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Mechanism of automatic comparison of CD-ROM answers with OPACs


The project aims to develop a toolbox capable of matching the results of searches carried out on various CD-ROMs with the journals holdings of libraries. The feasibility of providing a dynamic link to OPACs for up-to-date status information is also being examined.

Library users searching for journal articles use secondary database sources, mostly now available on CD-ROM; however, to locate the materials in the library holdings the user then has to carry out an additional search for each journal title in the library's OPAC. The ability to perform this second step automatically and from the same user environment as that for the CD-ROM search offers immediate benefits both to libraries and to their users. Some proprietary systems exist but there is no generalised toolbox capable of being used with different OPACs and different CD-ROMs.
Impact and expected results:

The availability of a toolbox which will aggregate data from any database containing journal information with any OPAC means that a single search request will yield identification, location, content and even dynamic status information (transparency allowed between CD-ROM and library catalogue searches).

The MECANO prototype, by demonstrating that such a system is feasible, opens the way for its commercial development and exploitation.


The primary deliverable is the software containing the interface to selected CD-ROMs and different OPACs of the pilot sites.

The software design, specification and technical documentation are restricted classification, but currently publicly available are:

Brochures, factsheets, articles and proceedings;
Feasibility study report;
Design of the Graphical User Interface prototype;
Specification of CD-ROM and OPAC formats;
Configuration of pilot site workstations.

Also in the public domain, to be delivered at or near project end, are:

Evaluation report;
Exploitation plan;
User manuals for each prototype;
Final report.
Technical approach:

The workpackages in MECANO were grouped into two phases:

Phase 1: Preliminary Investigation

Feasibility study;
User requirement analysis;
Project design.

Phase 2: Development

System specification;
Software development;
Pilot Experiments;

More precisely, the project analysed the record formats of both library catalogue data and downloaded data from the CD-ROMs and developed a common shared format, obeying as far as possible standards relevant to bibliographic data. Extraction and conversion tools were developed for the different source files. Matching routines were then developed not only for matching on international standard numbers but also for lexical matching on titles. The development of the user interface and functions were based on a detailed investigation of user needs.

The feasibility of creating a link to volatile status information on specific journal parts was investigated and a test-bed implementation was developed to demonstrate functionality.

Key issues:

The main technical issues for investigation were:

- matching criteria;
- standards for bibliographic data and for holdings;
- interaction with library database files;
- user interface and functionality.


Universiteit van Amsterdam
1012 WP Amsterdam

Participants (4)

Bergen University Library
Haakon Sheteligs Plass 1
5007 Bergen
Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria di Torino
Piazza Carlo Alberta 3
10123 Torino
Konkinklijke Bibliotheek
5 Prins Willem Alexanderhof
2509 LK The Hague
University of Patras Central Library
26500 Patras