in a given subject than those granting lesser
degrees. A significant limitation, though, is that fields are
listed as particular institutions describe them; "Asian
Civilization" is on a different page from "Asian Studies;" both are
far from "East Asian Studies" and "Far Eastern Studies." None are
cross-referenced to each other, yet all must be consulted to
identify likely candidates for fruitful Internet access (as always,
after ascertaining which OPACs are on Internet.)
A GUIDE TO PUBLISHED LIBRARY CATALOGS (1982): Bonnie Nelson's
guide provides citations to 429 library catalogs published during
and after the 1960s, with detailed annotations. A value here is
that one person has assessed the resources and identified
strengths. Further, since the modern revival of book catalogs
stemmed from particular photographic techniques, fully
three-quarters of Nelson's citations are to catalogs published by
the G.K. Hall company. Since they marketed catalogs of flagship
or uniquely valuable collections, inclusion is an indication to an
Internet user that OPAC versions of these catalogs would be
excellent first choices if their collections have been converted
for online access. As with SUBJECT COLLECTIONS, however, the date
of Nelson's book means that the end user has to supply the
awareness of which OPACs are on the Internet.
RLG CONSPECTUS: The Research Libraries Group has attempted to
address the question of collection strengths through its
Conspectus, a detailed evaluation of members' collections in given
subject areas, broken out in great detail according to Library of
Congress Classification Numbers. The intent of the project was to
facilitate resource sharing by allowing members to identify each
The Conspectus evaluates collection strength and current collecting
intensity on a 0-5 scale, ranging from 'out of scope' and 'minimal
level' through to the categories of most interest here, 'research'
and 'comprehensive' levels. Levels 4 and 5, respectively, indicate
self-assessed collections capable of supporting doctoral
dissertation research and those that "endeavor...to include all
significant works of recorded knowledge...in all applicable
languages, for a necessarily defined and limited field." Libraries
whose collection in a given area is a 4 or (the quite-rare) 5 would
be ideal Internet choices for such subjects.
Leaving aside objections to the inherent value of the ratings
themselves and problems of categorizing interdisciplinary strengths
(cf. Henige 1987), the availability of the tool itself suffers
from the same cart-before-the-horse problem as the books already
mentioned. The Conspectus was conceived as a tool for subject
bibliographers, reference librarians, and interlibrary loan staff;
in other words, people with RLIN terminals readily to hand and with
some level of prior knowledge about collections and institutions.
Like the somewhat parallel collection measuring tool, the National
Shelflist Count, published in microfiche, the Conspectus is
primarily aimed at library 'insiders.' For reasons of sheer bulk
(and because they are a component of a revenue-generating
electronic database,) the Conspectus data exist, for all practical
purposes, only in a file on RLIN, RLG's online database.
More recently, RLG has been promoting end-user access to RLIN,
especially by scholars, by offering individual accounts to faculty and by
allowing gateways within online library catalogs. For the universe of
end-users who have such access to RLIN, use of the online
Conspectus would be the first step to identify OPACs to search.
LIBRARY DIRECTORIES: Many library directories include descriptions
of collection subject strengths, and some provide subject indexes.
Directories also may aid the prospective researcher in preparing for an
on-site visit. Although directories are abundant, the following two
are worthy of specific mention:
AMERICAN LIBRARY DIRECTORY: Updated every other year, this
directory is the standard one for basic information on library
size, organization, and brief descriptions of special collections.
DIRECTORY OF SPECIAL LIBRARIES AND INFORMATION CENTERS: An annual,
multi-volume "Guide to More Than 19,800 Special Libraries, Research
Libraries, Information Centers, Archives, and Data Centers Maintained
by Government Agencies, Business, Industry, Newspapers, Educational
Institutions, Nonprofit Organizations, and Societies...". Its
detailed subject index identifies subject strengths of special
collections that are independent or part of larger collections.
OTHER SOURCES: As scope of interest narrows, the range of reference
tools expands. Area studies fields typically have directories of
resources; many scholarly associations publish guides to
departments listing institutional strengths. Metropolitan areas
often have union lists of serials or handbooks of library resources
that inform readers about collections. OPACs that allow freetext
keyword searching or browsing will turn up such tools with searches
on the subject phrase "library resources" and the embedded
ONLINE CATALOGS: Since most OPACs are designed for local
constituencies, "help" and "explain" screens tend to aid
understanding of the system, not the library it catalogs. Once
libraries acknowledge that users may often be unfamiliar with their
collections, and, indeed, once libraries accept their need for
their own purposes to assess their strengths and weaknesses, then
OPACs could routinely contain collection-description statements as
menu choices, or could be "cataloged" on other OPACs as
machine-readable data files with notable strengths tagged with
In the meantime, some strategies for assessing an OPAC while
learning its commands might include some of the following.
. Consult WELCOME SCREENS: Branch libraries and special collections
are sometimes listed, and information on collections that are
included or excluded may be explained.
. Read MENUS and HELP SCREENS: Unusual and/or locally-created
databases should be listed. They may be bibliographic, textual,
or numeric, and often provide unique electronic resources.
. Look for SPECIAL LOCATIONS or BRANCH LIBRARIES: Whether listed
cryptically as part of a call number code or explicitly in
information screens, these indicators of library organization
can reveal collection strengths.
. Conduct TOPICAL SEARCHES: Focused searches on topics of interest
will provide a raw number to use as a gauge; limiting by language
or date indicates range and currency of the collection.
. BROWSE or SCAN call numbers, subjects, or authors: When this feature is
possible, it can provide an overview of holdings in an area.
3.4 REFERENCES FOR THE TRAVEL GUIDES
American Library Directory. New York: Bowker, biennial.
Ash, Lee, William G. Miller, and Barbara J. McQuitty, compilers.
Subject Collections: A Guide to Special Book Collections and
Subject Emphases as Reported by University, College, Public, and
Special Libraries and Museums in the United States and Canada.
6th ed rev. and enl. New York: R.R. Bowker, 1985. 2 v.
The College Blue Book. Degrees Offered by College and Subject. 22nd ed.
New York: Macmillan, 1989. 5 vols.
Directory of Special Libraries and Information Centers. Detroit:
Gale Research Inc., annual.
Henige, David. "Epistemological Dead End and Ergonomic Disaster?
The North American Collections Inventory Project." Journal of
Academic Librarianship 13(4) (1987): 209-213.
Nelson, Bonnie R. A Guide to Published Library Catalogs. Metuchen, NJ:
Scarecrow Press, 1982.
3.5 BEYOND ROAD MAPS AND TRAVEL GUIDES: GATEWAYS AND CLIENTS
Once you have decided where you would like to go from a road map,
imagine being able to point to the location and be transported there
without knowing the intervening route. That is the kind of service
that gateways provide to Internet "travelers."
A gateway may be an online catalog or a computer running special
software. It usually presents a list of available systems or
successive menus that allow the user to eventually specify a
particular system of interest. Once the user selects a system, the
gateway usually initiates the connection, establishes an appropriate
terminal emulation (if your emulation is supported in the remote
system), and may complete the logon sequence without intervention.
Once you are connected to the remote system, the local system gives up
any control over your session. You must usually logoff the remote
system or break the connection to return to your local system. A
prime example of an online catalog that serves as a gateway to remote
systems is the the University of California's MELVYL system. The
MELYVL system offers a number of remote online catalogs and databases
to its users through such a gateway. Dartmouth and the CARL system
also provide gateways to other library catalogs and databases. Other
library catalog systems are considering such a service, often to a
select group of regional catalogs or other systems that complement the
Other gateways operate independently of the online library catalog and
may reside on a local mainframe or even on your microcomputer. Two of
the "software solutions" listed in Section 3.1, LIBTEL and the
software developed by Mark Resmer at Sonoma State University, take the
information about systems listed in the St. George and/or Barron
directories and present them in menu form. After selecting the system
of interest and seeing the available directory information, you can
request that a connection be initiated. These gateways do not
currently perform the logon sequence, however. The CATALIST software
also may initiate connections in the future.
Now imagine that you can find what you want in your travels even if
you do not know where to look for it (allowing you to throw away the
maps and travel guides altogether). That is what the client/server
model of network interaction promises Internet users.
A client is a software program that runs on your local machine (often
your desktop PC). It provides a consistent interface to the variety
of databases and online files or archives that are called "servers."
You formulate your query on your client software and specify (or
perhaps eventually *it* will decide) which databases to query. The
client software then connects to the database(s), submits a structured
query and returns the results.
To make such a scenario possible, standards are required for the
interchange of data and the formulation of queries. The current
standard for the interchange of data is NISO Z39.50. If the databases
you wish to search support the standards required by your client
software then you can successfully interact with them. If they do
not, then you must connect to them directly and search them using each
database's own interface.
The Wide Area Information Server project of Thinking Machines and
others is the acknowledged leader in providing this type of access to
Internet databases. The WAIS (pronounced "ways") project has extended
the Z39.50 standards to develop a client for the Macintosh
microcomputer called "WAIStation". Using this client, you can connect
to a variety of databases that support the WAIS protocols. The
project is still in the experimental stage, but has been received
enthusiastically and may develop quickly as a model for the future.
The client software for the Macintosh is available via FTP at host
quake.think.com, directory pub/wais. Thinking Machines is maintaining
a Directory of Servers with descriptions of currently available
sources. It can be searched with the client software just like any
other server. The Barron guide is listed there with the database name
For those wanting to make their databases available, a UNIX version
of the server software is also available via FTP at host think.com.
To participate in an Internet discussion of WAIS developments,
send a request to [email protected]
SECTION 4: USING SYSTEMS SUCCESSFULLY - SURVIVAL TIPS
Once you have found your on-ramp to the Internet and decided what
your itinerary will be, you are faced with the navigational details
of making the connection and making the most of your trip. This
section summarizes practical tips for the former and common sense
suggestions for the latter.
4.1 MAKING AND BREAKING THE CONNECTION
A. General Survival Tips
The many dissimilar hardware and software environments
interconnected by the Internet also create a technically complex
path for the electronic traveler, making troubleshooting a
serious challenge. But there are a number of techniques to keep in
mind that can make the going less painful and your attempts to
access remote systems more fruitful. Here are some suggestions,
proceeding from the general to the specific.
Avoid prime-time logins.
Mid morning to late afternoon in the time zone of the remote host
are the busiest times when both network traffic and contention in
the remote system will be highest. On the whole, between 9:00 a.m.
and 6:00 p.m. Eastern time, the Internet is at its busiest.
Try off hours for best results.
Use one of the most universal Terminal Types.
Use VT100 terminal emulation wherever possible, the most
universally supported terminal type.
Try TN3270 for IBM environments (some VM/CMS systems require it).
TN3270 is a variation on the Telnet protocol that handles
full-screen emulation of an IBM 3270-type terminal. It consists
of Telnet plus software to perform the translation to and from
the 3270 protocols.
Systems anticipating remote connections may offer a choice of terminal
types or ask you to specify the type you are using. Others may not
ask and may not be as flexible. If you are unable to change the
terminal type, you may not be able to use some systems at all.
If printing or downloading, you may need to use the "generic"
terminal type if one is listed as an option when you connect to the
system. Sometimes screen control characters for VT100s or other
terminal types are picked up in printing or in downloaded files.
The generic terminal type should be free of screen control
Know the commands in your Telnet software.
The Telnet protocol has been implemented on a variety of systems.
Each is different, so specific commands depend on your version.
However, all versions function similarly, so there are a few
general guidelines to follow.
B. Understanding Telnet
The one common element across the disparate environments of the
Internet is the TCP/IP software protocol suite, the basis of
Telnet, the terminal-handler portion of the TCP/IP protocol suite,
is the cornerstone of this striking communications technology.
Telnet handles the remote login to another Internet host, so it is
useful to know something about the way it works.
Telnet operates in a client/server environment in which one host
(the computer you are using, running Client (User) Telnet)
negotiates opening a session on another computer (the remote host,
running Server Telnet). During the behind-the-scenes negotiation
process, the two computers agree on the parameters governing the
session. One of the first things they settle is the terminal type
to be used -- in general, a line-by-line network virtual terminal,
for simplicity's sake. Virtual terminal, in this context, refers to
a set of terminal characteristics and sequences that both sides of a
network connection agree to use to transmit data from terminals
across the network, regardless of the terminal used.
Finding Telnet Commands
Try typing "help" or "?" at the Telnet prompt to get a list of
the commands available in your Telnet software.
Using Local versus Remote Commands
Once you have established a remote session, all commands you
type will be sent to the Server Telnet on the remote host for
If you want a Telnet command issued in the remote environment to
be acted on locally by your client Telnet, on most systems you
would normally precede the command with an escape sequence (a
predetermined character or combination of characters that
signal your Telnet software to execute the command that follows
locally). For example, in NCSA Telnet for pc-compatible
microcomputers, the F10 key is the escape character that alerts
Telnet to execute locally the next command you type (to turn
local echo on or off, or to toggle capture on or off, etc.).
The Telnet escape sequence by itself followed by
temporarily to your local operating environment. On UNIX systems,
the escape sequence is usually the control key (CNTL) and left bracket
([) pressed simultaneously.
The basic command set is simple. You also need to know either the
machine domain name or the machine Internet address (a series of
numbers). The numbers will always work; the names will work if
they are in a software table available to your version of Telnet.
IBM systems that use TN3270 may require you to type a carriage
return, "DIAL VTAM," or just "VTAM" in response to the first
prompt from the remote system.
LOGOFF or LOGOUT (also try QUIT, END, EXIT, STOP, etc.)
CLOSE, prefixed by the escape sequence.
ABORT, prefixed by the escape sequence--use as a last resort!
To exit the remote system, first try that system's logoff
command. To determine what the appropriate logoff command is,
check the menus, help, and welcome screens when you first log on.
Oftentimes, the logoff information is listed there but not always
easy to retrieve later.
Logging off the remote system may return you to your primary
operating environment (all the way out of Telnet), or you may
be left in Telnet. If so, type "quit".
But some information systems have no graceful exit for remote
users. In that case, you have two options --- CLOSE or ABORT.
CLOSE should be your next choice after LOGOFF. If you are
unable to CLOSE the connection normally (e.g., if your remote
session is hung), try the Telnet ABORT command to drop your
ABORT will return control to you in your local environment, but
it may not properly terminate your session on the remote machine.
Since this can leave the port on the remote machine busy for an
indefinite period even though you are no longer using it, ABORT
should be used only as a last resort.
In either case, you can also try escaping back to your local
environment and then issuing the termination commands. If one
method doesn't work, try the other.
Other commands may allow you to control your communications environment.
Investigate the help systems both in your local Telnet and on the
remote system at the outset.
Using the BREAK Key
Don't be hasty with the Break key. Too many Breaks may cause
your Telnet session to be dropped!
There is no standard BREAK key across versions of Telnet and in
remote information systems. Telnet is based on the concept of a
network virtual terminal, in which the control functions (breaks,
etc.) are communicated with characters regardless of terminal type
(rather than line conditions, used in the terminal server
environment). Your local Telnet receives your break and sends out
a character sequence which is reinterpreted on the other end,
hopefully as the break you intended.
Your Break may not always be understood by the remote system, so
you should try HELP or ? when you begin (at the Telnet prompt)
to determine what your version of Telnet uses as BREAK.
Tips: In UNIX, CNTL-C may work for BREAK. In the Mac environment,
BREAK may be a click down menu option or a character combination.
In NCSA Telnet (a popular PC version), BREAK is F10 followed by a
lower case letter "b".
Using the Backspace Key
The backspace character may not be recognized by the remote
system. Investigate in your local Telnet how to set an erasing
backspace. Type ? at the Telnet prompt, or SET ? for a list of
Adjusting the Settings to your Needs
Most Telnet programs have the ability to SET or TOGGLE many of
these settings on and off. Erasable backspace, local echo,
carriage return interpretation (
carriage return or carriage return with line feed), and the
escape character you use to return to the local environment are
things that you can usually SET or TOGGLE at the Telnet prompt.
Type ? and use Telnet's internal help system to change a setting.
Using Function Keys
Remember that special function keys are local implementations
and have no significance in a remote session. Function keys
such as INSERT, DELETE, ERASE END-OF-FIELD, PF, and PA keys may
not be recognized in the remote environment. Even though
function keys and control key combinations may have significance
on the remote system, they may vary from those on your local
C. Downloading and Printing
Once you connect to a catalog on the Internet, you may want to save or
print the result of any search you perform. Using a personal computer
or workstation, you can "download" or print on an attached printer
what you can display on the screen.
Downloading in this context is simply transferring information
from a remote computer to your own by capturing the screen
displays. In most cases, there is no error checking (which
requires the remote system to interact with your microcomputer
directly using the same software) to transfer (download) a file.
However, each communication software package has some facility
to capture what is displayed on the screen.
Follow these general steps when using any communications software
package to capture information:
1) Log on to the remote system as you normally would.
2) Perform a search to retrieve a set of citations or other information.
3) When the results are ready to be displayed, turn on the
facility in your communications software to capture on disk
what is displayed on the screen (i.e., the information coming
over the communications line). The function name varies - it
may be called receive, record, log, download, or capture.
4) Provide a name for the new file, when prompted by your software.
5) Type the display command or choose the menu selection to
display the results on the screen.
6) On some systems, you may need to press RETURN
display command or selection to the remote system so that it
will begin displaying the search results.
7) When the display has finished, turn off the capture facility.
The information should now be saved on a disk, ready to be
edited or printed.
Printing follows the same steps, but instead of using the
capture function, activate your printer, either by turning it on
or issuing a command to your communications software to print
everything that displays on the screen. This method sends
whatever is coming over the communications line both to your
screen and printer.
If the printer receives characters faster than it can digest
them, you may get garbled output. Using remote systems, there is
little you can do other than display a few screens or records at
a time (rather than continuously) and wait for the printer to
catch up. It is often easier to download the file and print it
Some systems (particularly IBM 3270 environments) do not use a
simple ASCII communications stream over the communications line.
Thus, screen capturing or logging may produce a file that is
unreadable if viewed online or printed. In this case, you may
have to "dump" a screen at a time to a file on your disk(ette)
(often called a "log" file) or to the printer. Once the screen
has displayed, you have to issue your communications software
screen dump command for EACH screen wanted.
Some systems offer an explicit print option which should generally
be avoided. Usually, this option sends your search result to some
centralized printer at the host institution. If the system does
not verify that you are affiliated with the institution and lets
you issue the print command, the results of your search may indeed
be printed, but will not actually be sent to you, an unknown
visitor via the network. This option is also sometimes imperfectly
implemented so that when you select it as a remote user, your pc or
terminal freezes up and must actually be restarted.
Mailing Your Results Electronically
A few systems offer the option of mailing search results to an
electronic mailbox. This function is less likely to require that
you be affiliated with the host institution, and may provide an
alternate way to capture your search results for printing or
4.2 SEARCH STRATEGIES -- UNDERSTANDING SYSTEM BASICS
Using systems successfully involves not only becoming comfortable with
making and breaking the connection, and capturing results, but also
learning what a system has to offer. Experienced searchers use some
common strategies for exploring and exploiting a new system.
Most online catalogs fall within a few basic types, with the most
variation in the actual operating mechanics. In other words, all
systems will allow you to search, but what is the command for
searching? Discovering the "rules" of a new system is the biggest
hurdle. Appendix B lists basic search commands for some of the most
frequently encountered brands or vendors of commercially supplied
systems. Here are some other elements to watch out for as you
approach new systems:
-- interface style
(e.g., menu-, command-, or icon-driven)
(e.g., Are books, journals, and recordings in the same file?)
Is the whole collection online or are older materials
(e.g., searchable elements, displayable elements)
(e.g., key words, exact phrase)
(e.g., find, search, look, or browse)
(e.g., spaces, punctuation, parentheses, and, or, &,?,*,#)
(e.g., last name first?)
(e.g., You must find items before you can display them.)
(e.g., Does the Backspace key work? Does Break work?)
Some systems may be intuitively obvious to you and you will require
little prompting or assistance. When this is not the case, try the
Read the SCREENS: Often, some information about what is required
in written somewhere on the screen. Often the opening screen
offers the biggest hints about the using the system, but later
screens offer clues as well, e.g.,
Type the number of your selection, followed by Enter.
Read the ERROR MESSAGES: These are the system's way of saying
it did not understand your entry. Sometimes there are suggestions
about how to correct the problem.
x is not a command. Please re-enter your query.
For a list of available commands, type ?
Get HELP: Many catalogs have help systems. These can range
from a single-screen summary of commands to many screens of
detailed technical information. In some cases, HELP is available
only at certain times -- such as a Tutorial you can select from a
menu -- or in other systems it can be requested at any point. The
command for getting HELP is often "help", "?", or "h".
Press RETURN: On many systems, when you seem to be stuck in an
inexplicable error condition and can't get help, pressing RETURN
will escape from the error and return you to a menu from which you
4.3 BEYOND THE BASICS -- DISCOVERING THE REAL POWER OF AN ONLINE CATALOG
Discovering how to execute basic searches is usually a simple matter.
A given online catalog may have far more to offer, but the more
advanced features are often less obvious. A little organized exploration
is often rewarded by the discovery of easier or more powerful ways
to use the system.
Search for known items. Try a few basic searches to get the feel of
a system. Look at the longest display to determine how much
information is available. You might even devise a test script as a
way to compare different systems, and learn what is common versus
what is different.
Expand on the basic commands. Once you know how to give a
command, experiment with ways to modify it.
If you can search one word,
can you search two? search ti dog and cat
Can you search two fields
at the same time? search ti dog and au jones
Can you display a record
in different formats? show full
Can you display different
parts of a record? show author
Can you display specific
records? display 5
Look for features and capabilities beyond the obvious. Read the help
screens and other documentation carefully for hints and clues.
Are there special modes that provide extra features?
e.g., a command mode that allows you to specify word order.
Are there subsystems or subfiles available?
e.g., a subfile for non-book materials such as audiovisuals.
Can you use boolean operators?
Can you truncate word stems or use "wild card" characters?
e.g., catalog* to retrieve catalogs, cataloging; wom#n to
retrieve woman, women
Are there special limits?
e.g., by language, by date, by media or format.
Can you save search results for display or printing later?
Can you sort or reformat results for printing?
Can you mail search results to your electronic mailbox?
Ask questions/make suggestions. Some systems provide the ability
to send comments or questions online, and a few post answers or
will respond directly. Even if your question is not answered
directly, it may prompt the system designers to clarify instructions
or resolve a problem.
Rely on tried-and-true techniques. Good research methodology
should work with any catalog.
Search broad terms to find some relevant items; display full
records to discover proper subject headings, alternative names,
correct spelling or other key information; and then do a focused
search title dogs or cats
1284 items found
subject: domestic animals - care and feeding
search subject domestic animals - care and feeding
24 items found
Start narrow; look at full record for related terms; and expand
search subject world war II - indian participation
5 items found
subjects: indians of north america as soldiers
world war II - indian participation
search subject indians of north america as soldiers
26 items found
Search topics by title if subject approach fails; expand as in
search ti=sick building syndrome
3 items found
subjects: indoor air pollution
office buildings--environmental aspects
search su=indoor air pollution
22 items found
Trust your own experience and judgement. You know more than you
think you do.
Be incredulous -- Don't believe the unbelievable
"There are no books by Shakespeare in the catalog" - sure!
Be persistent -- Back up and try again. If you think there is a
way, there probably is.
Be creative. There is more than one way to skin a catalog.
SECTION 5: WHAT ELSE IS OUT THERE - OTHER ONLINE RESOURCES
As stated in the introduction, this section is meant to be representative,
not comprehensive. The sources mentioned are only a sampling of
other electronic destinations waiting to be explored via the remote
login function. Many other sources are available via FTP, but are
outside the scope of this guide. Consult sources in Section 1.3
for other possibilities.
5.1 COMPANION DATABASES TO ONLINE CATALOGS
In addition to book and serials holdings, many online library catalogs
provide access to locally mounted commercial databases or locally
The commercial databases range from major periodical and newspaper
indexes such as MEDLINE or the National Newspaper Index, to
encyclopedias and dictionaries, to current awareness and statistical
sources. Due to contractual agreements, access to most of the commercial
databases is restricted to the user community of the purchasing
library. Occasionally, systems suppress the restricted databases
from screens presented to Internet users; usually, systems offer them as
choices, but Internet users who are not eligible for passwords are
denied access. While it is natural to be frustrated, such limits are
often necessary. Trying to crack restricted systems may be illegal
and/or violate agreements required for use of local systems and the
Examples of locally developed databases include a song index; indexes
to local newspapers; library pathfinders; an index to television
scripts; and regional statistics. These databases generally are open
to outside users with no restrictions.
Consult RASD Occasional Paper 8, "Survey of Libraries Providing Locally
Mounted Databases," (MARS Direct Patron Access to Computer-Based
Reference Systems Committee, 1991) for a recent overview of these types of
5.2 CAMPUS-WIDE INFORMATION SYSTEMS
In addition to over 100 online library catalogs, the Internet also provides
access to a growing number of campus-wide information systems. A current
list of such systems is provided at the end of each release of "Internet-
Accessible Library Catalogs and Databases." An electronic conference which
discusses campus-wide information systems is maintained on the listserver
at [email protected]
Campus-wide information systems available on the Internet include
Columbia, Cornell's CUINFO, MIT TECHINFO, New Mexico State University
NMSU/INFO, NYU, PNN - Princeton News Network, University of New Mexico
UNM_INFO, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill INFO.
The types of information and search capabilities provided by these
systems vary widely. Common components include library hours; local
campus news and information; activities and events calendars;
directories of staff, services, organizations and computing
facilities; course schedules and catalogs; employment and financial
aid opportunities; and descriptions of the campus, academic programs
and various policies.
Several online library catalogs have or are developing some of the
components found in campus-wide information systems, so the two types of
resources are not mutually exclusive.
5.3 SPECIALIZED INFORMATION DATABASES
The offerings of the Internet extend far beyond library catalogs. You
can also reach various databases sponsored by other organizations,
many with reference value. Many systems do not require a password,
and for those that do, obtaining a password is often as simple as
filling out an application.
It is difficult to categorize these databases since they are hybrids.
They are often co-sponsored by government agencies and university
departments, or funded by grants. Their content ranges from full
text documents to statistics, and can include directories of
researchers, bibliographies, schedules of research activities,
or information on research in progress.
They are also more difficult to identify than library catalogs since
they are not tied together with a common administrative structure or
service goal. The Internet Resource Guide (see Section 3) and
various network information centers are currently the best resources for
finding out about these databases. Information may be posted
to various listservers as they are discovered.
A few examples of these databases illustrate the variety of sources
available. Most of the databases listed below can be found in the
Internet Resource Guide.
PENpages: A database of agricultural and nutritional information
produced by Pennsylvania State University with support from USDA,
the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and Rutgers University.
Information ranges from statistics to the full text of newspapers
and documents. Includes a daily overview of national agricultural
news, plus the ability to do subject searching of keywords.
DARTMOUTH DANTE: Supported by a grant from the National Endowment
for the Humanities, this evolving database includes 32
commentaries--all in their original language--and the full text of
Dante's DIVINE COMEDY. The database uses BRS search software, and
offers a variety of search and display options.
OCEANIC: Includes reports on two major projects, the World Ocean
Circulation Experiment (WOCE) and the Span Physics Analysis Network
(SPAN) plus such diverse entries as research ship schedules and
bibliographic references. This is a specialized database
maintained by the University of Delaware's College of Marine
GEOGRAPHIC NAME SERVER: Contains standard information such as
population, latitude/longitude, and zipcode for over 150,000 cities
(mainly U.S.) and selected geographic locations (lakes, mountains,
etc.) This is not the most "user-friendly" system, but is helpful
for those with long lists to search. Information was obtained from
the U.S. Geodetic Survey and the U.S. Postal Service.
JOHNS HOPKINS GENETIC DATABASES: Several public databases,
supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in collaboration
with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the National Library of
Medicine, and the Welch Medical Library, provide data related to
human genetics. The following databases are the best known, and
provide complementary information on gene mapping and genetic
diseases. Both have easy-to-use interfaces for generalists. Users
must apply for passwords.
Genome Data Base (GDB)--Devoted to human chromosome mapping. Designed
to collect, organize, and disseminate data on gene mapping generated
Online Mendelian Inheritance In Man (OMIM)--Devoted to inherited
disorders and traits. Contains continuously updated text of Dr.
Victor McKusick's classic text, MENDELIAN INHERITANCE IN MAN.
LIBRARIES AND NETWORK RESOURCES: ADDITIONAL READINGS
Though the number of publications on research and professional
communication networks continues to increase, many of these deal
with network development rather than focusing on specific resources
that networks can provide. Consequently, little has been written
concerning library online catalogs available on the Internet (with
the exception of the Raeder and Andrews article discussed in
Section 3). The following bibliography therefore identifies recent
literature which provides general information and addresses library
public service applications of the Internet.
Arms, Caroline R. "A New Information Infrastructure." Online 14,
no.5 (Sept. 1990): 15-22.
Arms provides a basic introduction to national networks with a brief
discussion of the Internet, BITNET, and the National Research and
Education Network (NREN), with an emphasis on the implications of this
"wired" environment for librarians and scholars.
Arms, Caroline R. "Using the National Networks: BITNET and the
Internet." Online 14 no.5 (Sept. 1990): 24-29.
Addressing both 'why' and 'how-to,' this article describes
electronic mail, bulletin boards, downloading files, and logging
in to remote library systems.
Britten, William A. "BITNET and the Internet: Scholarly Networks
for Librarians." College and Research Libraries News 51, no.2
(Feb. 1990): 103-107.
In addition to providing tips on accessing Internet resources,
Britten provides an annotated "networkography" of fifteen documents
and services representing a sampling of different types of network
resources (e.g., PACS-L, Link Letter) of interest to librarians.
Engel, Genevieve. "Internet Instruction: Teaching Users About
Remote Library Databases." Cataloging and Classification Quarterly
13, no.3/4 (in press); published simultaneously in Enhancing Access to
Information: Building Catalogs for the Future, edited by David A.
Tyckoson, Haworth Press (in press).
This article enumerates some of the major issues facing the user of remote
information resources, and discusses these issues in the context of
bibliographic instruction for Internet use.
Kalin, Sally W. and Tennant, Roy. "Beyond OPACS...the Wealth of Information
Resources on the Internet." Database 14, no. 4 (August 1991).
This article describes strategies for identifying non-bibliographic
databases on the Internet. The authors discuss issues such as access
problems, ethics, evaluation, support and training. They highlight
selected databases with brief descriptions and access instructions.
Kibbey, Mark and Nancy Evans. "The Network is the Library."
EDUCOM Review 24, no.3 (Fall 1989): 15-20.
Defining the ideal electronic library as a range of services
and collections made accessible through networks, Kibbey and Evans
focus on the network as the foundation for the delivery of
information services, and on the aspects of network development
that directly affect electronic library development.
Library Perspectives on NREN: The National Research and Education
Network. Ed. by Carol A. Parkhurst. Chicago: American Library
Association, Library and Information Technology Association, 1990.
This collection of articles includes papers from the 1990 LITA
President's Program, focusing on libraries and the National
Research and Education Network. Other topics include NREN
legislation and chronology, visions of a national network and its
impact on academic, special and public libraries, a glossary, and
bibliography (described below under Saule).
Lynch, Clifford A., and Cecilia M. Preston. "Internet Access to
Information Resources." In Annual Review of Information Science
and Technology 26 (1990): 263-312.
Following an overview of the development of computer networks
within the U.S. and the evolution of the Internet, Lynch and
Preston discuss information resources on the Internet and
technology for network access to information resources.
Nielsen, Brian. "Finding it on the Internet: The Next Challenge
for Librarianship." Database 13 (Oct. 1990): 105-107.
Nielsen raises the issue of the "reinvention" of librarianship
to take into account electronic communication as a major means of
knowledge dissemination, and discusses what is on the Internet
(including online catalogs), and implications for reference
librarians and catalogers.
Rockman, Ilene F. "Reference Uses of Campus Computer Networks: A
Bibliographic Guide." Reference Services Review 18, no.2 (Summer
In an effort to keep reference librarians abreast of the
growing number of information networks currently available, Rockman
presents a brief introduction to eleven prominent networks
including ARPANET, BITNET, and Internet. She also provides an
annotated bibliography of publications from 1988-1990 dealing with
networks and libraries, and a selected directory of networks, with
addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses.
Saule, Mara. "Research and Educational Networking: A
Bibliography." In Library Perspectives on NREN: The National
Research and Education Network. Ed. by Carol A. Pankhurst.
Chicago: American Library Association, Library and Information
Technology Association, 1990. pp.67-68.
Saule's selective bibliography lists over thirty items published
between 1988-1990 about telecommunications networks and their
implications for libraries, research, and professional communication.
Most online public access catalogs are produced by commercial vendors of
library automation products, although the vendor name may not appear
online as part of the user interface. Most vendors offer some options
to libraries to customize the system for their own needs which can
further obscure a system's origins. If you can learn to recognize some
of the distinctive characteristics of a system, however, it may be
easier to get started on a new system. In the future, it may not
be necessary to be "multi-lingual" to search multiple online catalogs.
The implementation of two national standards promise to ease the
transition from one system to another. The NISO Z39.58 standard,
known as the Common Command Language, is already supported by some
vendors and homegrown systems. This standard means that certain
command names are supported even if the system also supports
synonyms, additional commands, or even an entirely different interface.
The NISO Z39.50 standard specifies a protocol by which computers can
exchange search queries and search results. The user can issue
search requests in the language or style of the "home" system,
and the translation takes place behind the scenes. Several projects
are in the developmental stages at this time.
This appendix profiles the major vendors of library systems on the
Internet. For each vendor listing, Part A provides a sample welcome
screen, although keep in mind that details may vary from library to
library; Part B describes the major search features and commands.
Vendors modify and upgrade their software periodically, so expect
changes to appear. The basics of any system are likely to remain,
even when systems are upgraded. Check the directory maintained by
Billy Barron (see Section 3) for updates and additions.
User groups exist for most of the vendors. We thank them for
reviewing this section and providing additional information.
I. DATA RESEARCH ASSOCIATES (DRA)
A. INTRODUCTORY SCREEN
TO SEARCH BY: TYPE: FOR EXAMPLE: TO ACTIVATE:
Subject S= S=computer animation Press
Title T= T=computer animation Press
Author A= A=fox david Press
Call Number C= C=tr897.5 Press
IF YOU NEED
HELP ?? ?? Press
LIBRARY LOCATIONS ?? ?? Press
KEYWORD K K Press
B. INSTRUCTIONS BY FUNCTION
Title searches: Use the t= search command followed by the title.
EXAMPLE: t=guns of august
In KEYWORD mode, type fi ti
EXAMPLE: fi ti guns august
Author searches: Use the a= search command followed by author.
EXAMPLE: a=woolf virginia
In KEYWORD mode, type fi au
EXAMPLE: fi au woolf virginia
Subject heading searches: Use the s= search command followed by
In KEYWORD mode, type fi su
EXAMPLE: fi su sun stars
Keyword searches: Type k
searching. See instructions above for entering commands.
Call number searches: Use the c=search command followed by call number.
Boolean: AND, OR, NOT available in KEYWORD mode.
Truncation: ? is a wildcard at the end of words.
# is wildcard within words.
Help: Type ?? in menu search mode, or he in KEYWORD search mode.
Currently, Dynix is represented by two British, one Australian
and one U.S. system on the Internet.
A. INTRODUCTORY SCREEN
PUBLIC ACCESS MODE
Welcome to the online catalogue.
Select one of the searches below:
1. Title words
2. Title Alphabetical list
4. Subject words
6. Class mark (Shelf mark)
7. Reserve book room
8. Review Patron Record
9. Quit searching
Enter your selection (1-9) and press
Commands: ? = Help, BB = Bulletin Board
B. INSTRUCTIONS BY FUNCTION
Title searches: If exact title is known, choose number 2 from
main menu. If only some words from a title are known, choose
number 1 from the main menu.
Author searches: Choose appropriate number from main menu.
Subject searches: Choose appropriate number from main menu.
Keyword searches: Choose appropriate number from main menu.
Some systems will look for terms in the subject field, some in
title field, as indicated on the menu.
Call number searches: Choose appropriate number from main menu
(Class mark, for UK libraries).
Boolean: AND available to limit, when large amount of records
retrieved through keyword searches.
Truncation: Type "?" at the end of a term to truncate.
EXAMPLE: dream? (retrieves dream, dreaming, dreams, etc.)
Typing ?? at the end of a word retrieves a list of words
possible with your truncation.
EXAMPLE: dream?? (retrieves list of terms in the database
beginning with dream)
Help: Type ? at the main menu.
GEAC is represented by over 15 library systems on the Internet, most of
which are United Kingdom libraries (part of the JANET system), plus
some major U.S. libraries.
A. SAMPLE SCREEN
What type of search do you wish to do?
1. TIL - Title, journal title, series title, etc.
2. AUT - Author, illustrator, editor, organization, etc.
3. A-T - Combination of author and title.
4. SUB - Subject heading assigned by library.
5. NUM - Call number, ISBN, ISSN, etc.
6. KEY - One word taken from a title, author or subject.
B. INSTRUCTIONS BY FUNCTION
Title searches: Choose number 1 from main menu or type
TIL/How to Succeed in Business
Author searches: Choose number 2 from main menu or type
Subject heading searches: Choose number 4 from main menu or type
Keyword searches: Choose number 6 from main menu or type
Call number searches: Choose number 5 from main menu or type
Boolean: Select BOL from main menu. Not available on
all systems. AND, OR, NOT operators available. Use either & or
Truncation: Use # to truncate a word.
EXAMPLE: horse# (retrieves horse, horses, etc.)
Help: Type "help", "command help" for command
overview, or "advanced help" for advanced instructions.
IV. INNOVATIVE INTERFACES, INC.
Innovative is represented by at least six U.S. university libraries
on the Internet.
A. SAMPLE SCREEN
You may search for library materials by any of the following:
A > Author
T > Title
W > WORDS in title/author
S > SUBJECT HEADING
L > LC CALL NUMBER
D > DEWEY CALL NUMBER
G > GOVT. DOC NUMBER
R > RESERVE Lists
I > Library INFORMATION - NEWS
Q > QUIT
Choose one (A,T,W,S,L,D,G,R,I,Q) :
B. INSTRUCTIONS BY FUNCTION
Title searches: Select "T" at the main menu. Type complete or
beginning of title.
EXAMPLE: History of the amer
Subject heading searches: Select "S" at the main menu. Type
Author searches: Select "A" at the main menu. Type author's
name in the format: lastname, firstname.
Keyword: Select "W" at the main menu. Not available on all
library systems. Note that for some libraries, a keyword
search retrieves your terms only if they appear in the title,
while for others, terms are retrieved from author, title, or
subject fields. The sample screen above indicates that
Keyword searches the author and title fields. Within keyword
searching, the boolean operator AND is the default; the boolean
operator OR can be used in two-term search statements.
Call number searches: Select "L" (Library of Congress) at the
main menu. Not available on all library systems. Some libraries
offer different types of call number searches such as Dewey,
or Government Documents number as in the sample screen above.
Boolean: Uses AND, OR operators through the LIMIT selection of
the secondary menu.
Truncation: System assumes truncation in all search strategies
except keyword. If you do NOT want truncation, use the
: (pipe) symbol (i.e., cat: to search only the work cat). In
keyword, if you DO want truncation, use the * (asterisk)
symbol (i.e., cat* to search cat, catalog, category, etc.)
Help: No special help functions, but system is menu driven and
choices are obvious.
NOTIS is represented by at least 40 library catalogs of major
universities. Release 5.0 of NOTIS software allows libraries to
customize the presentation, so more variations may be encountered
as libraries take advantage of this flexibility.
A. INTRODUCTORY SCREEN:
bibliographic information, location, and call number for
materials held by
To search type: COMMAND RETURN
title: t=your title RETURN
author: a=your author RETURN
subject: s=your subject RETURN
keyword: k=your subject RETURN
Users familiar with
screen. To correct a mistake, backspace over the error or CLEAR
to start over.
TYPE news FOR LIBRARY-SYSTEM NEWS.
TYPE hrs FOR LIBRARY hours.
TYPE srvc FOR LIBRARY SERVICE AREAS and LOCATIONS.
TYPE COMMAND AND PRESS RETURN >
B. INSTRUCTIONS BY FUNCTION
Title searches: t=foundations of health
Author searches: a= asimov
a= asimov, isaac
Subject searches: s=agriculture
Keyword searches: k=car and driver
NOTE: Each library chooses its own operator as the default. In
some libraries "k=car driver" retrieves all items with the words
car AND driver; in other libraries, the search would retrieve
car ADJ driver or car WITH driver. It is probably best to type
the operator you desire to insure proper results.
Call number searches: c=rc493g543
Became available with release 5.0; not all systems will offer it yet.
Boolean: Uses AND, OR, NOT.
EXAMPLE: t=cars and accidents
k=computer and not ibm
Truncation: System assumes truncation in author, title, and
subject heading searches. For keyword searches, use "$" as the
EXAMPLE: librar$ to retrieve library, libraries, librarians, etc.
Help: On most screens, use the h command.
Or, for explanations of various commands, type
VTLS is represented by at least five U.S. universities on the Internet.
A. INTRODUCTORY SCREEN
***Welcome to the University Library Online Catalog***
The system may be approached using the following commands:
1. Author Search Enter A/ and the author's name (last name first)
EXAMPLE: A/Hemingway, Ernest
2. Title Search Enter T/ and the title.
(omit any leading articles: THE,A AN,LA,L',DER...)
EXAMPLE: T/Sun also rises
3. Call Number Search Enter C/ and the call number.
EXAMPLE: C/TL725.3 T7 J6
4. Subject Search Enter S/ and the subject term(s).
5. Key Word Search Enter W/ and the word to be searched.
6. System Information Display
HOURS OF SYSTEM AVAILABILITY
For more detailed information about any of the above
searches, enter the LINE NUMBER.
B. INSTRUCTIONS BY FUNCTION
Title searches: Use the T/ search command followed by the title.
EXAMPLE: T/Pickwick Papers
Author searches: Use the A/ search command followed by author.
EXAMPLE: A/Dickens, Charles
Subject heading searches: Use the S/ command followed by the
Keyword searches: Use the W/ command followed by keyword.
Use B/ (see below) for multiple words.
Call number searches: Use the C/ command or the H/ command
followed by call number.
Boolean: Uses AND, OR, NOT operators; not available on all systems.
Use the B/ command followed by a keyword, an operator, and a
EXAMPLE: B/sun or moon
B/animal and environment
Help: To see help, enter the line number on the main menu for
which you would like more information, or type /HELP.
VII. HOMEGROWN SYSTEMS
A number of large university libraries have written their own search
software and/or user interface. Since there are only so many ways to
initiate a search, these home-grown systems often use commands similar
to those in commercial systems.
Some of them support the Common Command Language standard (NISO Z39.58). Basic
searches are generally in the form:
The DISPLAY command displays the results.
Many are completely menu-driven and thus easy to learn. One or two
have so few commands that the first word or phrase you enter is
simply treated as your search term, and the results are displayed
Home-grown systems tend to be more generous with help screens and
other information to help users learn features and commands. If
you follow the advice in Section 3 on search strategies, you will
probably be able to master home-grown systems with little difficulty.
Following are examples of various commands on sample homegrown
INSTRUCTIONS BY FUNCTION
f ti (find title, followed by title)
ti (followed by title)
f x ti (find exact title, followed by title)
f tt (find term(s), or keyword(s) in title)
f au (find author, followed by author's name)
f ai (find the author's name in an alphabetical index)
f at (find a word in the author field)
n (name, followed by author's name)
NOTE: Most systems prefer lastname, firstname.
Subject Heading Searches:
f su (find specific subject heading)
f st (find term(s), or word(s) in subject field)
f me (find MeSH subject heading)
There are great differences between systems here. Some
systems ask you to specify which field to search as keywords.
Some automatically search the author, title, subject, or even notes fields.
You may have to try a few sample searches and examine the results
to determine how each system works. Here are some of the many
kti (keyword in titles)
bro (browse an alphabetical list of terms)
kw (search for keyword in fields designated by the system)
te (search for keyword, or term, in fields
designated by the system)
Call Number Searches:
f ca (note that some systems use "ca" for corporate author)
Where boolean is available, AND, OR, NOT are usually all
possible operators. There are a few exceptions where only one or
two of these operators are available. Many systems allow you to
search for terms from various fields.
e.g., f su alaska and ti frontiers
This would be a very different search than the following:
f alaska and frontiers
Some systems allow for nesting of terms as follows:
find ksh coffee and (brazil or columbia)
Some systems assume truncation.
e.g., f kw america-- also retrieves keyword americas
Other symbols used for truncation are:
? (f librar?)
# (f te car#)
* (f su business*)
$ (f kti lonel$)
Some systems allow for internal "wildcard" symbols:
f su wom?n
Most systems use "help" or "explain". Often "help" or "h"
are used for context specific help. "Explain" is most often used
to generally describe a function, e.g. "explain keyword" (to
learn how do keyword searches in the system).
GLOSSARY OF TERMS FOR INTERNET RESOURCES
Anonymous FTP (File Transfer Protocol) -- The procedure of connecting
to a remote computer, as an anonymous or guest user, in order to
transfer public files back to your local computer. (See also: FTP
BITNET -- A cooperative computer network interconnecting over 2,300
academic and research institutions in 32 countries. Originally
based on IBM's RSCS networking protocol, BITNET supports mail,
mailing lists, and file transfer. Now merging with CSNET and
running the RSCS protocol over TCP/IP protocol (BITNET II), the
network will be called Computer Research and Education Network
Client-Server Interface -- A program that provides an interface to
remote programs (called clients), most commonly across a network,
in order to provide these clients with access to some service such
as databases, printing, etc. In general, the clients act on behalf
of a human end-user (perhaps indirectly).
CREN -- Computer Research and Education Network is the new name for
the merged computer networks, BITNET and Computer Science Network
(CSNET). It supports electronic mail and file transfer.
Domain Name System (DNS) -- The Internet naming scheme which consists
of a hierarchical sequence of names, from the most specific to the
most general (left to right), separated by dots, for example
nic.ddn.mil. (See also: IP address)
Downloading -- The electronic transfer of information from one
computer to another, generally from a larger computer to a smaller
one, such as a microcomputer.
Electronic Bulletin Board -- A shared file where users can enter
information for other users to read or download. Many bulletin
boards are set up according to general topics and are accessable
throughout a network.
FTP -- File Transfer Protocol allows a user to transfer files
electronically from remote computers back to the user's computer.
Part of the TCP/IP/TELNET software suite.
Gateway -- Used in different senses (e.g., Mail Gateway, IP
Gateway), but most generally, a computer that forwards and routes
data between two or more networks of any size.
Host Computer -- In the context of networks, a computer that
directly provides service to a user. In contrast to a network
server, which provides services to a user through an intermediary
Internet -- The series of interconnected networks that includes
local area, regional, and national backbone networks. Networks in
the Internet use the same telecommunications protocol (TCP/IP) and
provide electronic mail, remote login, and file transfer services.
IP (Internet protocol) -- The Internet standard protocol that
provides a common layer over dissimilar networks, used to move
packets among host computers and through gateways if necessary.
IP Address -- The numeric address of a computer connected to the
Internet; also called Internet address.
Listserve Lists (or listservers) -- Electronic discussion of technical and
nontechnical issues conducted by electronic mail over BITNET using
LISTSERV protocols. Similar lists, often using the UNIX readnews or
rn facilty, are available exclusively on the Internet. Internet users
may subscribe to BITNET listservers. Participants subscribe via a
central service, and lists often have a moderator who manages the
information flow and content.
NIC (Network Information Center) -- A NIC provides administrative support,
user support, and information services for a network.
NREN -- The National Research and Education Network is a proposed
national computer network to be built upon the foundation of the NSF
backbone network, NSFnet. NREN would provide high speed
interconnection between other national and regional networks. SB
1067 is the legislative bill proposing NREN.
OPAC -- Online Public Access Catalog, a term used to describe any
type of computerized library catalog.
OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) -- This is the evolving
international standard under development at ISO (International
Standards Organization) for the interconnection of cooperative
computer systems. An open system is one that conforms to OSI
standards in its communications with other systems.
Protocol -- A mutually determined set of formats and procedures
governing the exchange of information between systems.
Remote Access -- The ability to access a computer from outside a
building in which it is housed, or outside the library. Remote
access requires communications hardware, software, and actual
physical links, although this can be as simple as common carrier
(telephone) lines or as complex as Telnet login to another computer
across the Internet.
Shareware -- Microcomputer software, distributed through public
domain channels, for which the author expects to receive
TCP/IP -- Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol is a
combined set of protocols that performs the transfer of data between
two computers. TCP monitors and ensures correct transfer of data. IP
receives the data from TCP, breaks it up into packets, and ships it
off to a network within the Internet. TCP/IP is also used as a name
for a protocol suite that incorporates these functions and others.
TELNET -- A portion of the TCP/IP suite of software protocols that
handles terminals. Among other functions, it allows a user to log
in to a remote computer from the user's local computer.
Terminal Emulation -- Most communications software packages will
permit your personal computer or workstation to communicate with
another computer or network as if it were a specific type of terminal directly
connected to that computer or network.
Terminal Server -- A machine that connects terminals to a network by
providing host TELNET service.
TN3270 -- A version of TELNET providing IBM full-screen support.
Z39.50 Protocol -- Name of the national standard developed by the
National Information Standards Organization (NISO) that defines an
applications level protocol by which one computer can query another
computer and transfer result records, using a canonical format. This
protocol provides the framework for OPAC users to search remote
catalogs on the Internet using the commands of their own local
systems. Projects are now in development to provide Z39.50 support
for catalogs on the Internet. SR (Search and Retrieval), ISO Draft
International Standard 10162/10163 is the international version of Z39.50.
AN FTP PRIMER
Although this guide does not attempt to address the many resources
available via FTP (File Transfer Protocol), it is impossible to
discuss any type of resource on the Internet without mentioning the
supporting information available exclusively via FTP. Because so many
of the documents recommended in the guide exist only as an online
file, these brief instructions on using FTP are provided. Be sure to
check with local system administrators, library staff, or other
support groups for specific information.
FTP provides the capability to connect to a remote computer, execute
a few simple commands (such as listing the directory), and copy files
to or from the remote computer very quickly.
To accomplish these tasks it is necessary to connect to the machine
you wish to transfer files to or from. Normally you would be allowed
only to transfer files to or from your own accounts, but some computer
administrators have set aside areas on their machines which can be
accessed anonymously (i.e., without an identification or password)
for the purpose of distributing documents, software, and other files.
To use anonymous FTP, logon to your computer account as usual. Enter
the command "ftp
prompted to logon, enter "anonymous". When you are prompted for your
password, enter "guest" or your name and node. You should now be
connected to the remote machine and can use ftp commands to look
at the directories and transfer files. For example,
to obtain the Internet Resource Guide, follow these steps:
Connect to nnsc.nsf.net using the command: ftp nnsc.nsf.net
Log in as: anonymous
Give as your password: guest
Type: cd resource-guide
Type: get README
Basic FTP Commands
Type "help" or "?" for a list of FTP commands or consult documentation.
Below are a few of the most frequently used commands.
(can be name or numeric address)
ls or dir -lists files and directories in the current directory
quit -logs off the remote machine and quits FTP