Medline on CD-ROM?

David Steffen steffen at mbcr.bcm.tmc.edu
Wed Jun 10 11:02:36 EST 1992

I would like to comment on several issues that have come up -re- the
Medline access thread.

(1) I stated that Entrez does not include all of Medline.  I guess
some saw that as a critisism of Entrez.  It was not.  I *LOVE* Entrez,
and at $57/yr would recommend it to everyone.  But if you need to
access Medline, Entrez is not the solution.  Entrez is a source of
sequence information, including wonderfully complete and convenient
access to references relating to sequences.

(2) Some point out that dial in access charges can add up to more than
the cost of the CDs real fast.
(3) Some point out that dial in access (trans-atlantic) can be even
slower than a CD.
(4) Some point out that if we all bang away at NLM, we will bring it
to its knees.

I would like to comment on 2, 3, and 4 by mentioning what I do.
Texas Medical Center has obtained a site license to BRS/Colleage; a
commercial package which includes Medline and a nice package of
software for accessing Medline.  This is made available to everyone in
TMC for free; presumably the cost of the site license comes out of
overhead, or some such.  I don't have Medline on CD in my office
(obviously), so I cann't be sure about relative speeds, but my
experience using Entrez and Grollier's Encyclopedia on my CD lead me
to believe that 9600 baud dial in access shared with Texas Medical
Center is much faster than access on CDs would be.

I think there are two interesting points illustrated here: 
<a> What I have access to is a middle ground between "everything on
your desktop" and "one server for the whole world".  I think that, for
many purposes, this is ideal.
<b> It is paid for on a fixed fee basis rather than a fee per access
basis.  I think this is VASTLY preferable, in that the costs are fixed
(e.g. people using it more doesn't increase what Texas Medical Center
has to pay) and a fixed fee encourages use; a good thing.

IMHO, CDs are an excellent distribution medium; they are cheap, rugged,
and high capacity.  However, they are slow.  Given the current costs
of high capacity hard drives, I think it would be worth distributing
Medline on CD, but copying it to an institution-wide hard disk for
David Steffen
Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston TX 77030
Telephone = (713) 798-6655, FAX = (713) 790-0545
Internet = steffen at bcm.tmc.edu

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