Magazine article Computers in Libraries

A Hyperties Reference Database

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

A Hyperties Reference Database

Article excerpt

Hypertext offers new possibilities for storing and retrieving information at the reference desk. With hypertext applications, librarians can create their own powerful, customized database of hard-to-find answers from reference tools, policies, or any other source of useful information. Such a database could supplement the library's catalog by including access to the contents of works in the collection.

Hypertext enables the user to enter data and create associative links between concepts in the data records. The user can then move freely between articles, pursuing any topic of interest. To illustrate simply, a user might see the following line in a data record, or article, describing The World Almanac:

".contains information on  population-.
      agriculture|,  government|..."

Each word enclosed in tildes (||) would appear in bold letters on the computer screen. The user who desired more information on population, for example, could place a highlight bar on the word ". population" and press Enter. The article to which the term 'population' is linked would appear. In this case, the article is a list of reference books containing information on population.

Hyperties software was selected to create a database primarily for use by reference librarians. It runs on an IBM PC, PC/XT, PC/AT. PS/2, or compatible system with a minimum of 256 kilobytes of memory. The program is easy to use, with a clear and well-written manual.

Hyperties' Key Features

Hyperties can export and import articles to and from a word processor and possesses string search capabilities. The program also can keep track of a user's path through the database to prevent him or her from getting "lost" while using it. It allows the author to declare different words or phrases to be synonyms and to link them to the same article. Re program also permits insertion of graphics into an article using a standard graphics program. A special version of Hyperties allows incorporation of videodisc sequences into an article.

Creating the Reference Database

The first task in creating a database for the reference desk was to enter information from some current reference works and create links among them. These articles contained the book's title, can number, and a brief summary of contents based on title page, preface, or other introductory material. The articles also could be "customized." If it were known that a particular recurrent question could be answered by the book, keywords to that effect could be included or subject areas often in demand could be added, again by adding keywords. …

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