Browser Compatibility and Configuration

The library provides access to scores of databases and other electronic resources. Some of these resources have special requirements such as javascript, cookies, support of style sheets, unicode fonts, and so forth. This page will help you configure your browser to meet most such requirements.

For Windows users, the library recommends Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer 6+, Opera 6+, or Netscape 7+. For Apple Macintosh users, the library recommends Firefox, Netscape 7+, Opera 6+, or Safari. The bad news is that Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.x on Mac does NOT work well with some library products.

Your present browser configuration

JavaScript enabled: not (yet) tested JavaScript is required for the library website and some databases licensed by library. See below for detail.
Cookies allowed by your browser: not (yet) tested Cookies are required for some databases licensed by the library. See below for detail.
Cookies allowed by your firewall: not (yet) tested See below for explanation.
Current screen resolution: not (yet) tested The library recommends at least 1024 x 768 pixel resolution to minimize scrolling and make the screen easier to read, but all databases licensed by the library will work with 800 by 600 pixel resolution and 8 bit color depth.
Current color depth: not (yet) tested
Plug-ins/Helper programs: no attempt to test You may need Adobe Acrobat Reader or other helper programs to read/view documents you download from library sources. This configuration check does not test to see if such helpers are installed on your machine.

See below for instructions on how to enable JavaScript and cookies in your browser. To trouble-shoot Firefox or upgrade to the most recent version of Firefox go here; for Microsoft Internet Explorer, go here; for Netscape, go here. For a more complete analysis of your browser settings, including a listing of helper programs you have installed, information about the presence of a firewall, and your IP address, see the BrowserHawk demo.


JavaScript is a programming language used by many sites on the web and by many of the electronic resources provided by the library. JavaScript capability is included in every major web browser. But you may need to turn it on in order to use some library resources. Here is how to activate JavaScript in Netscape and Internet Explorer.

How to activate JavaScript in Netscape 7.x

  1. Select Edit
  2. Select Preferences
  3. Double-click on Advanced to expand the list of options
  4. In some versions, Select Scripts and Plug-ins
  5. Pick the option to enable JavaScript.
  6. Click OK

How to activate JavaScript in Internet Explorer 6.x

  1. Select Tools from the browser menu bar
  2. Click Internet Options
  3. Click the Security tab.
  4. Click Custom and Settings
  5. Scroll down to "Active Scripting" and click on enable.
  6. Click OK etc.

How to activate JavaScript in Internet Explorer 5.x

  1. Select Tools from the browser menu bar
  2. Click Internet Options
  3. Click the Security tab.
  4. With Internet Zone selected, click Custom Level
  5. Scroll to Scripting section, then Active Scripting and click on enable.
  6. Click OK etc.

Note on JavaScript privacy/security

Although JavaScript is listed in the privacy/security section of Internet Explorer, turning on JavaScript is not a security risk. Unlike other progammming languages, JavaScript was designed to be "virus-safe." It is extremely difficult for a malicious programmer to use JavaScript to do any real damage to your computer. For example, JavaScript cannot create or remove files on your computer (except cookies). JavaScript programs can theoretically transmit personal information about you IF you provide that information, for example by completing an order form. JavaScript can be used to play annoying tricks like telling a page to reload itself if you try to leave it.


Here is how to enable cookies on Netscape and Internet Explorer. If you change your cookie settings, you may need to close and re-open your browser to use the new settings. Note that firewall/security programs on your computer (like Norton or ZoneAlarm ) or on your local network can block cookies even if your browser has cookies turned on. If your browser has cookies enabled but you still get an error message about cookies when you attempt to use library resources, then the problem may be caused by your firewall software or by your company LAN (if you are browsing from work) or possibly even by your ISP (very unlikely).

How to activate cookies in Netscape 7.x

  1. Select Edit
  2. Select Preferences
  3. Double-click Privacy and Security to expand the list of options
  4. Select Cookies
  5. Pick an option that accepts cookies.

How to activate cookies in Internet Explorer 6.x

  1. Select Tools from the browser menu bar
  2. Click Internet Options
  3. Click the Privacy tab. A slider indicates cookie settings. The default setting is medium and is adequate for all library resources. The slider will not be present if custom cookie settings are used. To change custom cookie settings, see the next step.
  4. Click Advanced
  5. Scroll to the cookie section. At a bare minimun, pick the "Override Automatic Cookie Handling" option and the "Always Allow Session Cookies" option. You may also wish to pick "accept" for "First-Party Cookies" only. Click OK.

How to activate cookies in Internet Explorer 5.x

  1. Select Tools from the browser menu bar
  2. Click Internet Options
  3. Click the Security tab
  4. Click Internet
  5. Select Custom and Custom Level
  6. Scroll down to the cookies section, and pick an option that accepts session cookies (at least).
  7. Click OK etc.

Note on cookie privacy/security

Cookies are records of information about you. If you have cookies turned on, then you are giving permission for a website to create a cookie on your machine (i.e., store a small amount of information on your computer) or to read a cookie that same website previously saved on your machine. For example, a website might use cookies to store information about you such as your browsing preferences, or your name, address, or telephone number. The next time you visit that website, it will read the cookie and "remember" this information. A website can only read its own cookies. In other words, it only knows the information you give it. A website cannot read cookies created by a different website. It is theoretically possible for a website to store important confidential information in a cookie such as a credit card number or a password. This is not safe unless it is well encrypted.

There are two kinds of cookies: transient and persistent. (Transient cookies are also called session cookies.) A transient cookie is stored in memory and disappears when you exit the browser software or turn off your computer. There is no permanent record of the cookie information. Persistent cookies, on the other hand, are saved as files on your disk and carry an expiration date. Cookies may persist for years. Some library resources use transient cookies, including the proxy server. A very few optionally use peristent cookies if you permit it. Very few library resources require persistent cookies.

If you have privacy concerns about cookies, then you may wish to configure your browser to allow only transient cookies. These transient/temporary cookies are never written to a disk file; they exist only during your browser session. In recent Microsoft products, a security setting of "medium" allows transient cookies but blocks persistent cookies. A setting of "high" blocks all cookies. You may also wish to allow only first-party cookies and disallow second-party or third-party cookies (also called foreign cookies because they are stored not by a site you visit, but by a site that is cooperating with a site you visit—a partner.)

Even if you have configured your browser to allow the creation of persistent cookies, you can still instruct your browser to delete all existing cookies whenever you wish. You can also go to your cookie folder and delete individual cookies just as you would delete any file on your computer.

For more information about cookies, see this discussion