LibLime, a company that bases its business on providing services for open source software, has launched a new project called biblios.net. Biblios.net is a new cataloging tool for libraries with access to a large pool of MARC records. The service consists of two components: biblios, a Web-based cataloging interface and biblios.net, the repository of MARC records.
Cataloging with biblios
The biblios cataloging tool consists primarily of a MARC record editor with the ability to create and modify bibliographic records entirely through a Web browser, without the need to download and install client software. The interface aims to make editing records simple. It provides, for example, integrated documentation for each MARC tag. A help panel, which can be easily collapsed out of view for those already proficient, displays the definitions and rules for each field as the cataloger tabs through the record.
The system offers a variety of templates that provide an appropriate starting place when the need arises to create a record from scratch. There are pre-built templates for books, sound recordings, musical scores, computer files, maps, visual materials, continuing resources, and mixed material. Future versions of biblios will include the ability to create custom templates.
The basic features of biblios include the ability to edit bibliographic records in MARC format using an enhanced Web form. One can modify subfield indicators and the contents of any tag as well as add or remove any tag. It includes a tool for editing the control fields.
A cataloging tool like biblios functions primarily to prepare records for inclusion in a library's automation system. Biblios can save MARC records to a file, either individually or in batches, which can then be imported into any ILS. It also has a “send” function that can automatically process the record into a target resource.
This feature makes use of an API which can be used to enable the target to receive records from biblios. Koha, the open source ILS supported by LibLime already includes this capability. Other ILS products with an API could, theoretically, be programmed to accept records from biblios through the simple send command rather than the more manual export and import process.
Biblios is powered by open source software. The software was developed by LibLime programmers, but as with other open source software, it is available for others to download and use.
Efficient cataloging means creating new bibliographic records only when absolutely necessary, as well as making use of existing records whenever possible. Biblios includes the ability to search any Z39.50 target for record candidates. But rather than forcing users to search library-by-library for cataloging records, LibLime has assembled a large database of bibliographic records called biblios.net that can be used with biblios. This database currently includes over 30 million bibliographic records.
Many, if not most, of the records in biblios.net were obtained through the Open Library (http://www.openlibrary.org), a project associated with the Internet Archive http://www.archive.org). Open Library currently hosts about 30 million records which have been donated from a variety of sources, including the Library of Congress. Open Library states that its contributions are in the Public Domain and that the records are essentially factual material not subject to copyright.
LibLime describes biblios.net as free-licensed through the Open Data Commons Public Domain License and describes it as the “world's largest database of free-licensed library records.” The company asserts that this license allows libraries to use these records without restriction and to be able to contribute their own records for others to use.
Biblios.net has been further extended through a recent agreement with Talis to include an additional 5 million records from the Talis Union Catalog, which includes items cataloged by academic libraries in the United Kingdom.
Biblios.net will also be extended as libraries create new records and contribute them back into the system and as other sources of public domain records become available. LibLime offers the core biblios.net service without direct cost to libraries.
The company may offer some premium services in the future that involve fees, but voices commitment to offering the free basic service as seen in the current version of biblios.net. In effect, biblios.net provides a very low cost alternative for copy cataloging to services like OCLC's WorldCat.