USTLG Summer 2001 Meeting

Electronic Publishing and Online Support Materials

Tuesday 12th June 2001, Aston University Library

Reports by Clare Humphries, Adrian Smith, Angela Newton and Joanne Yeomans, all University of Leeds


Web-based teaching and learning materials for Beilstein Crossfire
Melanie Underwood, UMIST

Melanie came to show us the newly developed Beilstein Crossfire online tutorial called FirePower. Details until launch can be found at:

The Crossfire database is a complex system and requires a high level of chemical knowledge, especially for using the structure and reaction searches that are its strengths. MIMAS felt a self-paced online tutorial would be useful for Librarians needing to train students to use the database.

A survey was carried out on lis-scitech some months ago to find out what demand there would be for a tutorial. Results from this dictated that it should be web-based rather than on CD and aimed at a wide range of people - new or infrequent users, chemists and non-chemists and also advanced users. Firepower is the result.

It was designed around Crossfire 2000 which it is hoped most universities, if not all, will be using by the time the tutorial is launched. Athens authentication will soon be available for the service but until then, it can only be viewed by guest password, available from Melanie (email It requires the use of Shockwave Flash 4.0.

Melanie performed a demonstration of the tutorial.

Libraries will be able to link direct to the Firepower web pages and users can bookmark individual pages as they require.

There are 4 introductory units: crossfire background, structure searches, fact searches and bibliographical searches, and 2 advanced units: structure searches and Gmelin. A third advanced unit will soon be added to cover reaction searching.

The units vary in length but MIMAS have attempted to make them interactive where possible to reduce the density of text. There are rollover images and Flash animations showing searches being performed and descriptions of what buttons within the database are for. A 'hop-in' feature allows students to perform a search live on the database and check their results against the 'answer' they should have found by downloading a 'hop-in search'.

There will be a big launch for FirePower when the Athens authentication is ready but no date is available yet.

During discussion, members agreed that this was a welcome service. Melanie will be sending an electronic version of the leaflet we all received on the Lis-Scitech mailing list. In answer to a question about whether Crossfire would be available on the Web, Melanie was unsure but believed discussion may be taking place about having this in time for the 2002 new deal. Apparently it is already available on the Web to industry in the US.


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