Copyright (c) 1997 Information Today
|Summary||Breeding provides an overview of the new products and trends in library technology that he observed at the National Online Meeting (NOM) in New York City May 14-16, 1996 and the Integrated Online Library Systems conference within the NOM.|
Even though I have been attending library conferences for a number of years, I had not previously attended the National Online Meeting and Integrated Online Library Systems conference hosted and organized by Information Today, Inc. As a first-time attendee of this conference, I was very much interested to learn what types of library technology would be available. The organizers of the conference offer two days of programming on integrated online library systems and dedicate a portion of the exhibit hall to vendors of these products.
This article describes some of the products that caught my attention and some of the trends I observed at the National Online Meeting in New York, NY (May 14-16, 1996). My interests focus more on the library automation software, CD-ROM network, and Internet-related services. A large number of the exhibits deal with specialized databases and online services, which are not covered in this article. Space does not permit a comprehensive reporting of all the technology-related products exhibited, so my apologies to any vendors or products omitted.
A number of vendors of library automation systems were present at the conference. Rather than the flashy island-style exhibit areas that the major ILS vendors generally bring to major conferences, most exhibited here with modest single-booth displays. The major vendors demonstrated a subset of their product line. The level of representation from the companies tended to be in the form of regional sales staff rather than high-level executives. One of the greatest benefits that I get from most library technology conferences is the opportunity to speak with the executives of the various library automation companies. They speak with authority concerning the future directions of their company and have a broad perspective on the trends of the industry. While the IOLS exhibits at National Online were not as flashy as those of ALA, for example, they do present a lot of valuable information for those considering the alternatives available.
Ameritech Library Services, currently stands as the largest vendor of large-scale library automation software. Accordingly, this company had the largest booth in the IOLS section. Ameritech's product line, by virtue of its various acquisitions, is extensive. With the combined assets of what were two major companies, Dynix and NOTIS, Ameritech has products that appeal to all types of libraries. Their product line now includes:
Ameritech demonstrated a number of their products at their booth, and had literature available for the others. No new products or services or new business relationships were announced.
689 Discovery Drive
Huntsville, AL 35806
(205) 922-9818 (fax)
SIRSI had a very modest presence at the conference, contrary to their very significant growth in the library automation market. They brought only a small booth to this conference, sporting only a single computer. SIRSI staff demonstrated the Unicorn library automation system with its Windows-based graphical user interface.
SIRSI has recently developed two products that enhance the connectivity options of the Unicorn library automaton system. Literature was available on SmartPORT, a product that transfers bibliographic records from other sources into Unicorn using the Z39.50 protocol. While Z39.50 finds many implementations in online catalogs, SmartPORT is one of the few products that taps this protocol for the cataloging process.
SIRSI demonstrated their WebCat product. This software allows a library to make its online catalog available on the Web so that users can access it with a standard Web browser. WebCat offers all the search and display features that are available through the proprietary graphical user interface of the Unicorn system.
5838 Edison Place
Carlsbad, CA 92008-6596
(619) 431-8448 (fax)
Data Trek produces integrated library systems for school, corporate, and special libraries. Its product lines of library automation systems include School Series, Manager Series, and Professional Series.
DataTrek previewed its Windows-based Graphical Library Automation System (GLAS), scheduled for release this summer. DataTrek's first Windows product was the GoPAC, a graphical online catalog originally associated with its Professional Series software, which now operates with all its products. GoPAC includes the ability to incorporate images as part of the library's online catalog. Another product that Data Trek demonstrated at National Online was NetPAC, its Windows-based Z39.50 client. NetPAC allows one to search Z39.50-compliant databases using an interface similar to GoPAC.
WorldPAC is Data Trek's plan for a product to allows a library to make its online catalog available on the Web. This product, still in development, will allow a database of MARC records to be searched by a Web browser.
Data Trek recently merged with IME, a company which had developed and marketed The Information Navigator integrated library system. IME marketed this product in Europe under the name TINLIB. Prior to the merger, IME had announced its next generation of library software called the Q-Series. Data Trek, and now IME, are part of Dawson Holdings PLC.
IME was noticeably absent from National Online. Some literature was available at the Data Trek booth on Q-Series, but no IME products were available for demonstration.
457 East South Street
Caledonia, MN 55921
(507) 724-5411 (fax)
Winnebago has long been a leading creator of software for school libraries--second only to Follett Software company. Winnebago's traditional product has been its PC and Macintosh-based CIRC/CAT integrated library system, which was promoted at this conference. Though not yet ready to demonstrate, Winnebago has announced its next generation of software for school libraries that it calls Spectrum. This will be a client/server system using TCP/IP network protocols. Details on the specific features of Spectrum will be forthcoming.
1800 Kraft Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24040
VTLS came to National Online demonstrating its latest integrated library system, called VIRTUA. The traditional library automation software from VTLS was originally written for Hewlett-Packard minicomputers and has evolved toward a client-server design. VIRTUA is a new product created by VTLS, built on a modern set of design principles. The system follows a client/server architecture and incorporates a object-oriented internal design. VTLS emphasizes the concept that VIRTUA uses stateless servers. No continuous connection is maintained between the clients and the server during a search session. While the stateless nature of many Web-based search tools is often criticized, VTLS touts a stateless server as an asset. This system uses the Unicode character set standard as the basis for supporting a wide range of languages. VTLS also describes VIRTUA as being designed for ATM networking. ATM promises to offer faster performance on a network that other network protocols.
P.O. Box 2348
Boca Raton, FL 33427-2348
(407) 994-4704 (fax)
SIRS, Inc. was present at the conference showing both its integrated library system and its database products. The mainstay of SIRS business is its database products. The company also offers CD-ROM networks hardware and software for distributing these databases in a library, and the Mandarin Library Automation System. The database products distributed by SIRS include: the SIRS Researcher (a full-text database covering global affairs, social issues, and science), the SIRS Government Reporter (information from and about the US Federal Government), the SIRS Renaissance (an arts and humanities database set), and the SIRS Discoverer (a full-text reference tool).
SIRS, like other information producers, continues to expand the methods of delivering their products. For some time SIRS has been promoting CD-ROM networking products so that a library can make the databases available to many computers within a library. Through the Mandarin integrated library system, the library can offer SIRS databases through its OPAC in addition to its own online catalog. SIRS has recently made its databases available on the Internet through a Web interface.
SIRS recently acquired an integrated library system called Mandarin from Melchior Management Systems, geared toward school and academic libraries. SIRS also distributes the MITINET/marc utility for editing, importing and exporting MARC records. SIRS includes this utility when a library purchases Mandarin.
Other IOLS vendors exhibiting at the conference were Data Research Associates, Follett Software Company, GEAC Computers Inc., International Library Systems. Each of these showed the current versions of their products, but did not announce new products or enhancements. A number of IOLS vendors chose not to exhibit, including Endeavor Information Company, Best Seller, CARL Corporation, McGraw-Hill School Systems, Nichols Advanced Technologies, Gaylord Information Systems, Innovative Interfaces, Inc., and AutoGraphics.
One of the dominant trends among the vendors exhibiting at this conference was toward Web-based systems. Vendors in the business of providing information, seem to all agree that the Internet serves as the ideal delivery vehicle, and that the Web is the preferred interface. A number of vendors have been producing database products for a number of years that are based on proprietary search clients, tailored to the requirements of their particular database technology and user requirements. One of the major trends in the industry involves the access of proprietary information through Internet-style technologies. An increasing number of organizations are re-working their internal networks and information systems to follow the development of the Internet. In most cases, this involves creating a Web interface for existing database servers and other information services. The term Intranet has become the popular term for describing this Internet-style internal networks.
A number of vendors have recently developed tools that allow their products to be access through a Web browser. This includes library automation systems, database servers, bibliographic utilities, and others.
Both product developers and users benefit from this migration to Web interfaces. One of the problems for the developer involves making their product available to lots of different types of computer users--Windows, Macintosh, Unix, and others. Since Web browsers are available for any imaginable computer type and operating system, access options abound once the system has been re-engineered to integrate with Web services. Users benefit from the availability of a forms-driven graphical user interface that is often easier to use than the original proprietary interface.
333 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10001
(212) 563-3784 (fax)
Ovid Technologies offers information servers for biomedical and other academic disciplines. Originally Ovid specialized in biomedical databases such as MEDLINE, but has expanded their offerings to general academic titles as well. Ovid's products have been evolving from proprietary NetWare-based databases to ones that follow a more open systems architecture, incorporating the use of Z39.50. Ovid's products include a Windows-based interface for search and retrieval with many advanced search features. Just recently, Ovid Technologies developed a Web-based interface to their information servers, which they demonstrated at the National Online Meeting.
222 Third Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
(617) 621-0307 (fax)
Dataware Technologies provides the search software used for a large number of CD-ROM-based products. Dataware titles are popular in libraries. Many of the products that we use on our CD-ROM network at Vanderbilt rely on the Dataware search software. Dataware's newest software, allows information producers the ability to distribute their software via the Internet, on CD-ROM, or through a hybrid approach. At their booth, the Dataware staff demonstrated their newest software that uses a Web browser, such as Netscape, as the tool for accessing the data.
Dataware's traditional product includes tools for storing and indexing text data and provides a search engine for search and retrieval. The NetAnswer information server allows database producers to deliver their product through the Internet. It builds upon the traditional architecture, adding programs that translate the information to and from the HTTP protocol used on the Web. The NetAnswer server dynamically incorporates the HTML codes with the data elements for presentation through a Web browser. Dataware staff indicated that they anticipate many, if not most, of the information producers that use their software will eventually migrate away from using CD-ROM for distributing their product to a more direct Internet Web-based approach. The NetAnswer product provides the means for making this transition for databases created for other Dataware products.
5080 Tuttle Crossing Boulevard
Dublin, OH 43016-3569
(614) 761-7290 (fax)
Information Dimensions, Inc., now a subsidiary of OCLC, demonstrated their TECHLIBplus and their BASISplus WEBserver. Both of these products are built upon the BASISplus search engine, the primary technology of Information Dimensions.
TECHLIBplus is an integrated library system designed for corporate libraries. The system includes an online catalog, catalog maintenance, circulation, MARC management, serials, and acquisitions. The Windows-based OPAC provides a graphical user interface and relies on the BASISplus search engine. The system uses Z39.50 to allow the retrieval of information from other databases.
IDI has also created one of the genre of products that allows proprietary databases to be accessed through a Web interface. The BASIS WEBserver provides electronic publishing of an organizations documents through the Web. It allows documents of many types to be published on the Web without manual conversion to HTML format. The product includes powerful search and retrieval capabilities. The BASIS WEBserver includes the BASISplus document management system.
The FirstSearch reference service from OCLC offers access to a wide range of full-text, citation, and reference databases. The original method of access to FirstSearch involved a text-base character interface. In recent years and months, OCLC has expanded the access option to allow users to search FirstSearch databases through their online catalog interfaces using the Z39.50 protocol, or through the Web. OCLC offers a set of CGI applications that allows a library to incorporate access to FirstSearch on their Web server. Libraries may use this software without cost.
OCLC also demonstrated their SiteSearch suite of applications. Through SiteSearch, a library can create a unified Web-based interface to their online catalog, other locally-created databases, or to Z39.60-compatible systems on the Internet. SiteSearch includes a search engine (called Newton) a Z59.50 interface, and WebZ (a Z39.50 to HTTP gateway). SiteSearch is designed to manage full-text and image databases as well as bibliographic records. SiteSearch software was used to create the Galaleo project, a cooperative information system for the State of Georgia.
Another product that reflects OCLC's orientation toward the Internet is their new database product called NetFirst. This database consists of cataloging records for a large number of significant Web sites and other Internet resources. Each of the sites in NetFirst are fully cataloged and assigned Library of Congress subject headings.
100 River Ridge Drive< br />
Norwood, MA 02062-5043
SilverPlatter Information, a leading supplier of database and information products to libraries, also demonstrated a product that provides a Web interface. For the last three years, SilverPlatter has been promoting its ERL server technology that provides a client/server architecture for its database products. ERL offers an organization many more options for making its CD-ROM databases available than the traditional CD-ROM network approach. All of SilverPlatter's search clients, the DOS-based SPIRS, WinSPIRS, and MacSPIRS can all access data on an ERL server using a protocol called DXP. SilverPlatter has recently created an Z39.50 interface for the ERL server which allows most online catalog systems to access SilverPlatter databases through their native interface. SilverPlatter's most recent add-on to ERL, and shown at National Online, is called WebSPIRS. This is software that runs on the ERL server that allows Web clients to access the SilverPlatter databases. Like many of the other systems described in this article, it allows an organization do dispense with the proprietary search software and use a Web browser as the interface for searching a database. As is sometimes the case, the proprietary search software offers some features that are not yet present through the Web interface. SilverPlatter indicates that future versions of WebSPIRS will incorporate all the features of WinSPIRS.
11835 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 477-1078 (fax)
Cuadra's primary product is its STAR, a powerful text management system. This product, widely used in corporate and special libraries, is a multi-user database systems with flexible indexing and data retrieval features. At this conference Cuadra demonstrated their STAR/Web product. This software allows an organization to access data managed in STAR databases through a Web interface. STAR/Web provides stateful search sessions and supports different levels of access control. STAR/Web is an optional enhancement to the STAR product. Cuadra incorporates several features which make it easier to create a Web interface to a STAR database. The WEBDESIGN database includes records that can be edited to define how records will appear as Web pages. The WEBSERVER database records control search specifications such as operators and indexed fields. To use STAR/Web, the organization needs to have Cuadra STAR Version 3.4 or later and a Web server that supports HTML 3.0.
800 West Cummings Park
Woburn, MA 01801
(617) 938-6393 (fax)
Inmagic has long been a popular product in corporate and special libraries for managing text and documents. DB/Textworks, Inmagic's current database product, offers power search and retrieval features and a graphical user interface. Inmagic has developed a product that allows users to access information stored in a DB/Textworks database from a Web browser. This product includes a CGI application that provides an interface between an organization's Web server and its DB/Text server. The DB/Text WebServer runs under Windows NT. DB/Textworks runs on either Windows NT or Novell NetWare. DB/Text WebServer provides read-only access to the information. Data must be created and updated through the DB/TextWorks Data Management LAN client.
A Bell & Howell Company
300 North Zeeb Road
P.O. Box 1346
Ann Arbor, MI 48016-1346
(800) 864-0019 (fax)
UMI, a major producer of information products, has developed new methods of access to its services. UMI databases have long been available on CD-ROM. A number of full-text databases are available, including images of the scanned articles. UMI's PowerPages product includes a jukebox, a print server, and access software for searching, displaying, and printing articles from the database. These traditional methods of delivery requires the library to make significant investment in computer hardware and consumes time for support and maintenance. UMI has recently begun to offer a new access method, called ProQuest Direct, where the library access any of the databases through the Internet. The library does not have to maintain its own equipment, but access information mounted on UMI's servers. The Proquest Direct service currently uses a Windows-based client that operates with any Winsock-compatible TCP/IP network software. This client provides a user-friendly graphical user interface where users can perform searches, review results, and purchase documents. UMI has announced that the ProQuest Direct service will soon be available through the Web, eliminating the requirement for the proprietary search client.
P.O. Box 4250
Ann Arbor, MI 48106
6695 Millcreek Drive
Mississuaga, Ontario, Canada
Professional Bibliographic Software specializes in tools to assist researchers in managing bibliographic references. ProCite for Windows, is the latest rendition of a database management system for bibliographic citations. One can use a Windows-based interface for entering citations, or citations can be imported into the database through the optional Biblio-Link II utility. The product allows one to amass a database of references that can be used to automate the creation of bibliographies and reference notes for research papers and projects. From this database, the researcher can extract the relevant citations for any given project.
PBS has recently released a product called the Internet Enabler allows one to obtain records for a ProCite database from libraries around the world. Internet Enabler consists a utility called BookWhere? Pro and NetCite. BookWare? Pro is a Windows-based Z39.50 client from SeaChange Corporation that can be used to search any Z39.50-compatible database on the Internet. The MARC records retrieved through BookWhere?Pro can then be converted and incorporated into a ProCite database.
ProCite Internet Enabler also includes the NetCite utility, which allows one to catalog and index Internet resources in a ProCite database. It automatically captures the URL and title of a Web site and adds it to a ProCite record.
Another genre of products that were heavily represented at National Online were from vendors that specialize in providing news and current events information services. A number of these vendors have offered services for quite some time that offer an organization a stream of news information, selected according to the organizations specific interests. These services have taken various forms--some involve locally maintained information servers and others have operated over the Internet, but with proprietary software. The theme that prevailed at this conference, was that the news service providers are interested in offering their services through the Internet, using a Web interface.
1550 Plymouth Street
Mountain View, CA 94043
(415) 960-7698 (fax)
One interesting new product shown at the conference was the Topic Agent Server. from Verity, Inc. This software uses the concept of an agent. An agent is software programmed to search a variety of information sources, taking into consideration the specific research needs, interests, and preferences of each searcher. The agent periodically scans for results and delivers appropriate information based on each search profile. The agents continuously monitor dynamic information sources so that relevant information is relayed to the people that need it as soon as it is available. In most cases the Agent delivers information through electronic mail, but Lotus Notes and other systems can also be used. The company also offers the topicNEWSCAST program for Microsoft Exchange, that allows real-time news information to be delivered to selected recipients.
First!Intranet is an interactive service designed to provide news information through a company's Web server. Many organizations depend on up-to-date information and news on specific specialized topics. The First!Intranet provides a daily feed of selected news items. This service relies on “interest profiles” to select articles of interest from a large database of news articles. Relevant articles are captured and presented on the local Web server. This service makes use of the Verity Topic search engine.
Individual offers another service called NewsPage. This service provides filtered news information to individual Web users. To begin receiving news items, you visit the NewsPage Web server at http://www.newspage.com and select topics of interest. You will then begin receiving news briefs on the selected topics each morning. While the brief news items are available for free, you pay a fee for the full text of the articles.
18 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
(212) 685-4401 (fax)
CompassWare offers a set of news management products. Its Intelligent News Filter provides relevant news information to its users, based on pre-established interest profiles. This product delivers its information through a proprietary Windows-based graphical client. The company also offers IntraNews, which delivers news information to a company's internal Web server, allowing individual users with the company's network to access their personal news selection through a standard Web browser.
108 East 31st Street
New York, NY 10016
(212) 889-5281 (fax)
News Alert offers another real-time news filtering and delivery service. This product uses personalized search profiles to provide individuals or company's relevant news information extracted from a number of sources and news feeds. The service also includes real-time alerts to notify you about the availability of relevant news items. The company's original product uses a client/server database system, where both the client and the server are maintained locally. The database is maintained through news feeds into the local database server. News information on the server is accessed through proprietary clients.
News Alert for the Internet, is a service that allows one to obtain personalized news information with only a Web browser and a connection to the Internet. Each subscriber maintains a personalized search profile and accesses information from the News Alert server on the Internet rather than from a locally-maintained server. At the National Online conference, the company offered free thirty-day trial subscriptions to the service.
Still following the theme of Internet and Web-based information services, a number of companies were present in the exhibit hall that offered various type of information services through the Internet using a Web interface. The vendors listed here are but a sampling of the vendors in this category. The types of information, as well as the payment strategies cover a wide range.
IBM Corporation demonstrated an interesting product in this category. They have created an Internet-based document delivery system they call Cryptolope. This system provides a free index for searching for information from a variety of information sources, including various indexes the Web. In addition to searching the information that is freely available on the Web, the system also searches a commercial database of documents. These documents are held in encrypted digital envelopes that cannot be opened until payment is secured from the reader. A special helper application must be loaded into your Web browser to unlock the Cryptolope documents. This utility secures payment before the document can be viewed.
IBM also offered a free piece of software called the IBM infoMarket NewsTicker. This application presents a banner of news headlines interactively fed from a server on the Internet. The NewsTicker software requires Winsock-compatible TCP/IP software and an active connection to the Internet.
Electric Library is a new service offered by Infonautics Corporation designed to provide reference information to home computers. The information sources provide full-text articles, photographs, and maps. This service offers encyclopedias, almanacs, and other basic reference sources, general-interest magazines, and news sources for a flat fee of $9.95 per month. The service is available to subscribers on the Internet through a standard Web browser.
Another type of technology that I follow involves CD-ROM networking. Since libraries subscribe to so many products delivered on CD-ROM, we tend to be large implementors of CD-ROM networks. A large number of the information products shown in the exhibit hall are delivered on CD-ROM. The major CD-ROM networking vendors present were Logicraft Information Systems and Ornetix Network Products. Absent were other major vendors such as Meridian Data, Inc., Microtest Corporation, and Micro Design International, and Stac Electronics.
1885 Lundy Avenue
San Jose, CA 95131
(408) 383-7060 (fax)
One of the vendors demonstrating CD-ROM networking products was Ornetix Network Products. Ornetix specializes in network products for Novell NetWare networks. Ornetix's CD-Vision product works with an existing Novell network to allow computers on the network to offer shared CD-ROM drives without increasing the load on the existing NetWare server. Many organizations rely on Novell NetWare networks for their file and print services. Adding a large number of CD-ROMs to an existing NetWare server can often place more of a load on the server than it was designed to handle. Organizations can use Ornetix CD-Vision to attach the CD-ROMs to another station the network, which then appears another NetWare server. This product then saves the company the expense and effort involved in setting up another NetWare server.
22 Cotton Road
Nashua, NH 03063
Logicraft demonstrated a number of their CD-ROM network products and shared a booth with NSM, a manufacturer of CD-ROM jukeboxes. Logicraft sells and supports NSM jukeboxes as part of their product line. Logicraft's primary product is LanCD, a CD-ROM networking product. Some of the special features of LanCD include the ability to support multiple network protocols on the server simultaneously, the ability to cache CD-ROM images to a magnetic drive through their FastCD utility, and the ability to incorporate a jukebox with a CD-ROM server through their Jukebox Manager software. Logicraft also offers a Windows NT-based CD-ROM networking product called CD-Executive.
To supplement these larger-scale CD-ROM networking products, Logicraft has recently developed the FastCD Personal Edition. This utility allows you to upload a CD-ROM disc to the hard disk of your PC to yield faster performance, and to allow you to run the application without having to have the CD-ROM disc in a CD-ROM drive. This is especially convenient for users of laptop computers that may not want to keep the CD-ROM drive attached all the time. FastCD Personal Edition is available only for Windows95 and Windows NT. At National Online, Logicraft distributed free copies of LanCD Personal Edition. The software will operate for only 90 days, after which it must be purchased.
The library technology available in the exhibit hall of the National Online Meeting & IOLS ‘96 conference reflected well the major trend that dominates the industry. Libraries and other information providers are following an undeniable pattern toward using the Internet and internal Web servers as the preferred method for providing information to their users and consumers. Although the Web has its flaws, and may reach saturation, the technology lends itself to a wide range of applications and enjoys extremely broad acceptance by users.
For a long time libraries have sought after simpler ways to provide access to diverse sources of information. At one time, we viewed the Z39.50 protocol as the panacea that would give us access to all types of information through a single interface. Now, it seems, that the Web has weaved its way into the library world in such a way that it might be this universal interface.
In my experience, I have never before seen so many vendors converge on a single technology. Practically all the vendors of integrated library systems now offer some type of Web interface where none of them did a year ago. It took a period of about five years for this level of momentum and support to build for incorporating Z39.50 into integrated library systems.
Marshall Breeding is an analyst for the Jean & Alexander Heard Library at Vanderbilt University. He is Editor-in-Chief of Library Software Review and has edited or authored several books on library technology and Internet-related topics. He can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com. Visit his hope page on the Web at http://www.library.vanderbilt.edu/networks/breeding/home.html.
|Type of Material:||Article|
Computers in libraries|
|Volume 16 Number 7|
Library automation -- product reviews|
|Last Update:||2012-12-29 14:06:47|
|Date Created:||0000-00-00 00:00:00|