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Telematics for Libraries - Project


Updated: 28 MAY 98
Project Number and Title
Computerised Bibliographic Record Actions
Programme/Action line Call Topic(s) Start End Project Duration
in Months
FP 3/ Concerted Action Themes 1, 2 and 3 December 1993 March 1996
Bibliographic records; electronic publications/publishing; national bibliographic services; national libraries

blue bullet Additional information is available from the CoBRA web site . (

Concerted Action
This was a concerted action involving national libraries in Europe.
Enhanced bibliographic records (Theme 1)
Service packages to enhance international use of national bibliographic records (Theme 2)
Multilingual authority files and services (Theme 3)
Project description
CoBRA (Computerised Bibliographic Record Actions) promoted core actions associated with the provision of machine-readable national bibliographic services, through a forum of European national libraries.
Its main objectives were to foster actions which would:
  • create a European dimension for provision and exchange of bibliographic data from agencies with responsibilities at a national level.
  • promote links between organisations involved in bibliographic record creation at all stages of the publication and distribution process, to mutual benefit in both the public and private sectors.
  • improve the efficiency and utility of national bibliographic services by stimulating the adoption of new technologies for the enhancement and delivery of those services.
  • encourage standardisation among parties involved in supply and use of records.
Technical approach
Five Task Groups, active at different times, were set up to examine:
  • Improved European bibliographic services.
  • User needs
  • Networked record distribution and re-use.
  • The promotion of data sharing between national bibliographic services.
  • Examination of the long term availability of electronic publica-tions. Task Group members were drawn from a wide representation of EU national libraries, the book trade and relevant areas of technical expertise.
Key issues
Among the main technical issues explored were:
  • timeliness, coverage and currency of national bibliographic records through the development of new models/methods of collaboration between relevant sectors;
  • making bibliographic products and services more responsive and flexible;
  • distribution of national bibliographic records via existing network infrastructures and the networked service functions of national libraries;
  • networked information resource description and retrieval;
  • eliminating barriers to record exchange such as lack of standards in character sets and name authority files ;
  • long term storage of, and access to, electronic publications and digital collections
Impact and expected results
CoBRA has instigated a number of studies and initiatives to put into effect the findings of its Task Groups.
These include:
  • CHASE (CHAracter SEt standardisation) - to advance adoption by national bibliographic services of character set standard ISO 10646 Level 3, equivalent to UNICODE.
  • FLEX (File labelling) - standards for labelling of bibliographic files when delivered across networks. The results are now in use for record exchange by national libraries and catalogue record supply services.
  • AUTHOR - feasibility study into the international sharing of national name authorities in UNIMARC authorities format.
  • UNIMARC - investigation and testing of a UNIMARC analytical tool for a multinational database.
  • METRIC - feasibility study into the exploitation of bibliometric data in national databases. This led to a prototype for generating market and analytical information.

CoBRA steered two studies, published by the European Commission in 1996:

  • Deposit collections of electronic publications,by J.S.Mackenzie Owen and J.v.d.Walle (ISBN:92-827 7643 3)
  • Modèles pour la fourniture de services bibliographiques en Europe, by M. Lenart (ISBN: 92 827 7888 6).

Documentation can be obtained from the contact below and from CoBRA web site .


Name of Institution/Organisation Postal Code / City Country
The British Library, National Bibliographic Service UK - WETHERBY LS23 7BQ UK
Title, First Name, Name Mr. Howard SHOEMARK Address: Boston Spa
Tel: +44-1937-546596 Fax: +44-1937-54 6586
E-mail 1: (email removed) E-mail 2:

Other Partners

Name of Institution/Organisation Country Role
Deutsche Bibliothek DE P
Bibliothèque Nationale de France FR P
Koninklijke Bibliotheek NL P
Instituto da Biblioteca Nacional e do Livro PT P
Helsingin Yliopiston Kirjasto (National Library of Finland) FI P
National Library of Ireland IRL P
Schweizerische Landesbibliothek CH P

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