DUBLIN, Ohio, Oct. 14, 1994--End users in six libraries in the Netherlands have begun an evaluation of a Z39.50 interface link to OCLC's FirstSearch service. The Z39.50 interface has been adapted by PICA (Project for Integrated Catalogue Automation), the Dutch Centre for Library Automation, in association with OCLC.
The client software on the central PICA system will function as a gateway for PICA users' central and local systems to the OCLC Z39.50 server. End users will be able to search the FirstSearch databases using the online public access catalog interface they are accustomed to. Library staff will access FirstSearch at their cataloging workstations.
The six libraries participating in the evaluation are the University of Amsterdam; Brabant University, Tilburg; Twente University, Enschede; State University of Groningen; Erasmus University, Rotterdam; and State University Leiden.
"Through Internet, we now offer our users access to the richness of OCLC's FirstSearch service through the same PICA interface as the one used for our own databases; this is what I call real integration," said Look Costers, director of PICA. "Moreover, this forms a breakthrough for the cooperation of U.S. and European library organizations."
"The PICA evaluation will not simply enable the PICA library community to access the rich array of FirstSearch databases online," said David Buckle, managing director, OCLC Europe, "but also demonstrate the value of the seamless connection of the Z39.50-based server with the PICA Z39.50 client, a first for such a connection between the OCLC FirstSearch database host and the user community in Europe."
The FirstSearch service, designed for library patrons, allows users to move easily through the online search process in just a few simple steps, without training or online searching experience. The service now provides 48 databases and a variety of document delivery options.
The nonprofit Dutch Centre for Library Automation, PICA, interconnects nearly 1,000 libraries in the Netherlands and Germany and offers them central, regional and local library network services.
OCLC is a nonprofit computer library service and research organization whose computer network and services link more than 19,000 libraries in 61 countries and territories.