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Building the Domesday database — lessons for integrated database development


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The Domesday Project videodiscs are the first integrated database to be created for public dissemination. They incorporate data, presented as simple interactive graphics, pictures and text from an unprecedented array of subject areas. This paper describes how the BBC team solved major problems to combine data from nearly 45 different sources into a single database.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Building the Domesday database - lessons for
integrated database development
Richard Tapper
Edited the Environment section for the Domesday Project videodiscs, and now works
with the BBC Interactive Television Unit
Published in: Aslib Proceedings, 39 (4), April 1987, p.p.107-121.
The Domesday Project videodiscs are the first integrated database to be created for
public dissemination. They incorporate data, presented as simple interactive
graphics, pictures and text from an unprecedented array of subject areas. This paper
describes how the BBC team solved major problems to combine data from nearly 45
different sources into a single database.
By any standards, the Domesday Project is a remarkable achievement. It represents
possibly the first integrated database, combining information from a wide variety of
sources, that has ever been published; the first database specifically designed for
wide public access and dissemination and the first publication of machine-readable
data and pictures together on an interactive videodisc. It is also the first time that
comprehensive environmental data has been collected in one place. Yet when the
project began late in 1984, it was by no means clear that the technical problems in
producing a commercial videodisc player for the Domesday videodiscs could be
overcome, or that it would be possible to squeeze a national database onto a small
Publication of the two Domesday videodiscs in November 1986 marked the
culmination of dedicated work by a team of over 100 people within the BBC, and its
associated partners, to solve immense technical, logistical and conceptual problems.
Publication is also important since it has set the agenda for discussion and for future
development of other databases.
The Domesday Project has generated solutions to many of the conceptual problems
encountered in building fully integrated databases, especially in storing and ensuring
compatibility between data from very different sources. These solutions are
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
important for the development of the Economics and Social Research Council (ESRC)-
funded Regional Research Laboratories for database development in the economic
and social sciences, and for the development of the Rural Areas Database at the ESRC
Data Archive, which are both indirect successors to the Domesday database.
Indeed, the ESRC Data Archive participated in the Domesday Project, and holds a
complete set of the computer tapes used to produce the Domesday videodiscs.
The purpose of this paper is to consider the conceptual and technical solutions used
in building the Domesday database and their implications for the development of
other databases, beginning with a brief description of the Domesday database, and
an example of the data comparisons that are possible.
The Domesday database
The Domesday database is published as a double album of interactive videodiscs: the
Community disc and the National disc. The Community disc gives a local view of
Britain built up from information sent in by 15,624 schools and community groups. It
describes the life, landscape, industry and culture of most of the populated areas of
the country in over 150,000 screen pages of text and 24,000 pictures.
The National disc is a compilation of national statistics, thematic maps, picture sets
on 520 topics from families to forestry, and text on national and regional issues. All
this information is held in nearly 60,000 computer files, organised under four
headings: environment, society, culture and economy. Both discs use keyword and
hierarchical indexes which permit rapid, interactive access to all types of information
[Ref. 2]. In addition, the National disc includes software for interactive graphics
displays, data analysis and comparison [Ref. 3], which are among the most
important features of the Domesday database.
A small team of staff working within the Domesday Project have carried out the
integration of widely ranging material both in terms of source and type of
information. Their role has been to ensure that all aspects of contemporary British
life are represented nationally, through statistics from unemployment to soils, from
attitudes to expenditure, through written material and through pictures. A key part
of the work has been to integrate information from such diverse sources into a
coherent whole, where each item will stand up on its own, in whatever context an
eventual user may chose to place it, and will be compatible with other items in terms
of the ways in which it is stored and displayed. The ability to compare different
items is as important as the individual items on their own. By allowing comparisons
to be made, users are given a powerful method for exploring themes of their own
construction, drawing on materials on the videodiscs.
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
An example will illustrate this. If you wish to make a comparison between pollution
and the distribution of certain industrial sites for example, information on both
topics is available: the pollution information from surveys of sulphur dioxide
pollution provided by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, while industrial information
is based on details supplied by the Business Statistics Office. For comparison,
information needs to be held in forms that are readily comparable despite the very
different sources and original forms of the information In this case both data on
pollution and industrial location are suitable for display as maps. It is equally
possible to make comparisons between car ownership and employment, the road
network or even the British climate.
Building integrated databases
The purpose of integrated databases is to bring data together from different surveys,
in diverse regions of the environmental and social sciences, in such a way that they
can be readily compared. For comparison to be possible, data need to be stored in
standard formats and by standard units (aggregation units) that are arithmetically
compatible between datasets.
Standard aggregation units may be geographical units, like counties or grid squares,
or a set of cross-tabulating units, such as time, social status, or sex. For comparison
to be permissible, criteria governing the statistical validity of inferential comparison
between any chosen combination of datasets must be satisfied, although this is not
dealt with in this paper.
How can these requirements for comparison be met, and what are their implications
for the flexibility of databases when in use, and for their construction? These
questions will be explored shortly, but first, since the National videodisc combines
both environmental and social data, the differences between these data and their
methods of collection will be looked at.
Environmental versus social data and surveys
Environmental data are collected through continuing field surveys, which refine
environmental knowledge to greater degrees. For example, the first data recorded
for production of geological maps in Britain were collected more than 160 years ago.
They are a valuable record irrespective of their age and remain available to
reinterpretation in the light of developments in geological knowledge
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
By contrast, rapidly changing social patterns mean that social science data must be
updated from regular surveys. Employment data is collected and published every
month, while the Census of Population is carried out once a decade, and many large
changes can occur between surveys. A few environmental surveys such as the
Annual Census of Agriculture fit this category, too. However, most environmental
data are continually refined to provide greater detail, to reflect the relative
constancy of the environment, while data collected in social surveys is continually
replaced by more up-to-date results. The differences impose general survey
structures within the social sciences that can be very different from those of
environmental surveys.
Comparing information: data storage formats
Three separate formats for data storage have been used on the National videodisc.
These are:
1. Chart display format for data stored by cross-tabulation aggregation units,
where the maximum number of categories within any unit is 24 and where the
total number of data values is less than 10,000. Information held in this
format is displayed by the Domesday system as bar charts, pie charts or line
2. Areal unit data format for data collected by different types of area such as
counties or districts. The number of counties or districts can exceed 24, and
for each either a ratio value, such as sub-standard dwellings per 1,000
dwellings; an absolute value, such as total number of sub-standard dwellings,
or both can be stored. The total number of areas for any type of areal unit
must be less than 10,000. Information held in this format is displayed by the
Domesday system as graphics-generated maps.
3. Grid Square data format for data stored as a series of individual values for
single grid squares. There is no limit to the number of grid squares that may
be stored in this format, which has the advantage that information can be
stored in a compressed form, and so takes up less space on the videodisc.
Information held in this format is displayed by the Domesday system as
graphics-generated maps.
Each data storage format is linked to a particular type of screen display within the
Domesday system and to the capacity of the BBC microcomputer. A general data
storage structure that is not machine-specific is, however, desirable, and would allow
displays to be extended to take advantage of more powerful computers.
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
In the future development of databases, closer links between chart diisplays and
graphics-generated map displays are vital; chart displays that summarise
geographical information are valuable for information processing and interpretation.
To link the two display types, data need to be held in a common data storage format
independent of the screen displays used. All data would potentially be displayable as
both charts and maps. Data would be screened before inclusion in the database and
types of display inappropriate to particular data would be disallowed. Linked map
and chart displays already feature in some specialist databases, and in database
management software, designed for mainframe computers. A general data storage
format has the advantage that all data are then compatible with any screen display
and retrieval options written for a database. It also allows a single set of software to
be used in database production.
Processing data into compatible formats
To hold each individual survey record for every variable stored on the National
videodisc would be impossible. Vast amounts of storage space would be needed, as
well as, for each survey, the specialist primary software to analyse and process
individual survey records into usable aggregate statistics. Because of this, data is
stored on the National videodisc in a partially processed form. It has already been
processed by specialist primary software and is available for further analysis and
manipulation by general methods applicable to all surveys on the videodisc. During
partial processing, survey data from diverse sources can be converted into
arithmetically compatible formats.
Standard aggregation units on the Domesday National videodisc
Display options for statistical analysis are of two types: geographical displays on
graphics-generated maps and chart displays. Generally all data are suited to chart
displays, which provide aggregated statistical summaries of combined individual
survey records. However, only certain survey data are suited to geographical display;
for this to be appropriate, the survey must have a geographical element, and the
samples in each geographical unit must be large enough to have statistical validity
within each unit. This requirement is rarely statisfied by most small social surveys.
For surveys that are suitable for geographical display, the standard aggregation units
are different types of areal unit. Areal units used by the National videodisc are
shown in Table 1. Information displayed as charts uses cross-classifying units such as
age, sex and social class, as standard aggregation units. Some of the main cross-
classifying aggregation units used are shown in Table 2. To permit the greatest
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
potential use to be made of data for statistical comparison, it has been essential to
ensure that all data included on the National videodisc are stored for all appropriate
to standard areal and cross-classifying units.
Not all possible aggregation units are suitable for every dataset. Part of the work of
the BBC Domesday Project team has been to ensure that all suitable aggregation
units are available for each dataset on the videodisc. In many cases this has meant
aggregating individual sample records into subtotals by the standard areal or cross-
classifying aggregation units, while in some instances statistical interpolation models
have been used to infer data sub-totals for relevant aggregation units. Comparisons
between datasets would not be possible without the use of standard aggregation
TABLE1. Standard aggregation units for geographical data storage
Countries (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland)
Standard Regions
EEC Regions
Postcode Sectors
Postcode Districts
Police Authority Areas
Regional Health Authorities
District Health Authorities
'Functional Cities'
Employment Office Areas
Travel to Work Areas
Library Areas
ITV Regions
Local Education Authorities
Parliamentary Constituencies
Grid squares from 1 km to 10 km
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
TABLE 2. Standard aggregation units for chart data storage
Social class
Family size
Marital status
Time (year, month, quarter)
Frequency (e.g. of attendance, of purchase)
Number of items
Size (e.g. hectares, square metres) wet swans
Subjective scales (e.g. good . . . bad)
Standard industrial classification
Industrial unit income
Industrial unit size
Number of employees
Land ownership
Standard regions
Creating the database
How do you start to build a comprehensive database about Britain in the 1980s? The
information that it contains must be general enough to interest a large audience,
unlike most databases which are designed solely for use by specialists. The
information must cover all aspects from the physical environment to social attitudes,
from industry to employment. Some topics, like fashion and design, are most suited
to visual presentation, while for topics like planning and government text alone is
appropriate. A balance needs to be generated between the variety of possible
graphics displays, text, and pictures. Many environmental and social topics are
ideally illustrated through graphics displays — as maps or as charts. But the most
suitable type of information is not always available, and alternatives may need to be
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
Where did all the information come from?
A decision to include only national information, and limited mainly to that available
on magnetic media, on the videodiscs was made early. A local picture of the areas
where over three-quarters of the population of the United Kingdom live is provided
by the text sent in by over 15,600 schools and community groups, and included on
the Domesday Community disc. The decision meant that no local surveys on a
Metropolitan or county-wide base, or even covering one of the major regions of
England and Wales, would be sought or included on the videodiscs.
Although made for practical reasons, this decision has had far reaching editorial
implications. As a result, detailed survey work undertaken as a basis for policy
studies and planning by local authorities, and by independent, locally-based
organisations, was excluded from the videodiscs. Consequently surveys contained
on the National disc mainly address questions perceived by National government;
alternative, more local surveys, often seeking to answer questions thrown up by a
different social analysis, and attuned to local conditions, have been omitted.
Amongst the surveys excluded by this decision are local surveys of housing need,
employment, ethnic monitoring and planning. The Domesday videodiscs must be
viewed keeping these absences of alternative survey approaches in mind.
Two main types of nationally-gathered statistical information, then, were available to
the Domesday Project:
1. comprehensive mapped information covering either the whole of the United
Kingdom, or England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, and suitable for
both mapped and chart displays;
2. sample surveys such as opinion polls or the government's General Household
Survey, and which are considered to be relevant to the whole of the United
Kingdom, and suitable only for chart displays.
The sources and types of display used for information in the main topic areas of the
National videodisc are shown in Appendix 1. Geographical information and displays
predominate for environmental topics, while chart displays only, are available for
social and economic topics, such as Attitudes and Household Structure and Finance.
For many surveys in these and other social and economic topic areas, the sample size
is not large enough to allow anything more than a general regional breakdown. In all
of them, even those of a very large sample size their value lies in cross-tabulation of
different variables within sample populations. A table from the General Household
Survey can be cross-tabulated to give the breakdown of, say educational
attainments, by sex, social group, type of attainment, income, and so on.
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
Where both geographical and chart displays are used, the split between numbers of
data items available for each display type is about equal for Environmental Pollution,
Health, and Industry; for Law and Order, more chart displays are available than
geographical displays, while where both types of display are available for other topic
areas, geographical displays exceed chart displays in number. Over three-quarters of
the information available for chart displays is for topics for which no geographical
information is available, supporting the contention that there are large differences
between the structure of environmental and social surveys.
Appendices 2 and 3 are also of interest from the point of view of editorial decisions
made to achieve a balance between different types of graphics displays. Generally,
all sources of information which have yielded less than 80 data items were not
originally included in plans for the Domesday Project. None of the sources of data
used for chart displays of Agriculture, Environmental Pollution, and Industry were
listed in the original plans, and much of this information was extracted as summary
statistics from printed sources. Without the additional information which was
sought and included on the National videodisc, some key topics would not have been
covered adequately, and others would not have been covered at all.
Where data is limited or lacking in topic areas, a greater number of text pieces have
been included to deal with aspects that would otherwise have been omitted. This is
particularly true of Arts and Entertainment, Attitudes, Consumption and Marketing,
Government, Media and Communications, and Urban Environment. Text is used
within all topic areas to express details of experience and interpretation which
cannot be conveyed through data alone. Editorially, a ‘scrapbook’ approach was
adopted to areas select text for the National videodisc. In practice, the scrapbook
has mainly been clipped from the national press. The pieces that have been pasted
in are those which frequently catch the eye: consequently topics which are mostly
covered by specialist articles, and commentary on the implications of policy and
planning, are underrepresented.
It will take some time to fully evaluate the Domesday database simply because of its
size. To look completely through the double albums would take about 14,000 hours,
but early responses from specialists and general public should be more immediate.
Of particular importance are the views of scientists and statisticians on the suitability
of levels of scale chosen for standard aggregation units: are they too coarse, or do
they break data into chunks so small that they are subject to random variation and
potential misinterpretation?
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
Whatever the answer, the Domesday database demonstrates the way in which
integrated databases can be built and developed, and has created many structures
for their management. The potential value of the videodiscs as an educational
resource and as a new way of exploring facts concerning the society within which we
live and work is undoubted. As Brian Long, Managing Director of Acorn Computers,
said at the launch of the Domesday videodiscs, ‘We need no longer be misled as to
the reality of any situation. If information is power then no longer need any of us be
1. Lee, D (1986) The Domesday Project: a progress report, The Library Association
2. Tapper, R. (1986a) The BBC Domesday Project - an educational review, Journal of
Educational Television, 12, 197-210.
3. Tapper, R. (1986b) The Domesday Project, Aslib Information, 14, 160-161.
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
APPENDIX 1. Numbers of mappable datasets on the national disc
Source and type of information Geographical Aggregation units No. of datasets
MAFF Agricultural census for England and Wales 1981 5,10 km 197
DAFS Agricultural census for Scotland 1984 5,10 km 141
ITE Physical Attributes Database - Agriculture 1972 10 km 24
ITE Physical Attributes Database - Climate 10 km 28
ITE Physical Attributes Database - Conservation 10 km 4
NCC Area of SSSIs 5 km 1
ITE Pollution and acid rain 10 km 4
CIPFA Waste Collection Districts 64
District, County, Regional Boundaries Various 23
Urban and Regional Geography Various 31
BGS Geological map
(Geology map includes 50 categories)
1 km 1
BGS Geochemistry of Scotland 5 km 8
AGRG Geochemistry of England and Wales 5 km 8
ITE Physical Attributes Database - Geology 10 km 34
NRPB Survey of terrestrial radiation 10 km 1
MRC Mortality Atlas Functional Regions 24
BSO Industrial locations 1 - 10 km 55
BGS Location of mines and quarries 1 km 29
CIPFA Highways and Transportation Counties 63
Schools count data for amenities 1, 2, 10 km 63
Schools !and cover survey 1 km 20
ITE Physical Attributes Database - Topography and
altitude (includes road and rail networks)
10 km 26
CIPFA Police and Crime Police Authorities 75
CIPFA Public Libraries Counties 31
CIPFA Leisure Districts 148
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
CIPFA Planning Districts 82
OPCS Population census 1981 and selected variables
for 1971
1-10 km, and Districts+ 360
OPCS Population estimates Districts+ 20
OPCS Mortality statistics Districts+ 14
OPCS Population change since 1901 Districts+ 8
SSEW Soils maps of England and Wales
(Main soil map includes 85 categories, Main landuse
map includes 25 categories)
5 km 7
MISR Soils maps of Scotland
(Main soil map includes 36 soil categories, Land
capability map includes 7 categories)
5 km 12
ITE Physical Attributes Database - Soils 10 km 8
CIPFA Environmental Health Districts 120
ITE/BRC Species distributions
Different time periods
10 km
10 km
NCC Main habitats in SSSIs 5 km 10
DEm Census of Employment (NOMIS database)
(these variables are broken down into employment in
different industries, or unemployment, by sex and for
the years 1979, 1982 and 1985)
* — Mappable datasets only are available for this topic.
+ — Districts plus higher-level aggregation units (counties, regions)
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
APPENDIX 2. Number of datasets for chart display on the national disc
MAFF Pesticides surveys 20
Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce 10
MAFF Livestock statistics 8
MAFF Irrigation of crops survey 6
MAFF Stocks of cereals on farms 4
Rothamstead Experimental Station, Fertiliser Surveys 35
British Social Attitudes Survey 400
Eurobarometers (10a, 13, 17, 18) 250
Henley Centre for Forecasting 4
Ulster Marketing Survey 1
DES Education and Science Statistics 4
DoE Environmental Protection and Water Statistics 61
NRPB Radiation exposure surveys 4
Forestry Commission 50
British Election Study 1979, 1983 450
RSGB Alternative Medicine Survey 20
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents 6
CSO General Household Survey 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980 275
CSO Family Expenditure Survey 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982 200
Building Society Mortgage Lending 7
DHSS Supplementary Benefits 1
CSO Social Trends 41
BSO Size of industrial units 24
DE Energy Statistics 28
DoE Housing and Construction Statistics 35
DTI Waste materials statistics 7
DTp Transport Statistics 61
Centre for Agricultural Strategy 21
MoD Defence Estimates 8
Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Aquisition and
Occupancy of Agricultural Land
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
Home Office Criminal Statistics 9
Home Office British Crime Survey 220
English Tourist Board 5
JINCRS National Readership Survey 5
RSGB Readership Survey 30
Women, Bingo and Leisure 3
CSO Living in Britain Survey 1983 120
BBC Daily Life in the 1980s 100
AGB TV Trends 10
BBC Educational Broadcasting Services 36
British Telecom 8
Post Office 6
CSO Macro Economic Data bank (time series) 800
CSO Regional Trends 12
OPCS Population Census 1981 and some 1971 50
Euromonitor 58
Water Authorities Association 30
BTO, Wildfowl Trust, Game Conservancy 8
CSO Workplace Industrial Relations Survey 1980 330
CSO Labour Force Survey 1975, 1981 60
RSGB Domestic Services 30
* — Chart datasets only are available for this topic.
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
List of abbreviations for data sources in Appendices I and 2
AGB Audits of Great Britain
AGRG Applied Geochemistry Research Group, Imperial College
BRC Biological Records Centre
BBC British Broadcasting Corporation
BGS British Geological Survey
British Telecom
BTO British Trust for Ornithology
BSO Business Statistics Office
Centre for Agricultural Strategy
CSO Central Statistical Office
CIPFA Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy
DAFS Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland
DES Department of Education and Science
DEm Department of Employment
DoE Department of the Environment
DHSS Department of Health and Social Security
DTI Department of Trade and Industry
DTp Department of Transport
English Tourist Board
Forestry Commission
Game Conservancy
Henley Centre for Forecasting
Home Office
ITE Institute of Terrestrial Ecology
Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce
JINCRS Joint Industry Newspaper Circulation Research Surveys
MISR Macaulay Institute for Soil Research
MRC Medical Research Council
MAFF Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
MoD Ministry of Defence
NRPB National Radiological Protection Board
NCC Nature Conservancy Council
OPCS Office of Population Census and Surveys
Post Office
RSGB Research Surveys Great Britain
Rothamstead Experimental Station
Schools survey for BBC Domesday Project
SSEW Soil Survey for England and Wales
Water Authorities Association
Wildfowl Trust
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
APPENDIX 3. Number of text items on the National disc
No. of items
Agriculture 47
Arts & entertainment 253
Language 24
Beliefs & attitudes 71
Climate 18
Conservation 43
Consumption 84
Education 68
Environmental Pollution 35
Forestry 13
Geology 7
Armed forces & defence 31
Politics & government 118
Health 103
Personal finance 23
Social welfare 31
Industry 59
Science & technology 67
Transport & communications 7
Industry in environment 42
Landscape 13
Law & order 68
Building the Domesday database - lessons for integrated database development
Leisure & recreation 37
Sport & games 34
Tourism 28
Customs & heritage 25
Home & community life 66
Lifestvle 64
Religion & philosophy 48
Mass communications 146
Printed word 12
People & events 25
Economy as a whole 40
Finance 23
Overseas Trade 9
Public Sector 21
Population 26
Planning issues 50
Soils 6
Housing 50
People in the environment 21
Urban environment 25
The seas 12
Water resources 14
Wildlife 21
Labour relations 7
People at work 46
* - Text items predominate for this topic.
... I discuss many of the interactive features of the Domesday videodiscs elsewhere (Tapper, 1987), and will here only describe the most important facilities from the educational point of view. First, the National disc contains a vast amount of statistical data from a variety of national sources. ...
Full-text available
The BBC Domesday Project is publishing a national database on the United Kingdom on two interactive videodiscs which will be officially launched in November 1986. The two videodiscs contain national statistics, text and pictures on all aspects of British life, as well as information sent in by over 12,000 schools which took part in the Domesday Project during 1985. The organisation of the Schools Domesday Survey is described, the educational design and information content discussed, and the Domesday videodiscs assessed as an educational resource for schools
International computerized indexing systems jor visual materials are discussed. The systems included were among the best in the literature jor their time or have signijicant potential and represent the state of the art in their respective countries. Technologies available jor reproducing images are also investigated, highlighting videotex, videodisc, and digital storage. Theinter- jacing oj these technologies with each other and with online, postcoordinate retrieval systems could jacilitate the ultimate achievement in visual indexing.
Interactive video projects where a laser disc is linked to a microcomputer are a new trend in research on information transfer and library development. The high cost of these projects presents a drawback. The aim of this paper is to illustrate how libraries and information centres can increase utilisation of non-book reference materials by using inexpensive microcomputer equipment for image storage. Collections of pictures, archival materials and maps can be stored by capturing the images on video and transferring the frames to a database on a microcomputer. The description and the image can be viewed together when searching the materials. The research project described here considers the quality of the pictures in the image database, as well as time calculations for image database production. The project aims at proposing a low-cost solution to image information storage on microcomputers in libraries and information centres.
This article reviews areas of common concern between librarians on the one hand and scholars on the other as they each attempt to pursue their work in an era of electronic information. The issues require the attention of both librarians and scholars, and it is argued that both communities need now to talk more extensively with one another in an effort to re-think the fundamental role of the university library in the coming years. The function and importance of Integrated Scholarly Information Systems (ISIS) are discussed with examples to illustrate the ways in which scholars are likely to acquire and integrate electronic information in the future. The article concludes with reflections on two contradictory trends that are emerging in scholarly research with the expansion of electronic research systems.
Unless you have been on the library equivalent of a desert island, you will know that the BBC AIV system and the Domesday Project Video Discs were released at the end of last year. We bought the system in March but only now do we feel ready to release it for general use. The bibliography (not exhaustive) at the end of this review lists several articles which describe the technical aspects of the system in detail. Similarly other references (and BBC television programmes) have highlighted the immense co-operative effort which went into collecting the data on the discs. We do not intend to repeat all this information, although a brief description follows. What we would like to do is to give the subjective impressions of a group of librarians, working in a particular library, setting up and exploring the system. We would hope that rather than being seen as any form of definitive assessment of the system, this brief expression of points of view will encourage others to agree (or disagree) with our opinions, give us the benefit of their own experiences and pass on any handy tips they have picked up.
At the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), an interactive videodisc project was carried out in order to gain experience in videodisc technology and its usefulness for information delivery purposes. The disc 'Optical datastorage and the construction industry' was produced by the urban planning and building design laboratory. Off-the-shelf videodisc products available in Finland were investigated by the Information Service of VTT in order to find the most efficient and versatile hardware and software combination. The Information Service also took care of the disc programming. This article looks at the characteristics of optical discs in general and videodiscs in particular. The interactive videodisc system hardware and software and the disc production process are described. Guidelines are provided for videodisc designing and production with the needs of libraries and information services in mind.
Full-text available
The BBC Domesday Project is publishing a national database on the United Kingdom on two interactive videodiscs which will be officially launched in November 1986. The two videodiscs contain national statistics, text and pictures on all aspects of British life, as well as information sent in by over 12,000 schools which took part in the Domesday Project during 1985. The organisation of the Schools Domesday Survey is described, the educational design and information content discussed, and the Domesday videodiscs assessed as an educational resource for schools