EBSCO Primary Search

By Rifkind, Eugene | Information Today, January 1995 | Go to article overview

EBSCO Primary Search


Rifkind, Eugene, Information Today


EBSCO Primary Search indexes and abstracts many magazines of interest to grade school children. I say many because the title screen claims: "Primary search provides ... coverage of 80 magazines plus the full-text from selected publications." (The disc examined was dated August 1994, and covered from January 1988). A brochure describing EBSCO products for school libraries claims: "Primary Search offers article summaries for over 90 elementary level magazines ... also offers full-text and selected images for 10 popular titles including Cobblestone, Highlights for Children, and Sports Illustrated for Kids." According to the Reference Manual: "Primary Search contains citations and abstracts from over 100 popular magazines, full-text and selected images for over 25 important magazines, full-text for over 50 pamphlets, ... encyclopedic information about animals." It is a pleasure to see such rapid improvement in a product.

System requirements are light weight: 386 or higher processor recommended, MS DOS 3.3 or greater, DOS 5 or higher recommended, CD-ROM with Microsoft Extensions, version 2.1 or greater "correctly installed," 5,000,000 bytes of free disk space at least 510,000 bytes of conventional RAM.

Installation is a cinch. From your hard disk's root directory you type [CD-ROM drive letter]: install primary, answer the questions (or hit enter to accept defaults), and you are quickly using Primary Search.

The Reference Manual (58 pages) is a model of clarity and organization. After a brief description of the product, Section 2, Getting Started, describes for the casual user how to obtain information from the program including how to use the all important F1 (HELP) key. The context-sensitive help screens are extremely useful and very appropriate for casual and not-so-casual use.

Section 3, Customizing EBSCO-CD is three times as long as Section 2. It is targeted at the system administrator, and describes how to customize and gather statistics and reports from the database. Besides miscellaneous options (Security IDs, Screen Saver, Exit to DOS, managing and displaying local notes, statistics, etc.), selecting program colors, and printing options (including selecting a graphics printer if you want to print pictures) and selecting from five basic search screens ranging from a very simple screen with extensive on screen instructions to a screen with more options but fewer on screen instructions and choices in between (including one with a picture of an "and" search), and two enhanced search screens, Primary Search allows for extensive customization of holdings notes (local titles), and statistical reports.

To customize Primary Search, at the initial screen log on as "ADMIN" and select "TAILOR." You may then choose from the following menu items: SETUP (see above), LOCALS, STATS, SUPPLIER, USER, and ONLINE.

Choosing LOCALS presents you with a list of all the magazines and pamphlets included on the disc. Highlighting a publication and pressing F7, gives you detailed information about the item. This is also where you tag, and add notes, including holdings range, for publications you own. You can add or make changes to the holdings list as a batch rather than individually, if desired.

STATS provides statistics for all searches, in 18 different categories. If you wish, it will provide statistics of only locally held publications.

SUPPLIER allows you to keep records of all who supply magazines or articles, for use on EBSCO-CD document order forms. You can also add your own billing and shipping addresses.

USER is where you record passwords and level of access, when the user security option is activated in the miscellaneous setup information screen.

ONLINE is where you record modem information to access online databases such as DIALOG, through Primary Search.

After a short section on Novel Networks (we use LanTastic, which should not present a problem, though we didn't try to network Primary Search), we come to the most valuable section in the manual: TROUBLESHOOTING. …

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