The John Rylands University Library of Manchester, UMIST, Loughborough University, the University of Greenwich, Kingston University and the University of Derby are amongst the first libraries to mount their catalogues on the World Wide Web. The new service, which will make it easier for both existing library users and those outside the university to view the OPAC, has been made possible by the new TalisWeb software from BLCMP.
Availability of the catalogue on the World Wide Web allows anyone with an Internet connection and a Web browser to see what is in the library collection, without moving from their desk. Registered borrowers can also place reservations on items, or use other services, such as checking how many items they have on loan and renewing them. Standard graphical interfaces are used which provide clear layouts, are easy to use, and can connect to other Web services offered by the universities.
TalisWeb brings extra benefits within the library. At Manchester the John Rylands University Library intends to exploit the multimedia capabilities of the system. Hot links can be placed against items in the catalogue which take the viewer to a stored image of the item, for example manuscripts, pictures, moving images or other audio/visual items. It is also possible to create links to external resources which are available through the Web. Books in Arabic and other non-roman scripts will have links to images of their title pages, offering access to the original form of the title.
UMIST hopes to develop hot links on their OPAC giving direct access to electronic journals.
TalisWeb was originally created as a joint project between BLCMP and Loughborough University and was piloted at Loughborough and Surrey University last year. The production version, with full Talis OPAC functionality, was released for beta-test in December and is an optional addition to Talis. It is expected that many more of BLCMP's 30 university libraries will install TalisWeb during 1996.
TalisWeb also offers significant benefits to public libraries, even it they are not yet connected to the Web, by providing an easy-to-use graphical interface to OPAC. This gives libraries the ability to configure the screens to their users' requirements, including graphics such as pictures of the library, staff, library maps and symbols to help the users find their way around the catalogue, as well as improving screen layout.