Electronic and Web Sources

Patrons and the Internet

With the advent of computers in libraries, librarians became familiar with the patrons asking us to “find something on the computer” for them. With the proliferation of the Internet, librarians are finding patrons expecting the benefits of this new, global networked environment to be available in the library and impact how quickly and flexibly we can provide library services.

Internet resources, as an extension of the electronic reference environment libraries have been developing for more than 30 years, have created new opportunities for library service. Using the Internet is now a fundamental skill for all public service staff. Every librarian needs to be able to effectively search the Internet, use Internet resources, and evaluate websites on the Internet for patrons seeking information and guidance. In the next section, you will learn how to evaluate and use websites to your advantage.

Continuing training on using the Internet as a reference tool is needed to maintain a high level of skill.

Internet resources fall under the more general term “electronic resources,” since we all have access to computer-based information that is available on CD-ROM or loaded into our local computer servers. Internet resources generally fall into two categories:

Websites: Those sites accessible on the Internet for free by anyone with an Internet connection.

Databases: Collections of information that require a subscription or fee to access.

In the Reference Sources section, you will find information on both of these kinds of resources. Your library may not have access to all the databases referred to in this section, but knowing about them is helpful, just as knowing about the reference sources you may not have can help you think more broadly about how to refer a question.

Remember, patrons want their information in the format they are comfortable with and delivered as efficiently as possible. Sometimes it is necessary to overcome resistance they may have to using a computer to access information, or to provide additional training. Helping patrons use electronic resources makes it easier for us to provide the best information for their specific needs.

Go to Internet and Reference Service.
Back to Types of electronic information.
Back to Table of Contents.

This page was last updated on August 15, 2003.