Saturday, June 22, 2002

Information Architecture

In the context of the U.S. Federal Government "Disaster Help" e-Government initiative, I am helping draft a two-page paper: "Agreement on Certain Information Architecture Principles".

Our focus is on the specification of shared interfaces among systems operated by e-Government initiative participants. The current draft calls out five minimum and critical agreements required for interoperability:

  • (1) Avoid non-standard data syntaxes
  • (2) Register the semantics of shared data elements
  • (3) Document service interfaces in a standard way
  • (4) Implement the standard interface for information discovery
  • (5) Implement the standard interfaces for geospatial data

    There is also a short paragraph noting some requirements applicable to Government participants, such as open and equal public access, permanence of public access, privacy, security, records management, and information management.

    Anyone who would like to review the draft or advise on other major principles, please contact me by e-mail to

    (Also, please forward this note to other groups interested in information architecture principles for e-Government.)


  • Friday, June 21, 2002

    Wireless Access?

    The RSS (Rich Site Summary) feed seems to be working fine. I think many folks have switched from visiting the Web site to getting the items on a news reader. Now the next frontier is wireless. Does anyone (Shifted Librarian, Handheld Librarian) have their content available for use in Palm devices? How can this be done? It should be fairly simple.

    Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS)

    "The Library of Congress' Network Development and MARC Standards Office, with interested experts, has developed the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS), which is a bibliographic element set that may be used for a variety of purposes, particularly for library applications. Information about MODS and the schema (version 1.2) is available

    As an XML schema it is intended to be able to carry selected data from existing MARC 21 records as well as to enable the creation of original resource description records. It includes a subset of MARC fields and uses language-based tags rather than numeric ones, in some cases regrouping elements from the MARC 21 bibliographic format. The elements inherit MARC semantics, so are more compatible with existing library data than other metadata schemes.

    MODS could potentially be used as follows:

  • as a Z39.50 Next Generation specified format
  • as an extension schema to METS (Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard)
  • to represent metadata for harvesting
  • for original resource description in XML syntax (using MARC semantics)
  • for representing a simplified MARC record in XML
  • for metadata in XML that may be packaged with an electronic resource

    MODS includes a subset of data from the MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data. As an element set that allows for the representation of data already in MARC-based systems, it is intended to allow for the conversion of core fields from a MARC 21 record, while some specific data may be dropped. As an element set for original resource description, it allows for a simple record to be created, in some cases using more general tags than those available in the MARC record. The Library of Congress has developed transformations to move MARC 21 records from 2709 form to MARCXML to MODS, with the software available from the MARCXML Web site.

    There has been wide review and input to the development of the schema, which is now available for trial use. It will remain stable for the next six months, during which we invite comments as a result of experimentation.

    For questions or comments please email the Office at

    Sally McCallum, Chief
    Network Development and MARC Standards Office
    Library of Congress, Washington, DC, USA"

    This is very much like MARC in XML with name tags rather than numeric.

  • The British Library Public Catalogue

    "The British Library has today launched its new BLPCZ service, which provides Z39.50 compliant access to the British Library Public Catalogue for the first time. The international standard for communications between computers in the library and information sector, Z39.50 allows simultaneous searching of multiple bibliographic resources via the Internet.

    The service allows quick and easy access to bibliographic records from the catalogues of the main British Library collections - already available online at In addition to this, the new feature will allow users with suitable retrieval software to download and make use of the Library's bibliographic citations for their own personal research purposes. This should prove of particular use to researchers and students compiling bibliographies for monographs, research reports or theses.

    Developed and hosted by MIMAS (Manchester Information and Associated Services) at the University of Manchester, BLPCZ is the latest result of a co-operative alliance between the British Library and CURL (the Consortium of University Research Libraries) which is aimed at providing wider access to the Library's catalogues. "Further details are available.

    Thursday, June 20, 2002

    Open Source OPAC

    "Its finally here!

    Nearly a year since the last release, we have a new stable release of koha.

    The main new features in this version are:

  • Can search by dewey number
  • Keyword Searches can be restricted by a dewey number
  • Can restrict a catalogue search by a class of items
  • Simple acquisitions module
  • Deleting borrowers checks their accounts for reserves, current issues, and fines
  • New catalogue maintenance section
  • MARC importing from a file, and from z39.50

    Main Bugfixes:

  • Keyword searches are a lot faster
  • Combined author and title search is now also searching series title
  • Adding children and institutions works as advertised

    There have been numerous little fixes and a lot of code clean up.

    The structure of the tarball has changed to a more sensible layout, and the INSTALL document has been rewritten.

    There is also now a installer script, as well as a functioning database update script.

    All this should mean its the easiest Koha to install or upgrade yet."