Lawrence Public Library patrons now have the opportunity to get on the information superhighway.
With a few clicks of the mouse button, Bruce Flanders bounced in a matter of seconds across the country, from a computer in Lawrence Public Library to computers in New Jersey, California and even in Canada.
"It's really simple," Flanders said, demonstrating on Thursday the new Internet public access computer near the reference desk at the library. "To use it, you just point and click away."
Flanders, the library's director, showed how easy it is to navigate through the Internet's World Wide Web using the library's new computer information service.
Beginning today, library patrons will be able to use the free service to learn about the information superhighway and to navigate cyberspace.
"This initial step will enable the city of Lawrence to become a part of the electronic global village," Mayor Bob Moody said today at a public demonstration of the new service. "I'm told that more than 300 U.S. cities have a presence on the Internet."
Moody said that as the library continues to develop its "home page" on the Internet, "a virtual visitor may be able to see our parks and our historic neighborhoods, take a walk down our beautiful downtown, stroll across the campuses of our universities..."
Flanders said the Internet connection was made to respond to the information and education needs of library patrons, especially those who don't have a computer or Internet access at home or work.
"Our hope is we serve in particular people who have heard about the Internet and want to know more about it," he said. "It's providing a public safety net. This is a way to provide full and equal access to the Internet to all members of the community."
The Internet, which is the premier world-wide network of computer systems, is used by people to share electronic mail, conduct on-line research and transfer computerized data.
One of the fastest-growing parts of the Internet is the World Wide Web, which links thousands of resources together so that a user can easily move with a click from one resource to another on hundreds of different computers around the world.
The library's new Internet access work station, which is available to anyone with a library borrower's card, takes full advantage of the Web.
The library's Compaq 486 computer uses the graphical Web browsing software, Netscape, and connects to the Internet using a SLIP connection through Databank, a local Internet provider.
"It sounds complicated -- it's hypertext, it's World Wide Web and it's Internet -- but when you sit down in front of it, it's real simple to use. You just point and click," he said.
"We don't control the content of the Internet, and there are some things that some people may find that are inappropriate or offensive to themselves or for their children," Flanders said. "So parents are advised to monitor their children's Internet sessions, just as they do with books."
Library patrons who use the service can use a system called "Yahoo," which is a subject/key word index to many resources on the Internet. They can also use a system called Virtual Library, which helps them find various resources on the Internet.
Flanders said the system will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. However, if there are several people who want to use it, users will be limited to a 20-minute session, he said.