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Libretto: a multilingual library automation system

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Copyright (c) 1999 Computer Academy Ltd.


1. INTRODUCTION

LIBRETTO is an integrated multi-lingual system for the complete control of a library or information service. The flexibility of its modular design allows the librarian to synthesise the package in phases or for the modules which are required to be selected without having to take the whole package. If subsequent modules are required they can be added in as necessary.

The package was designed by Computer Academy Ltd, based at Athens Greece, and has already been installed and is supported successfully at several sites all over Greece, including the Foundation of the ex-President of the Republic K. Karamanlis, The Athens University of Economics & Business, The National Museum & Research Centre for the Greek Theatre, The National Observatory, The National Greek Centre for Economic Development (ELKEPA), The Eugenidis Foundation, The National Greek Centre for Planning & Research (KEPE), and others.

The design of LIBRETTO is based on a client-server model. The software is written in the 4th generation language of the RDBMS INFORMIX running under UNIX or NT and the package is available for both STANDARD ENGINE and ONLINE versions of the RDBMS INFORMIX. The whole package is a truly OPEN SYSTEM and as the application grows or new modules are required the system can be moved to new hardware without any conversion or connection problems. This allows greater flexibility in multi-site and multi-user library environments.

By using the RDBMS INFORMIX the package provides reliability, speed of response, data integrity and full system security. With a high performance multi-media database engine installed there is no limit to the number of records the system can hold. Moreover, there are no limits to the type of data that can be linked to each bibliographic record, provided the data is supported by the RDBMS. Typical data types can be image, video, voice, etc.

LIBRETTO allows the library service to make quantum increases in effectiveness: in the information provision to users, the control of financial or management information (previously not available) and in quality cataloguing. Total quality control is provided via an expert system based on the well known Universal Standard Bibliographical Code (USBC). The USBC is a unique feature of LIBRETTO.

To ensure trouble-free operation full support is provided by trained staff. A "hotline" support facility means that comprehensive help is available at the end of the telephone line. A remote link option allows our support analysts to provide speedy diagnosis and problem solving.

LIBRETTO has been presented at several international conferences, the more recent of which were:

  • PETRA Conference, University of Edingburgh, 7-9 June 1995.
  • ACM International Information Retrieval Conference (SIGIR- 95), Seattle, Washington, USA, 9-13 July 1995.
  • ACM International Information Retrieval Conference (SIGIR- 96), Zurich, Switzerland, 18-22 August 1996.

2. BUILDING YOUR SYSTEM: MAJOR MODULES OF LIBRETTO

LIBRETTO provides for data organisation, data integrity, authority control, input, retrieval and reporting, while the set up of a library is completely governed by what the management wants the system to do. Each module can be incorporated in turn to give LIBRETTO more and more capability. Typical modules are presented below:

The Core

The core module caters for item details to be entered or amended as required using pre-formatted input screens which facilitate use of the catalogue base and associated standards (e.g. AACR II). The system maintains a series of authority files (authors, corporate bodies, subjects, etc.) to enhance data integrity. Retrieval is via a series of user friendly menu options. A variety of material types are catered for with specific material dependent fields. Moreover, the cataloguer can define his/her own material types by using user-defined fields (MARC tags and subfields), as required.
OPAC
The On-Line Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) is a user-friendly and powerful enquiry interface which is very close to natural language. It offers free text retrieval from several bibliographic fields while it includes Boolean logic, truncation and wildcard searching. More specifically, free-text retrieval covers all basic library catalogue details including the Abstract, Title, Subtitle, Publication date, Subject terms, Shelf classification etc. It has been designed to allow inexperienced users to carry out detailed and multiple searches, while offering on-line context-dependent help.
Thesaurus
The thesaurus module allows subject terms to be linked together providing a powerful user interface for conceptual retrieval, as compared to the traditional lexical retrieval. The subject retrieval vocabulary can be tailored to meet the user's requirements. The system supports several relationships, such as BT (Broad Term), NT (Narrow Term), RT (Related Term), USE, UF (Use For), ET (Equivalent Term), etc., while it generates and maintains all reciprocal relationships amongst these. The thesaurus can be browsed for ease of use and accessed via OPAC. Note that the thesaurus relationships are processed according to the multilingual thesaurus ISO standard, enabling a non-native language speaker to use the catalogue of the library. For example, if an English-speaking user types the narrow term 'astrophysics' the system will automatically retrieve related Greek records as well as German and French records, etc.
Current Awareness
This module creates and maintains SDI (Selective Dissemination of Information) interest profiles, matching them to recent acquisitions and generating SDI bulletins. Abstracts can also be created and linked to catalogue records. The module provides automatic production and circulation of information bulletins. LIBRETTO can set up triggers, whereby on a regular basis, the system automatically scans the catalogue base when new records are input and sends the results to the user via his/her electronic mail (or any INTERNET e-mail address).
Circulation
This provides total control for issue, return, renewal discharge, reservation and other circulation-dependent operations for library material. The module allows numerous categories of borrowers and user-definable loan periods, while it generates recall and overdue notices automatically. The module also generates bar codes and supports fully bar code input/output functions. It keeps track and maintains relevant data for the production of management information reports containing statistical information on borrower, copy usage, departmental usage, etc.
Acquisitions
The acquisitions module is a full accounting package providing both book and non-book item order processing facilities. The order record is used to create a basic catalogue entry on the central database to be updated at a later stage. All invoicing, requests and claims for missing items are automated tasks. The system caters for multiple suppliers and a range of budgets and cost centers. Financial reports are available to give detailed budgeting information for decision purposes.
Serials
All cataloguing and order processing of periodicals is handled by the serials module including claiming and invoicing. Circulation lists can be produced to provide full monitoring of journals on loan. Complete catalogue details are made available for enquiry under the OPAC module. The module also provides an automatic facility for stock monitoring and binding. Generally, the module takes care of the whole process - placing a subscription, renewal, checking in, claiming, credit notes, binding etc. The system manages complex budget allocation to both suppliers and in-house cost centres.
Import/Export
LIBRETTO offers several different utilities to import/export catalogue records. Apart from the UNIMARC format which is supported fully, the library can define its own local tags and their relationships. Besides, the librarian can define the structure of each of the three component parts of MARC: Leader, Directory and Data fields. This later feature is a unique feature of LIBRETTO.

3. SPECIAL FEATURES

In what follows, we present some novel features that are included within the package of LIBRETTO. We have invested a great deal of time researching these features which have matured through close collaboration with University researchers, both in Greece and in other European countries, particularly England.

  1. FREE TEXT CONTROL: The system offers the facility to search the catalogue from any field, including the Abstract, using boolean logic with any combination of words that may be present in the selected fields.
  2. DUPLICATE CONTROL: The system provides facilities for detecting, archiving and eliminating duplicates according to the USBC (Universal Standard Book Code) standard. Moreover, detection of duplication can be performed online and while at the stage of cataloguing.
  3. SEARCH STRATEGY: The user can define his/her search strategy, using any keywords or boolean combinations, and then store these permanently on files and recall any of them for use at any point of time. For example, if a user searches the catalogue using the boolean expression: PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT OR PERFORMANCE EVALUATION, then this is typed once and recalled whenever needed.
  4. ONLINE MANUALS: All manuals of LIBRETTO are online and the ordinary user can retrieve full-text paragraphs that explain how to use a particular module.
  5. CONTEXT-SENSITIVE HELP: The system also provides context-sensitive help on all modules, so that the user can get further details on how to use the current operation he/she is about to perform.
  6. BIBLIOGRAPHIC DOCUMENT PRODUCTION: The system produces bibliographic reports automatically, which contain several fileds, such as:
    1. Titles in ISBD form under preselected conceptual groups which are user defined and based on the classification system in use.
    2. List of subject terms, including user defined terms
    3. Index of subjects (, )
    4. Index of authors (, )
  7. REPORT GENERATION: The system can produce reports using any combination of fields, order, material type, etc. Most importantly, the user can define the position on each page where the information should appear, the number of bytes, the truncation form (left, rigth, middle), etc.
  8. MULTI-MARC: The system can process all types of MARC records (e.g. LC-MARC, UK-MARC, CAN-MARC, UNIMARC, etc.). Most importantly, the library can define new formats, new tags, as and when necessary, and can even define a new structure for each of the three components of MARC: Leader, Directory and Data fields.
  9. OPAC FACILITIES: In what follows we present some of the facilities offered to OPAC users:
    1. Define user profile, password, etc. for automatic selective dissemination of information via electronic mail.
    2. Define search strategy, including boolean logic, and store this permanently on a file. Alter this at any time, using a login password.
    3. Make reservations of selected material.
    4. Display books on loan and personal user details held by the library, following a login password.
    5. Request a subscription for regular delivery of the contents pages of selected journals.
    6. Request for photocopies of selected material and page numbers.
    7. Communicate with the central system using any of the major protocols, such as TCP/IP, Serial, X25, X28, etc.
    8. Communicate directly with the manager of the system using electronic mail.
    9. Use of a Graphical User Interface (GUI), offering friendly icons to communicate with the library system, retrieving information by Title, Author, Corporate author, Publisher, Thesaurus terms, etc., and generally any field or combination of them.
    10. Use of the Z39.50 protocol to communicate with library servers.
    11. Produce reports in several formats, store these on files, copy to floppy diskettes, convert to SGML, etc.
    12. Define the language of use. The system is multilingual, offering English, French, German, Greek, Italian, etc., without any limitation.
  10. TERMINALS: Each and every module of the system can be activated from ordinary (dummy) terminals, such as VT100 and Televideo, as well as from ordinary microcomputers (PC) which may or may not have a hard disk.
  11. 4. MODULES AVAILABLE

    The following diagram presents all the modules of LIBRETTO, where the modules communicate with each other as well as with the relational database via the core engine.

    A modern library automation system should be able to offer all the above services in some form or other. These are outlined below:

    1. SERIALS CONTROL: Cataloguing, Checkin, Claiming, etc.
    2. OPAC: Online Public Access Catalogue, GUI.
    3. SDI: Selective Dissemination of Information
    4. CIRCULATION: Loans, Returns, Reservations, Renewals, etc.
    5. ACQUISITIONS: Orders, Receipts, Cost centres, etc.
    6. LIB-DBA: Administration of library parameters.
    7. SYS-DBA: Independent module for system administration.
    8. RELATIONAL DATABASE: Relational database catalogue.
    9. MULTI-MARC: Support for multi-MARC exchange of records.
    10. FREE-TEXT: Free-text term control and free-text retrieval.
    11. THESAURUS: Multilingual, tree-structured, ISO standard.
    12. AUTHORITY NAMES: Authors, Publishers, Terms, Serials, etc.
    13. Q/C: Quality control of the catalogue using USBC.
    14. COMMUNICATIONS: Access to other databases (e.g. via Z39.50)
    15. SQL: Access to the catalogue using the ISO SQL standard.
    OPAC:= Online Public Access Catalogue
    GUI := Graphical User Interface
    SDI := Selective Dissemination of Information
    USBC:= Universal Standard Bibliographic Code
    SQL := Structured Query Language (ISO Standard)

    5. THE COMPANY: COMPUTER ACADEMY LTD.

    Computer Academy Ltd. is one of the few companies in Greece specialising almost exclusively on Documentation and Library Information Systems. The company has close links and collaborates with major Universities and Colleges in Greece and Europe. It is primarily a software house providing turnkey solutions, training and support for all types of libraries. It is the policy of the company to employ only professional Computer Scientists and Librarians with University Degrees in these subjects.

    Computer Academy has already installed and supports successfully several integrated library information systems all over Greece and for different categories of libraries including the Foundation of the ex-President of the Republic K. Karamanlis, The Athens University of Economics & Business, The National Museum & Research Centre for the Greek Theatre, The National Observatory, The Greek National Research Centre DEMOCRITOS, The National Greek Centre for Economic Development (ELKEPA), The Foundation of Eugenidis, The National Greek Centre for Planning & Research (KEPE), and others.

    Computer Academy has taken part in major research & development projects funded by the EEC as well as by the Greek Ministry of Research & Technology. Some of the areas of research are presented below:

    1. Design of database structures for documentation and library information systems.
    2. Quality control of bibliographic databases using AACR2 rules.
    3. Automating the linkage of patient records with bibliographic records which are relevant to patient diagnoses.
    4. Automating the linkage of science citations to full text bibliographic documents.
    5. Design of psychometric tests. The company owns 7 major psychometric tests for occupational guidance, personality assessment, behaviour, etc.
    The Company is well equipped with UNIX workstations running several development software including the relational database management system INFORMIX. Most of the software development takes place using 4th generation languages and C. The company has developed its own shell specifically for library applications and the processing of MARC records. Besides, the Company has developed software for the localisation of the UNIMARC structure itself so that a library can define any of the MARC variations, e.g. LC-MARC, CA-MARC, AUS-MARC, UK-MARC, etc.

    The Company has developed the integrated library information system LIBRETTO using INFORMIX 4GL in collaboration with major software houses in the United kingdom. LIBRETTO caters for all the major modules including: Cataloguing, OPAC, Thesaurus, Authority Control, SDI, Serials Control, Loans, Acquisitions, etc.

    CA colaborates with major Organisations, primarily in the U.K., including SLS (Information Systems), Burberrys Ltd.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Computer Academy Ltd.
    35 Kolokotroni Street
    Kefallari, Kifissia
    14562 ATHENS, GREECE
    Tel. 8083035, 8084695
    Fax. 8081645

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Publication Year:1999
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Publisher:Computer Academy Ltd.
Subject: Computer Academy Ltd.
Record Number:4239
Last Update:2015-05-25 14:46:01
Date Created:0000-00-00 00:00:00