An elderly gentleman approached the reference desk upset because he couldn’t get on the internet. I followed him back to the terminal he was working on and was surprised when we passed the card catalogue stations (my first assumption was that he was trying to use one of the card catalogue computers because at least once a day someone complains about the “internet not working” while sitting at an OPAC station which has giant signs around it saying “Card Catalogue and Databases Only"). When we got to the station he was working at I was a bit confused because the library’s homepage was clearly up and running and he was in fact on the internet.
“It looks like things are working fine to me.” I said.
He shook his head, “That’s not the real internet.”
I asked if he could explain what the real internet was.
“How come it doesn’t look like my internet at home?” he asked.
When I asked him to further elaborate he was at a loss for words. Then I had a hunch: “Who is your internet service provider?” I asked.
He stared blankly at me.
I tried again. “Where do you log on to get your email? Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, AOL?”
“AOL!” he exclaimed.
I entered in www.aol.com in the address bar and all was right with the world when AOL’s homepage came to give this gentleman access to the “real internet.”