Data base searching is becoming a commonplace activity in U.S. libraries according to a study recently completed by King Research Inc. The study determined that 70.5 percent of the special libraries in profit-making institutions do data base searching. Some 66.7 percent of federal libraries and 56.7 percent of academic libraries also do data base searching. Percentages for special libraries in non-profit organizations and public libraries are 38.8 and 29.7 respectively. Very few federal, academic, and public libraries (8.7 percent) order documents on-line, but some 22 percent of special libraries in for-profit organizations do. The King study is entitled "Libraries, Publishers, and Photocopying:
Final Report of Surveys Conducted for the U.S. Copyright Office." It includes other data on many aspects of library photocopying and interlibrary loan practices. The report is available for $25 prepaid. [Contact: King Research Inc., 6000 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852.]
While information on the extent of data base searching is regarded as a trade secret by North American data base services, European attitudes are much more open. Harry Mahon, Head of the Euronet Diane Launch Team, told a session at the recent Online meeting that the Euronet service is now available in 15 European countries and has 2,500 users. Files available on the services are divided almost equally between bibliographic and fact data bases. In March 1982 users were making 25,000 calls per month and logging over 5,000 connect hours per month.
Some insight into the practices and preferences of North American data base users was given by Carlos Cuadra of Cuadra Associates in an associated presentation at Online. Cuadra reported on a marketing study his company had conducted into the potential demand for Euronet Diane services in the United States.
Cuadra surveyed a specialized sample of 600 people all of whom had attended seminars on the use of non- bibliographic data bases and, as such, were judged to be particularly innovative and aggressive in their approach to the use of alternate information sources. Responses indicated that most people (70 percent) preferred data bases that were international or general in coverage; 14 percent were specifically interested in European coverage, and 16 percent wanted information relating only to a particular European country. In broad subject interest, respondents (selecting from a list of coverage that mirrored that of the available Diane data bases) indicated the following order of interest: i) scitech, ii) business and industry, iii) social sciences and humanities, and iv) multidisciplinary.
General data on the characteristics and preferences of those surveyed also emerged: most of the searchers (85 to 90 percent) served end users within their own organizations; they averaged 6 to 7 hours of online searching per week and, again on average, accessed 4.6 different online search services. [The latter figure compares with a situation established by a survey in 1974-75 when the average number of services accessed was 1.2.] The survey group showed a preference for system protocols which mimicked Dialog, with Orbit and BPS as second and third choices.
Bibliographic data bases proved to be the most popular by a factor of 2:1 over full-text which was the second most preferred form. Statistical bases were not popular. While the preferred language for both system interfaces and data was English, a large number of respondents indicated that there was someone in their organization who could deal with the more common foreign languages such as French and German.
Overall, U.S. users expressed substantial interest in European data bases, giving preference to files with broad scope and systems and data in the English language. While not relishing the thought of having to learn additional new search systems, most of the potential users expressed a willingness to do so if necessary. Two points considered essential for the success of any drive to popularize European files in North America were:
- i) the provision of English language documentation and training
- ii) the provision of user support services based in North America
As a result of the interest discerned in this study, a marketing plan has been developed which envisions the gradual introduction of the European services in North America. As the first wave, information brokers who expressed interest are to attend an intensive training session in New York and Euronet will set up a North American customer support service. Those who wish to, will be able to access the systems directly rather than to wait for the training sessions and support system to be in place.