The paper reviews the highlights of a four-week trial period (November 19-December 18, 1970) during which the Medical Library of the University of Virginia experimented with a new remote-access bibliographical control and retrieval system via its TWX machine. The system, called AIM-TWX, was sponsored by the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications and utilizes a timeshared IBM 360/67 computer in Santa Monica, California. Citations from 109 clinically-oriented journals from 1966 to date, including those currently included in the Abridged Index Medicus, may be retrieved either on- or off-line.
Various aspects of this service are described, including problems of staffing, training, and record keeping, as well as the role of the MeSH vocabulary which is the principle “language” of the man-computer dialog.
The statistical results indicated that the system was used for approximately 200 minutes on nineteen days and that an average of sixteen searches were run on any given day, or about 4.6 searches per hour of use. In spite of an inexperienced staff who had little knowledge of the MeSH vocabulary and whose training schedule was limited to one four-hour session, the experiment was highly successful in terms of searches and citations.
At the end of the period, 298 searches had been run for 114 requestors, and 5,343 citations had been produced. Only fifty-five searches yielded no citations. The experiment generated a great deal of excitement and interest among the staff of the Library and of the Medical Center. Moreover, a large number of medical practitioners in large and small communities of Virginia participated in this experiment, indicating that there exists a great demand for this type of literature searching which AIM-TWX is able to provide with great rapidity.