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North Tonawandans are enthusiastically jumping online with the North Tonawanda Public Library's new Internet service. The Internet has attracted 377 surfers in the sixth week it has been in effect.

"We wanted to make sure the system was running smoothly before we formally advertised it," said Library Director Daniel R. Killian.

Five terminals in the adult section and three in the children's room carry Internet capability. "We get the people started and they continue on their own," said reference librarian Melisa Fiumara.

What do North Tonawandans search for on the Internet? Job information is popular, said librarian Anya Puccic, as well as recipes, stock market data, medical information and football statistics.

Younger computer users are discovering "Yahooligans!", said children's librarian Peggy Waite. "It is a wide-ranging child-friendly web guide," she said.

To access the library Internet computer for one hour, patrons reserve their slots by checking out with their library card, just like a book. Children under 12 are restricted to the children's room terminals and the Yahooligans searcher. Teens under 18 can use the adult department terminals with a parent's signature.

The librarians and Killian said Internet information can be presented in several formats. For example, by consulting NASA's web page a student can view new print of visual data on space flight.

Government agencies, associations, companies and innumerable other disseminators have web sites. Many out of town newspapers have web sites, facilitating job searches in other cities.

But the "process of searching for information is still better done with books," cautioned Killian.

"They are frequently more reliable then computer information, which often cannot be verified. A general background search in a book can provide facts which can then be followed up on the computer," he said.

The librarians also said that the Internet can be slow, depending on the number of other users accessing the system. Many times searchers will find the specific information needed faster right in the library the old-fashioned way in books and periodicals.

Killian thanked the Friends of the Library for paying for three of the new terminals and, since the budget was passed last year, it was able to cover the costs of the others, he said. The Nioga Library System provides the Internet access.

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