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Working with the British Library - the zetoc experience

Ross MacIntyre and Ann Apps

Published in: Brophy, P., Fisher, S., Clarke, Z. (eds): Libraries Without Walls 4 - the delivery of library services to distant users. Facet Publishing, London (2002) 261-272. ISBN 1-85604-436-X

Proceedings of The Fourth Conference Libraries Without Walls 4 (The Delivery of Library Services to Distant Users: Distributed Resources - Distributed Learning), Hotel Delfina, Molyvos, Lesvos, Greece, 14-18 September 2001.

View paper (or in PDF format for printing).

A market research report commissioned by the British Library was used as the basis of a detailed list of requirements for the provision of digital services to the UK Higher and Further Education sector. The services stemming from these requirements centred, in the first instance, on the British Library's Electronic Table of Contents data (ETOC) that lists the titles of nearly 15 million journal articles and conference papers. A key approach to the development of these services will be the conformance to accepted standards and open systems, thus enabling greater potential for interoperability with developments elsewhere. As a first step towards this the British Library contracted Manchester Computing to develop and mount a Z39.50-compliant version of the ETOC database, a service now live entitled 'zetoc'. The service is free to UK institutions supported by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the UK Higher Education Funding Councils. In addition to this operational service, which is based on existing and well-established proprietary database management applications, a separate pilot version is being developed using a subset of the data in XML format which will be conformant with the Dublin Core and exploiting 'Cheshire II' software.

As well as a number of Z39.50 interface developments, a current awareness alerting service based on the ETOC data has been implemented. The ultimate aim is to develop the alerting service to enable it to link seamlessly with document ordering systems and integrate with other current awareness mechanisms. The document ordering interface will present the user with the option to select a source of supply. If the item is contained within an electronic journal to which the user's institution subscribes, the intention is to automatically link the user to the electronically-stored journal. If the item is not held 'locally', the user will be presented with an option to either request the document directly from the British Library or via their local library. This functionality will be achieved via integration with other systems, including 'brokering' services, developed within the UK education community as part of the JISC's accurately named 'Join-Up' programme.

This paper describes the development process, the systems themselves and the support services created to provide academic and research communities with a valuable resource both in terms of discovery/location and content provision. The British Library is working in partnership with Manchester Computing at the University of Manchester, with the Universities of Liverpool and California-Berkeley as associate partners.

9 August 2002

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