7.0015 Database Formats (1/57)

Mon, 17 May 1993 18:02:35 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0015. Monday, 17 May 1993.

Date: Mon, 17 May 93 12:55:43 EDT
From: "Brett Charbeneau, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation"
Subject: Database formats: universal?iv

FROM THE TERMINAL OF: Brett Charbeneau

-------> Also posted to EXLIBRIS <-------
{ It was suggested to me that all of you on HUMANIST might }
{ have some thoughts on my quandry. Responses to this list }
{ will be seen by me as I *just* subscribed "

A recent comment on the nets got me to thinking about something
that I would like to throw out to all subscribers for reactions and
further comments. Diana Patterson recently stated on Exlibris that:

"We bibliographers could, and probably should,
provide (librarians) with information we discover about a
copy of a book. And if we could do it in a way that
would be easy for (them) to toss into the MARC format,
then that information would be sharable."

The descriptive bibliography I shall be compiling will involve
a sizable number of imprints and quite a bit of detailed
information that I am anxious to share. Not only would I like to
leave the libraries where I work a "copy" of the information I
record in their collection, but I want to be able to upload the
data to larger projects across the country like the North American
Imprints Program at the American Anitquarin Society.
My question now is: what format?
All my preliminary work (an enumerative bibliography based
almost completely on other people's work) has been in DBASE III and
a related utility, Alpha IV. I have looked over MARC and decided
that is may be worth the effort to learn, but it would essentially
cut off any in-house viewing here at Colonial Williamsburg because
of its complexity and ambiguity. The AAS seems to use a format
that is unique and yet somehow compatible to the Eighteenth Century
Short Title Catalouge.
Eeek! What should I do?
I could easily supply print-outs to the libraries, but how can
I best make the data accessible electronically? I chose DBASE
initially because many non-bibliophiles are familiar with it and as
a universal format in the business world it is unlikely to
disappear. There are also many nice utilities and report-
generating out there that read ".dbf" files.
Am I too concerned about this at this stage of the project?
Would it be better to collect the data in this well known format
and worry about converting it later? Or should I consider changing
to something like ProCite to guarantee compatibility with other
institutions and scholars?
Any and all comments are welcome.

Brett Charbeneau
Journeyman Printer/Williamsburg Imprints Program
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Williamsburg, Virginia