This paper has been prepared for the workshop: Z39.50 Information retrieval in an open network environment at the IFLA conference in Copenhagen 1997.
The paper gives a short introduction the work programme of the Libraries Programme and the relation to the implementation of Z39.50. The most relevant implementation project are mentioned and the input to the standardisation activities are also referred.
The main activity of the libraries programme is to support project developing and implementing systems for libraries and/or library users, but the support for project co-ordination (called concertation) and the support of the so called accompanying measures, addressing generic problems and issues (i.e. copyright and standards), is another important part of the programme.
The support for the projects is up to 50% of the total project budget, and a number of common criteria apply for all the projects - like the requirement for participation from different European countries and the requirement for an active involvement of libraries in all the projects.
All the projects are selected as a result of an independent evaluation of the project proposals received in response to the calls from the programme. Five calls have been published under FP3 and FP4 and more that 50 projects have been launched so far. Another batch of around 20 projects and accompanying measures have been selected for funding as a result of the call published by the end of 1996. These projects and actions will be launched in the second half of 1997. The normal project duration is around two years but a few of the projects have a duration of up to 36 months. Many of the project launched under FP3 are still on-going but the majority of these projects will finish this year.
The majority of the projects addresses topics and issues described in the workprogramme. The topics and issues are organised according to “Themes” (FP3) or “Call Topics” (FP4) and the Themes and Call Topics are, again, organised according to action lines. The interconnection of different library systems and the use of network facilities was a key issue from the start, and action line II (FP3) and action line B (FP4) are dedicated to issues related to the implementation of network facilities for international library co-operation. Around 50% of the budget available for projects were initially allocated to these action lines (FP3 had three other action lines, and FP4 had two other action lines).
The two first calls, CfP’91 and CfP’92, resulted in two theme 9 projects: SOCKER: SR Origin Communication Kernel (CfP’91) and EUROPAGATE European SR - Z39.50 Gateway (CfP’92). Theme 9 was reformulated for the third call: SR target development and their interconnection (now called Theme 9bis) in order to focus the projects on developments of systems for the target (server) side. Three projects were accepted from the third call: SR Target: SR Target development as a Paragon for Catalogue systems and ARCA: Access to remote catalogues by implementing SR Target functions and finally ONE: OPAC network in Europe.
Three projects addressing CT4 was accepted from the first FP4 call: ELISE II: Electronic Library Image Service for Europe phase II, UNIVERSE: Large Scale Demonstrators for Global, Open Distributed Library Services and CASA: Cooperative Archive of Serials and Articles.
The early projects from FP3 have Z39.50/SR implementation as the main theme, while the later projects from FP3 and the projects from FP4 typically have implementation of Z39.50 as one of more themes. Many of the projects, addressing problems and issues in the other action lines, do also implement Z39.50. Z39.50 is, in most of these projects, implemented by using existing Z39.50 software. The table (hereunder) gives an overview of the projects implementing/using Z39.50.
Projects implementing/using Z39.50:
|Acronym||Objectives||Use of Z39.50|
|SOCKER||Z39.50 kernel software + integration||Z39.50 V3 client software|
|EUROPA-GATE||Z39.50/SR gateway between OSI and TCP/IP networks||WWW and e-mail to Z39.50 gateway|
|SR TARGET||Generic tool-kit, for Z39.50 server functionality||Z39.50 server tool-kit, WWW to Z39.50 gateway|
|ARCA||Z39.50 client + Z39.50 server tool kit + integration||Z39.50 client, Z39.50 server tool kit|
|ONE||European Z39.50 network||Z39.50 tool kit|
|ELISE-II||Image retrieval service||Image catalogue searching via Z39.50|
|UNIVERSE||Library services around logical union catalogue||Z39.50 for parallel catalogue searching|
|CASA||Network of databases for serials||Z39.50 for catalogue searching|
|CaseLibrary||User interface tools||Z39.50 client|
|DALI||Multimedia document retrieval||Z39.50 for catalogue searching|
|VAN EYCK||Storing and retrieval of photographic images||Z39.50 for image catalogue searching|
|OLUIT||Object Oriented user interface tool||Z39.50 client|
|EURILIA||Access to aerospace collections||Integrated Z39.50 client/catalogue searching|
This project will establish an open service infrastructure for searching library catalogues in Europe which can be extended to include resources worldwide through the Internet, and can be further expanded to allow ordering of publications found through searching.
The project will define the functional requirements for a OPAC network in a European context and a protocol (Z39.50) profiles for the participation institutions. The technical interoperability between the participating systems will be tested and a trial service for both librarians and end users will be established. A set of software tools, intended to be portable to a wide range of system platforms, have been developed. These tools will provide additional functions such as conversion between different formats for bibliographic records and character set conversions and will be integrated in some of the participating systems.
The project will also develop and install a Neutral Entry Point which can be used to access the network from “outside” the participating institutions.
The project will also investigate and define the requirements for international services and the need for legal and financial arrangements between service providers.
An American standard with the same purpose: Z39.50 was approved (as an American standard) in 1992. These two standards were, on paper, not that different, but Z39.50 implementations used the Internet (TCP/IP) as the transport network while the early SR implementations used ISO networks.
As a result of the emerging success of the Internet and the lack of ISO network implementations, the Internet soon became the preferred network, also for SR implementations. The further development and maintenance of these two protocols were continued in parallel, but it was decided, after the new version of Z39.50 had been approved (as an ANSI standard) in 1995, also to forward this version to ISO as the new version of the SR protocol. This version has now been approved as the new SR standard, so north American and European implementors are now using the same protocol in the same network environment. The ZIG group (the Z39.50 implementors group) who discuss and maintain the Z39.50 protocol are still very active and many European projects and implementors participate and contribute to the work in this group.
EFILA (The European Forum for Implementors of Library Automation) was created in 1995. This group is a “spin-off” from the EG-LIB group, but the form is more informal and the focus is on sharing implementation experience. This group liaise with the ZIG group, and offer to host ZIG meetings in Europe.
The challenge will now be to use this software (and the protocol) to establish real international library services for the users of the libraries. The ONE project will test the technical interoperability of a number of important European catalogues, but the “administrative” requirements for the establishment of a permanent service will also established as a part of this project.