USTLG Spring 1997 meeting – Beilstein and BIDS JournalsOnline

Guildhall University, London


Helen Schofield UMIST
Terry Morrow BIDS

Report by Linda Davies

Helen’s presentation explained the history, development and uses of the Beilstein and Gmelin databases that comprise the Cross Fire service. Beilstein Cross Fire will transfer from CDS at Daresbury to MIDAS in the next few months, and Helen will be part of a team providing specialist support and training.

Terry explained the evolution of the BIDS eLib funded Infobike project from its original aims to the current JournalsOnline service.

Helen Schofield – UMIST. Beilstein Cross Fire.

Beilstein Cross Fire offers online access to Beilstein’s Handbuch der organischen Chemie and Gmelin’s Handbuch der anorganischen Chemie. Thirty five UK academic sites have signed up for this CHEST negotiated deal, which costs ?3,000 p.a. or ?4,000 to include the Royal Society of Chemistry datasets as well.

The first edition of the Beilstein Handbuch der organischen Chemie which covers organic compounds was published in 1881 and comprised the author’s own notes. The supplement to the fifth edition is still being printed and costs approximately ?1,500 per volume. The first edition of the Gmelin Handbuch der anorganischen Chemie was published in 1819. Gmelin covers inorganic and organometallic compounds, with each volume covering a different element. The cost of current volumes is approximately ?500.

There are a variety of reasons for the decline in use of the printed volumes: cost, the German Language, the online availability of Chemical Abstracts etc, and the lack of current information. (The printed volumes of Beilstein cover up to 1979, whilst the electronic database is right up to date.)

Cross Fire offers coverage of Beilstein back to 1771 and Gmelin back to 1772. The Beilstein database can be searched by organic name, structure or substructure and has more than 7 million structures and 5 million searchable reactions. The database contains property, synthesis and reaction data, physiological and bibliographic information. It does not cover polymers. The Gmelin database covers approximately one million compounds and has details of preparation and properties and where appropriate, occurrence and extraction.

Further details about Beilstein Cross Fire at MIDAS are available at

Helen also added that several years ago she was doing approximately 200 Chemical Abstracts searches per year, this dropped to one per week with the advent of the Science Citation Index via BIDS, and since Cross Fire has fallen even further.

Terry Morrow – BIDS JournalsOnline

JournalsOnline has its roots in Infobike, an eLib funded project which aimed to develop and test a service to allow users to search, order full text articles in electronic form and have them delivered via e-mail or ftp. The separate discovery, administration and delivery tasks were to be performed by different partners.

Further details about Infobike are available at

Several recent developments have affected these plans: the rapid growth of the WWW, publishers developing their own servers, and the Pilot Site Licence agreement.

BIDS launched JournalsOnline in November 1996. It offers search facilities across a combined database, with document delivery either straight from the publishers server or from a shared server at BIDS. Three of the publishers involved in the National Site Licence Agreement; Academic Press, Blackwell Publishers Ltd and Blackwell Science Ltd are part of this. The administration module is able to check whether a site has free access to a title retrieved and can therefore view the article using Adobe Acrobat, or whether payment is required first.

Journals from Mechanical Engineering Press and Arnold will be added soon. The number of titles covered will be more than 500. There was some discussion of the critical mass of titles needed to make such a service worthwhile, and to ensure that readers return to use it again. There are no plans to add backruns due to the prohibitive expense involved. A future development will be links from JournalsOnline to bibliographic databases ( eg ISI) to enable a user to view the full text of an article immediately.

The discussion opened out to cover other BIDS services:

  • Compendex will be the next service to be offered on the WWW, and should be available within the month.
  • Two features available via the VT100 services are still missing from the web version of SCI: Use of previous sets and checking journal issues. The issues feature only accounts for 1% of searches on the VT100 service, and therefore wasn’t seen as a priority. The feeling of the meeting was that the low percentage is because this service is not by used students. It is however a vital service for researchers.

Finally, as Ian mentioned on lis-scitech yesterday he announced his intention to hand over the organisation of USTLG after eight years. As those who were present will know, the background noise for the last part of the meeting made discussion of this almost impossible. I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Ian for all of his time and effort over the last eight years. I’m sure that we have all benefited not just from the subject matter on each occasion, but from the informal discussions before and after the meeting. The format and consequent low cost have probably contributed to the continuing success of this group, let’s hope that we are able keep it going.

Linda Davies
Subject Librarian – Applied Sciences
Learning Resources Centre
University of Glamorgan
Mid Glamorgan
CF37 1DL
01443 482621