Publicly Accessible Libraries

Zen and the Art of the Internet

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Publicly Accessible Libraries
 
Over the last several years, most university libraries have switched
from a manual (card) catalog system to computerized library catalogs.
The automated systems provide users with easily accessible and
up-to-date information about the books available in these libraries.
This has been further improved upon with the advent of local area
networks, dialup modems, and wide area networks.  Now many of us can
check on our local library's holdings or that of a library halfway
around the world!
 
Many, many institutions of higher learning have made their library
catalogs available for searching by anyone on the Internet.  They
include Boston University, the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries
(CARL), and London University King's College.
 
To include a listing of some of the existing sites would not only be
far too long for this document, it would soon be out of date.
Instead, several lists are being maintained and are available either
by mail or via FTP.  Also, the Internet Resource Guide (IRG) also
describes a few libraries that are accessible---IRG for further
information.
 
Art St. George and  Ron Larsen are maintaining a list of
Internet-accessible libraries and databases often referred to as
``the St. George 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. It's available for FTP (Anonymous FTP)
on nic.cerf.net in the directory
cerfnet/cerfnet_info/library_catalog.  The file internet-catalogs has
a date suffix; check for the most current date.  The information is
updated periodically.
 
Billy Barron, Systems Manager at the University of North Texas,
produces a directory 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, login instructions, the system
vendor, and logoff information.  The arrangement is alphabetic by
organization name.  It's available for FTP on vaxb.acs.unt.edu in the
subdirectory library as the file libraries.txt.
 
For announcements of new libraries being available and discussion on
related topics, consult the Usenet newsgroup
comp.internet.library (Usenet News to learn how to read
news).