Data Base Directories: A Comparative Review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Over the past decade machine‐readable data bases have grown both in number and variety. In addition to the familiar bibliographic data bases such as MEDLINE and ERIC, one now finds data bases containing such things as properties (e.g., RTECS ‐ Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances) and full text (e.g., LEXIS, a family of files that contains the full text of court decisions, statutes, regulations, and other legal materials). As data bases increase in importance as information resources, there is a growing need for printed tools which can assist librarians in their identification and use. Available tools fall into three categories: (1) guides issued by data base producers which describe the contents of a given data base and methods of searching (e.g., INSPEC Database Users' Guide); (2) guides produced by online vendors which indicate how data bases can be searched on a particular system (e.g., Lockheed's Guide to DIALOG ‐ Databases); and (3) data base directories which include coverage of data bases produced by many different organizations and processed by a variety of online vendors. The third category is the subject of this comparative review. Readers interested in the first two categories should consult Online Reference Aids: A Directory of Manuals, Guides, and Thesauri published by the California Library Authority for Systems and Services (CLASS). This publication contains information on manuals, guides, and other search aids for over 100 online data bases, including those available through the New York Times Information Bank, National Library of Medicine (NLM), Bibliographic Retrieval Services (BRS), Lockheed DIALOG, and System Development Corporation (SDC) ORBIT. This directory is arranged by data base name, giving ordering and price information for aids available from both data base producers and online vendors. Subject and vendor indexes are also provided.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalReference Services Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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