Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Access V Holdings, Cranfield

Sarah Ashton reports on an event of interest to the Document Delivery community.

I can only apologise for the brevity of parts of this report, and offer my excuses in the Sideline column in issue 7 of Ariadne (mid-January 1997). For reasons to be revealed there, I missed the first half of the Access v Holdings seminar, held at Cranfield University on 30th October 1996. [Out of the 38 delegates, I seemed to be the only one to arrive at Cranfield by public transport; perhaps they all knew something that I didn't!] So I cannot properly report on the papers by Janet Evans [j.e.evans@cranfield.ac.uk] (BIODOC - Background and Design) and John Harrington [j.harrington@cranfield.ac.uk] (BIODOC - provisional results); my apologies to them both.

The BIODOC project aims to explore a number of key issues in the current debate over access versus holdings; in particular, the project aims to determine whether it is possible to offer a better service to library users by providing access to information held in journals through electronic current awareness services than by holding collections of journals in-house. It is hoped that BIODOC will not only provide the library with an alternative strategy for information support, but will offer users an enhanced service, capable of individual current awareness profiling. The results of the project will be disseminated amongst the academic/research community. In the meantime, readers may like to find out more by looking at the references (provided by the authors on the day) at the end of this report.

But to get to the half of the day for which I had a corporeal presence....

Reinder Jan Zwart, director of Document Supply and Logistics at Delft University of Technology Library (DUTL), gave an overview of the Eurilia project. The project, now in it's third year, is funded by the CEC Action programme for Libraries, with partners from five EU countries, including Cranfield in the UK. The aim of the project is to extend the access and availability of major aerospace collections, by establishing a new service based on a standardised pan-European system for information access, retrieval, image browsing, and document delivery. The user-friendly Eurilia system is not designed for the librarian, but with the simple user in mind. Reinder demonstrated the Eurilia Z39.50's ability to connect to a group of servers; the client can connect to up to 10 databases simultaneously (more depending on the number of Winsockets), or indeed to just one particular database. The beauty of the Z39.50 protocol is that the user can initiate his/her query, without needing to know the type of system that is being used, or indeed where it is located. The interface is familiar to the user, as it has the look and feel of a Microsoft package. After conducting a Eurilia search, the user can process the results through DocUTraiL, a spin off of the Eurilia project, operated jointly by DUTL and KN/Minolta. Through DocUTrail, the user can complete the delivery process by opting to have the document or image delivered over the Internet, by fax, or as a hard copy. Delivery time to the user is less than two days, and all requests are automatically invoiced and packaged. A pilot to DocUTraiL has looked at the project's effect on workprocesses at delivery, request, and finance department level, as well as the effect on working conditions for library staff. DocUTraiL should be fully operational November 1996, and if all goes well, ISO 9002 certification will be awarded January 1997.

The second presenter of the afternoon, Frank van der Heijden, Software R & D Manager for KN/Minolta, presented KN/Minoltas view of "The Digital Highway"; a high-tech project from KN BV for DULT Library. To use a before and after scenario: before the project, Delft Library document delivery department used six Minolta photocopiers for copying customer requests. The sources for these requests were of varying quality (books, journals, newspapers, and so on), and the working conditions for the library staff were poor. The library wanted to improve both quality and conditions, whilst at the same time improving the speed of delivery and diversity of the output (print, fax, or email). If articles are unavailable locally, the library also wanted to be able to locate and download these articles from other libraries. Furthermore, the library wanted automatic processing of customer requests, and automatic invoicing and statistics for management information. KN/Minolta set about improving the copy quality, by digitising images with the PS3000P. This system scans ten pages per minute, at 400tpi, and is operated using finger buttons or footpedals, resulting in better working conditions for employees. Output can be print, fax or email. KN/Minolta developed fault tolerant barcode driven software for processing the scanned images before putting them on the network; no operator interaction is needed. After the Minolta commercial break - the snazzy Minolta corporate video - the delegates were able to inspect the PS3000P system more closely.

So what is the future of document delivery? The general consensus of the day seemed to be that, in five years' time, paper will still be the predominant form of document delivery. However, there may well be a shift towards delivery over the Internet. Access or holdings? In either scenario, the future looks bright for KN/Minolta.


Evans, J. & Harrington, J. 1995. Access versus holdings: a report on the BIODOC current awareness and document supply experiment at Cranfield University, Managing Information, 2 (11), p38-39.
Evans, J., Bevans, S. & Harrington, J. BIODOC: Access versus holdings in a University Library, Journal of Interlending and Document Supply (To be published in November 1996).
Evans, J., Harrington, J. & Bevans, S. 1996. BIODOC: A preliminary user analysis Serials, 9 (2), p170-177.