A special library recently raised a question about building in-house data bases using a corporate IBM 370/158 computer and a data base management system entitled INQUIRE. The library staff had been led to believe that they could use the INQUIRE software without the assistance of data processing professionals. Unfortunately, they were misled. INQUIRE is an excellent software product which makes it possible to build data bases which are to have multiple access points. There is a powerful text searching and retrieval capability similar to that to which many librarians are accustomed with BPS, Dialog and SDC. In addition, independently created data bases can be linked so that a single search can retrieve information from more than one data base. This is possible because there are no predetermined record pointers. The software has already been successfully used by 150 organizations including some which are doing journal abstracting and control and creating data banks in specialized areas, solar energy --for one. A number of INQUIRE users whom we have contacted stated that they have realized savings in human resources but emphasized that the system is complex and requires trained data processing personnel to implement and maintain. The initial cost is $70,000 and the monthly maintenance fee is $500. A data base of 100,000 records recently set up in one organization cost $100,000 in analyst and programmer time to implement, even though the parent organization had already installed INQUIRE.
Assembling a system by using available hardware and software packages is never inexpensive and often full of surprises. It is important to calculate all costs and to examine options such as turnkey systems and the private data base services offered by BPS and Dialog before proceeding. [Contact: Infodata Systems Inc., 5205 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041].