Magazine article American Libraries

A Mighty, Mentoring Catalog

Magazine article American Libraries

A Mighty, Mentoring Catalog

Article excerpt


The name "Socrates' suits the online, mainframe catalog developed for the full Stanford University community

THE JURY IS STILL OUT, AND THE PROGRAMMERS still poised at their keyboards. The decision that Stanford made to go with local development and the University's mainframe computer for its online catalog "Socrates' is not necessarily final. However, the choice is looking like the right one after a year's experience with Socrates--and in anticipation of a parallel, administrative-database system called "Prism.'

The online catalog of the Libraries was developed in-house in a joint effort with the Stanford Information Technology Services. It became available to the university community in September 1983.

Today, Socrates provides access to some 1.05 million bibliographic records in most formats. With tapes from the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN) loaded in, it grows at the rate of about 35,000 titles a month.

The computer behind Socrates is the IBM 3081 operated by Information Technology Services. The catalog can be used from 28 library terminals placed in 17 library locations and from over 5,000 terminals and microcomputers located on the Stanford campus network. Dialup access is available as well.

Mentoring mode

Socrates provides the user with the power of two modes of operation: lookup mode for the novice, and command mode for the experienced. Lookup mode, through a system of prompts, teaches the user the rudiments of command mode, while making the catalog's contents available to the less practiced. A help system further enhances the user's abilities to go it alone, with approximately 90 context-dependent messages and 180 messages which teach Socrates use and provide directory information.

Thirteen indexes are available to the user of command mode, with choices of keyword and phrase searching available on most of the searchable fields. Searches in command mode can be indefinitely chained by the boolean operators (and, or, not). Six of the indexes are available in lookup mode. The results of searches are reported in lists of headings or in brief citations, depending on the nature of the search. Fuller citation displays are also available. …

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