June 21, 2005 - Austin, Texas -- The Library of Texas (LoT), an innovative federated searching service and Web portal created jointly by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and Index Data, a company specializing in networked information retrieval services for libraries, is saving time and money for libraries and library users across Texas. New collaborative efforts with Houston Public Library and the El Paso Area Library Consortium are demonstrating new uses and new benefits for this program in its second year of operation.
Authenticated patrons of Texas public and academic libraries can search groups of library collections and commercial databases from a single, easy-to-use Web site at www.LibraryofTexas.org. Through this federated searching approach, people can use a single search to find reliable information from diverse information resources to use in making their important business, medical, consumer, and other decisions. Some Texas libraries are now expanding the program in creative ways:
The Houston Public Library is one of the largest library systems in the country. They had been paying up to $60,000/year for a proprietary and patented service that provided federated searching across multiple commercial databases. With the end of some grant funding and the perennial tightening of library budgets, the library needed to find a less costly solution that still met all their requirements. Because Index Data had built the Library of Texas using open standards and had delivered the software to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under an Open Source software license, the Commission was able to configure the LoT service for use by the Houston Public Library at no cost to the library.
Judith Hiott, Assistant Coordinator in the Office of Materials Selection at Houston Public Library, explained that "while cost was the primary motivation for our change to Library of Texas, we also wanted to advocate for standards and support our State Library. LoT is completely standards based in its approach to federated searching and that was an important factor in our decision."
In the near future Houston Public and other Texas libraries will be able to add their local database subscriptions to the set of state-wide subscriptions available through the Library of Texas, significantly expanding its value to the large public and academic libraries that subscribe to many additional databases.
The El Paso Area Library Consortium includes a major university, a community college, a large public library, a small public library and three independent school districts. These libraries had looked for a way to load their collection databases into a single "union catalog" to make it easier for library users to discover all of the information resources of the community. Unfortunately the cost of building and maintaining such a union catalog was prohibitive. Once again, the Library of Texas project was able to provide a comparable service at no charge. Using the existing LoT software and the ANSI/NISO Z39.50 standard, the State Library was able to provide a Web-based virtual union catalog encompassing most of these library collections immediately. The smaller remaining collections will be added as soon as their local library automation systems implement a Z39.50 server.
You can use the Library of Texas site at LibraryofTexas.org or read more about the project at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission site at www.tsl.state.tx.us. For more information about Keystone, the underlying software, visit the developer's site at www.indexdata.com.