For Immediate Release, June 24, 1995 from Data Research Associates, Inc. (NASDAQ: DRAI)
- DRA Web: A World Wide Web Server for Libraries, plus transparent Web links to the world's most popular index, abstract, full-text and reference databases.
- DRA Find: The industry's first software agent now features Unicode support for multiple (Roman and non-Roman character sets on the same screen; plus a new merging feature to provide the Virtual Union Catalog(tm).
- DRA Kids: Z39.50-compliant and fun for both children and the children's librarian, here's our new juvenile interface.
- Open DRA Net: Now with even more databases, including access to ERIC at no additional charge as part of the library's subscription.
- Free Web, Z39.50 Trials: ALA marks the kick-off of DRA's 60-day free trial access, via the Web or Z39.50, to databases on Open DRA Net.
: Servers are now operational for all three of our major product lines -- DRA "Classic," DRA MultiLIS and DRA Inlex.
Each of the new product and product enhancement announcements we're making at ALA represents a stride forward in technology, but all together, they represent a comprehensive and coherent vision of how libraries can exploit technology, while at the same time providing the easiest path between their users and the information that they seek. DRA now provides all points of access -- Web, GUI, kids' interface, Z39.50, terminal and telnet -- to a vast selection of information resources.
As a result, whatever interface the user chooses, search strategies and data displays will be the same regardless of the resource being searched. As such, DRA is the easiest and fastest way from point A to point B on the worldwide information network.
DRA's new Web server, DRA Web, weaves together an extremely powerful search engine, access to the local catalog as well as commercial information databases, and DRA's active participation in setting standards for a largely uncharted information medium.
The concept of the World Wide Web (W3) involves using a technique called "hypertext" -- the ability to move from one set of information to the next simply by pointing to the desired next step and clicking on your computer's mouse -- to link essentially all the information currently available in the electronically networked universe. Its appeal has been heightened recently because many information resources have incorporated graphics and multimedia in addition to textual resources, allowing Web searches to become more intuitive.
With DRA Web, the library's users can use commonly available graphical Web "browsers", such as Netscape and Mosaic, to search the library catalog, periodical indexes, information and referral files and any other library resources you wish to put at their disposal. What's more, DRA Web allows the library to use hypertext to "link" to text, image, sound and video files either locally or across the Internet -- allowing your user, for example, to jump to a display of a picture located on the Louvre's Web page from an art citation in your local library catalog.
Although DRA Web and the World Wide Web as a whole mark continuing enhancements in libraries' role in the global information infrastructure, DRA President and CEO Mike Mellinger cautions against viewing the Web as anything more than a piece in the overall puzzle for library automation.
"The Web is a tool, and a powerful one, but it must be viewed as simply one of many that will be desirable in the networked information environment," says Mellinger. "It is important for the library community to recognize the inherent limitations currently on the Web, the worst of which is that the user interface is determined by the information provider, not the user or the client. This is a mixed blessing, because it means that, while some very nice interfaces will be developed, there will be no standardization of those interfaces. Some will have brilliant designs, some very primitive. In either case, however, users will lose the transparency that the library community has worked so hard to achieve through use of standards such as Z39.50."
DRA Web is accessible at http://www.dra.com/.
"Agent" software goes out on the Internet and searches many places simultaneously, returning and organizing the results according to the preferences of the user. As such, DRA Find is clearly the world's first library software agent.
Version 1.1, being shown at ALA just prior to its general release, now features true Multilingual Support, owing to its incorporation of the Unicode standards.
By "true multilingual," we mean that DRA Find can provide an English user interface to display Hebrew records, or a French user interface to display Chinese records, or virtually any other combination of languages, regardless of the underlying character set. In addition, multiple character sets -- for example, both English, Hebrew, Russian, German and Anglicized Hebrew with diacritics in the same record (as illustrated by the screen shot accompanying this release) -- can be displayed simultaneously. (This screen shot is from an actual Z39.50 search of the RLG database.)
Also new in this version is The Virtual Union Catalog. DRA Find's unique multiple simultaneous search capability has always included the ability to perform many Z39.50 searches at once. Now, however, you can merge all the results from such a search -- say, for instance, of all the libraries in your region, state or province -- into a single results display, including elimination of duplicates.
A third major enhancement is Image and Full-Text Support. DRA Find is one of the first commercially available products to support the Generic Record Syntax (GRS) features of the Z39.50 protocol, version 3. GRS support eliminates a previous record-size restriction on full-text documents and images retrieved by DRA Find with Z39.50 searches.
DRA Kids is an easy-to-install and easy-to-use Z39.50-compliant interface designed specifically for the needs of young library-goers, requiring only a third-grade reading comprehension level, and a basic point-and-click knowledge of computers.
DRA Kids is specially designed to alleviate problems children might have with other more complicated, user interfaces:
- Does not require the set up or maintenance of a separate database for each workstation.
- Juvenile patrons still have access to the regular library catalog, rather than limited access to a separate, library-maintained database (although access can be limited to specific classifications like "Juvenile."
- A consistent look throughout the product helps eliminate possible confusion. At the same time, screens can be customized to meet the library's individual needs.
- Type It -- Users who know specifically what sort of information they seek can simply type in a search, and then click on the corresponding icon - author, title, subject or words.
- Find It -- The second type of search is the A-Z Index. This search presents an alphabetical array of icons from which the child can choose. Each letter is represented by a corresponding picture, from Apple to Zebra. After selecting a letter/icon, the user is presented with a list of appropriate topics from which to choose.
- Choose It -- A third choice is the Look Index, which presents the user with a predetermined list of interesting topics such as "the rain forest," or "stories." From there, the child goes to a more detailed list of topics corresponding to the chosen topic of interest. The topics and icons are easy to change and customize, so that your library can present topics of interest to your specific users.
More and more libraries (at last count, some 160) are freeing themselves from the Tower of Babel of multiple user interfaces using Open DRA Net, DRA's pioneering electronic network dedicated to libraries.
DRA announces the addition of Reed Reference Publishing's popular Books In Print database to Open DRA Net, as well as new health-related databases from Information Access Company.
And supplementing access to the Library of Congress bibliographic and authority databases, access to ERIC databases is also now included as part of an Open DRA Net subscription.
Free Web, Z39.50 Trials
Many of the databases on Open DRA Net are available for 60-day free trial access via the World Wide Web or Z39.50. Participating providers and databases include Cambridge Scientific, EBSCO, ERIC, Information Access Company, the Library of Congress, Reed Reference and UMI. Sign up forms are available on the Web at http://www.dra.com or by sending e-mail to Sales@dra.com.
DRA announces the availability of Z39.50 server products for all three of our major product offerings - DRA "Classic," DRA Inlex and DRA MultiLIS. Thus all of our customers can now offer their collections to other libraries' users, and to access other libraries' collections with a consistent interface across them all. In addition, all three systems can now offer DRA Find and DRA Kids as options for distributed-processing client/server systems.
With more than two dozen DRA Classic systems now using Z39.50 in general production, DRA believes that we have more active Z39.50 servers than any other vendor.