INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL SOFTWARE:
IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) was one of the earliest to invest money to develop software packages intended for Information Storage and Retrieval. The well known package STAIRS (an acronym for Storage and Information Retrieval System) was developed to be used on IBM machines, that too mainframe series. STAIRS was a machine dependent program which was commercially made available for any one who could afford its cost. This package has been used by some organisations to manage bibliographic databases. It was a powerful text-retrieval system which enabled string searching from any part of the record. Following the introduction of STAIRS, similar programs soon became available on mainframes as well as minicomputers. Packages like ISIS, MINISIS came into existence. But most of these packages were hardware dependent, and therefore could not be used on a wider scale due to lack of portability. Hence, need was felt to develop software packages which could be used for library and information storage and retrieval operations on a wider range of computers, especially microcomputer systems. Several attempts were made in this direction by commercial firms and international organisations like UNESCO, resulting in the proliferation of a number of microcomputer oriented software packages. Many of such packages are being commercially marketed, while a few packages like CDS/ISIS are supplied almost free of cost to educational and non-profit making institutions, particularly in India.
Today, there are a number of microcomputer oriented software packages intended for automating library, routines and information retrieval operations. In recent years, the movement towards integrated modular software, which means that the librarian can spread the cost and effort of implementation without the risk of software incompatibility, has become common. There are packages such as 'Bookshelf' which contain programs for individual operations like acquisitions, cataloguing, serials control, etc. Each of these modules can be purchased separately, if necessary, and one can use the same set of records without the need to re-enter data each time.