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As the Internet grows ... MacDill Library offers classes to get users up to speed

by Airman 1st Class Andrea Thacker
Thunderbolt editor

The Web has come so far so fast it's hard to imagine anyone who doesn't have Internet service or at least an understanding of it. But there are people who live outside of the cyber world and who fear venturing into the tangle of the World Wide Web.

But a new program at the Base Library is designed to untangle the web for beginners and intermediate surfers alike.

"Intro to the Web" is the first class and is designed to increase the comfort level of beginning users, answer basic questions about uses and offer hints and tips on Web-browser software.

After students have a grasp of the Web, the second class, "Maximizing Your Web Search," assists the intermediate users in finding their way through the vast amount of information available on the Internet.

Both classes are free and available to everyone from the early bird to the night owl.

Because of the computer lab's popularity, the classes are offered before the library opens and after it is closed. Classes are scheduled monthly, and advanced registration is required.

"All types of library users have taken advantage of the free classes: active duty, reservists, students, retirees and civilian employees," said Kathy Kaldenberg, Web teacher, "but the majority of students are retirees and spouses. Both classes are equally popular. Some attend each class a few times."

Retired Master Sgt. Howell Folson is on his fourth class and hopes he will master the searching technique.

"I love this class," said Folson. "I am so anxious to learn all about the Web."

Folson has had Internet access for several months but travels a lot and hasn't had enough time to use it.

"With this class, I am learning all the information I need to get started searching for information on the Web," said Folson. "It's just something I have to do, if I want to use the Web."

As MacDill's reference librarian, Kaldenberg can't imagine doing reference at the library without the Internet, but she stresses to her students that they must be 10 times more skeptical with the information they find.

"I teach them how to evaluate the information they find on the Web and recognize who's responsible for a particular site," said Kaldenberg.

The classes originally were formatted for community college students to aid them in their search for research information, but now it is geared toward what people need to know about the Web before they buy a computer or get Internet service.

Hillsborough Community College owns 11 of the 15 computers used for the classes and provides the Internet access. The remaining computers are owned by the base and are connected to the Internet via a Digital Subscriber Line or DSL.

"I think of these classes as a extension of library education," said Kaldenberg. "It's another way for people to find information."

But she remains loyal to the print medium. "Although the Internet seems so vast, some resources still can only be found in print, and the Web is not a replacement for printed materials; it's just an awesome supplement," she said.




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