Monday, September 17, 2007

Mozilla Firefox: The Internet Browser of Choice by Many Ball State University Libraries’ Personnel

Online searching and content retrieval is vital to modern academic library research, learning, and knowledge discovery. Two major internet browsers provide the primary gateway to the online search services from content providers to accomplish this work. These internet browsers are Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) and Mozilla FireFox. Many library staff prefer Mozilla FireFox, now in release 2.0, because it provides them with several powerful features and functions.

A powerful FireFox feature is tabbed navigation and it was enhanced in version 2.0. Many times staff want to have quick access to multiple web sites during the course of their work. Traditionally, this required multiple open browser windows. Tabbed navigation provides a convenient, efficient way to have easy access to multiple web pages.

Through FireFox’s integrated search feature, it is easy to add web search engines and change the default web search option in the Navigation Toolbar. For Example, I choose ZUULA as the default web search engine because it provides results from Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and other search sites. Some of the web search sites pre-loaded in FireFox are Google, Yahoo!, eBay,, and Amazon. The Firefox Search Engine Manager simplifies modifying the integrated search bar.

FireFox is also preferred because of its performance and stability. Day in and day out, FireFox responds faster and runs more reliably than other browsers. Waiting on web pages to load can be frustrating, particularly for busy Libraries’ personnel who spend a considerable amount of time using the web. Slow page load delays mean lost productivity.

Another useful Firefox feature is the web feeds (RSS) reader via the FireFox Live Bookmarks function. It provides great control over feed subscriptions, incorporating the reader function directly in the browser. Web feeds are a great tool for keeping up-to-date on library news, program offerings, and other topics.

An additional significant FireFox feature that library personnel comment on is its add-on functionality. Thousands of add-ons, extensions and themes exist to personalize, customize, and configure how FireFox operates on your computer. Many of these add-ons, available at, are valuable tools for library researchers.

The Mozilla FireFox browser is available for free download at

The University Libraries include FireFox on all public workstations. The web log usage information reveals the FireFox internet browser is used every bit as often as Microsoft’s IE and other internet browsers.

In my column next month, I plan to write about some of FireFox’s library-friendly extensions, including LibX,, the University Libraries’ toolbar, Book Burro, and others. These internet browser extensions, or add-ons, expand FireFox functionality and usability and are valuable resources for libraries to share with researchers, students, and other learners.

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