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I enjoyed the extensive article on bibliography database managers in the January/February 1996 issue of Computers in Nursing (1996;14:45-56). I share this need for retrieving information from articles and other sources. However, in my clinical setting I not only file articles from various journals, I also "process" class notes, continuing education handouts, my "ramblings" (scraps of paper with "practice pearls"), patient education handouts, tapes and videos, e-mail information (downloaded text from CDC, listservs, newsgroups, WWW, etc.). My challenge is to know I have the material somewhere and to locate it physically.

 

Historically, I began typing the information in a free-style, ASCII, 80-column, file format. Then, I would search with various word-processor programs or file-search programs. My disappointment was with the inflexible nature of some of these software tools. For example, if I was trying to find information on "anti-inflammatory medications," I might not get a "hit" (locate text in data file) with an entry like "drugs used with inflammation." In other words, I might have the info somewhere, but not accessible.

 

Recently, I have begun using a shareware text-search and retrieval program called SEEKEASY. I "point" it to my data files in various subdirectories and it plows through my numerous e-mails, downloads, self-created data files of articles, and the like). Typical entries from a data file look like this example:

 

H Harvard Health Letter 7/95-nutrition (pasta), breast cancer and bone marrow, drug formularies, prostate meds, AIDS, choosing a hospital

 

E ethics committee

 

P publication: contemporary nurse practitioner 9-10/95-knee pain, breast cancer screening, uterine bleeding in teens, prevent transmission of herpes to newborns, negotiating contracts

 

In my system, the "E" ethics file informs me that I can find the handout or notes about my hospital's ethics committee in the "E" section of my files. Likewise, the "H" section contains all my back issues of Harvard Health Newsletter, and if I were searching for "breast cancer" I would find that article in the July 1995 issue even though I misspelled the original data entry. Conversely, I would find the article from Contemporary Nurse Practitioner on breast cancer screening in that magazine in my library.

 

SEEKEASY is a DOS-type program, but you can easily use it from Windows. It will locate "nearly-correct" spelled search strings. For example, the above article on breast cancer screening would be highlighted if I entered anything like "cancer," "breast," "screening guidelines," and the like.

 

I often forget the resources I have filed or in what publication an article appeared, SEEKEASY allows me to rapidly (oh yeah, it's lightning fast) search all my nooks and crannies on my hard drive for the materials. Now, if I could just get my colleagues to return all the items they have borrowed.

 

SEEKEASY is available from Correlation Systems, 81 Rocking-horse Rd., Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275; phone: 310-833-3462; fax: 310-547-3960; e-mail: 73030,204@compuserve.com.

 

Disclaimer: I have no financial interests in SEEKEASY or connections to Correlations Systems. SEEKEASY is a "shareware" program that does a neat job at what it does and can run on PC-DOS/Windows systems-even those with very modest hardware resources. It is reasonably priced to register and available for downloading from numerous, on-line shareware sites. Contact Correlation Systems for additional assistance. They can send you the program to try for a nominal fee.

 

Paul M. Shepard

 

GLENWOOD, AR