Full‐Text Access and Laser Videodiscs: The National Agricultural Library System

Publication Date01 Jan 1986
AuthorPamela Q.J. Andre
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Library & information science
Full-Text Access and Laser Videodiscs:
The National Agricultural Library System
Pamela Q.
The National Agricultural
Library has developed a database,
mounted on videodisc technology,
that successfully integrates digital
data and analog graphics. The digital
data are manipulated by use of
microcomputer, which also controls
access to the graphics. The graphics are
displayed on a separate video
This article
problems encountered
in converting a print product to videodisc.
Laser videodisc technology (with its great storage
capacity) offers an exciting opportunity for the
storage and retrieval of a variety of types of informa-
tion. The National Agricultural Library (NAL)
is evaluating this technology as a means of making
agricultural information more readily available.
The focus of the evaluation is the potential of laser
videodisc technology, used in conjunction with
microcomputers, for the storage and retrieval of
agriculturally related, full-test databases.
In March 1985, a microcomputer system utilizing
a laser videodisc as a storage medium was installed
at the NAL by LaserData, Inc. This paper will de-
scribe the system, the full-text database, and the
searching capabilities that are available.
The Laser Videodisc System
Laser videodisc technology is based on laser
optics, which uses light beams to read and write
data. The result is a data storage technique that
offers very high density, high quality video; random
access; and a mixed storage format utilizing both
digital and analog data. The system installed at NAL
has all of these characteristics.
One of the most important aspects of the tech-
nology is the very high storage capacity-up to 800
million characters of data on one disc. The capability
to store both digital and analog data makes use of
the videodisc extremely flexible, since both text
(in digital format) and graphics (in analog format)
can be stored on the same medium. The ability to
present a high quality display (at least as good as
that of the printed publication) is critical, since
Andre is
Information Systems Division,
National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD.
ISSUE 13 13

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