A Workshop

©2001 by Walt Howe
(last updated 26 April 2001)

This is an updated version of a hands-on introductory Internet workshop presented at the 1995 Annual Conference of the Special Libraries Association, June 15, 1995 in Montreal. The workshop was targetted for librarians and information professionals with little or no prior experience with the Internet and the web. It is pretty dated in content now, but it can still serve as a good model for building a training workship.


  1. Construct an email address, given its parts and sample models to follow.
  2. Differentiate between text and binary (programs, pictures, etc.) files.
  3. Given a World Wide Web address (URL), use a graphical web browser (Netscape or Mosaic) to connect and navigate to other links.
  4. Given a World Wide Web address (URL), use a text browser (Lynx) to connect and navigate to other links.
  5. Construct a URL, given its parts and models to follow.
  6. Connect to gopher sites and navigate in gopher menus.
  7. Get a binary or a text file from a remote site using FTP.
  8. Find an entry in a given library catalog using gopher and telnet.
  9. Locate newsgroups by subject
  10. Locate mailing lists (such as listserv, listproc, majordomo) in a chosen subject.
  11. Locate Usenet newsgroup FAQ files for a chosen subject.
  12. Use web search engines and directories to find information for a chosen subject.


Internet Address. There are two forms of addresses: domain and IP.

Domain addresses:

  • all addresses end with edu, com, net, org, gov, mil, or a two-letter country code (see faq/country.html)
  • there is at least one more expression with the ending, identifying the organization, separated by dots (examples: whitehouse.gov, sla.org, harvard.edu)
  • additional expressions can pin down the location, activity, or particular machine (ex. rs.internic.net, vaxvmsx.babson.edu, library.berkeley.edu, gopher.sla.org)
IP addresses--every address consists of 4 numbers between 0 and 255, separated by dots.

Mail addresses

  • mail only uses domain addressing
  • Internet mail addresses consist of a username and a domain address, separated by an @ symbol.
  • There are other forms of addresses for gateways to other networks, such as Sprintmail, Fidonet, etc. For help with mail addressing, consult the Internetwork Mail Guide at http://www.nova.edu/Inter-Links/cgi-bin/inmgq.pl.
What you can mail

The most basic Internet mail systems can ONLY mail text. You cannot mail graphics files, programs, most wordprocessed files, spreadsheets, etc., because these use binary (8-bit) characters, and mail only uses the basic 128 text characters (upper and lower case letters, numbers, punctuation, and come printer control characters) that can be represented with 7 bits.

Some mail systems support binary attachments, but both the sending and receving mailer must be compatible with each other. MIME is a standard that supports binary attachments, and it is becoming increasingly popular. Do not assume that an addressee uses M IME. Check first.

If you must mail a binary file to someone with an incompatible mailer, you can still do it by encoding it in 7-bit form first. The most common way to do this is to uuencode it. It must then be decoded at the other end. Some systems will do this for you; o thers require you to do it offline.


Multimedia browsers. The availability of easy to use browsers with graphics and audio access to the World Wide Web in the past year has led to enormous growth in public interest in the Internet and the requirements for ba ndwidth to support it. Although effective use requires fast computers with lots of memory and either direct network connections or fast modems, millions of people are finding their own access.

The content available for access has been growing just as fast. For a librarian or researcher, the mushrooming growth creates many problems in finding materials that meet needs and are from verifiably accurate sources. There are many attempts to get a handle on the contents of the nets and index it, but most of these index everything on a topic, not just those that meet the requirements of scholarly or business uses.

Uniform Resource Locators (URL. Web browsers use a relatively new form of addressing called the Uniform Resource Locator or URL. There are URL formats for the various types of resources on the nets. The most basic form is this:


The only required part is the type-of-resource and the domain address. The other parts depend on the specific type and resource. Here are some examples:







Text Browsers. Text-only browsers have existed for some time, and for those without the right hardware and high-speed connections, are still quite usable for browsing the web. The pictures are missing, but the text content is still accessible in most cases. Lynx is the most common text browser. To access a lynx browser, try one of these URLs:


When connected, press ? or H for help with commands. Note that G is used as a GOTO command to allow you to type in a URL. Up and down arrow keys are used to navigate between choices within a page, and left and right arrow keys to navigate to and from othe r pages.


Gopher. Gopher was the first system to make the nets friendlier, providing hierarchical menu access to local and Internet resources. It grew from a project at the U of Minnesota to develop a menu system to access University files needed by many people. Within a few years after the first gopher was introduced, there were thousands of gophers on all seven continents. If your site runs its own gopher software, you can use the gopher command to call up the software. Otherwise, access gopher t hrough web URLs. Try ? or Help for a list of commands available.

Some gophers to try:

University of Minnesota gopher (gopher://gopher.micro.umn.edu), including All the Worlds Gophers listing.

Library of Congress gopher (gopher://marvel.loc.gov).

Veronica search utility(gopher://veronica.scs.unr.edu/11/veronica/) to search gopherspace

Carnegie Mellon U English Server (gopher://english-server.hss.cmu.edu)

Search for gophers by name or address gopher://cs4sun.cs.ttu.edu:3000/7)


FTP: File Transfer Protocol. Graphical web browsers usually give you point and click access to FTP. They are not foolproof, however, and there are occasions where you may do better to use ftp in command mode or run your own ftp software.

Anonymous FTP. When FTP is not automated, you go through a login process. The usual procedure, unless it is a place where you have your own account, is to login with the usename anonymous. When asked for a password, respond with your email a ddress, for example, walthowe@newscorp.com. NEVER use your own password.

Manual FTP commands
Followed with an address, it connects to an ftp site.
Followed with an address, it connects to an ftp site when you are already at the ftp prompt.
Shows you a directory of the files and subdirectories available.
Change directory.
cd ..
Goes back up one directory. Same as cd up
Print Working Directory. Shows the directory path where you are located.
Sets the system for text or 7-bit transfers. 7-bit files typically include the following file extensions: txt, ps, ex, latex, uue, hqx, rtf
Sets the system for binary transfers. Binary files typically include such file extensions as zip, Z, z, zoo, tar, gz, exe, wp, doc, and many more
Followed by a filename, retrieves the file to your system
The reverse of get. Puts a file from your system to the remote system
mget, mput
Multiple get and put. Used with multiple filenames or wild cards to get more than one file with one command. Example: mget *.zip gets all files in a directory that end with .zip.
Closes the current connection

Compression, archiving, and encoding. Many files stored in ftp sites are not in their original, usable form. To save space, they are often compressed. To save steps, related files are often archived into one file. To enable mailing or use with n ewsgroups, binary files are often encoded into 7-bit forms. Each type of computer and operating system has its own ways of doing each of these, and there are many more types than anyone can remember. A very useful file for Windows users is the File Extension chart I maintain at this URL: faq/extguide.html.

Some large ftp sites to try:



While newsgroups and mailing lists tend to contain much more noise than information, the best of those devoted to serious topics can be storehouses of information.

Newsgroups: The DejaNews service at http://www.dejanews.com/ lets you search thousands of different newsgroups and the text of their articles by keywords of your choice.

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) files maintained by many newsgroups are a wealth of information on the topic of their newsgroup. They are usually written and maintained by experts in the subject matter, and should not be overlooked as a source of information. You can search FAQ files at Ohio State at http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/hypertext/faq/usenet/top.html.

Email Discussion Lists. To subscribe and unsubscribe to mailing lists, you send your request in a formatted message that is usually handled by a computer, not a human being. Never send a subscription message or cancellation to the list itself. The correct address will go to listserv@, mailserv@, listproc@, majordomo@, llistname-request@, or similar address forms. See the Guide to Mailing Lists at faq/listsub.html. This will help you with the correct procedures for subscribing, unsubscribing, and searching list archives.

To find out what mailing lists exist for a particular topic, check the sources collected at this Find Email Discussion Lists site at faq/lists.html.


Library Catalogs. While the web and gopher provide access to more and more functions, some library catalogs are still only available through telnet--by logging in remotely to the library and running the library's own catalog software. A web browser or gopher can automate the connection process for you, but the protocol used is still telnet or its variations rlogin or tn3270.

Try the following links to find a particular library catalog:

WebDex (was Hywebcat) at http://www.libdex.com/

Library of Congress at http://lcweb.loc.gov/homepage/lchp.html

For older catalogs, Hytelnet at http://library.usask.ca/hytelnet/


Search Engines at faq/search.html

International Universities (by C. DeMello) at http://www.mit.edu:8001/people/cdemello/univ.html

Internet Access Providers at http://www.thenet.com

City Net at http://www.city.net/

The Nine Planets at http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/nineplanets/nineplanets/nineplanets.html

HTML Startup References

Hope Tillman's Home Page at http://www.hopetillman.com

Walt Howe's Home Page at http://www.walthowe.com

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