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Database Usage at the Naval Air Warfare Center Technical Library

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Essay title: Database Usage at the Naval Air Warfare Center Technical Library

Database Usage at the Naval Air Warfare Center Technical Library

The rapidly changing face of research and technology in the science and research forum, as well as the world, has prompted the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWC-WD) Technical Library to be in a constant state of change. These changes in information technology are made in order to consistently provide the patrons as well as the library staff with the latest capabilities in order to best perform their job duties. Database usage has become the mainstay of the NAWCWD Technical Library, with all staff members and patrons utilizing numerous databases daily. The more frequently used databases at the NAWCWD Technical Library are the STILAS Workflow Catalog, and the Information File, a FileMaker Pro database used to store useful point-of-contact information. This paper will explain these databases, as well as their importance to the NAWCWD Technical Library and proposed improvements to each, where applicable.

STILAS, the Technical Library’s networked computer cataloging database, is essential to our day-to-day operations. It allows both patrons and staff up-to-the-minute access to the library current holdings. It shows what is available for check out, what is already checked out, and in some instances- what is missing from the library’s collection. The records that appear in the online catalog are created by a process called copy cataloging. Copy cataloging is the process of “copying bibliographic records from a source database such as OCLC WorldCat, [and] has increased librarians' efficiency by eliminating duplication of effort. One library creates a bibliographic record for an item such as a book and many other libraries can copy or migrate the data into their local online catalogs, thus saving each individual library the work of cataloging the item and entering the data into the system.” (Beall & Kafadar, 2004). There is one potential flaw to copy cataloging, however. If the original record is created with typographical errors, those errors are then imported, or migrated, into every successive database there afterwards. A typographical error can greatly hinder one’s ability to locate desired materials, so this is not situation that is best avoided. However, this flaw can be eliminated or greatly reduced if care is taken to carefully select the source of the record. For instance, if the cataloger at the Technical Library has the option of copy cataloging an original record from a Library of Congress (LCC) cataloger, or from an elementary school library technician, she should choose the LCC record. Another way to reduce the incidence of typographical errors is to proofread every new record imported. Both of these efforts would help to maintain the integrity of the library’s online catalog. Another possible improvement that could be made to the library’s online catalog would be to invest in the latest edition of the software. Currently, the library is running the 2001 version of the system which is quite outdated. Several improvements have been made since that release, and investing in the 2004 version would greatly increase the library’s capabilities. The 2004 version has a much more user-friendly query language, similar to the search capabilities of Google. Another benefit to upgrading the current version of the database is that it would allow us to implement an RFID system within the library. The version that we currently have is not compatible with RFID technology.

According to Jeff Angus of PC World, FileMaker Pro has long been the choice for people who don't need complicated database capabilities. Years ago, the Technical Library created a FileMaker Pro database with the intended purpose of hosting valuable point-of-contact information. These points-of-contacts range from helpful librarians at other military libraries, to document or platform specific contacts. To many staff members, this database is invaluable. It often contains information that one cannot obtain through alternate sources. This database is hosted on the library’s network server, and can be readily accessed by all staff members. The Technical Library’s FileMaker Pro Information File is just as Jeff Angus described- an uncomplicated database. In fact, it

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