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Content archived on 2024-05-07

Large Scale Demonstrators for Global, Open Distributed Library Services

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Single point access to libraries around the world

An innovative tool is now available, enabling both librarians and end-users to access resources in libraries scattered around the world, through a single contact point. Services offered include inter-library loans, multimedia document delivery, as well as collaborative cataloguing and record supply.

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Accessing the resources of libraries scattered around the world, has long been a tedious task for librarians as well as end users. This task would be greatly facilitated if subject specific catalogues existed, unifying resources available in libraries across the world. Such catalogues have been developed for Technical and Environmental subjects, containing resources available on a Pan-European level. These catalogues provide access to a great number of libraries, through a single contact point, using the Virtual Document eXchange (VDX) software tool. This tool can handle inter-library loans (ILL) on both local and national/regional scale, implementing the ISO ILL protocol. It can also manage document delivery in all forms (physical, electronic and ‘scan on demand'), and act as a large-scale Document Supply Centre. All services are integrated to the transparent, very large scale, multi-database search and retrieve process. On a different level, simultaneously accessing multiple physical databases - usually differing in terms of access methods, record syntax, even the language used – has been made possible by WebView. This is a WWW gateway environment, based on the Z39.50 profile for multilingual thesaurus. Furthermore, the Open Distributed Processing (ODP) architecture, employed, has potentially unlimited scalability. The project provided a virtual union catalogue for libraries, along with the tools necessary to exploit the potential of such a catalogue, both by the librarian and the end-user. The multiplicity and heterogeneity of the library systems, that needed to be accessed, made the implementation of open emergent standards imperative. As a result, the outcome of the project, particularly VDX, is at the leading edge world wide, in providing resource sharing solutions

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