The OLIB library management system offers the functionality to link all types of electronic resources which are stored as objects on the system. This means that a whole range of resources can be accessed online. The Bar Library, Northern Ireland, and Southampton Oceanography Centre are two users already benefiting from this facility.
At the Bar Library, OLIB is being used to access judgment documents from the courts. Barristers can retrieve and view documents online and cut and paste paragraphs from judgments into the opinions that they are preparing. "The system is much more secure," explains David Smith, Librarian at the Bar. "Before we used to get a single paper copy of judgments from the various courts, which could easily get lost or damaged. Now we try to obtain a word processed copy or we scan the document ourselves and store it as an image on the system, where it is held securely in read-only format and can be linked to other documents or records in OLIB. That means that details of judgments can be flagged up wherever they are relevant, and they are easy to view and use." He adds: "The same OLl8 functionality could be used to access other electronic resources, such as slide presentations and web pages, as well as documents."
This is the case at the Southampton Oceanographic Centre, where a whole range of image files have been linked to OLIB records as objects, including the full text of journal articles and internal reports. Slides, video clips and "sound bytes" of whale song can also be accessed by the system. Pauline Simpson, Librarian, estimates that approximately 1000 items are stored as multimedia objects linked to OLIB records.
The National Oceanographic Library at Southampton is unusual in indexing analytical articles from journals from 1900 onwards. ‘We now have full text articles from our core journals for the past three years on the system, which users can read online" explains Pauline Simpson. "Slides and video clips are also stored on the database and can be downloaded very easily. If users want to view a particular piece of equipment for example, from one search they can see articles, slides and a video of it in operation."
The Centre is a National resource which supports marine science throughout the UK, and networks its services internationally as well as offering a commercial information service with annual subscription. The user base at SOC comprises 1000 researchers, undergraduates, academics and commercial companies. Pauline Simpson comments, ‘We have already accumulated 250,000 references online on the database, dating back to 1985, and everything that comes in now is catalogued straight onto OLIB."
The facility offered by OLIB to store items as images which can be accessed online also provides the option of cuffing back on storage space, as the Bar Library has discovered. The Library has started to implement a policy of retrospectively storing documents as images on the system and is using the opportunity to review materials that no longer need to be kept. David Smith quotes the example of preparatory and explanatory documents for legislation. The Library receives a copy of all these materials, and although ephemeral in nature, they must be retained indefinitely. They are difficult to store and maintain in good condition: "The image files we create are absolutely secure copies, and they are so much easier to find. They can be cross referenced through the catalogue to subsequent published legislation - and we can dispense with the paper versions and free up space." David Smith believes that this type of functionality is what makes OLIB more than just a library system: "We wanted a system that would provide our members with better administrative and executive support as well. OLIB is a true hybrid, with an interface to document management, which gives us just what we want."