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Network resources have become widely used by libraries in recent years. More than ever before, librarians are expected to become familiar with such tools as electronic mail, file transfer protocol (ftp), and Internet‐accessible online catalogs. Many online professionals consider Usenet to be the world's largest computer network and an essential resource to academics, yet it has received little attention from the library community. This article will provide a brief description of Usenet and discuss how it may be applied to library settings.
Usenet is one of the most widely used services on the Internet. Recently, a handful of articles dealing with the mechanics and personal use of Usenet have appeared in the library literature, but little attention has focused on Usenet as a reference tool. This is unfortunate, since Usenet has the potential to serve as a valuable reference source to answer questions. With Usenet we have the ability to query the knowledge of a large well‐educated population on just about any subject from computers to popular culture. A question posted to the proper group on Usenet will often receive responses within hours. This article provides a brief introduction to Usenet and how it can be used for reference work, plus a guide to some of the issues involved with posting reference questions to Usenet. But first, I offer two examples of reference questions that I have answered using Usenet as a source.