James C. Eisenach, M.D., Editor
The Electronic Anesthesiology Library on CD-ROM. Philadelphia and Baltimore, Lippincott-Raven Publishers and Williams and Wilkins, 1996. Price:$495.00, individuals ($395.00, related society members); Annual updates:$125.00, individuals ($99.00, related society members).
The Electronic Anesthesiology Library (T.E.A.L.) on CD-ROM is a compilation in multimedia format of four published anesthesiology journals (Anesthesiology, Anesthesia and Analgesia, British Journal of Anaesthesia, and The Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia) from 1991–1995 inclusive. The single CD-ROM disk is advertised to contain full text, graphics, and references of all published material in the journals and is supplemented with most MEDLINE[registered sign] abstracts for cited references. The disk contains the Knowledge Finder[registered sign] software with installation taking approximately 5 minutes. A well-written and detailed manual accompanies the disk and is valuable if the user is not experienced with electronic search strategies. The system is usable with PC-compatible (with Windows[registered sign]) or Apple Macintosh[registered sign] computers with nominal hardware requirements.
Multiple search strategies can be used with this resource. Standard keyword, textword, and author searches are easily accomplished, and using Fuzzy logic searching, wide-scope searches are quickly performed. An option using “Boolean” searching allows the user to tighten the search focus using the logical connectors “AND, OR, or NOT” to precisely accomplish an intended search. A word variants feature allows one to use an intended search word with or without derivative words included, which opens or restricts searches significantly. Multiple “dictionaries” are included that are really search categories (author, review articles, and so on) to hasten or allow tightly focused searching.
Search access is speedy, and results summaries are provided with order of relevancy, similar to Internet searching. When selecting from search results, document text is displayed and a separate window for figures and tables appears with an easy scroll feature. Hot text links to the figure window, sticky notes (to identify and download a piece of text), MEDLINE[registered sign] abstract links, and printer commands are also straightforward and add nice complements to the standard features as are available in larger library database search programs. Finally, set-up functions for user preferences and a useful Help submenu are included to expedite future searches and assist the less-experienced user.
Overall, T.E.A.L. is a winner. For quick searching a reference that a clinician needs or for performing an exhaustive review of what has been published in these four journals, this is a great tool. The greatest limitation is the database that can be covered in a single disk (a 5-year range of four journals). Although not exhaustive, this is a great starting place for journals we use frequently. This disk certainly will save shelf space in our offices, and the Knowledge Finder[registered sign] software can be installed in multiple locations for use by a single user. I found searching and printing on multiple occasions to be easy and productive. I did not attempt to import a table or figure to another software program for slide preparation, but this would be a welcome feature for teaching purposes (if legally permissible). I certainly was able to search and quickly find articles I remembered from only a piece of the reference. This is efficient compared with using the semiannual or yearly indices of each journal. My residents and colleagues appreciate the more accurate citations than I have previously provided. The price listed is substantial for this powerful resource, which may preclude some individual purchases. With further advancements in technology, more data compression, and faster access time, we will obviously increase our use of CD-ROM resources. I just found a large amount of shelf space in my office and the impetus to send my highly revered journals to another location for continued use.
Joseph R. Tobin, M.D.
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology; Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Medical Center Boulevard; Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157