The rapid growth in services offering free Internet access to users dialling into the Internet is well known. The market leader, Freeserve, has signed up over 1.5 million customers and has been followed by TescoNet, WH Smith, Currant Bun, etc. But did you know that in September the British Library launched British Library Net, the first free Internet service to be provided by a public sector body in the UK?
Why provide this service when it’s already being done by commercial organisations? British Library Net provides the same level of Internet access service as other Internet service providers, but it is different because it provides direct links to library, information and cultural resources, rather than games, holidays and shopping. It provides links to hundreds of library catalogues, to full-text books and journals, to publishers, to serious news sources, to museums and art collections, and to educational resources in general. Unlike the commercial services, its home page is not full of garish images and cluttered with adverts! While most academic users will access the Internet through JANET when on campus, off campus or at home they can now use an ISP which includes links to a wealth of research resources, including the recently launched Resource Discovery Network subject hubs.
British Library Net includes:
- Direct access to the British Library’s catalogue on the Web, "OPAC 97", and to hundreds of library Web sites and OPACs
- Direct links to all British Library Web services
- Easy access to a wide range of top quality information resources, from libraries, museums and art collections to global news networks and world-renowned journals.
- As a bonus, there is a selection of free images from the British Library's Picture Library
The British Library Net service offers:
- Local call access anywhere in the UK
- 24hr, 7 days a week technical support by telephone
- ISDN and V90 56k PSTN access
- Free CD-ROM with Internet software suite including Web Browser and fully functional Email client
- Free Web space for non-commercial use
British Library Net has been developed in conjunction with Easynet, a leading UK Internet and telecommunications company, which will host and support the service.
Development of the service is being managed by the Online Services section of the British Library’s National Bibliographic Service, which regularly adds new links and other improvements to the site. Suggestions for improvement or additional Web links are very welcome (to the e-mail address below).
Copies of the installation CD-ROM are available from the British Library at:
- Fax: 01937 546586
- Tel: 01937 546585
Alternatively, sign up directly online at http://www.britishlibrary.net/registration.html
- Brian Kefford
- British Library
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org