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CD-ROM leads the way at ALA

Library Systems Newsletter [February 1987]

ALA Conference exhibits afford a wonderful opportunity to “kick the tires” at the booths of library systems and services providers, and ALA Midwinter in Chicago was no exception. There was the usual array of publishers, book and serial jobbers, on-line automated systems vendors, COM catalog producers and the like, but the Midwinter 1987 exhibits will be remembered most as the conference when CD-ROM-based public access catalogs arrived--and did so in full force.

In the fall of 1984, talk about this new digital medium first began to surface, and at the ‘85 ALA Midwinter Conference, digital data published on CD-ROM (compact audio discs encoded with machine-readable data) received its first real exposure in the library and information marketplace. In that first year, a host of vendors had begun to display a variety of CD-ROM based applications, including bibliographic data bases and standalone cataloging support systems; within six months, Brodart demonstrated its initial version of "LePac,” and the race for the CD-ROM public access catalog market had begun. Eighteen months and three ALA conferences later, seven vendors either exhibited or announced the impending release of their version of a CD-ROM-based public access catalog. The exhibit hall was abuzz with talk of the potential for this new medium. For the final verdict on the long-term viability of CD-ROM technology and its application for public access catalogs, the jury is still out. Nevertheless, many libraries will now be able to consider it as an alternative to card, COM, and multi— terminal online catalogs.

CD-ROM is a high density, transportable data storage medium. It can store a variety of different types of data in digital form. A single disc can offer access to ‘images in black and white or color, as well as audio, data and computer code in any combination. One CD-ROM disc can store up to 540 megabytes of data, representing more than a thousand times the storage capacity of a single floppy disk, or the equivalent of approximately 150,000 printed pages. Both because of its ability to store and retrieve large amounts of information relatively inexpensively and its suitability for applications requiring wide-spread distribution, CD-ROM seems to be well suited to the patron access catalog application.

A typical CD-ROM system includes a personal computer (at this time, some vendors of CD-ROM products require the use of an IBM PC, XT, or AT and some CDROM drive manufacturers will guarantee performance only when their drives are linked to IBM equipment, even though the drives actually function properly using IBM clones), sufficient memory capacity (upwards of 512Kb) in either hard or floppy disk format, a monitor (color or monochrome), and interfacing and retrieval software. A printer is usually an added extra. The cost of a workstation varies among vendors and is a function of the CD-ROM drive selected, the configuration of the PC, and the price of the interface and search software—which can be proprietary to the vendor or a well-known product such as BRS' C-Search. Libraries should anticipate a capital expenditure of from $4,000 to $8,000 per workstation. Hardware/software maintenance can cost up to $750 per year.

In order to install CD-ROM patron access catalogs, a library first must have converted its bibliographic records into machine-readable form. Some CD-ROM PAC vendors will provide MARC conversion service as a part of the library's catalog production. Or, a library could contract with one of the bibliographic service companies or bibliographic utilities for the conversion component. Once the catalog records are in machine-readable form, the magnetic tapes containing the records are shipped to the CD-ROM catalog vendor where the data are “pre-mastered.” Pre-mastering services include: de-duping and authority control as needed, building the indexes, laying out the data for production, etc., and, finally, formatting the records for mastering. The cost for pre-mastering is between $.03 and $.08 per record (assuming a MARC formatted source tape). The price varies according to the number of records and the frequency of updates required by the library. The most common update schedule is quarterly, but more frequent semi-monthly or monthly updating is possible.

Mastering is the process of stamping the original disc, while replicating is the creation of multiple copies. The actual preparation of the CD-ROM master and replication of the copies is done at one of two North American or five Japanese plants. The price per master is usually $1,000-$4,000 (in part, dependent upon required turn-around time), and replication costs approximately $10 to $30 per disc, primarily dependent on the size of the vendor's account with the mastering facility.

A question which surfaced at the Midwinter exhibits is whether or not a library would be willing to have its data base mastered (placed on the same disc) with the data bases of other libraries. By sharing the mastering process, a library could reduce its data base construction cost substantially. When mastering a disc for a number of libraries, the index for each library's holdings would be unique, such that though libraries were to share the physical space of a single disc, there would be no way for patrons to access the holdings of any library other than their own, unless that were intended at the time of mastering. As a practical matter, therefore, there is little if any reason for a library not to share the mastering process with other libraries in order to realize the cost saving.

In comparing a CD-ROM patron access catalog with multi-terminal online catalogs, a library should keep the following facts in mind: (1) With a CD-ROM PAC, updating frequency is from monthly to quarterly, rather than continuous and ongoing, (2) response time for a CD-ROM PAC is from 5 to 50 seconds or more; for an online PAC, it would be from 3 to 12 seconds, and (3) the CD-ROM workstation can support only a single user, rather than a number of concurrent users on a multiple terminal online system. Great care must be taken when comparing costs of the two systems. For example, while a small library which needs to support relatively few simultaneous users may find CD—ROM technology with its requirement for a separate PC for each user cost effective, a library which must support a score or more simultaneously may find it more economical to mount its patron access catalog on a minicomputer with access provided by $500 dumb terminals.

Listed below are brief summaries of the CD-ROM public access catalogs which the Editors saw at ALA Midwinter.

AUTO-GRAPHICS' IMPACT offers word indexing authority control and searching at multiple levels of access. Word indexing means that each word in an author, title or subject heading is indexed so that the user is able to enter search words out of context and sequence. Multiple access levels comprise simple searching, complex searching, and browsing. Simple searching furnishes single element access by: author, title or subject, a “wild card” for unknown characters and a truncation symbol which extends a search beyond the characters provided. Complex searching is said to include “Boolean type” combinations of multiple search elements and provides for searches to be qualified to select materials based on language, publication date, format and location. Browsing is an alternate way to begin a search and may be used at any time during the search. Browsing enables the patron to scroll backward and forward through a listing by author, title, subject or call number. The transition from search to browse and back again is accomplished by a single key stroke.

IMPACT supports data base update transactions, including cataloging from MARC resource, modifications to existing records as well as original and local authority record input. Transactions are captured on floppy disk at a designated workstation. Auto-Graphics applies these updates to the library's data base on the next issue of the catalog. The system provides for handling of unique locations for consortia, multi-branch and individual libraries by establishing a hierarchy for the display of location information. A degree of flexibility exists with regard to profiling such that the library is able to design certain aspects of its catalog including the MARC fields and subfields to be indexed, the holdings display hierarchy, the content and data descriptions in a full record display, the sort sequence in browsing by call number and the frequency of issue. The system is capable of expanding access to local information and referral files and a variety of indexes. Help screens are available to patrons, and windowing keeps the user's place while presenting examples and explanations. IMPAOT provides a full keyboard, though all functions can be performed with 10 keys, and a map of the 10 keys is on the screen at all times. A bulletin board feature enables the library to convey news and information to users; the information can be updated as often as desired.

The standard workstation includes: an IBM-compatible PC with 256K memory, DOS 3.20 and a floppy disk drive; and a CD-ROM drive. A 10, 20, or 30 MEG hard disk drive, printer and parallel or serial printer interface are available as optional equipment.

[Contact: AUTO-GRAPHICS, Inc., 3201 Temple Avenue, Pomona, CA 91768, (714) 595-7204; (800) 325-7961; (800) 828—9585 outside California.]

BRODART's Le Pac was first introduced to the public in the summer of 1985, and by spring of the next year the first libraries began to use the system. The heart of the Le Pac workstation is an IBM-compatible personal computer with 512K memory and a Hitachi compact disc drive. A specially designed ten key pad can be used to access the catalog by author, title or subject, eliminating the need for users to deal with unfamiliar commands or keyboards. A full keyboard can be used for accessing the catalog by author, title, or subject; or for more expert searching. A Hewlett-Packard ThinkJet printer is offered as a standard option, but printing can be accommodated via any IBM-compatible printer. For libraries whose files can not be accommodated on a single disc of approximately 1 million records, Le Pac is capable of “daisy chaining” up to four CD drives.

All searches are keyword in nature, allowing the user to key in only the main word or words of an author, title or subject. Le Pac's expert mode allows the user to undertake full-text, random searching on the author, title and subject entries. The Anyword capability, added to the expert mode, allows the user to expand full-text searching to other fields in the data base. “OR” searching capability allows the user to combine both “and” “or” Boolean logic when performing full-text searching in the expert mode. Cross references are optionally available in the expert mode. Another option provides for the ability to disable the automatic reset option, which may be useful in a reference desk application where operators are frequently interrupted and would not want to restart a search after the interruption. Expert mode index. ing has been expanded to optionally include any or all MARC tags or subfields. An optional index point may be added in the expert mode screen for specifying a constant'' search key to be used in the Anyword index. This affords the ability to search by location for consortia or multi-library locations.

Based on a profiling option, individual MARC tags may be eliminated from certain displays, even if they exist on the disc. Similarly, field descriptors may be customized to the user's requirements. Holdings codes may be translated to branch or location names of the library's choosing. The up and down keys function at the record display level to allow scrolling from record to record without the need to use the previous key to return to the title display screen between each record. Screens and custom face plates may be customized to contain descriptive text. An optional physical security package is available to reduce the possibility of theft. Brodart has developed interfaces between Le Pac and the CLSI and Data Phase online circulation systems.

Version 5.0 of the Le Pac Software is scheduled for beta testing in April of this year, with release planned for July. Additional Le Pac product options include a combined catalog option whereby the system can access a union catalog in multiple modes, an Interlibrary Loan Option and an ILL Director, which are designed to create an interlibrary loan network using a common combined union catalog via a self-contained message switching system, and a communications option through which Le Pac is able to communicate over standard dial or leased telephone lines using ASCII communications protocols. This option provides auto-dial, auto-answer, auto-speed detection, unattended operation and error correction as standard features.

[Contact: BRODART Automation, 10983 Via Frontera, San Diego, CA 92127, (800) 643—0523; (800) 821—1117 in California.]

GAYLORD BROS., LIBRARY SYSTEMS & SERVICES, INC. and ONLINE COMPUTER SYSTEMS, INC. announced at Midwinter a joint venture to expand the Spectrum series product line by adding public access catalogs on CD-ROM. Spectrum 200, a CD-ROM library catalog developed by Gaylord and Online Computer Systems, is based on Online's CD-ROM retrieval software. All marketing, customer support and data base maintenance will be provided by Gaylord and LSSI, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gaylord. Online will provide data base indexing, access software, disc pre-mastering and mastering services.

The retrieval software for the Spectrum 200 base system will allow patrons to browse a library's holdings by author, title, subject, call number and keywords in the author, title, and subject fields. Additional features will include choice of output displays, help screens and a “New Books” browse list for patrons wanting to scan only recent library acquisitions. A more powerful, password controlled, search mode will allow more comprehensive access to a library's collection by providing additional indexes and advanced search features for the experienced user. Full Boolean search capabilities, truncation functions, record saving and editing will be provided for library staff.

[Contact: Mary Ghikas, Director of Network Development, Gaylord Bros., LSSI, 20251 Century Blvd., Germantown, MD 20874, (800) 638—8725.]

GENERAL RESEARCH CORPORATION's Laser Guide offers enhanced basic searching by author, title and subjects through the use of screen displays rather than commands or special function keys. Requests are placed in the appropriate boxes on the screens. Single searches or several unrelated subjects and/or the works of several authors may be searched simultaneously. Every word in a library's catalog is indexed, so each word can be used in a search. Searches can be restricted and expanded as necessary. Boolean “and/or! not” searching is available. LaserGuide suggests additional topics to be searched as subjects and authors are extracted from the results of previous searches, and as an option, cross—references from LC files, supplemented with local records, can be added to provide for additional search suggestions. Browsing is available. The system also can provide library floor plans to help the user locate material that he or she has identified in the catalog.

(Contact: General Research Corporation, Library Systems, P.O. Box 6770, Santa Barbara, CA 93160, (800) 235—6788; Collect: (805) 964—7724 from CA, HI, AK.]

THE LIBRARY CORPORATION's Intelligent Catalog is claimed to be the first automated catalog which does not require patrons to go through the process of narrowing a search. Instead, the system displays a list of all search possibilities. The systems s “inference engine” recognizes and automatically adjusts itself to each user's level of sophistication and responds to dictionary, Boolean search operators, and inverted trees of interest areas. The Intelligent Catalog suggests appropriate search word and search strategies, thus enhancing the suitability for novice users. Automatic dictionary searching eliminates the need of specifying the type of search being undertaken, since the system responds to queries with both author and subject holdings. A form of truncation searching is also provided.

Boolean word combination searching can be done using simple “and/or/not” operators on any number of words in the data base. Records can be recalled in any of four formats, including MARC. Search qualifiers include: year of publication; format-—monograph, serial, GPO, audiovisual, maps and music; field type—-author, title, subject, person and note; a range of MARC tags; language; place of publication; and collection or branch location. Context-sensitive—help screens are available on demand and/or automatically, in response to invalid entries. Five levels of user sophistication, with automatic tests to determine the user's level of sophistication, are available. Each library selects the initial help level for each workstation. The system automatically logs each step in a user's search process, which can be printed or saved on a disk. Most functions are accomplished using a single key stroke.

Each workstation consists of an IBM PC with 640K memory, internal CD-ROM drive, a floppy disk drive and special keyboard. Options include a built-in hard disk drive and a printer.

[Contact: The Library Corporation, P.O. Box 40035, Washington, DC 20016; (800) 624-0559.]

MARCIVE, INC.'s Marcive/PAC is defined by the individual library. The system can be programmed to search by any word or words in the author, title and/or subject. It also may choose to index the records by call number, LCCN annotated summary and contents notes. The software is designed for use without assistance by staff. Notes appear throughout the system to assist the user as needed. The notes, or help screens, may be edited by the library to use appropriate language and to give examples which are especially meaningful to local users. For searching beyond author, title and subject, Marcive offers combination searching of author! title, author/subject and title/subject. Boolean searching with “and/or/not's is available. Numeric searching (LCCN, ISBN, ISSN, NLM citation numbers) also is possible, as is a search by local call number. Marcive has created its system with the capability of being updated via its microcomputer rather than through a mastering process. Although periodic re-indexing of the optical disc may be necessary, it is possible to add records at the site. A variety of update options is available, including a plan in which full MARC records are downloaded via toll-free telephone lines into the library's data base.

The Marcive system consists of: a 100 Mb CD internal optical drive; an IBM PC or IBM-compatible microcomputer with 640K main memory and full keyboard; 360 K floppy disk drive; and an amber screen monitor. Options include a communications interface package, a printer package and a hard disk drive.

[Contact: Marcive Inc., Marketing Dept. A, P.O. Box 47508, San Antonio, TX 78265, (800) 531—7678; collect in Texas (512-646-6161.]

View Citation
Publication Year:1987
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Library Systems Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 7 Number 02
Issue:February 1987
Publisher:American Library Association
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Notes:Howard S. White, Editor-in-Chief; Richard W. Boss and Hal Espo Contributing Editors
Company: Auto-Graphics, Inc.
Brodart, Inc.
Gaylord Information Systems
Library Systems and Services, Inc. (LSSI)
Online Computer Systems, Inc.
General Research Corporation
The Library Corporation
GIS Information Systems
Products: Impact
Intelligent Catalog
Spectrum 200
Subject: CD-ROM applications
Record Number:7336
Last Update:2022-09-23 01:55:55
Date Created:0000-00-00 00:00:00