The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 11, Number 4
Jun 1987

Computer Workshop at AIC

It wasn't really a computer workshop, but a description from the podium of the Getty Conservation Institute's new Conservation Information Network (CIN), preceded by a four-hour lecture on computers to get everyone up to speed. The CIN is now being used at several "beta test sites" or large institutions that get to use CIN free in return for serving as guinea pigs, until September, when it will be released to the public at the ICOM meeting.

The CIN will have three databases (bibliographic, materials and products/suppliers) and electronic mail. Although it is oriented mainly to the needs of museum conservators, book and paper conservators will probably also make frequent use of it if they become members or have access to it through a library or a colleague who subscribes. (They said, "Your library can probably be talked into subscribing.") As networks go, this one is expected to have low to moderate prices. Rough estimates were given: a one-tine registration fee of $70-$100, an annual subscription fee of $20-$30, and usage fees of $40-$5O per hour. Most searches in similar systems are under 20 minutes long, and cam be much shorter if the searcher is very efficient. Telephone charges are included in the subscription fees, even if you call from overseas. Costs will go down as the number of users goes up.

The bibliographic database has been put together by combining existing computerized lists of conservation literature, a process that is continuing. So far it contains databases from AATA, which is by far the largest, with 38,000 citations; ICCROM (the "Rome Center"), with 25,000; the Conservation Analytical Lab of the Smithsonian, with 20,000; the Canadian Conservation Institute, 9,000; and ICOMOS which has little to do with books and paper, 7,000. Since these databases were inconsistent within themselves and from database to database, the CCI is now cleaning them up to prepare them for use. A combination of controlled vocabulary and keywords will be used for retrieval. So far there has been no input from the Book and Paper Group on construction of the vocabulary for retrieval, though the network people say they welcome involvement from the people who will be using the system.

The network will help new members choose the equipment they will need at their end, as much as it can, without seeming to endorse products. All kinds of user support are planned, including disk based tutorials, workshops, a newsletter, bulletins on E-Mail, and a helpline.

The system is command-driven, but can be locally converted to menu-driven, with some CIN help. Participants at the workshop received a set of "Course Notes" that included a printout of everything that appeared on the screen during a literature search, as well as the references that were retrieved. Printouts from searches of the material and supplier databases are also included.

The workshop was sponsored by AIC, GCI and IIC-CG.

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