Nowadays people are more familiar with electronic databases – computerized file systems which consists of digital records – but before computers became widely popular, only manual data bases were used. Also nowadays they are being used in some institutions, so it is useful to know what they are and how to use them.
Actually the principle of manual database is the same as electronic database – it’s a file system that consists of many records. The main difference is that it is not computerized, so all the records and database itself are tangible. Practically manual databases are file boxes full or paper records and folders. Manual databases are still used in some smaller libraries and also in places where client register is needed for example hospitals.
The records in manual database can be ordered in many ways. Most popular ways of organization are alphabetically, chronologically and numerically. The main purpose of the organization of manual database is to make all the order transparent, so the way of organization depends on the purpose of the database. Very large databases for example library databases also are organized by sections of themes and files in each section is organized by methods mentioned above.
So when it comes to usage of manual database, first you need to understand the organization of it. If you have understood that, all the following work is easy. For example, if records are organized alphabetically by authors, start searching from the letter of authors’ surname. Of course, usage of manual database is more complicated than usage of electronic database, because, you need to go through records by yourself.
Also the maintenance of manual databases is a lot more complicated. Manual databases don’t update automatically, so once in a while the cleaning of records is needed. All the unnecessary records have to be thrown out. If the database consists of huge amount of files, there can be a situation when database consists of useless files. That can encumber searching of records. Of course, manual databases needs a lot more space as well.
As you can see, manual databases are less convenient in many ways, so you might wonder why they still exist at all. That is because it takes a lot of time, work and money to computerize all the file system. For example, to computerize file system of hospitals, there is united system in whole country needed and that means millions of records must be digitalized. However lot of countries has done that and many are planning to do that.
So the era of manual databases is almost over and electronic databases are taking over, but it is good to know how to use them anyway. You never know, when that can turn out useful.