FEDLINK Technical Notes

March 1997

Vol. 15 No. 3


Spinning the Intranet Web

Tech News--Overview: Browser Plug-Ins


A Fast Start to FirstSearch

Two FEDLINK Vendors Cease Operations

Call for FY98 FEDLINK Estimates

FEDLINK Institute on Library of Congress Subject Cataloging

Editorial Staff

Spinning the Intranet Web

By Jessica Clark

Over the past year, organizations have begun to use Internet server and browser technologies to create secure internal webs known as "Intranets." These internal networks may range from simple organizational "bulletin boards" to complex, multi-level, password-protected systems which serve a variety of employees and clients in multiple locations.

On January 29, FLICC's annual Information Technology Update provided an introduction to Intranets. The FLICC Information Technology Working Group organized the event entitled "Spinning The Intranet Web." Speakers described tools and managerial techniques for Intranet development, and representatives from the Naval War College and the Logistics Management Institute (LMI) demonstrated agency Intranets.

Tools and Techniques

The day began with a presentation by Greg Bean, the president of an Internet/Intranet development and training company called Cybergroup, Inc. Bean teaches Internet-related courses at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. He is a monthly columnist for Interact Magazine, and the author of The Internet Server Construction Kit for Windows, published by John Wiley and Sons.

Bean defines "web development" as "multi-page content creation resulting in sites that offer the visitor a high level of interactivity and dynamic content via database interfaces." As such, he said, web development requires the skills and input of different individuals and the capabilities of a number of different tools. Bean outlined these different skills and capabilities and provided pointers to the resources he and his staff have found most helpful.

An outline of Bean's presetation, "Tips and Techniques for Selecting Web Development Tools," is available on the Cybergroup, Inc. site (http://www.cybergroup.com). The outline contains links to recommended applications and guidelines.

Staffing a Web Project

Bean referred managers to the Web Developer's Virtual Library ( http://www.wdvl.com/) as a good starting point for clarifying the staffing needs for an Internet or Intranet project. The site defines a "webmaster" as:

A person who manages a web; mediator between web authors and system administrator--ensures that applicable standards such as HTML validity and link liveness are met, optimizes the web architecture for navigability, takes editorial responsibility for the content, quality and style of the site; finds, creates, and installs tools to create web content and check consistency; develops and enforces the house style; liaises with graphic artists; provides first level user support.

This definition, along with corresponding definitions for "author" and "system administrator," sketches out the skills required for Internet or Intranet development. Not all of these skills are technical; in fact, said Bean, "most of the interesting opportunities are in areas that are non-technical."

Rather than hiring new employees to work on a Web project, Bean recommended that Internet job responsibilities be distributed to employees in different departments and coordinated by only one or two individuals. He drew a flower, with a webmaster in the middle, and overlapping "petals" of responsibility for departments which currently handle graphic design, consulting, hardware and software installation, internal network systems, database construction, and employee training.

"The core team usually remains small and nimble," said Bean.

Building The Infrastructure

The difference between an institution's Internet presence and its Intranet system has to do with access privileges. "An Intranet uses Web tools and TCP/IP-based client-server tools on a non-public network," said Bean. For every public Internet site, he estimated, there are ten internal web servers. "Intranets are where the action is," he said.

Bean counseled Internet or Intranet project managers to consider the following issues when building a strong infrastructure for their sites:

More technical considerations include: CSU/DSU and routers; SMTP and POP mail servers; domain name servers; NNTP servers; FTP servers; proxies; firewalls; Web browsers; and Web servers.

Content Creation

Bean defined content creation as "an activity that results in generation of HyperText Markup Language (HTML) pages for our Web site." He discussed two kinds of HTML editors: text-based and "WYSIWYG" ("What You See Is What You Get").

He recommended text-based editors to developers who want to see the HTML codes, "craft" their pages rather than have them generated, and create their site as a "page-at-a-time" effort rather than as a "site-at-a-time" effort. When searching for an HTML editor, he suggested vendors with longevity, a diversified product line, and "evolutionary" as well as "revolutionary" tools.

"I strongly encourage you to buy commercial tools--and not just to keep the economy going," Bean said. "They're industrial strength. There are some absolutely fantastic freeware and shareware tools, but you'll want and need updates."

If you are shopping for an HTML editor, here are a few sources:

On the other hand, Bean recommended WYSIWYG editors for non-technical content providers. Distributing such editors to members of different departments can reduce demands on an agency's technical staff and trainers.

Existing word processing packages have added upgrades such as the Microsof Internet Assistant for Word and Corel's WordPerfect which include "Save as HTML" functionality. Products like HTML Transit can also facilitate bulk conversions of documents. Bean also strongly recommended Lotus Notes' Domino as an enterprise-wide solution for communicating, collaborating, and Web publishing. More information about this product is available at http://www-142.ibm.com/software/sw-lotus/products/product4.nsf/wdocs/dominohomepage.

"If information is dynamic, like a newsletter, or even changes daily, you don't want your technical staff to be involved with providing it," said Bean. "They don't know about special collections as well as the people in Special Collections, and those people don't necessarily want to become HTML gurus."

Site Creation

"A consistent look and feel is critical for your success," said Bean. "You want to avoid visual whiplash." Tools which address content creation and maintenance at the "site level" provide templates and style sheets, as well as "one-button" publishing which insulates the Web developer from FTP processes.

"This whole class of content creation tools has graduated to a level akin to desktop publishing," said Bean. He recommended three site creation products: Microsoft's FrontPage or InterDev, DeltaPoint's QuickSite, and NetObjects's Fusion. When shopping for a site management program, consider what kind of training, resource materials, and support are available.

Site Management

"For most of us, housekeeping isn't really a thrill, whether it's at home or on a Web site," said Bean. "But it has to be done." Tools such as Webanalyzer, Webmapper, and Linkbot perform routine housekeeping tasks such as HTML validation, link management for site integrity, graphical views of the organization of the site with drag and drop restructuring, and other important functions. An extensive list of site management and testing tools is online at http://www.ibc.ust.hk/links/site.htm.

Version Control

"We need an adequate check-out and check-in procedure so that there are no collaborative collisions," said Bean. Different versions of HTML files, graphics, or Common Gateway Interface (CGI) programs need to be managed, and changes need to be tracked. Version control products such as StarBase, Integrity Engine, or Visual SourceSafe offer collaborative authoring, controlled access to files, synchronized versions, approval processes, audit trails of changes, and reusability of code.

Web Management

Multiple authors need to coordinate task assignments, deadlines, and resource use. A number of Web Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) and publishing packages offer project and/or task management capabilities. Bean suggested Microsoft's FrontPage and Haht's Hahtsite.

Graphics Creation

Adobe Photoshop is a leader for Web site graphics development on the high end; less expensive products for graphics creation include Lview Pro and PaintShop Pro. Bean's online outline provides links to graphics archives, and to guidelines for effective design use of graphics tools (see http://www.netins.com/development/index.htm).

"Be judicious in your use of animated graphics," suggested Bean. Videocraft's Gif Animator makes creation of these graphics simple and Egor creates animations using Java. In contrast, if you are interested in reducing the loading time of your page, you'll find tools such as GifWizard or Bandwidth Buster helpful.

Site Statistics

To determine if a site is successful, you must be able to find out who has visited it and where they have looked. Several vendors offer comprehensive reports that graphically illustrate site statistics, including WebTrends, Market Focus, and Net.Analysis. Bean suggested that Web developers consider the range of support for logfile formats, report filtering capabilities, database connectivity, and the ease of installation, configuration, and use for these programs. The statistics provided by such programs are often aproximate, but can provide ball-park figures for marketing and publishing purposes.

Database Connectors

A variety of products, such as Microsoft IIS, Macromedia's BackStage, and Borland's IntraBuilder, come bundled with "database connectors." Enterprising webmasters can build the interface to an existing database by crafting CGI scripts; a variety of tool collections such as Oracle's WWW Interface Kit OraPerl, and web.sql. will help build a solution. Bean suggested, however, that products such as Allaire's Cold Fusion or StormCloud's WebDBC should work in many instances.

Database connector programs should include data entry validation, variable manipulation, dynamic page flow control, and many other programming features. When shopping for a database connector, make sure it is compatible with your Web server, evaluate control over input and output, consider security features, preview performance and scalability, and determine how database results will be delivered to the user.

Hints for comparing products can be found at the Beowulf Project. The Beowulf Project is no longer at NASA. The site is now only available at Beowulf at http://www.beowulf.org/.

Intranet Demonstrations

Brian Phillips, head of the Information Services Division of the Naval War College, and Denise Duncan, a research fellow at the Logistics Management Institute (LMI), demonstrated two very different Intranet systems.

Phillips, who holds an MLS from the University of Rhode Island, explained that the Naval War College had created a "low-cost, low-frills" Intranet. The criteria for the project required it to be inexpensive to establish, secure, easily managed without additional staffing, reduce paper use, and make information more readily available. "It had to be functional and not just flash," said Phillips.

The minimum requirements for establishing this basic Intranet system included: a Local Area Network (LAN), a Web browser installed on each PC, and HTML files accessible via the network. Phillips's division offered tools and basic HTML training to each department.

"The way we converted most of our documents was very easy," Phillips said. "We preformatted just about everything, and created a macro using Microsoft Word, saved the file as text, and added an html extension. It was the path of least resistance." Because HTML is not involved, many of the routine posting and maintenance tasks can be performed by clerks.

The security of the system is maintained through the use of a gateway which translates between two different protocols. The Intranet is housed on a Novell network which uses an IPX/SPX protocol. The gateway translates this protocol to the TCP/IP protocol used for the Web so that Intranet users can follow links to outside sources. The gateway does not, however, translate requests for information from outside of the Intranet.

The Naval War College Intranet has reduced paperwork by allowing academic and training resources, general messages, news briefs, publications, and library information to be shared on the network. The amount of work required to post this information has been minimal and restricted to lower-grade staff members.

"Once we trained the departments, we very seldom hear from them again," Phillips said. "This follows our management decision that we weren't going to have the computer department be the document managers."

The Intranet system demonstrated by Duncan was very different from the Naval War College's simple, static network. Duncan has been a project manager in the development of online resources for NASA, National Science Foundation, NAL, and the Department of Defense. She is the author of a seminar entitled "Using the Internet for Government Applications."

Duncan demonstrated a prototype of the Navy Distributed Library (NDL), an Intranet which wouldeventually be accessible to Naval researchers. To create this prototype, project members surveyed librarians to determine the most useful database services for end-users, and solicited connection time from those services for beta testing. Twenty-nine library databases qualified, including Dialog, First Search, and OCLC.

Other more specialized resources include a link to the "Community of Science" list of experts (http://www.cos.com/), "Whois" servers for local libraries, technical reports and updates, and sample proposals and paperwork for large research and development projects. In addition, the Intranet offers access to electronic journals and both local and general library catalogs.

"Library catalogs were ranked number one by focus groups," said Duncan. "This is not a replacement of the library; it's an extension of the library into a user's workspace." Additionally, plug-in software allows users to "watch" as librarians conduct searches, and to guide searches by telephone.

"The idea of having an electronic library with a skilled reference librarian is very useful," said Duncan. "It's even more useful when there's a Union catalog, because they have a focused collection."

Management and Multi-Level Access Control

Duncan moved on to discuss Web project management and access controls. She referred to her experience in managing the NDL project, and her survey on strategic planning for the Internet that she conducted for The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

She noted that the rise of the Web occured at a propitious time for government agencies, when shrinking resources and a new consumer focus forced agency employees to "think outside of the box."

Managers were not usually the first to know about Internet projects within an agency. Many initial agency Web sites were created with volunteer labor from departments within agencies that distributed public information. "Creative solutions emerged from the bottom up," said Duncan.

Unfortunately, this meant that resources are not always available, and that some agency managers are just realizing the importance of having a consistent and useful Internet presence. "This technology is moving so fast that classic management is probably never going to apply," Duncan said. "The best thing that we can do is to make sure it serves our own purposes and is used in a cost-effective manner."

In July of 1996, HHS requested that LMI conduct a "quick and dirty" survey on how Cabinet level agencies organized the management of their Internet presence and how two successful agencies (FDA and CDC) had created their sites.

Duncan described the components of Web management process, defining a successful site as one that has a stable Web presence, is recognized by the public or by agency customers as useful, and has the support and recognition of upper management.

Successful Web teams had members from both the Information Resources Management and the Communications departments. They held regular meetings, attended by a rotating group of team members drawn from different departments. Team meetings were non-hierarchical, and members shared resources and services. They also helped to find resources for have-nots in the agency. Most volunteer Web development teams made the case to management for an increased Internet presence.

LMI recommended that HHS institutionalize three FTE's for development and maintenance of their agency's Internet presence. These could consist of part-time detailers from various departments.

"It's very important to represent different departments," Duncan said. "It's critical for everyone to feel a sense of ownership of the corporate 'face.' So we recommended low FTEs, but high numbers of people, with staff changes every nine or 10 months."

Creating Agency Intranets

Should an agency's Internet site planning process be replicated in that agency's Intranet design?

Duncan doesn't think so. While Internet sites generally offer public information, Intranets tend to contain information that is crucial to the agency's operation, such as payroll records, budgets, and strategic planning documents. Intranets make multiple applications available to people i the same organization, and this calls for varying levels of access control. Factors such as timeliness, security, reliability, and availability are key; these are not easily enforced through the efforts of volunteer committees.

"We don't want to use an ad hoc model for crucial functions," Duncan said. Instead, she recommended following existing ADP models which define requirements, design, and costs in advance of implementation.

Access Control

Duncan also suggested that agencies use security guidelines and checks and balances which are already in place. If staff members don't currently have access to personnel information, for example, then they should not be allowed to view it online.

"This is information packaging for certain audiences," she said. "Don't clutter the radar screen with things they don't need."

Access controls may be implemented in various ways: through encrypted login to certain areas; through individual or group user profiles contained in the system; or through domain or IP restriction. The NDL, for example, might be limited to users who are accessing the system from hosts with domain names ending in "navy.mil". The tools to create a secure Intranet are publicly available; user profiles may be created using non-proprietary PERL scripts.



Overview: Browser Plug-Ins

By Jessica Clark

A few years ago, video, graphic, and sound files were not immediately accessible online. Such files had to be compressed and transmitted via FTP, only to be extracted and viewed or played by applications on the user's end. This interrupted the flow of online browsing, and required the user to have access to multiple software packages.

This was remedied with the release of Netscape 2.0 in early 1996. This version allowed helper applications known as "plug-ins" to download files of different formats within the browser. Plug-ins can now perform many functions in addition to translating and displaying files, including online searching and indexing, data processing, calendar creation, remote viewing of other computer screens, and online "chat" and telephony.

The number of plug-ins has multiplied. The initial 2.0 release offered 20 plug-ins, while Netscape's current listing (at http://home.netscape.com/comprod/products/navigator/version_2.0/plugins/index.html) has 131. Many are now compatible with both Netscape and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. In addition to Netscape's page, other sites also offer lists of current plug-ins:

Plug-ins are free (or available on a trial basis), but are not generally included with browser software. Instead, Web users must download these applications as needed from the authoring companies' Web sites. It is quite possible to surf for months without needing to use a plug-in, but sooner or later, users will receive a message indicating they need one. By downloading and reviewing popular plug-ins, librarians can save themselves--and their patrons--time and confusion.

Multimedia and Animation

Macromedia's Shockwave is one of the oldest and most popular plug-ins; it dispays multimedia graphics linked with audio. Many commercial Web sites, including CNN, Warner Brothers Records, and Sony, incorporate Shockwave animations into their interfaces. Shockwave reads files developed with Macromedia Director, Authorware, or Freehand and sound files created with Macromedia SoundEdit16.

The newer Shockwave Flash plug-in displays smaller animated graphics for users with connection speeds as slow as 14.4Kbps, as well as interactive buttons and zooming control. Both programs are available for Macintosh 68K, Windows 3.X, Windows 95, and Windows NT platforms; to download either, go to http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/.

Apple's QuickTime plug-in (http://www.quickTime.apple.com/sw/) allows users to view QuickTime movies, animation, and VR panoramas, and to hear music and MIDI sound tracks. Version 1.0 often took its time to download movies, leaving the Web user with a still image and a sense of foreboding. Apple claims that version 1.1 begins to display animations while they are still loading, and caches movies so that they will load more quickly when replayed. This plug-in is available for Macintosh 68K, Power Mac, Windows 3.X, Windows 95, and Windows NT.

Other video plug-ins--such as Cineweb by Digigami, InterVU Player by InterVU, or NET TOOB Stream from Duplexx Software--allow users to view standard movie file formats such as AVI, MOV, and MPG.

Image Viewing

Image viewing plug-ins offer access to an alphabet soup of image file formats: AutoCAD, BMP, CGM, CPC, DXF, PBM, PCX, PIC, PWG, SVF, TDF, TIFF, and others.

Intercap Inline (http://docs.rinet.ru/Plugi/appb.htm) allows Web developers to incorporate Computer Graphics MetaFiles (CGM) or vector graphics into their pages. Vector graphics are smoother and clearer at multiple zoom levels than GIF or JPEG files; the plug-in allows viewers to magnify and pan across images. It is available for Windows 95 and Windows NT.

TruDef ( http://cgi.netscape.com/cgi-bin/pi_moreinfo.cgi?PID=11477) allows users to view several different graphics file formats and to manipulate and edit images. It is available for Windows 3.X, Windows 95, and Windows NT.


RealAudio by Progressive Networks (http://www.real.com/products/player/index.html) sets the industry standard for Web-based audio transmissions. This plug-in player allows users to tune into live broadcasts or to listen to recordings almost instantaneously, depending on their connection speed. Yahoo offers a listing (http://www.timecast.com/) of current and upcoming RealAudio live performances and broadcasts from national and international stations. RealAudio recordings of historical speeches are included in the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov/ammem/nfhome.html). Real Audio is available for Macintosh 68K, Power Mac, Windows 3.X, Windows 95, Windows NT, OS/2, IRIX, SUN OS, and LINUX platforms.

Document Management

Acrobat Reader by Adobe (http://www.adobe.com/prodindex/acrobat/) allows users to view, navigate, and print Portable Document Format (PDF) files. PDF files are compact and preserve the original formatting and layout of text and images. They provide more design control than HTML documents, and are less vulnerable to alteration. Software companies often use PDF files to create electronic manuals; this maintains the pagination of the printed version so that index references do not need to be changed. The Acrobat reader is available for Macintosh 68K, Power Mac, Windows 3.X, Windows 95, Windows NT, OS/2, IRIX, SUN OS, HP-UX, OSF1, AIX, and LINUX platforms.

Quick View Plus by Inso Corporation allows Web surfers to view, copy, print, and manage files from over 200 formats, including word processing, spreadsheet, database, graphics, presentation, and compressed formats. The software is available for Windows 3.X, Windows 95, and Windows NT; download a fully-functional 30-day trialware version from http://www.inso.com/frames/siteindx/sitepd1a.htm.

IBM's Techexplorer Hypermedia Browser (http://www.ics.raleigh.ibm.com/reg/register_demo.htm) processes TEX/LATEX, a markup language used forpublishing in education, mathematics, and many of the sciences. It formats and displays expressions and documents containing mathematical and scientific markup and customization for Internet display. It is available for Windows 95 and Windows NT.

The PowerPoint Animation Player & Publisher by Microsoft ( http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=fh;EN-US;ppt) allows users to view and publish PowerPoint animations and presentations in their browser's window. Designers must already have installed PowerPoint 95. Web pages created using this plug-in can contain animation, hyperlinks, sound, and special effects. The software is available for Windows 95 and Windows NT.

Other Useful/Interesting Tools

The PointCast Network by PointCast Inc. (http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/P/PointCast.html) is a free service that broadcasts up-to-the-minute news, weather, financial news, sports, and other information in a format similar to a screen-saver. Select a link within the newsfeed and the service will automatically launch Netscape and open the document. PointCast is available for Windows 3.X and Windows 95, and a beta version is available for Macintosh.

[email protected] 1.0.1, based on Farallon's collaboration software Timbuktu Pro for Networks, allows a user to view another [email protected] or Timbuktu user's screen in real time from within a browser. This collaboration tool could allow librarians to provide training and support, or allow clients to watch and provide feedback as a librarian conducts a literature search. With [email protected] you can view the screen of any user with [email protected] or Timbuktu Pro on either a Windows PC or Macintosh. For information visit http://macinsearch.com/infomac/comm/inet/look-at-me-101.html.

ISYS HindSite by ISYS/Odyssey Development allows Netscape Navigator users to perform full-text searches on the contents of previously accessed Web pages. HindSite indexes and saves the text content of all Web pages a user visits within a specified time frame. HindSite is available for Windows 3.X, Windows 95, and Windows NT; a 60-day trial version can be downloaded from http://www.isysdev.com/products/hindsite.htm.


Supporters of Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) are touting VRML sites as "the new Web." These sites are 3D "virtual worlds" in which users are represented by "avatars" and interact with other users and with information resources in an environment with spatial dimension. A number of plug-ins are associated with VRML, and developers have established a VRML Consortium. To learn more about this evolving technology, visit http://vrml.sgi.com.

Caveat Emptor

Many of these plug-ins are commercial tie-ins, written to promote files created by particular software packages. Others may be available for free for a short period of time, and then offer updates for a fee. Some are poorly written, or freeze when launched. Still others may languish, offering access to proprietary formats which are left behind as the Web evolves.

Still, plug-ins expand the capabilities of the World Wide Web, and serve as a testing ground for new communications and software standards. For this reason, it pays to keep an eye on these helper applications as the Web grows.



OCLC to Subsidize Workstation Purchases from Libraries Through June 30

OCLC will offer a credit of $750 on the purchase of each new Pentium-based OCLC workstation, providing added incentive for libraries to upgrade their equipment and take advantage of forecasted networking and software developments.

The credits apply to the current M5133Gs and M5166 models, and any subsequent workstations introduced by June 30, 1997. The workstations and the credit program are available in the United States only.

OCLC recently alerted members (OCLC Newsletter, Nov/Dec 1996) to new networking and software options that will become available from OCLC in the next few years that will need Pentium-based workstations running under Windows 95, Windows 97, or Windows NT. Through the 1997 Workstation Replacement Program, OCLC will help libraries upgrade their hardware now to avoid being marooned on what OCLC has called the isle of obsolescence.

Libraries that do not upgrade to Pentium-based workstations wil not be able to use many of OCLCs computer-based services in just a few short years.

Workstation orders received through June 30, 1997, including orders received at OCLC in January and February before the programs official start, qualify for the $750 credit and free installation, a $152 value. Workstations do not have to be installed by June 30 for libraries to receive the $750 credit.

Use the Standard Computer Products Request (COMPRO) to order workstations.

For more ordering, installation and price information, FEDLINK members should contact Claudette Watson at OCLC on 1-800-898-6252, ext. 6177. OCLC will accept purchase orders or credit cards for equipment orders, but must also receive the COMPRO form.

OCLC Cataloging Fixed Fee Pricing Begins in July, Quotes Available Now

Beginning in July, following a three-year test, online full-cataloging members can choose OCLC fixed-fee pricing for cataloging.

The fixed-fee price uses annual transaction averages and includes all online and offline cataloging products--searching, setting holdings, exports, cards, tapes, profiling, some 88 product codes in all--except non-OCLC derived tapeloading, micro products, and major microform products. The fixed-fee period will run July through June each year.

"While fixed-fee pricing for cataloging will not necessarily be cheaper, there is the advantage of a known cost on an annual basis," said Jennifer Younger, assistant director for technical services and liaison to the regional campus libraries at Ohio State University Libraries, which tested fixed-fee pricing. "Known annual costs make it easy to assure budget allocations will be sufficient to meet expenses."

Younger said fixed-fee pricing also can help libraries improve work flows. "It is possible to fine-tune work flows in an atmosphere conducive to experimentation when the corresponding expenditures can be reviewed on an annual basis," she said.

The best candidates for this pricing include libraries with stable or increasing activity or libraries that want to try out new services, such as the OCLC PromptCat service, OCLC Bibliographic Record Notification, or the OCLC Selection service, all included in the fixed-fee price.

FEDLINK OCLC libraries interested in OCLC fixed-fee pricing for cataloging should contact a FEDLINK OCLC Information Specialist at 202-707-4848 or send email inquiries to [email protected]. Please include a fax number for quotations. OCLC requires an order form signed by the network no later than June 15, 1997.

Passport for Windows Diacritics

Users have asked questions about diacritics created by Passport for Windows that do not pass the validation process. OCLC has provided an explanation.

Passport allows users to generate characters in PRISM that are not part of the USMARC character set. The characters will generate error messages when records are updated, replaced, produced, exported, or validated. Users must replace the invalid characters before taking final action on the record. These characters were approved as additions to the USMARC character set in 1993 but have not yet been implemented in most systems that distribute MARC records. OCLC will coordinate and time its implementation to coincide with LCs implementation. No firm plans have been determined yet.

Invalid characters are

Musical sharp,
Spacing grave,
Spacing underscore,
Spacing tilde,
Spacing circumflex,
Phono copyright symbol,
Copyright mark,
Inverted question mark.

OCLC Distributes New Searching Manual

On February 27, OCLC began distributing "Searching for Bibliographic Records," which supersedes "Guide to Searching the Online Union Catalog."

Each copy has new tabs, a new binder label, and a quick reference. Users should discard "Guide to Searching the Online Union Catalog" and relabel the binder.

OCLC created "Searching" using the Information Mapping method of documentation development so that users can find information quickly. In addition, OCLC wrote introductory chapters for new users who need a broad overiew of searching OCLC systems and services.

OCLC is pleased to offer this new manual and is eager to hear your comments.

Majors Scientific Books Now Part of OCLC PromptCat Service

Majors Scientific Books Inc., the largest distributor of health science books in the United States, is now participating in the OCLC PromptCat service.

The OCLC PromptCat service delivers a cataloging record for any title having a monographic record in WorldCat (the OCLC Online Union Catalog), the worlds most comprehensive database of bibliographic information. Records arrive at the library at the same time as library materials sent by the vendor, and a holding symbol is set in WorldCat.

Majors Scientific joins Academic Book Center, Ambassador Book Service, Blackwell North America, and Yankee Book Peddler as an active PromptCat vendor. Baker & Taylor, Book Clearing House, Brodart Company, Casalini Libri, DA Information Services, Eastern Book Company, Iberbook International, Puvill Libros, and Rittenhouse Book Distributors have also agreed to join the OCLC PromptCat service.

Incorporated by J.A. Majors in 1909, the Majors Company is one of the oldest medical book distributors in the United States. Majors continues to automate programs to accommodate the special needs of their customers. Majors Scientific Books Inc. is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with branch offices in Houston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

OCLC Develops Cataloging Micro Enhancer for Widows

OCLC expects to deliver the new Microsoft Windows-based version of CAT ME Plus later this year. New services include an interactive connection to OCLC Cataloging to retrieve full records from the online directly within the Cataloging Micro Enhancer software, access to OCLC System News (formerly PRISM News), access to the system logon greeting after batch processing, ability to batch replace on a local record to have the master record in WorldCat (the OCLC Online Union Catalog), ability to use an authority local file for storage, editing, and exporting of authority records, and LAN compatibility.

The new Cataloging Micro Enhancer will be a 32-bit product compatible with Windows 95 or Windows NT (version 3.51 or higher). It will not be compatible with Windows 3.1 or 3.11. OCLC has recently announced a Windows 95 upgrade package to help users upgrade. Please contact Claudette Watson at OCLC (1-800-898-6252-6177) for more information.

To run Windows 95, Microsoft requires a minimum 486/25 Mhz-based system, 8 megabytes (MB) of memory, 40 MB of available hard disk space, VGA or higher-resolution display, and a Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device. Please note that these are minimum requirements for Windows 95.

To run Windows NT, Microsoft requires a minimum 486/25 MHz or Pentium-based system, 12 MB of memory, 110 MB of available hard disk space, access to a CD-ROM drive, VGA or higher-resolution display, and a Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device. Please note that these are minimum requirements for Windows NT.

Additionally, the Cataloging Micro Enhancer will require 30 MB of available hard disk space reserved for the program.

For optimum system performance and quicker response time, larger files, and the ability to run multiple applications at once, OCLC recommends running the Cataloging Micro Enhancer on a system more powerful than these minimum requirements.

Watch for more updates on the Cataloging Micro Enhancer in the coming months.

ACCESS RUSSIA Now Part of OCLC ILL Document Supplier Program

Access Russia, which provides rapid search, photocopying and delivery of publications from the libraries and information centers of Russia, the republics of the former Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe, is joining the ILL Document Supplier Program. Access Russia also provides rapid translations of documents into English.

The service gives weekly bibliographic updates on books and journal articles recently published in Russia. In addition to regular document delivery requests, Access Russia can provide original or photocopied documents from its bibliographic updates.

The OCLC ILL Document Supplir Program increases access to special collections through commercial vendors and public and private libraries to meet the needs of OCLC users. Libraries can access the Access Russia document delivery service with the OCLC symbol, A4R.

"We provide the search, retrieval and processing of a wide variety of information," said Nathan Birman, president of Access Russia. "Our experience working within the various information centers and libraries of the former Soviet Union gives us a solid foundation and understanding of how to acquire vast amounts of stored information in this part of the world."

"As OCLC membership and participation continues to grow internationally, it becomes more important than ever to make documents available from a variety of suppliers worldwide," said Glenn Patton, manager, OCLC Resource Sharing and Micro-Products Section. "The addition of Access Russia as a document supplier brings another valuable resource to OCLC member libraries."

Access Russia was established in July 1992 as a division of Access Innovations Inc., an Albuquerque, New Mexico, database construction and conversion company providing abstracting, indexing, data entry, data conversion services and consulting. Access Innovations also owns the National Information Center for Educational Media, a database and directory publisher. Access Russia, based in Albany, California, became a separate corporation in July 1994.


Due to workload, FEDLINK will not schedule most OCLC classes for the month of May. Instead, students are invited to attend some equivalent CAPCON classes at the CAPCON member price of $105:
  • OCLC Editing Techniques for Copy Cataloging, May 9, 9:30am - 12:30pm.
  • Searching OCLC and Interpreting the MARC Recond, May 22, 9:30am - 4:00pm.
    This date has been revised since the publication of the printed version of FEDLINK Technical Notes for March 1997.
Begin the registration process by calling CAPCON at (202) 331-5771.
Look for future announcements on more joint CAPCON/FEDLINK training efforts.


A Fast Start to FirstSearch

(This is the first in a series of four articles on FirstSearch. The article is based on information from OCLCs web page, which is used with permission.)

FirstSearch provides libraries with access to a variety of information resources, including bibliographic citations, full-text, and document ordering. FirstSearch users can search more than 60 databases or review one and a half million full-text articles all linked to citations from nine databases. The system gives OCLC member libraries a link to the OCLC Interlibrary Loan service and the OCLC Selections service. Users can also order documents indexed in more than 30 databases.

A quick and easy-to-use service, FirstSearch can help librarians and patrons get the information they need efficiently and economically. Here are the first seven steps to making FirstSearch available:

1. Starting Up

To start using FirstSearch right away, OCLC will send members an authorization number and password, a FirstSearch StartUp Kit, and a FirstSearch documentation kit. Users who have purchased FirstSearch and have not received these items should contact FEDLINK for assistance.

2. Logging On

FirstSearch users may connect to the system via Internet, dial-access, or multidrop dedicated-line access.

To access FirstSearch via Internet, connect to the Internet using your institutions procedure. Type telnet fscat.oclc.org and press <enter>, and then enter your authorization number and password.

For dial-access logon to FirstSearch, use OCLCs Passport software, or other communications software such as ProComm Plus. Multidrop dedicated-line users must use Passport. Detailed instructions on accessing FirstSearch via these methods can be found in chapter 4 of the FirstSearch System Guide. To order a copy of the Passport software, contact FEDLINK.

3. Customizing

Membrs can use the administrative module to customize and manage the FirstSearch account. In the administrative module users can change passwords, block access to databases, control ILL access and full-text display options, and set the holdings display level. They can also check to determine the number of searches remaining on a per-search authorization number.

To access the administrative module, log on to FirstSearch, type "admin" at any screen except the Welcome screen, and then enter the administrative password.

More information on the administrative module appears in chapter 3 of the FirstSearch System Guide, "Managing FirstSearch." FEDLINKs training class "FirstSearch Administration," currently scheduled for April 24 and July 18, 1997, provides a hands-on introduction to the administrative module.

4. Searching

To search FirstSearch, users simply select a topic area and databases from a menu and follow the online instructions and examples. Each screen gives additional searching hints. Online help is always just a keystroke away. Users can just type "h" for general help, "h databases," or "h labels," and select a database name for information about specific databases or searches available for a database.

When counting searches used on a per-search authorization, the following actions are considered a search:

The following activities are not counted as searches:

5. Accessing full text

Set the full-text access toggle to ON in the FirstSearch administrative module to allow users to view, email, and print ASCII full-text articles. Full-text access is available for a growing number of databases--ABI/INFORM, ArticleFirst, Business Dateline, FastDoc, Periodical Abstracts, and Wilson Business Abstracts. The "E-mail only" option, set in the administrative module, enables patrons to send full-text articles but not view the full text online.

6. Publicizing

OCLC provides several items to help make library users aware of FirstSearch. Publicity materials include a sample press release and sample announcement letter, FirstSearch fliers, Bibliographic Instruction Tips, and Internet stickers that can be placed near FirstSearch terminals.

7. Orienting users

Staff of FEDLINK member libraries have used a variety of techniques to introduce patrons to FirstSearch. Some libraries have offered special FirstSearch orientation sessions, while others have incorporated FirstSearch into their regular bibliographic instruction programs. Sometimes, FEDLINK staff members have helped on-site with FirstSearch demonstrations.

OCLC materials can also help orient users to FirstSearch. At FirstSearch terminals, libraries can make copies of the FirstSearch Quick Reference Guide, the Using FirstSearch booklet, and the FirstSearch Databases notebook available to patrons.

For more information on starting or using FirstSearch, contact a member of the FEDLINK OCLC team at (202) 707-4848.


Two FEDLINK Vendors Cease Operations

Two FEDLINK vendors, EBS Book Service (ES) and Information Specialists (US) have announced they are no longer in operation. Watch for an upcoming Information Alert outlining interim procedures for obtaining materials ordered and/or transferring remaining funds to another FEDLINK venor, or you may call the FEDLINK Fiscal Hotline at (202) 707-4900 for assistance.


Call for FY98 FEDLINK Estimates

The FLICC Budget Working group and FEDLINK Advisory Council would like your comments on the FEDLINK budget and fee structure for FY98. Instead of sending out a detailed "call for estimates" about your plans for funding FEDLINK services, this year we have only a few questions about the trends in your library budget and in your use of the transfer pay and direct pay service options. You can answer the questions online through the FLICC web site by filling out the form posted under the "Hot Topics" section (http://www.loc.gov/flicc). If you do not have web access, the Fiscal Hotline, (202) 707-4900, can fax you a copy of the short questionnaire. Your input will help us develop solid projections of the service activity levels for next year so that FY98 fees may be set accordingly.


FEDLINK Institute on Library of Congress Subject Cataloging

Monday, April 21--Wednesday, April 23, 1997

This three-day program offers a fundamental understanding of the basic concepts underlying the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and the Library of Congress Classification (LCC). The institute does not cover Dewey Decimal Classification. The institute will familiarize students with Library of Congress subject cataloging tools sufficiently to use them when conducting Library of Congress subject cataloging at their agencies. The faculty include: Mary K.D. Pietris and Lynn M. El-Hoshy, Senior Cataloging Policy Specialists in the Cataloging Policy and Support Office, Library of Congress.

Each student must have a set of institute workbooks. Students who do not bring personal copies must order them. For complete information, see Meeting Announcement 97-18, or call the institute coordinator, Patti Fields, at (202) 707-4800.


Editorial Staff

FEDLINK Technical Notes is published by the Federal Library and Information Center Committee. Send suggestions of areas for FLICC attention or for inclusion in FEDLINK Technical Notes to:

FEDLINK Technical Notes

Federal Library and Information Center Committee

Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540-4935

FLICC/FEDLINK: Phone (202) 707-4800 Fax (202) 707-4818

FEDLINK Fiscal Operations: Phone (202) 707-4900 Fax (202) 707-4999

Editorial email: [email protected]

Executive Director: Susan Tarr

Editor-In-Chief: Robin Hatziyannis

Contributing Writer: Jessica Clark

Editorial Assistant: Mitchell Harrison

FLICC was established in 1965 (as the Federal Library Committee) by the Library of Congress and the Bureau of the Budget for the purpose of concentrating the intellectual resources of the federal library and related information community. FLICC's goals are: To achieve better utilization of library and information center resources and facilities; to provide more effectiv planning, development, and operation of federal libraries and information centers; to promote an optimum exchange of experience, skill, and resources; to promote more effective service to the nation at large and to foster relevant educational opportunities.


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Comments: Library of Congress Help Desk (04/03/97)