Intronet: A Beginner’s Guide to Searching the Internet

Ian R. Murray (Department of Information Science, Loughborough University)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 1 March 2000




Murray, I.R. (2000), "Intronet: A Beginner’s Guide to Searching the Internet", Library Management, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 109-115.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Does the idea of a handy beginner’s guide to the Internet have appeal? Everything about this book is designed for the unsophisticated reader, from the title, the chapter headings, and the style of writing. There is merit in this approach as the subject is therefore presented in a very accessible and easy to read format. It also enables the author to convey his obvious enthusiasm for the subject. It does, however, need to be considered whether we really need yet another text on Internet sources. There are a number available in the UK, published by the Library Association alone, for example: Ian Winship and Alison McNab, The Students Guide to the Internet; Alan Poulter, Goff Sargent, and Gwyneth Tseng, The Library and Information Professional’s Guide to the World Wide Web. Some of these “guides” aim to take you further than the introductory stage, for example, Alison Cooke, A Guide to Finding Quality Information on the Internet: Selection and Evaluation Strategies.

This book – Intronet – is an American book. Written by an American librarian, for an American audience. There are no references to sites outside of the USA and the prose is noticeably American as well. In describing the accessibility of the Net, he states, “First off, it’s right there when you need it” (p. 1) In emphasising the informal style the author does make some sweeping statements, for example, chapter one begins, “When you get down to basics, the Internet is all about information” (p. 1). This rather begs the question. There is rather a lot of material on the Internet that seems to me to have nothing whatsoever to do with information. Perhaps though it depends on what you define as “information”. The author does not attempt a sharp definition. In the preface he states that the aim of the book is to help people learn how to search rather than where to search. This is a sensible approach and the first three chapters introduce the reader to strategies and techniques. It is elementary and the initial chapters concentrate on “picking the right word for your search” and “picking the right tool for your search”. Moving a little deeper into the book there follows lists of sites which will help you in trying to find, facts, files (images, games etc.), people, companies and products. Logically following on from the “How to find” chapters there is a chapter on how to decide whether or not the information is reliable. The final chapter is about how to cite electronic sources and there are three appendices: on keeping up to date with new methods of searching, fun and useful sites, and finally a quick reference search strategy is outlined. I am concerned that the author of Intronet rather fails to get the more experienced user’s confidence when chapter four, giving five helpful tips on finding facts, begins with tip one: “start your search with ask Jeeves” (a search engine), but ends with “tip five: do not start with search engines”. In the introductory paragraph to this section he also states that he will note a couple of sources but it never becomes evident what these are.

In my opinion, there is nothing intrinsically new about the book that marks it out for special attention. Moreover, it is now increasingly common to find useful tips and methods of searching on the Web itself. The BBC provides the Webwise site ( shtml) and it is arguable that there is no longer the need for an Internet primer that this book represents.

Finally, is this small, paperback value for money? It is expensive for a beginner’s guide, and ultimately it only has value as a quick, slightly larger than pocket sized, reference book of useful US sites.

Related articles