Web Magazine for Information Professionals


Ian Winkworth describes a Hybrid Library project for all.

HYLIFE STANDS FOR HYbrid LIbraries of the FuturE. The project is about how best to deliver the mixture of print and electronic services likely to be required of higher education libraries in the foreseeable future.

The focus will be on users and on organisational, social and educational issues rather than technology. Development will be iterative with users involved throughout the development phases. Evaluation and dissemination will be a major focus of the project. One of the research questions is how the boundaries of what libraries deliver will change. The HYLIFE project will seek to establish, test and evaluate a knowledge of operating practices for the “hybrid library” which can then be disseminated to the wider HE community.

HYLIFE will develop a series of customer oriented electronic interfaces which give access to electronic and print services and are economically maintained. This will be done via a generic software interface which will then be tailored to the needs of particular client groups. The electronic and print services will be the real services of the test sites.

Client groups will be chosen initially from the partner institutions. Six implementation interfaces will be developed during the life of the project. These are: a conventional student interface serving full and part-time students in Geography, a franchise college interface (college groups in the North and South, many part-time), a research interface for researchers in Regional and Economic Development, a remote user interface in Business Studies, a practitioner/student interface in Heath Studies (many part-time participants) and a distributed user interface.

The project will use widely available standard technologies, moving with the mainstream current as new developments become standard. The demonstrator interfaces will be open and system-independent and will take a two-stage approach with a Web interface initially providing access to a range of services including the library catalogue, then moving on to provide Z39.50 capability as a development of the Web interface.

The project will be managed through the University of Northumbria but is co-directed by Northumbria and the University of Central Lancashire.

The other higher education partners are the University of Newcastle, the University of Plymouth and the Highlands and Islands Project. All the partners have strong interests in distance learning and remote access. The project has undertakings of technical input from BLCMP and Ovid Technologies. We will in due course invite involvement in testing from the 25 institutions who have been involved in the eLib IMPEL2 project as well as other institutions who wish to be involved. For more details contact Peter Wynne at CERLIM (e-mail: p.m.wynne@uclan.ac.uk; tel 01772 892309).

Author Details

Ian Winkworth
Chief Librarian at the
University of Northumbria