World Wide Web Site
The Camden County Library homepage (http://www.camden.lib.nj.us/) is a key resource for CamNet members and county residents. It ties together some of the library’s disparate information resources and provides links to reference sources on the Internet selected by the library staff to meet community needs. On the homepage these resources appear under useful headings and are arranged in a matrix, which allows the library to perform some of its traditional functions: selecting information and making access possible by directing users to the best and most useful sources available.
Public Access to the Internet The library offers the public access to the Internet, the World Wide Web, and the library’s home page at five workstations in the main library. This service is intended to encourage patrons to browse, get a sense of the capabilities of Internet resources, and, possibly, inspire them to acquire their own Internet accounts though a private Internet provider. The Camden County Library does not offer e-mail accounts to the public, deferring to local commercial Internet providers who do. The library charges no fees for using the Internet workstations because it has no mechanism for collecting them. Instead, as with all library services, staff provides what services they can for free. The library offers free Internet awareness and training classes to the public. Users may browse or download information at the public access Internet workstations, but printing is not yet offered.
Technical Infrastructure The following technical infrastructure makes all of these services possible. The CamNet network is an Ethernet wide area network. As the network hub, the library’s Digital Alpha 2100 computer supports at least 600 workstations and terminals in 71 sites (with eight more planned). CamNet member institutions connect to the library via a Garden State Cable TV broadband network. A leased T1 line provided by KAPS, Inc., a commercial Internet provider, connects the library to the Internet.
Within the Camden County Library System 19 (29 by the end of 1996) PC work stations and 40 terminals are available for general use in public service areas. On the high end, five of the workstations are Pentium-class PCs which offer full graphical capabilities (to the World Wide Web, etc.). The library offers access to reference sources on CD-ROM at four stand-alone workstations, which will be upgraded later in 1996 to a reference area local area network offering 21 CD-ROM titles at eight work stations. Two PCs in the children’s area are networked. There is no formal computer laboratory.
The library’s catalog is maintained locally on a DRA system, and the electronic text of journals is acquired online directly from EBSCO. The online catalog, the EBSCO journals database, and other reference sources online at DRA may be viewed in the main library, and, through Internet and CamNet connections, they may be viewed in the three branches and any CamNet institution. Four modems enable other institutions and members of the public to dial in to the library’s catalog. Four percent of the library’s collection development budget is spent on materials in electronic form (leased, licensed, or purchased).