Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Online Training Resources

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Online Training Resources

Article excerpt

As libraries continue to offer new technologies for improved service, it quickly becomes apparent that they must offer training programs for both staff and patrons. Our patrons need to learn how to access online catalogs and Internet resources, and staff must master library system software, Internet access software, and office software used for routine administrative work. With the almost constant release of new versions of software programs, the need for training has also become a constant. There are many training resources available including books, videos, and CD-ROMs, but libraries with Internet connections can also take advantage of online training resources.

Teaching the Web

Library instruction for patrons used to involve teaching the use of the card catalog; now librarians must teach their patrons to use a Web browser in order to search the catalog and find additional resources on the World Wide Web. Many people find that they learn best by doing, so online instructional materials on Web browsing can be quite effective.

Many libraries use the Netscape Navigator Web browser to access their online catalogs and the Web. To help users learn to operate this browser effectively, Netscape provides an online handbook on its Web site. The handbook is text only, no graphics--not even screen shots--but it does provide complete information on using Netscape Navigator and includes some basic information about the Internet itself. The "Heartwarming Introduction" is a light-hearted look at the Internet using humor to present basic concepts.

Microsoft also offers a tutorial to help new users become proficient at using its Internet Explorer Web browser. This tutorial begins with basic information about the Internet and the World Wide Web and makes ample use of graphics, including screen illustrations. The information is presented quite simply, which should help the absolute beginner get started. A link to Advanced Internet Resources leads to the Microsoft Network Web Site, a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, a Glossary of Internet Terms, Links to Other Resources, and an Internet Topics Archive. After completing the introductory tutorial, users may want to consider moving on to Microsoft's more comprehensive how-to page for Internet Explorer 3.0 for Windows 95 and NT 4.0. This page explains how to use features such as mail and news, and it explores more advanced topics including ActiveX and Java.

Once a new user has become comfortable with a Web browser, the next step is to learn about the vast amount of information available on the Web. Global Village Internet's Tour introduces new users to some interesting sites that demonstrate the wide variety of available information. The tour is entitled A Day on the Internet and includes examples taken from actual Internet sites. Links to the these sites are provided at the end of the tour.

Learn the Net from Paradesa Media is another site that helps new users learn about the Web and other Internet resources. This free educational resource begins with a Getting Started section that provides basic browser navigation instructions and continues with sections on Internet basics, the Web, e-mail, and newsgroups. The Digging for Data section helps newbies learn to use search engines to locate resources on specific topics. A glossary is also available as is an FAQ document. Several games are available to test users' newly acquired Internet expertise. A weekly Web tour highlights sites on a particular topic. The week I visited Learn the Net, the Web tour was devoted to Winnie the Pooh sites, which was particularly appropriate for a librarian with a real fondness for A. A. Milne's bear. Also featured that week was an interactive tutorial on AltaVista's search engine.

Library-Specific Instruction

Libraries may prefer to provide instruction more tailored to their specific institution and patrons. If you are interested in developing materials for your library, you might find it useful to examine materials already developed by other libraries. …

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