Web Magazine for Information Professionals

MODELS: MOving to Distributed Environments for Library Services

Rosemary Russell shows how MODELS are built from clumps.

MODELS (MOving to Distributed Environments for Library Services) [1] is one of the three eLib Supporting Studies [2] projects. It was intended that projects in this area of the programme would help to define issues in more detail and set parameters for other work. In addition to fulfilling this role, MODELS has generated several significant national initiatives and achieved some important results for the management of distributed library services.

The project is a UKOLN initiative, which has support from eLib and the British Library. Fretwell- Downing Informatics provides technical consultancy. MODELS is essentially concerned with the enormous range of networked library and information services currently available to users via entirely different access methods. MODELS has five intertwined project lines. The project centres around a workshop of invited stakeholders for each line, where issues are explored and a set of recommendations drawn up.

  1. The first line focused on the distributed discovery, location and request of journal articles. The main outcomes included recommendations for a series of studies to perform critical evaluation of specific standards (currently being commissioned by UKOLN) and an event to promote the use of serial part identifiers such as SICI. This is to be held in March 1997.
  2. The second workshop was organised in conjunction with OCLC and addressed metadata for network information objects. The “Warwick Framework” for resource description was its most significant result.
  3. The third line is on national resource discovery รป organising access to printed scholarly material. The concept of “clumps” emerged at the second workshop. Clumps are groups of distributed resources which can be searched together to facilitate discovery. JISC’s Committee for Electronic Information (CEI) development programme aims to fund a small number of pilot virtual clumps. A particularly significant outcome of this workshop was the proposal for a National Agency for resource discovery. A scoping study is currently being carried out, funded by the British Library and JISC. A MODELS Z39.50 profile is also in draft form.
  4. The most recent workshop, held in December 1996, was on integrating access to resources across domains (for example, libraries, museums and archives). Discussion focused on cross-domain metadata and discovery issues including use of the Z39.50 digital collections profiles. Many of the issues are being taken forward by the forthcoming metadata workshops co-hosted by UKOLN and the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) [3].
  5. The final workshop on managing access to a distributed library resource will be held in April and will have a public library focus. The eventual aim is for a distributed systems model, where services are physically dispersed over the networks, but the systems behave as a single logical entity. Sophisticated “middleware” services will provide the necessary “glue” behind the scenes.


  1. MODELS Web Site,
  2. List of eLib Supporting Studies projects,
  3. Arts and Humanities Data Service - a description,

Author Details

Rosemary Russell
MODELS Project Manager
email: R.Russell@ukoln.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)1225 826547
Fax: +44 (0)1225 826838
Personal Web Page: http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/~lisrr/
Address: UKOLN, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY