CCE Theses and Dissertations


A Feasibility Study of the Implementation of CD ROM Databases in Secondary School Library Media Centers

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Arts (DA)


Center for Computer-Based Learning


John A. Scigliano

Committee Member

Marlyn Kemper Littman

Committee Member

Gerald E. Sroure


School library media centers have traditionally provided students and teachers with information resources in two formats: print materials, including books, periodicals and microforms; and audiovisual materials including film, television and audio devices. Recent technological advances and the changing nature of information/publishing industries now suggest it might be desirable for school library media centers to provide information resources in an electronic format including computer, compact disc, and/or video disc databases. This paper examines the feasibility of introducing a site-specific periodical literature CD ROM database into the secondary school library media center in three ways: an attitude survey, a queuing analysis and a cost analysis.

Four secondary schools in the Dade County Public School system were selected to receive a CD ROM database on a trial basis. A posttest only, equivalent-groups AB design was used to measure students' confidence in their abilities to locate periodical literature, the student’s perceptions of the level of difficulty in the task and the availability of such literature in the school library media center, and student satisfaction with the school library media center and its collection.

The study also applied standard quantitative techniques, i.e. queuing models and simulation, to the use of the traditional print periodical index and a CD ROM periodical index. To develop a queuing model, at the index table and the service or search times were needed. Service times were based on 1088 observations of students using The Readers guide to Periodical Literature and INFOTRAC II, a CD. ROM database. Arrival rates were based on two typical school library media center patron access patterns--a "worst" case and a "best" case scenario .Using this information, two models were constructed. Each model was run twice, once for The Readers Guide to Periodical Literature and once for INFOTRAC II.

The cost analysis included such components as the school discretionary budget and district funding for media specialist salaries. School discretionary expenditures included initial start-up costs for hardware and recurring costs for subscription and supplies. Media specialist salary costs to the district calculated based on the time used and the for instruction in periodical research and intervention and help in student searches.

The attitude survey showed that in every area tested, INFOTRAC II users had a more positive attitude toward periodical research and the school library media center than did Readers Guide users. The search data gathered for the queuing analysis were of itself significant. Student’s using The Readers Guide to Periodical Literature took an average of 13.68 minutes to complete a search. INFOTRAC II users needed only 5.4 minutes. The queuing analyses showed that a single CD ROM terminal, when compared to a seven volume READER-S GUIDE, makes a poorly planned media center activity worse, and a well-planned media center activity better.

The financial impact of the CD ROM database is felt most by the school-site discretionary budget. Annual subscription costs for CD ROM products are significantly higher than print indexes. Data collected indicated that the CD ROM index, INFOTRAC II, required little or no instruction by media specialists, while formal instruction in the use of The Readers Guide to Periodical Literature Ranged from 15 to 180 minutes per class. At the same time, daily logs showed that Readers Guide users required an average of 46 minutes a day of professional help, while INFOTRAC II users needed only 15 minutes a day. When costs of instruction and intervention by media specialists are included, the more expensive CD ROM product becomes highly competitive to the print index. In conclusion, secondary schools that place a high priority on expanding student’s perceptions of how to access information and creating enthusiasm for independent investigations should consider CD ROM databases. In addition, the CD ROM database offers a vehicle for providing computer usage experiences for the entire student body. Careful evaluation should be given to the issues of equitable access, availability of cited sources, library media center management chores and individual school collection development goals when making a Selection.

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