Information comes both in great quantities and many formats. The word format refers to the general physical quality or appearance of an information source. Book format means printed pages of paper that are bound together. The book is still the most extensive way that information is stored. It is also the source that many people find the most user friendly. Other sources are being used with increasing frequency. These include photos, magnetic recordings, video tapes, laser disks, CD-ROM, DVD, online database and catalogs as well as information from the Internet.

Traditional books are printed on paper and consists of pages fastened together on one edge and covered with a protective cover. When books were first printed they consisted of only the cover and the text of the work. Modern books have title and introductory pages. As printing evolved, publishers formed a uniform way to arrange the contents of books. This enhanced books usability significantly.

E-books are made available on the Internet. They are texts of books but published in electronic format. While some e-books are free, others require a subscription. Most of the free e-books are in the public domain.

Books in electronic format are also available in CD-ROM or DVD format. These can be bought or created “in-house” by libraries. Often this serves as a way of preserving the paper copy of a book.

A publication that is issued on a continuing basis at regular, stated, intervals is a serial. The frequency of publication varies. Some serials are published daily, while some are published weekly or biweekly. Some are published bimonthly, quarterly, semiannually, or annually. Periodicals such as magazines and journals are serials. So are newspapers, annuals, and yearbooks. The proceedings, transactions, memoirs, etc. of societies and associations are also considered to be serials.

Periodicals are numbered consecutively. They are given volume designations, several issues make up a volume. Many libraries the issues of a complete volume of a periodical are bound together in hard covers. The bound volumes are shelved with other books by classification number in some libraries. In other libraries they are shelved in a separate periodical area. Some libraries acquire the current copies of periodicals in paper and the back issues in microform. Periodicals include magazines and journals. Magazines contain popular reading, while journals are more scholarly.

Electronic Journals (E-journals) are basically magazines or journals that can be viewed on the internet. E-journals first started to appear on the internet in the early part of 1990. They were not very popular then, but they have experienced a tremendous growth over the last few years. Some E-journals are also available in print form too, although the majority can only be viewed on the internet. Libraries subscribe to e-journals, and make them readily available to their patrons through the libraries home page and in their online catalogs. One of the big advantages of e-journals for the library is that users do not have to physically be at the library to view these journals, since they can access the journals from their home or office computer as long as they have a valid authorization to access the database.

Newspapers are usually published daily or weekly. The type of paper they are printed on, called newsprint, is not meant to last. They are usually preserved on microfilm for this reason. Libraries usually keep paper copies of newspapers until the microfilm copies arrive. Many newspapers are not available on the Internet, some for free, and others by subscription.

Publications such as yearbooks and annual publications receive the same treatment as any other library book. They will reside in either the reference collection or the general collection of the library. Memoirs, proceedings, transactions and other related information pertaining to a society or association are classified as serials due to the fact that they have regular publications set at regular intervals such as weekly, monthly, or yearly. These serial titles are property of the library and are listed in the library's catalog, they may also appear in a separate serial listing that will identify those titles and issues that are property of the library.

One of the requirements in obtaining a doctoral degree from a university is a dissertation. This can be described as a research that is written to fulfill at least part of the overall requirements to obtain the doctorate degree. When one is trying for their master’s degree they are required to write a thesis, this consists of researching a project to fulfill part of the requirements for the masters degree. Usually, the library at the university will retain atleast one copy of either the dissertation or thesis. Many will keep these files on microfilm and on hard copy to preserve the original work. Libraries also share dissertations and theses between universities, and may also obtain them from the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD), which requires students at member universities to submit their theses or dissertations in a specific digital format. The theses and dissertations that are submitted from all the member institutions are then available online for public access.

Archives can be either published and/or unpublished materials which have historical value. These include such things as private papers of notable persons or the records of an institution. The format of archival materials varies. Some archival materials include such things as original manuscripts, letters, photographs, diaries, legal records, books, etc. What is found in archives can resemble items one frequently finds in the attics of old family homes, such things as birth and marriage certificates, letters, and newspaper clippings. It is common that the access to these materials in the library are limited to only serious researchers because they require special care. Nowadays many archival are also being preserved on microform, magnetic tapes, CD-ROM, DVD, and in digital form stored on computers. A lot of those materials can be found on the Internet.

The vertical file, also known as the pamphlet file, is made up of pamphlets, brochures, newspaper and magazine clippings, pictures, maps, etc. It’s things that are not suitable for cataloging and shelving along with the regular book collection. These types of materials are often placed in manila folders and stored alphabetically by subjects ijn filing cabinets. Vertical file materials is ephemeral in nature, meaning that it has little or no lasting value and will soon be out-of-date. Vertical files, of course, must be weeded from time to time to get rid of dated material. A lot of the information which is kept in the vertical file might never appear in any other published form. Some libraries maintain a separate index of vertical file material.

Audio, video, and microform formats are included under Audiovisual Materials (A-V). Audio materials include such things as records, audio cassettes, CD-ROM, DVD, and reel-to-reel tapes. In most libraries the audio materials include musical as well as spoken records. Video materials include microforms, video cassettes, slides, synchronized slide-tapes, CD-ROMs, and DVDs. Another form of A-V materials are microforms. Microforms are printed materials that are reduced in size by photographic means and that can only be read with special readers. There are several types of these photographically reduced materials. Microfilm is print that is reproduced on a roll of 16 or 35 mm film. Microfiche is a flat sheet of film on which separate pages of test are reproduced. The sheet is usually four by six inches. Microprint is the reproduction in positive form of a microphotograph. Unlike microfilm and microfiche microprint is printed on opaque paper. Microcard is a form of microprint, but its reduction is greater. Because of the difficulty is reproducing microprints and microcards they are no longer distributed.

Radio, television, video cassette, CD-ROM, DVD, et cetera are all electronic formats which information is available in. In this write-up, electronic sources will be discussed in the context of computer assisted technologies only. In other words, these formats require a computer and appropriate software to access information. Bibliographic information such as descriptions of books, periodical articles, and other literary works as well as raw data, the full text of periodicals, books, and reports as well as illustrative material like maps and photos are included in the kind of information that is available in electronic format. For online databases, online catalogs, and Internet access telecommunications equipment is needed. The equipment used to store and access information in electronic format consists of disk players, computer terminals, and microcomputers. Software is also needed to run the various programs.


Source:
The Research Proccess: Books and Beyond, 3rd edition

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