The Cyber Chapter experimented in late 1995 with a World Wide Web “home page” on the Internet, thanks to the good graces of Mike Prudhom, who also moderated most Cyber Chapter meetings. The Cyber Chapter and ALA began to look to the future for new venues for online activities with an expectation that the ALA would grow to have its own Forum on Compuserve or possibly move the whole show to the Internet.
Diana Clark succeeded Morry Schorr as Chapter President in April, and Ron Henry succeeded as vice-president. Jeff Hackett was elected to be secretary and Phil Hamilton agreed to serve as chapter treasurer.
The first successful “live” Internet presentations at an ALA Annual Educational Conference were presented by Cyber Chapter members at ALA’s 25th Annual Conference in New Orleans in May, 1996. Chapter members were active on ALA’s conference committee and several served as session managers or presenters at a variety of educational sessions.
After winning approval from ALA Headquarters, the Cyber Chapter web site was launched on September 7, 1996. The decision to establish an independent Internet presence was undertaken only after chapter leaders were able to confirm that ALA’s own Internet site would not provide for chapter networking or accommodate local chapter pages and discussion groups. The chapter web site was written entirely by chapter members, and all costs were borne by the chapter. Total development costs were estimated at $200, including registration of the cyberala.org domain name.
The official ALA world wide web site at alanet.org made its public debut on October 2, 1996, and quickly established itself as one of the most information-intensive sites on the Internet. Discussion groups on the site, known as Professional Development Networks (PDN’s) were added one at a time. Cyber Chapter founder and charter president Morry Schorr volunteered to serve as Section Leader of the first ALA PDN, which focused on Technology.
Diana Clark was reelected chapter president in April 1997, and Ron Henry agreed to a second term as vice-president. Bernadette Peters of Honolulu was elected as secretary, and Lew Gray of Raleigh as treasurer. This slate of officers was destined to see the Cyber Chapter complete its migration—along with ALA—to the Internet and World Wide Web. ALA withdrew from its CompuServe presence in April 1997. The termination of the “ALA Forum” in Section 17 of The Court Reporters Forum on CompuServe marked the end of a brief era, when peer-to-peer online networking among ALA members first was offered on a mass basis. The April 15 termination marked ALA’s complete break with members-only online services, as it focused its entire online presence on the Internet at alanet.org.
In May, the Cyber Chapter repeated its support of ALA Internet education at ALA’s 1997 Annual Educational Conference in Seattle. At ALA’s request, Cyber Chapter members conducted a series of live Internet navigation and education sessions in the Microsoft Learning Pavilion in ALA’s Exhibit Hall.
The chapter launched its own discussion forum in September 1997 after three months of testing and development. This forum, designed by chapter members and employing a database routine written by Rob Mallard at Service Pointe, restored much of the convenience which members had enjoyed on CompuServe.
The chapter continued to encourage the publication of monthly “white papers” on a variety of topics. In April, 1998, the first paper devoted exclusively to “Y2K” or the “Millennium Bug” was released, and days later was distributed in print form at ALA’s Annual Educational Conference in Boston. The April white paper was re-published on the ALA website and in a wide variety of local chapter newsletters and state bar association materials.