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Data bases proliferate

Library Systems Newsletter [September 1982]

Publicly available computerized data bases numbered 1,133 as of April 1982, an increase of 700 since 1979, of which 150 had emerged in just the last six months Carlos Cuadra told an audience at the Special Libraries Association Conference in Detroit in June. Only one online service, DIALOG, offers access to more than 100 data bases, while most of the other 188 services in North America and Europe offer only one data base. Of the 1,133 data bases, 950 are available through only one on-line service; a number of data bases are very popular, however, being offered by as many as 28 on-line services. One of the frustrating problems a searcher encounters is that a single data base may be given different names by competing on-line services. Thirty of the on-line services are European; they offer more than 230 data bases, two-thirds of which can be accessed only by dialing into a European host.

There are 659 data bases which can be described as source data bases: ones which provide the actual information sought, whether it be numerical, textual/ numerical, or full-text. Another 414 data bases can be described as reference data bases: ones which point to publications, people, products or companies. One-third of the reference data bases are bibliographic and two-thirds are non-bibliographic. Then, there are 60 data bases which are not clearly source or reference types.

The number of non-bibliographic data bases is increasing faster than the number of bibliographic data bases. Cuadra characterized the non-bibliographic data bases as being easy to use, saying that they are often easier to use than the bibliographic data bases which are more commonly used by librarians. It is difficult to identify an area in which there isn't a non-bibliographic data base with a large amount of useful information. Cuadra's concern is that non-bibliographic data bases are currently underutilized.

The largest on-line service specializing in non-bibliographic data bases is that offered by I. P. Sharp Associates of Toronto, a company which put up its first non-bibliographic data base in 1973. In addition to offering access to data bases through its own international telecommunications network and Telex, I. P. Sharp offers software to manipulate the data retrieved. Sharp's best knwon software package, MAGIC, facilitates the merging, cumulation, analysis, formatting, and printing of data as required. One can combine data drawn from Sharp data bases with data from other sources.

The Sharp pricing structure is different from that of most other on-line services. The connect charge is only $1.00 per hour from any one of 350 cities around the world, but there is a charge for computer utilization:

CPU use, storage, and data transfer off the Sharp system. These charges can be substantial if a great deal of data manipulation is undertaken. The pricing policy reflects Sharp's history as a computer timesharing company.

Bryant Hart of I. P. Sharp briefly described a number of the aviation, energy and economics data bases his company offers. The company has more than 70 non-bibliographic data bases available.

The other comprehensive on-line service for non-bibliographic data bases is Data Resources Inc. (DRI)-a company owned by McGraw-Hill. It has some 55 non-bibliographic data bases which it produces or markets under license for other firms. DPI began in the late sixties as an economics consulting f inn. In addition to the data bases themselves, it offers software and consultation to facilitate the manipulation of the data, primarily for the preparation of economic forecasts.

Recently, according to Helen Poot of DPI, the company has begun to move toward full-text data basesin part because of its recent acquisition by McGraw-Hill Inc. DRI's Data Pro Services, the computer hardware/software report service, will be among the first of the full-text data bases.

One can subscribe to DRI on an annual fee basis or on a use basis. The latter rate is higher, but does not re-quire an up-front payment or a minimum annual usage. There is a separate pricing structure for data bases available through DPI, but not produced by it. Access is primarily through value added networks such as Telenet, Tymnet, and Uninet.

Emphasis is on ins. and international data bases. The company claims unusual timeliness because it loads many of the data bases from the cities in which the data is gathered. DPI also claims to offer extensive on-line documentation of sources for all data. Keyword searching is available, including for crossdata base searching.

In pursuit of its goal of becoming the preeminent supplier of information to business and the professions through both print and electronic media McGraw- Hill recently added Systemetrics Inc. and its subsidiary, Health Data Products Inc., to its DRI resources. Systemetrics maintains comprehensive data bases for the study and analysis of key trends affecting the health care industry, including cost of patient care, the growing demand for services, the operations of hospitals and the planning of new facilities.

In the same week McGraw-Hill also announced the purchase of Gnostic Concepts Inc. of Menlo Park, CA. Gnostics Concepts has comprehensive proprietary data bases on various aspects of the electronics industry, including components, computers and communications equipment.

[Contact: I. P. Sharp Assoc. Ltd., Box 418, Exchange Tower, 2 First Canadian Place, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5X lE3. Data Resources Inc., 1750 K Street, NW, Washington, DC. (202) 862-3700.]

View Citation
Publication Year:1982
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Library Systems Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 2 Number 09
Issue:September 1982
Publisher:American Library Association
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Notes:Howard S. White, Editor-in-Chief; Richard W. Boss, Contributing Editor
Company: Dialog
Record Number:3853
Last Update:2024-05-07 13:43:41
Date Created:0000-00-00 00:00:00