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Telematics for Libraries - Projects


Updated 18 NOV 97

Project Number and Title
3063 - Catalogue with Multilingual Natural Language Access / Linguistic Server
Programme/Action line Call Topic(s) Start End Project Duration
in Months
FP 3/ IV Theme 19 bis January 1995 March 1997 26
linguistic server; library catalogues; SGML; natural language processing

blue bullet Additional information is available from the CANAL L/S web site . (

Application of multilingual tools and techniques to support multilingual access to library catalogues and documents (Theme 19 bis)
Project description
The main objective is to develop a multilingual natural language access system to library catalogues. It will enable users to enter queries in different European languages (initially these will be German, English, French and Spanish) and it will analyse bibliographic information expressed in these languages, extracting keywords to be translated into a language selected by the user. Work on this project may also set future standards for linguistic treatment of library data.
Technical approach
The central component of the system is a "linguistic server" communicating with library automation systems ("clients") via a protocol to be defined. Messages exchanged between the library systems and the linguistic server are in SGML format. The linguistic server can be based on different "linguistic engines" of different capabilities and employing different dictionaries. Two versions have been prototyped initially. The server is "open" in so far as it allows for accommodation of additional languages and additional library systems.
The project had nine workpackages, focusing on software, linguistic and library problems, as follows:
  • User requirements and domain selection to ascertain user needs for multilingual bibliographic record retrieval and to choose a topic area to keep test dictionaries within practical limits;
  • Library system/linguistic server interface definition between library systems and linguistic server;
  • Linguistic server design and architecture of the linguistic server, including specifications of all functions and environment;
  • Linguistic server development/ library system interface modifying two linguistic systems, SX and EXTRAKT, to interpret SGML-encoded messages from the library system and perform the corresponding actions;
  • Library system adaptation of ALLEGRO and SABINE with interfaces and expanded OPACs;
  • Dictionary generation - mono and bilingual for French, Spanish, German and English;
  • Software integration into proto-types for ALLEGRO and SABINE;
  • System installation and indexing at two sites, linking to OPACs and re-indexing domain records;
  • Evaluation against initial user requirements.
The dissemination of information will be via conferences and library-specific events, trade fairs, electronic articles, scientific and technical press and at a specially convened workshop.
Key issues
The primary element of the project is a linguistic server, developed as a "black box" to communicate with library systems. Key issues include:
  • A client-server protocol (for standardisation) for message exchange between library client systems and the linguistic server;
  • Data exchange format based on SGML (Standard Generalised Markup Language ISO 8879), for client-server communications;
  • Preparation of linguistic data (mono and bilingual dictionaries) and suitable tools for linguistic analysis of bibliographic data;
  • Inclusion of linguistic software and data collections from various European (ESPRIT) and national (DFG, Germany) programmes;
  • Integration of the linguistic server into library environments.
Impact and results
CANAL/LS has considerably enhanced accessibility of European multilingual library catalogues, using linguistic techniques to ensure that enquiries result in all applicable responses regardless of language.
It also helped set future standards for linguistic treatment of library data.
The fully integrated software package prototype is the main deliverable of the project.
Publicly available are:
  • Publications on project results;
  • A report on domain selection and user requirements;
  • The interface definition;
  • Design and architecture report;
  • Monolingual and bilingual dictionary report;
  • An evaluation of the prototype;
  • Final report.
Additional information is available from and from the contacts below.


Name of Institution/Organisation Postal Code / City Country
CRIL Ingéniérie F - 92817 PUTEAUX CEDEX FR
Title, First Name, Name Mr. Pierre CELNIK
Directeur Technique
Address: 174, rue de la République
Tel: +33-1 47 75 00 84 Fax: +33-1 47 75 25 04
E-mail 1: E-mail 2:

Other Contact

Name of Institution/Organisation Postal Code / City Country
Textec Software D - 66119 SAARBRÜCKEN DE
Title, First Name, Name Dr. Erwin STEGENTRITT Address: Weinbergweg 16
Tel: +49-681-551 18 Fax: +49-681-58 17 72
E-mail 1:
E-mail 2:

Other Partners

Name of Institution/Organisation Country Role
TEXTEC Software DE P
Saarbrücker Zeitung, Verlag und Druckerei GmbH DE P
Universidad Complutense de Madrid ES P
Universität des Saarlandes, Bibliothek und Fachgebiet Informationswissenschaften DE P
Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Düsseldorf DE P
Schweizer Nationalbibliothek CH P

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