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Telematics for Libraries - Projects


Updated 07 SEP 98

Project Number and Title
1015 - Hypertext interfaces to library information systems
Programme/Action line Call Topic(s) Start End Project Duration
in Months
FP 3/ III Theme 13 February 1993 December 1995 34
hypertext; interfaces; library catalogues; LAN; OPAC

blue bullet Additional information is available from the HYPERLIB web site . (

Extension of access and availability of bibliographic/catalogue information (Theme: 13)
Project description
The project aimed to improve access to the online services of a major university library by implementation of hypertext interfaces to a variety of information resources including the OPAC (online public access catalogue).
A number of groups of specific users have been identified and for each a detailed user requirement specification, based on information needs in relation to use of online resources, has been formulated. Hypertext interfaces to suit these specifications have been designed and developed. Issues such as language independence, the move to PC type environments for library end-users, graphic user interfaces (GUIs) versus VT100 type interfaces and standards for data markup and hypertext are to be examined and evaluated.
Technical approach
The project was structured into four, broadly consecutive, main stages:
  • User requirements
    Surveying about 1,700 people, including a large sample of library staff, via an on-line trilingual (Dutch, French, English) questionnaire and telephone. The survey examined experience in IT and frequency of library utilisation by:
    • expert, frequent users;
    • expert, infrequent users;
    • novice, frequent users;
    • novice, infrequent users.

    A smaller sample was examined in depth for OPAC usage.

  • Prototyping of Interfaces
    The project focused on providing graphical interfaces (both VT100 and HTML versions) in two areas:
    • guides for users and manuals for library staff;
    • database related resources (an academic bibliography and a navigation tool for subject classification).
  • Implementation of Interfaces
    Document Type Definitions and parsers for each interface were constructed as SGML (Standard Generalised Markup Language) instances and converted to HTML (HyperText Markup Language) for the World Wide Web.
  • Evaluation of Interfaces
    Comparisons of automatically collected usage data, plus interviews and observations, with 1993 user studies.
Key issues
The main technical issues explored were:
  • evaluation of searching behaviour and information needs of a specific number of key groups of library users;
  • prototyping and testing of hypertext interfaces including graphical and pictorial user interfaces for library systems;
  • SGML markup of library catalogue and other records for use with hypertext.
Impact and results
The PC based interfaces will be widely applicable given both the increase in use of PCs in place of dedicated terminals and the increase in remote users of OPACs. HYPERLIB enjoys a considerable reputation both for making library information significantly more accessible without heavy cost implications and for the way it went beyond its project parameters to implement an acclaimed OPAC on the World Wide Web. Furthermore, the non-graphic interfaces developed using the VT100 subset can easily be implemented on existing systems.
The following are public issue:
  • Surveys of OPAC usage;
  • Survey of library systems usage by library staff;
  • User interfaces specification;
  • Icons in a multilingual OPAC interface;
  • Design of Document Type Defi-nitions for manuals and user guides;
  • SGML to HTML conversion;
  • The suitability of linking existing controlled subject systems to the HYPERLIB prototype interface;
  • Merging hypertext navigation with thesaurus technology.
Documentation is available from the contacts below, from or from .


Name of Institution/Organisation Postal Code / City Country
HUSAT Research Institute, Loughborough University of Technology UK-LE11 1RG LEISTERSHIRE UK
Title, First Name, Name Professor Leela DAMODARAN Address: The Elms, Elms Grove
Tel: +44-1509-61 10 88 Fax: +44-1509-23 46 51
E-mail 1: E-mail 2:

Other contact

Name of Institution/Organisation Postal Code / City Country
University of Antwerp Library B-2610 Antwerp BE
Title, First Name, Name Julien VAN BORM Address: Universiteitsplein 1
Tel: +32-3 820 21 43 Fax: +32-3 820 21 59
E-mail 1: E-mail 2:

Other Partners

Name of Institution/Organisation Country Role
Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen BE P

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