Web Magazine for Information Professionals

HEADLINE (HYBRID Electronic Access and Delivery in the Library Networked Environment)

Maureen Wade introduces HEADLINE (HYBRID Electronic Access and Delivery in the Library Networked Environment).

HEADLINE (HYBRID Electronic Access and Delivery in the Library Networked Environment) is one of the Hybrid Libraries projects funded under the eLib Phase 3 programme. Starting in January 1998 and running for three years, the project aims to develop and implement a working model of the hybrid library in a range of real-life academic situations. The project partners are the London School of Economics, the London Business School and the University of Hertfordshire. Development work will be carried out at the LSE and the LBS, with all three sites developing the user requirements model, acting as test-beds and contributing to user evaluation studies. Between them the three partner sites provide a good cross-section of the user profiles and organisational situations to be found in higher education institutions: postgraduates and undergraduates, full- time and part-time students, single-site and multi-site operations.

In keeping with the aims of the Hybrid Libraries programme, the project will present to the user a wide range of library resources regardless of physical form, via a common Web-based interface. Whether the information is contained in a networked CD-ROM, in an electronic journal accessed over the Internet, or in a book on the library shelf, should become irrelevant to the library user. Information delivery will be provided in a variety of formats, ranging from electronic to print to conventional ILL or order process. The subject areas covered will be economics, finance, business and management. The HeadLine model for the hybrid library is user-centred with a user-dependent managed environment as a fundamental part of the project design. The system will have access (via the login process) to the user’s administrative details such as status, subject area and registered courses,and will use this information to provide a tailored and supportive environment. The system will retain feedback from the user’s actions, providing a mechanism for the user profile to develop with time.

The resources to which the user will have access will be wide-ranging and will include, for example: local course-related materials; catalogues (local consortium catalogues, M25, clumps via Z39.50, COPAC etc); primary sources (electronic journals, DECOMATE, locally digitised materials); Secondary sources (BIDS, IBSS, ECONLit, SOSIG, Biz/Ed); Current awareness services; Commercial intermediaries (subscription agents services, FT Profile etc); Financial datasets; Government information; Real time data services (newswires, financial markets data).

These data sources use a variety of access media and delivery methods, ranging from proprietary Windows interfaces to Web-based products and comprise numeric, graphical, bibliographic and full-text formats. This both creates opportunities in terms of the richness of the resource base and poses a number of interesting technical, copyright and licensing problems for the project team to solve. The resource database will manage individual resource access control data such as user ID and password and will support the dynamic creation of HTML pages incorporating Dublin Core meta tags. Key enabling protocols for the HeadLine hybrid library model will include the network protocols TCP/IP and HTTP, complemented by the search protocol Z39.50. The project will also investigate the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) as an aid to document retrieval.

An early task for the project team will be the development of mechanisms for incorporating user feedback and evaluation in the design, content and delivery of the service. Another key task will be exploration of the licensing and copyright issues involved in providing access to the broad range of hybrid library materials. Results and progress will be disseminated throughout the project via the HeadLine Web site (http://www.lse.ac.uk/blpes/headline.shtml) As prototype components of the system become available for online testing, “guest” access will be provided subject to any copyright restrictions.

Author Details

Maureen Wade