Comparing BIG Bibliographies on CD ROM
Demas, Samuel, American Libraries
Comparing BIG bibliographies on CD ROM
THE PUBLICATION OF TRADEbibliographies on compact disc (CD ROM) exemplifies an emerging axiom of the publishing industry: all information will first be generated in machine-readable form, and then publication format (e.g. paper, microform, optical media, or magnetic media) will be determined by the nature and potential uses of the information and by market factors.
A comparison of Books in Print (BIP ) and AnyBook/LaserSearch makes an interesting case study of two publishers and their approaches to electronic publication.
While some comparisons are drawn withthe print/fiche equivalents of both publications, the focus of this review is on the CD ROM versions.
The criteria for evaluating electronicpublications must go beyond those applied to print materials to include the ease of use and power of search software; the capability of interacting with other automated products; hardware considerations; and comparison of the costs and advantages of various formats of a particular publication for different library functions.
In early 1985 the Ingram Book Companycontracted with The Library Corporation (publisher of the AnyBook database in microfiche since 1982) to write the search software (LaserSearch) to produce AnyBook on CD ROM. The resulting CD ROM publication appeared in July 1985 and is marketed by both companies, but under different names: AnyBook and LaserSearch (hereafter referred to as AnyBook).
AnyBook is an integrated book identification,electronic ordering, and acquisitions system. The creative force behind the AnyBook database is Brower Murphy, president of The Library Corporation and a pioneer in electronic publishing for libraries. A small but rapidly growing company, The Library Corporation has published the LC MARC records on microfiche since 1972 and in a CD ROM version called Bibliofile since 1986. The company markets AnyBook on CD ROM and Bibliofile as links in an emerging integrated system.
A library can verify and order materialsusing AnyBook, then electronically transport the ISBN numbers of books on order to Bibliofile. From there the library can retrieve and edit MARC records for local catalog records. This electronic pathway for bibliographic processing continues (currently the link is in place with CLSI) with the transfer of catalog records into an online catalog and circulation system.
In the model just described, library recordsare handled electronically from the point of pre-order searching and verification for ordering purposes, through cataloging, and into circulation. Keypunching is reduced to the strokes necessary to edit electronic records to local standards.
The R.R. Bowker Company (a divisionof Reed Publishing) has been publishing for library markets for more than a century. Bowker has published BIP in paper format since 1948 and online since 1981 (BIP is also available in microfiche). As host to the North American ISBN Agency, Bowker has a certain advantage in harnessing the publishing output of the nation. A tool used by virtually all American libraries and bookstores, BIP has become the standard trade bibliography of U.S. imprints.
Development of BIP began in December1985. The search software was developed by a sister company, Online Computer Systems. A major marketing campaign is underway to promote this first product of Bowker's Electronic Publishing division.
Electronic ordering and acquisitionsfunctions are not part of the BIP software, but the system permits electronic ordering through an interface with the ordering software of major vendors.
The BIP database contains records forabout 750,000 in-print and forthcoming U.S. imprints and foreign imprints distributed exclusively in the U.S. BIP contains the print publications Books in Print, Subject Guide to Books in Print, Books in Print Supplement, Forthcoming Books, and Children's Books in Print. Search software allows the user to search all five publications simultaneously.
The database is compiled from informationsubmitted by 25,600 U.S. publishers. Publishers supply "advance book information' up to 5 months before publication. Book records are added to the database and updated as titles move from forthcoming to in-print status. Subject headings in BIP records are based on the Library of Congress Subject Headings (10th ed.).
The AnyBook database covers theEnglish-language imprints (including audio and video cassettes) of about twenty thousand publishers from around the world. Besides forthcoming and in-print publications, the database includes books out of print up to 10 years. The published database contains about 1.5 million records.
The database is compiled by mergingcomputer tapes from BISAC (Book Industry Systems Advisory Committee: refers to a standard for transmission of bibliographic data among publishers and vendors) of about 25 of the largest U.S. publishers and inputting entries from publishers' catalogs.
The inclusion of out-of-print materialsand the wider scope of geographic coverage make AnyBook a potentially more useful database. However, its comprehensiveness within the stated scope of coverage is not as great as BIP 's.
BIP entries are more complete and up-to-date.AnyBook records often truncate a long title and omit subtitles; also, series title, pagination, reprint status, and existence of illustrations are not noted. Forthcoming titles tend to appear more quickly in BIP . Publisher information in BIP is more complete.
AnyBook records contain six searchablefields: title, author, ISBN, LCCN, Ingram title code, and publication date. Both author and title searches may be limited by date. Titles may be searched by keyword or title phrase, and a title search may be modified by adding the first two letters of the author's last name. Combined author-title searches are possible. Searches are limited to 30 characters for a title and 12 characters for an author's last name.
Limited subject searching is an optionwith the microfiche version of AnyBook, but not with the CD ROM version. Database indexes are not available for searching or for selecting search terms. An ISBN prefix search will retrieve the works of a particular publisher. Only 199 items may be retrieved in any search, even if more citations meet the search criteria.
BIP records have 14 searchable fields,corresponding to the list of search options always visible on the search screen. The workspace for composing searches accommodates up to 210 characters. Two quick-search strategies borrowed from OCLC are available in the search menu: "title key' (3, 2, 2, 1) and "author/title' (4, 4).
A search is initiated by specifying 1) thefield to be searched (e.g., "su' for subject and "py' for publication year); 2) the value to apply (e.g., "=' for equals and ">' for greater than); and 3) the search term. When a search is completed, results are posted at the top of the search workspace. Up to 12 completed search statements may be saved to combine with subsequent searches.
While formulating search queries in thesearch menu, one can easily switch to the browse menu and view any of the following indexes: author, keyword, publisher, subject, title, and title series. The most appropriate index terms can be selected and posted to the search workspace if desired. One can also search indexes in the browse menu, select terms, and display citations.
Browsing the keyword index is like viewinga combined subject, author, title, and publisher keyword index; keyword searches are essentially global (i.e., all fields are searched). Keywords may be combined using Boolean operators, but searching for adjacent keyword terms is not possible.
The Boolean operators AND, OR, andANDNOT may be used to combine individual search terms (e.g., au = Hemingway AND kw = farewell) or to combine previously executed search statements. Boolean operators may be used in combination, as in (a OR b) AND (c OR d).
Another feature of BIP is searching bypublisher and retrieving a list of all the books of that publisher in the database. BIP searches may be limited or expanded by a variety of parameters, including illustration, language, price, audience, grade level, and publication.
In CD ROM publications, the quality ofthe search software and the number of searchable fields in the database determine 1) the ease and sophistication with which the information encoded on the disc can be retrieved, and 2) the range of functions one can perform with the data.
With 14 searchable fields and the abilityto search them in various combinations using Boolean operators, BIP makes it possible to retrieve data in ways either impossible or impractical in the fiche and print versions (and prohibitively expensive online). For example, a publisher search may be combined with subject, date, and price parameters to produce a customized Comparing CD ROM bibliographies list of books issued by specific publishers, on particular subjects, within a certain price and date range.
The AnyBook search software, clearlydesigned with only book identification and ordering in mind, offers only one search capability not available in its microfiche version: limiting a search by publication date or range of dates.
In BIP publisher information (e.g., address)is retrieved by pressing a function key while viewing a full citation. Retrieving publisher information in AnyBook is more efficient in two ways: a publisher's address is automatically displayed along with all full citations, and the publisher's address and ISBN are immediately displayed in a publisher search, saving a few keystrokes over BIP . In AnyBook, a publisher's address may be transferred with a single keystroke to an order template to create an order for a title not in the database, an operation not possible in BIP .
AnyBook and BIP appear to haveequivalent search times for simple author and title searches (about 2 seconds each). However, it is quicker to retrieve a record from AnyBook because BIP requires an extra step to go from the search workspace to brief citations. AnyBook is faster than BIP on ISBN and LCCN searches (average of 4 seconds vs. 6 seconds).
Display, print, save, and interrupt features
AnyBook brief entries are displayed onthe search screen. Complete citations are retrieved and displayed by typing the citation number.
There are two citation display options: amodified order form and an actual order template. Only one citation at a time may be selected for display.
BIP brief citations are arranged byyear of publication, and alphabetically by author within each year. Brief citations may be displayed in one of seven full citation display formats: Books in Print, Card Catalog, MARC Tagged Record, Order Form, Detailed (includes all fields in the record), Export (specified by a vendor's ordering software), or Custom. The custom format is designed by the user. It is easy to change display formats during a search.
The print function key in AnyBookprints out one order record at a time. The print command of the personal computer being used is needed to print a full citation.
Citations from BIP in any of the sevenformats may be printed out using the print function key. Up to 200 citations may be selected for printing at any one time.
Save, edit, and interrupt
AnyBook saves to a disk records of itemsactually ordered, while BIP permits downloading of any citation (up to 200 at a time) in any format. The "save' function in BIP is used with a compatible word processor enabling one to edit citations as desired.
One of the most important functions ofan automated system, the ability to interrupt or cancel a command, was added in the latest release of BIP , but is not available in AnyBook.
Acquisitions and ordering
The ordering and acquisitions functionsof both systems were not tested as part of this review; what follows is a brief description of these functions as advertised by the publishers.
Users of the BIP system who wish toorder electronically contact the desired vendors(s) to receive compatible ordering software. While four major vendors* are advertised as having compatible ordering modules, in theory any interested vendor may accept electronic orders from BIP since the bibliographic data is available in BISAC format. While most of the participating vendors advertise toll-free ordering, it appears that ordering software is provided free of charge only by some vendors. The potential for interface between vendor ordering software and local acquisitions systems is not known.
* Blackwell North America, Brodart, Ingram,and Baker & Taylor.
Electronic ordering and acquisition capabilitiesare an integral part of the AnyBook software. Electronic ordering is possible only with Ingram, the default vendor, but the system will print multiple copies of order forms for mailing to any vendor.
AnyBook appears to contain the basicelements of a local acquisitions system. Editing citations to order (e.g., specifying number of copies, vendors, purchase order number, back order, fund, etc.) is simple.
Outstanding orders may be retrieved bypurchase order number, author, title, or ISBN, and are displayed chronologically in the order placed. The receipt or "check-in' function is used to update, cancel, or complete an order record. Completed/cancelled orders may be copied to an archive file.
A simple fund accounting module canhandle up to 200 accounts. Accounts are updated each time a batch of orders is placed. Status reports on accounts indicate: original amount budgeted, encumbrances, expenditures, and free balance.
Ease of use
Prompts, help screens, and learning aids
AnyBook has no help screens and fewprompts. Learning the system is a matter of frequently returning to the documentation and main menu and memorizing the relatively few commands necessary to operate the system.
The novice search mode in BIP providesassistance with search syntax and with entering search statements. Help screens are adequate in content but awkward to use because they are not context specific. The system is forgiving (e.g., if you hit the wrong key, usually nothing bad happens) and contains a number of useful prompts.
The June 1986 version of the AnyBook"User Guide' is a great improvement on earlier documentation. The 56-page manual is reasonably well organized, contains legible screen facsimiles, and reads fairly well. Unfortunately, some of the examples are not well selected (trying them on the system gives results different from those in the manual) and the instructions on conducting combined author/title searches are plain wrong.
The 104-page BIP "User's Guide' islogically organized and has a detailed table of contents (but no index). The style is clear and the examples in general illustrate key concepts well. An early chapter leads the user on a quick tour of BIP , providing a good overall feel for the way the program works, before plunging the user into detailed instructions on each function.
Learning the systems
The average library staff member (personalcomputer experience is useful, but not essential) can become a skilled user of both systems by investing several hours in reading the documentation and practicing at the computer.
Some libraries are experimenting withpublic access use of BIP . The system was designed for use by library staff and is not suitable for unaided use by the public. However, with good learning aids ("cheat sheets') and instruction by experienced users, novice users could learn to use the tool. Modifications in the software are needed to make BIP a truly user friendly public access tool.
Libraries (and bookstores) are interestedin the electronic ordering features of both systems, especially the capabilities for vendor and local acquisitions system interface. AnyBook's integrated approach is practical (though it is limited to electronic ordering from one vendor) and points to the future of electronic publishing.
In equipping BIP with powerfulsearch software, Bowker has clearly demonstrated several distinct advantages of CD ROM over print as a format for trade bibliographies. Verification of incomplete citations is made easier for reference, interlibrary loan, and reserve librarians. Collection developers can manipulate the database to generate lists for retrospective buying and collection evaluation.
The ability to save and edit search resultson disk and/or in print will be used in a variety of ways, such as printing selection lists for library systems, producing customized bibliographies, generating statistical counts on the book trade, creating temporary cards for the catalog, and monitoring approval plans.
Small- and medium-sized libraries thatorder primarily through Ingram and libraries that use Bibliofile for cataloging should explore the advantages of AnyBook on CD ROM. Since it includes a local acquisitions/fund accounting system, AnyBook may prove to be a good buy for libraries that can exploit its full potential (and do not require complex searching capabilities).
While the AnyBook database in bothformats offers an alternative to BIP as a U.S. trade bibliography, its editorial standards are not as high and its coverage of U.S. imprints is less comprehensive.
BIP succeeds admirably in increasingthe utility of the BIP database by offering strong search capabilities, a variety of display formats, and convenient print/save/ edit features. Overall the publication is thoughtfully designed and implemented.
The price of BIP is roughly equivalentto that of the print version, and is a good value since it has many advantages over the printed form. However, until BIP is made more user friendly and the hardware problems associated with public access to CD ROM publications are affordably resolved, it would not be wise to replace the reference room copy of BIP with BIP . For occasional verification of known items, using the print/fiche versions is easier than booting up the CD ROM.
However, for library staff use in conjunctionwith electronic ordering, specialized searching, or large amounts of verification, the CD ROM version has many advantages and can be a significant timesaver. In libraries with sufficient personal computing resources, the CD ROM version could supplant the print for most technical services and collection development applications.
CD ROM permits unlimited, powerfulsearching and manipulation of trade bibliographies without telecommunication costs. It forges an electronic link between publishers, libraries, and book vendors and is a sensible application for optical media. I believe these two publications are the first generation in an emerging trend: the electronic publication of trade bibliographies from around the world. AnyBook pointed the way and served as a catalyst to the industry, and BIP has advanced the concept and set a standard for future efforts. Both publishers are committed to continuous improvement of their products; libraries, vendors, and scholarship will benefit from healthy competition in the electronic publishing of trade bibliographies.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Comparing BIG Bibliographies on CD ROM. Contributors: Demas, Samuel - Author. Magazine title: American Libraries. Volume: 18. Publication date: May 1987. Page number: 332+. © 1984 American Library Association. COPYRIGHT 1987 Gale Group.