Online Information Storage and Retrieval

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Prywes, Noah S

The paper is addressed to those concerned with improving effectiveness of small or large libraries, or those considering the establishment "of a new collection in a certain subject area." The large staffing and cost frequently discourages the setting of satisfactory services. The paper submits for consideration an avenue of using automatic aids to achieve effectiveness within the bounds of economic practicality. A number of methodologies have been developed. This paper summarizes the respective methodologies and the state of the art, with suggestions of the advantages of immediate application. Another objective of the paper is to point to the potential of truly satisfactory services to users considerably beyond present capabilities. Through on-line communication with computers the rapid memorizing and recall can be extended to vast information, normally confined to the shelves of a library or the drawers of filing cabinets. A human will be able to use terminals to recall information from huge repositories in an effective and convenient manner. The methods and procedures employed in information storage and retrieval for a century, such as indexing, classification or, more recently, content analysis, have proved of lasting value and serve as a foundation for the newer systems. However, to cope in a practical manner with the mass of data, it is essential that these traditional approaches be modified in order that these functions be performed automatically with only guidance provided from humans. For instance, the indexing of documents should be entirely performed by the computer. This however connotes an open-ended index-word vocabulary which is first semi-automatically processed to form a thesaurus. The next step would be the completely automated processing of a classification system, which also provides a scheme for placing of documents on shelves, in microform or in the memory of the computer. Based on these storage methods, the interactive man-computer storage offers the best potential for achieving high retrieval effectiveness to the point where information storage and retrieval systems became really useful as an extension of human memory and recall.

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University of Pennsylvania Department of Computer and Information Science Technical Report No. MS-CIS-68-56.
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