Magazine article American Libraries

The Personal Bibliographic System: A "Front End" to the Online Library

Magazine article American Libraries

The Personal Bibliographic System: A "Front End" to the Online Library

Article excerpt

Throughout its relatively brief history, information retrieval, and to a lesser extent library automation, has been more concerned with the identification of the required material than the form of the resulting output. It is considered sufficient for the computer to simply provide the "right" record. In library automation the emphasis has been on the improvement of library technical services, with the assumption that the librarian will then be able to provide better service to the user.

All of this leaves the user in the ironic situation of sitting before a computer terminal with access to the entire library catalog--possibly comprising more than 10 million catalog records--but with a pile of three-by-five slips next to the terminal to jot down the relevant bibliographic information as it appears on the screen. If the terminal has a printer, the user leaves the library with a long scroll containing the needed items.

The Personal Bibliographic System has been designed as a user's "front end" to the online library. It is a specialized word processing and database system for compiling and maintaining a bibliography. The programs allow input of bibliographic information manually or from bibliographic utilities, and they format the output according to the American National Standard For Bibliographic Citations (ANSI Z39.29 1977). If a suitable printer is used, the result is a correctly punctuated, alphabetized, formatted bibliography ready for appending to a paper or book, or for independent publication. Two-part system

The system consists of two programs. The first is the bibliographic formatting program. This program allows a user with a microcomputer to create, edit, maintain, and format a bibliography. It contains the word processing, formatting and data base components of the system. The program accepts manual input by prompting the user for information according to document type, stores the material in the database, and formats the output according to the ANSI standard.

The second program, the Data Transfer System, consists of a terminal emulator to access the bibliographic utility (OCLC, etc.) and a conversion program that converts the catalog record into a bibliographic citation and enters it into the database. Using the two programs the user may merge manual input with the "downloaded" input.

Once the information is in the microcomputer database, the user may edit the material at will. The Data Transfer System is designed to extract all the information from the catalog record that might also appear in the bibliographic citation. Thus note fields from the catalog record are extracted in their entirety and put in the note field of the bibliographic record. If the note field is not desired for the citation it can be deleted with one keystroke. A manually entered sample citation and an unedited sample citation downloaded from OCLC are shown below. Boolean retrieval provided

Access to the information is by first field (usually either author or title) and by assigned index terms. Boolean retrieval on index terms is also provided. The resulting bibliography may be printed in alphabetic order or in a user-defined ordering. It may be arranged by category using the index terms, or individual citations may be selected one at a time. Output may be indented, paginated, and numbered at the user's discretion. …

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