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close this bookBridge Builders: African Experiences with Information & Communication (BOSTID, 1996, 304 p.)
close this folderCase studies on the introduction of cd-rom to university libraries
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe CD-ROM Service for the University of Dar es Salaam
View the documentCD-ROM for Health Information in Zimbabwe
View the documentBackground Summary: The African Index Medicus (AIM) Project
View the documentCommunications for Better Health Project in Zambia


CD-ROM (Compact Disc, Read-only Memory) is a high density storage medium on which electronic data are etched by laser onto a compact disc master. A single CD-ROM can hold still images, motion video, audio, and digital data. With its vast storage capacity (a single CD-ROM can store as much data as 1,500 floppy disks or 200,000 printed pages of text), ease of mailing, and tolerance of harsh environmental conditions, CD-ROM offers a practical solution to the information isolation experienced by researchers, information professionals, and scientists in many developing countries.

These case study authors live in areas where high costs and technical difficulties deter online access and searching. They demonstrate that CD-ROM can bring the following gains:
· user-friendly, interactive online searching of databases by library staff and end-users;· current citations, with abstracts that often provide sufficient information to negate the need for source documents;· selected citations and abstracts that can be used for national digests of relevant material;· an enhanced image of library staff due to their dramatically improved ability to deliver current information and to demonstrate computer skills; and· demystification of microcomputer technology for staff and end-users.

CD-ROM has proven appropriate to these authors because it reduces the need for online links and it operates under difficult conditions, such as heat, humidity, dust, and unstable power supply. The authors did find' however, that while there is a relatively low capital cost for the equipment, the cost of sustaining the subscriptions to the databases is still a problem.

These case study authors demonstrate how they have used CD-ROM as a powerful tool to develop local computer literacy by providing the opportunity for hands-on use of a sophisticated system. They also describe how CD-ROM has been used to develop both local and pan-African databases and digests of relevant information.