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LAN access highlights CD/Net service delivery.

A large local area network offering more than 100 information sources is at the heart of service delivery to patrons of the Southfield Public Library, located in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Patrons can reach the vast sources of information either from the high-tech library or from the comfort of their own homes.

More than 35 workstations are located throughout the library building. They enable the public to search the library's catalog, called ACCESS (from Innovative Interfaces Inc.), more than a dozen CD-ROM products, and several Information Access Company (IAC) databases.

Southfield's plate of CD-ROM products includes American Business Disc, World Book Encyclopedia, PhoneDisc, SIRS Researcher, NewsFile, the Detroit News, Gale Research's StartSmart, Granger's Poetry, and Monarch Notes. Via the Internet, Southfield accesses IAC's Searchbank for the Magazine Index, General Business File, and Health Reference Center. When users in the library choose InfoTrac from the menu that appears on all in-house computers, they are logged into a UNIX box that acts as an intermediary and transmits the search request to the IAC host computer in Massachusetts.

Patrons can also access the library's catalog, CD-ROMs, and Internet-connected databases by dialing in from home. The dial-in service runs on InfoNet and is a text-based system. "The system is very easy to install and use," said Gardella. One of the great benefits of InfoNet, according to Gardella, is that the user's computer, once connected, operates exactly as if he or she were in the library, which is a great source of comfort to users. Patrons connect to one of five communications servers dedicated to InfoNet use, so emulation and key mapping are identical to what the user has come to expect.

To access the dial-in service and CD-ROM products, users register with the library and receive the client version of PC Anywhere software, which the library tailors to their systems. The library then adds the registered users to the file server database. This precludes someone who just knows the phone number of the dial-in service from accessing the system. "These safeguards have greatly helped with getting licensing from CD-ROM sources to allow dial-in to their products," said Gardella. "The system isn't available to just anyone."

South field has purchased five concurrent user licenses for combined in-house and dial-up use. If a sixth person tries to access a particular product, that person is rejected until someone logs off.

"We have these users stopped from leaving the immediate network and branching off into cyberspace," said Robin Gardella, coordinator of automation/technology. "We have a separate dial-in service for Internet users."

Southfield Public Library is part of MetroNet, a consortium of several public libraries in the Detroit area. The libraries share the costs of a T-1 Internet connection. The computer, which operates the MetroNet host computer, is in the Farmington Hills Public Library.

Southfield Public Library has begun offering dial-in Internet access via a modem pool and dedicated lines. The library has eight lines that subscribers can use. Subscribers may dial in to Southfield's modem pool and are connected either to the MetroNet Library Consortium (where they are able to log on to their Internet account) or they may opt to begin a PPP session.

"This is a new service for us," said Gardella, "and response has been excellent. We currently have about 400 registered subscribers to this service."

Southfield offers a full complement of classes that provide some introduction to the use of its systems by using an overhead projector and LCD panel for detailed demonstrations.

Southfield Public Library's future plans include providing public Internet access through a graphical user interface.

For more information about Southfield's technology offerings, contact Robin Gardella at rg@metronet.

Karen Commings is the automation and technical services coordinator at the Dauphin Count3' Library System in Harrisburg, PA. Her e-mail address is
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Title Annotation:Libraries of the Future; local area network, Southfield Public Library, Detroit, Michigan
Author:Commings, Karen
Publication:Computers in Libraries
Date:Oct 1, 1996
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