April 29

TO: Marsha, Chris, Liz

From: Bob

Subject: Some thoughts on the CE conference on databases

Herewith some thoughts on the CE conference on databases that we discussed earlier and I promised to do some tentative organizing:

Title: Database Searching in Libraries and Information Centers: The State of the Art and Future Directions

Thematic considerations: My idea was that the conference would examine the state of the art in terms of what is currently happening regarding how libraries and information centers (of all types) are using bibliographic and non-bibliographic databases and what is likely to happen in the next 10 years. That is, there seems to be at least 4 major directions that folks are going: (1 the very current (and accelerating) trend towards CD-ROM databases and the use of them via networks; (2 the continuing (but possibly weaking or, at least, complementary) use of remote online databases; (3 the trend (probably still small but I don't know for sure) towards purchasing and mounting system-wide or state-wide databases that are available to a wide variety of libraries (sometimes for use fees and sometimes for member fees); (4 the use of the Internet (or the NREN) for searching databases that are mounted on hosts that are willing to maintain them (universities, government agencies, etc.).

Conference agenda:

Carol Tenopir to start off the conference by doing a keynote address to overview all of these issues, problems, etc. and talk about her predictions for the future

A speaker to overview the current state of CD-ROM use in libs; quantity of databases, quality, gaps, etc. and some predictions about the future; suggest here we get someone from one of the largest producers of CD-ROM products for libs (Silver Platter VP? UMI?

A speaker to overview the current state of the remote online database market and make predictions about the future; again, suggest we get someone from DIALOG or BRS or LEXIS/NEXUS

A speaker to overview the current state of the art on locally mounted databases (where they are, how they are working, problems, costs, etc.) and make predictions about the future; suggest we get someone from the Illinois State Library network (where, I hear, they are doing some neat things; I think Patrick knows this guy)

A speaker to overview what is currently happening regarding use of the Internet to search databases (how many, problems, cost, responsibility of creator, etc.) and the likely future of this method for access by libraries and info centers; suggest we get someone who is thoroughly involved in this area (such as the PACS-L coordinator)

Suggest we give each of the above speakers (except Carol, who would have 45 minutes) 30 minutes and then allow 15 minutes for questions after each one. This will take up about 4 hours -- all morning.

Feed em lunch

What to do now?

Here, how practical do we want to get? Or, do we want to now go on and address specific issues related to the above types of access? If the latter, then I suggest we get speakers on the following issues:

information policy issues: Chuck McClure would be good here
industry concerns: get a speaker from IIA
type of library concerns (speaker for each type of library?)
technical issues (which ones: networks, database construction, etc.)
searching issues (retrieval concerns, end user searching, etc.)

Or: if we go practical, you could deal with the following issues:

detailed sessions on fancy uses of CD-ROM (downloading, packaging info from several databases
search strategies, etc.)
same thing on remote online searching, setting up a local/state-wide network, and use of Internet/NREN
detailed sessions on setting up local networks within a library/info center for CD-ROM stations
detailed session on how to set up an instruction program for end-user searching.

I think all of these things are possible. We could do the minimal version and have only one day; we could also easily have enough for two days; or you could allow attendants to register for one or both days. If we do a 2 day session then I would recommend we have a night meeting that is the major program and have Carol Tenopir do a keynote address after dinner that night.

What would we have to charge to make a little money? Depends on expenses for outside speakers. I suggest a $75 per day fee and feed them lunch each day.

When to do this? Suggest late March/early April when things look really good around here. I think we could get folks from at least 4-5 states to come if we marketed pretty thoroughly