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--> PROPOSED SCOPE OF AREA 4 THE DISSEMINATION OF information to serve the needs of the scientific community, the institutions of learning, and the public requires orderly procedures and systems that will make scientific communications widely available, that will promote awareness of what is available, and that will provide prompt access to any desired information.1 Many different systems are in existence for organizing, storing, and searching scientific information. These systems range in size from the small collections maintained by an individual to the very largest libraries; in degree of organization from those arranged only by random order of accession to those involving highly specialized classification, indexing and coding schemes; and in methodology from simple hand operations through large manual systems such as card catalogs to special collections that are partially mechanized. All of these systems are effective to some degree for some particular local use. It is one of the major objectives of this Conference to encourage the preparation of papers that will meet a high standard of scientific method in the study of existing and proposed systems for the processing, storage, and search of scientific information. Descriptions of procedures should be sufficiently detailed to enable a competent specialist to repeat the procedure and obtain the same results; and disclosures and evaluations of methods, equipment, and systems should be given objectively in sufficient detail to permit both understanding and appraisal by others competent in the field. Similarly, the comparative analysis of the relative advantages and disadvantages of various systems for different uses should be based upon objective consideration of the efficiency, capabilities and limitations, and costs of such systems considered in the full range of operations from accession through storage to making the desired information available. Such objective accounts of the characteristics of existing systems (including any mechanisms used) will provide the necessary basis for the design of more effective reference tools, for the development of new and improved equipment to facilitate information storage and search, for the definition of performance requirements, and for the realization of improved systems. 1 The proposed scope of the Conference Arec, as shown here, was prepared during the Spring and Summer of 1956 and provided to all potential contributors as a guide to the aims of the Conference.
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--> This area of the Conference may be directed toward the following problems: Preparation of objective accounts of systems that have been tried, including specific data on efficiency, capabilities, limitations, and costs for all phases of storage and search operations, and including operating characteristics of machines, storage media, and methods used. Comparison of systems in terms of costs, efficiency, and functional characteristics where more than one system has been used for the same type application. Development of criteria for the comparison of systems. These criteria should incorporate both user and administrative requirements, including relationships to other aspects of information services. It is recognized that seldom will it be possible to obtain actual comparative studies involving two or more types of information systems used for the same collection. The Conference Committee urges that interested individuals undertake such studies wherever possible. However, it is thought that carefully detailed studies of individual systems can be used as the basis for comparative analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of these various systems. These studies should include common factors pertinent to comparative performance evaluation. Such common factors will probably include, but not be limited to, the following: Characteristics of the collection: size; rate of growth; whether general or special purpose; number of fields covered; variety of fields covered; extent of coverage in field (s); whether acceptance of new items is controlled (e.g. technical library vs. ASTIA), and so forth. Accessioning and cataloguing: skill and training required of personnel who receive and identify new items; kind and number of accession registers or listings maintained; kind and number of listings, abstracts, etc. resulting from identification that are made available to users; minimum rate at which identification must proceed to prevent increasing backlog; tolerance for delay in making new items available to users, and so forth. Classification and indexing: skills and training required of personnel who classify and/or index items; type of classification system used and whether hierarchical; depth of analysis; whether classification and index terms indicate relationships between subject content elements; open-
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--> endedness of system; extent to which different levels of analysis are used; number of classification categories; average number of items per category; range of items per category; provisions for increasing or decreasing number of categories in terms of numbers of items falling in a category; time required to determine proper category of a typical item; cost per item of classification and identification processes; similar considerations for indexing, and so forth. Search entries: skills and training required of personnel who encode search entries, of personnel who inscribe search entries; procedure used in encoding; type of coding system; number of search terms available; average number of search terms used per item; number of character spaces required per search term and whether system uses dedicated space; space available per item for pertinent search terms; extent of redundancy in code terms; whether search entries indicate structure and interrelationships between search elements; extent of cross-referencing; whether cross-references require or permit multiple entries of item information; time required to encode all search entries for an item; cost of encoding search entries for an item; tolerance for errors in encoding; techniques used in inscribing search entries; time to inscribe; costs of inscribing; tolerance for errors in inscribing, and so forth. Storage of items: total storage capacity required for collection; density of storage (items per cubic foot, items per unit of storage medium); characteristics of storage media; whether storage homogeneous as to media; whether storage compartmentalized; whether storage locations or locator symbols are related to classification or indexing system; cost of storage; time to store an item, and so forth. Storage of search entries: whether combined with storage of items; total storage capacity required; density; media used; whether media erasable and reusable; whether compartmentalized; cost; time to store an entry, and so forth. Formulation of search questions: whether special knowledge of classification, indexing, and coding schemes is required to formulate questions; kind of people who interrogate system; tools available to assist searcher in framing his question; whether question must be encoded or inscribed before processing; time required to formulate questions; time required to encode or inscribe questions, and so forth. Search procedures: technique(s) used in conducting search; whether search must be of all entries or of entries in most probable fractional sections; access time; search rate per unit time; time to complete a
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--> typical search; whether more than one search may be conducted at one time; whether more than one section of search entries can be searched at one time; typical number of searches required to be conducted in a given time; time required to set up a new search; delay allowable before searches are conducted; average number of entries searched before search is complete; cost of conducting a search; variety and number of search types; level of recognition logic required; limit on number of search elements that can be compounded into single question; what portion of search entry must be searched in order to make selection and whether screening devices used; ease of broadening or narrowing question as search results are inspected; extent to which search procedure is self-organizing; extent of intercommunication between searchers and system during progress of search, and so forth. Search results: output of the search (listings of locator keys, listings of titles, abstracts, information items, facsimiles of information items); whether results are adequate; average number of omissions; tolerance for omissions; “browsability;” whether results are relevant in terms of average number of extra selections and tolerance for extra selections; resolving power; whether association reference trails are provided; provisions for repetition of search; time and costs of getting from output to desired end results, and so forth. Retrieval from storage: techniques for retrieval of items from storage; form of item as retrieved (original, copy, excerpt); access time; cost of retrieval; cost of reproduction if any; whether original physically removed; tolerance for delays in accessibility due to prior retrieval or reproduction; time to restore removed items to storage; cost of restoring removed items to proper place; number of items to be retrieved in a given time, and so forth. Revision of system: ease of adding new items to collection or of replacing obsolete items; extent to which reclassification becomes necessary and at what time intervals; effort required to effect partial or complete reclassifications; effort required to re-encode entries for items reclassified; time required to make changes in classification, indexing, and coding schemes; cost of making such changes; effort required to insert new or revised search entries into system; effort required to reorganize compartmentalization or fractionation of storage; capabilities required of personnel or mechanisms in putting changes into effect; tolerance for use of dual systems during reorganization or reclassification; extent to which machines used for search and/or retrieval maintain statistics on actual use; extent to which storage system is self-organizing, and so forth.
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--> Since not all of these factors are of equal weight, and since some are more pertinent in some situations than in others, it is requested that studies of existing systems should also reflect which factors are most critical and which are less essential in the particular situation reported. The analysis of existing systems in terms of specific characteristics and of factors common to information storage and search systems in general should thus yield criteria by which systems can be evaluated in the future as to effectiveness in any given situation. Recommendation for a Questionnaire Survey The Advisory Group recommends that a questionnaire survey be made, under the auspices of the Conference, to gather from system users pertinent data on the factors that are outlined in our proposed statement of the area, in advance of the Conference itself. Such a survey would assure coverage of systems that might otherwise be overlooked in the solicitation of papers, as well as providing basic material of important interest to the discussion panel for Area 4. Such material should also be useful to Areas 5 and 6.2 Recommendations for Papers It is recommended that papers on the description of storage and search systems currently in use should include consideration of both those using manual methods and those using mechanized techniques, and should reflect the differing needs of different types of users—from the individual scholar to the largest library center. Specific papers on mechanized systems that are actually in use at the time of the preparation of the paper, papers on the comparative evaluation of two or more systems, and papers on the development of criteria for comparative evaluation are especially invited. 2 Unfortunately it has not been possible to organize and carry out such a survey prior to the Conference.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: