ping, there will be a single access password and identification for each online user. In fact, users will need only a single number to allow them to dial into the conference center library at large. Perhaps, but that is for the future. Because this is an evolving, changing technology, however, today's reality is a variety of services, access numbers, gateways, and protocols.
The best way to learn what parts of the centre cum library are suited to any individual's particular needs is to begin at the simplest, least expensive level and slowly expand one's degree of access and power. Local bulletin boards are usually free and offer wonderful opportunities for informal exchange, but they typically do not offer the advanced research library resources a person like myself may need. At the other end of the scale are services like the enormously powerful and specialized library gateway called LEXIS-NEXIS, which costs several thousands of dollars a year. Most people choose other less expensive gateways entering library sections that are more than adequate for their general use. Between these two polls are intermediate and less expensive commercial services, compromises with formal libraries that, while extensive, are less complete than the LEXIS-NEXIS collection. These intermediate collections include the Internet, CompuServe, America Online, Prodigy,, Dow Jones Information Service, and other less well- known names.
Whatever gateway one uses to enter the library/center, all online systems share the same, general organizational structure. While the navigational commands may differ, and different software programs may be used to facilitate the use of one or another gateway, the similarities between them all outweigh these temporary differences.