Researchers, students and staff of the French universities are finally able to use one single system to search for all literature that is available in over 100 libraries. The access to the catalogue was opened in April 2000 and, after a preparation period of almost four years and some 14 months of deployment, the "Système universitaire de documentation" (Sudoc) was officially completed on May 7, 2002. The system is implemented by the "Agence bibliographique de l'enseignement supérieur" (ABES) in Montpellier, together with OCLC PICA.
In the past, French researchers had to find their literature in a number of different resources. In the new system, libraries share their cataloguing efforts in a full Unimarc compliant OCLC PICA Central Library System (CBS). About 2000 Intelligent Bibliographic Workstations (WinIBW) were implemented over the past year and training was provided to more than 1000 library professionals to become acquainted with the new method of cataloguing and ILL.
Library visitors as well as home-users can search the new catalogue via the Internet. The system is also made available through the 'Catalogue collectif de France' (CCFr) based on the Z39.50 protocol.
The Sudoc currently consists of 4.4 million titles of monographs, dissertations, periodicals and other kinds of documents, including their 12.7 million locations.
"We at ABES are very pleased to be able to provide this collective service to the French research community", according to Mrs Sabine Barral, director of ABES. Michel Wesseling, director of OCLC PICA Information Technology Center states: "We were very proud to have been rewarded the project in 1997 by the Ministry and thank ABES for the co-operation. We look forward to a long term professional relationship".
The popularity of the new service has already caused a number of other institutions in France to apply for a connection. In order to support this growing number of participants and also to prepare for the use of UNICODE for cataloguing the non roman scripts, ABES and OCLC PICA have started the migration to a new platform. It is foreseen that in the first quarter 2003 the new platform will be fully operational.