APLIC-I Website Navigation Bar

UNFPA's Project and Technical Publications (PTP) CD-ROM Project
By Zuali Malsawma, Population Reference Bureau

David Rose, librarian at UNFPA, reported on his current project -- the creation of a full-text database of UNFPA's project and technical publications on CD-ROM. As libraries are increasingly pressured to de-emphasize printed materials in favor of electronic documents, the CD-ROM project will be moving a step toward that end. In addition to preserving institutional memory, the CD-ROM will allow user-friendly electronic access to the many UNFPA project publications, even the most obscure ones such as the UNFPA-funded post-genocidal demographic survey in Rwanda. It will also serve to promulgate and thereby generate investments in UNFPA's projects.

There is a great need for both preservation and promotion of UNFPA project outputs and better access to them. Over two thousand programs worldwide have been funded by UNFPA, yet much of the project and evaluation information is fading into obscurity because it is not widely disseminated. It has been difficult to answer questions about which reports are on what project, what the projects were about, and so on. It has also been difficult to get printed copies of reports. The CD-ROM project, created for "enduring historical significance" and for a world audience, will provide the full reports in PDF format. The CD-ROM will be easily replicated and widely disseminated, thus enhancing UNFPA's programming and evaluation activities.

The prototype of this Project and Technical Publications (PTP) CD-ROM offers easy to use point-and-click navigation. It is designed for a broad user spectrum -- the assumption being that the user population would not be accustomed to working with electronic information and document systems, and that the concepts of searching, retrieving, and viewing results would be unfamiliar to them. In other words, the design makes it very easy to use. Unlike classic CD-ROM databases that can be difficult to learn and do not necessarily produce results, the PTP CD-ROM is easy to use and doesn’t permit zero hits. Installation will be simple, and because of its construction with the freely distributed Adobe Acrobat Reader, licensing fees will not be an issue.

There are some limitations to this CD-ROM that are unavoidable. Where a CD-ROM database that has imbedded, multiple indexing offers more powerful searching and retrieval, such as POPLINE on disk, a point-and-click Adobe Acrobat design allows retrieval from only one level at a time. The document collection cannot be too large either. It has also been hard to implement the disk construction within Adobe where there are many individual links that have to be built in. The complex structure must be built with great care. At this testing stage, David Rose is looking for feedback and input to see how useful the project will become, and therefore cannot predict where it is going. But it certainly is an idea whose time has come!

Home | About APLIC-I | Members | Publications | Conferences | Listservs

Last updated 04/25/01