ITGS Syllabus

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Topic 63

Special-purpose databases, for example, personal information managers, encyclopedias, library systems by Vaibhav Bhandari

Special purpose databases are systems which keep scholarly information or any other sort of information which is managed and stored in the database. These databases are designed to keep information which is further classified into more precise categories. The main purpose of these databases is to organize information belonging to a specific category which would help analyze or transfer data efficiently through the help of networks. Some frequently used examples of special purpose database’s are “news bank” (, “ebsco host” (, and “financial times” (

How did this technology emerge?

As there tends to be continuous growth in the business sector, therefore as a result of this it is natural for this to a cause large collection of interrelated data. As a result of the large collection of interrelated data there needs to be system which can manage all this efficiently. To solve this problem there are two main things which have to be taken into account: there is a large collection of data, and they are interrelated. Hence to solve this there is to be a system (database) constructed which can manage all this data by storing and categorizing it.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

The key usage of these types of databases is to access information efficiently across the globe. For instance news bank can help people access news articles from America to someone who would want to view them from Europe. So the advantage here is that a user can access information from any part of the world through networks as far as the information he wants to access is in a database. In addition to this news bank lets you categorize your searches. Therefore this prevents time wastage and helps the user access the information as precisely possible. The disadvantage of this is that if the database storing information somehow fails to manage all the information and loses it all by some sort of failure. Therefore in this case the users will be unable to access all the information as the database would fail to locate the information through networks by which various users are usually gaining access the information.

What are the issues associated with this?

The issues associated with this are that if there is a network failure or loss in the system where all the data is being stored, than the database will be unable to share the data extensively. Hence the data being stored cannot be fully relied upon as there is a great percentage that it might be lost. Hence this would defeat the purpose of having a database which would share information efficiently. Secondly as the data is being shared through networks it also puts up a possibility that the data can be manipulated or destroyed by someone’s intentions.

What is an alternative solution to this?

An alternative solution would be to not use a database and instead store data in files and folders manually. This method would be very inefficient and would be very hard for users to gain access to this information extensively as it would not be shared through networks. Even though this would prevent someone from manipulating the information as it will not be shared through networks, the data can still very easily be lost as it will not be computerized and hence it will be hard to keep track of.

A common example

In our school library the software we use to manage our library is “Library Spectrum”. This is a library database which helps the librarian manage the library and as well as it also allows the students to search availability of the book. In the library the librarian can simply just add a book by entering its key components. So in order for the student to check whether the book is available or not, he can simply just search key components of the book in the database and find whether the book has been purchased by the library or it is currently issued by someone.


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