FEDLINK Technical Notes

June, 1997

Volume 15 Number 6


TABLE OF CONTENTS

FEDLINK Sets Five-Year Goals

TECH NEWS: Creating Web Forms

OCLC News

End-of-Year Schedule for FY97 Accounts

How to Use FEDLINK in FY98

NOW AVAILABLE! FEDLINK Technical Processing Services Kit

Editorial Staff


FEDLINK Sets Five-Year Goals

Last fall, FEDLINK began a strategic planning process to develop a five-year business plan. The plan is intended to ensure that FEDLINK continues to move in a fiscally sound direction consistent with membership needs. (See FEDLINK Technical Notes, February 1997.) To initiate the process, FEDLINK hired Abacus Technologies (and their subcontractor Robinson & Associates) to analyze and propose strategic options for FEDLINK.

The FAC Articulates FEDLINKs Mission

Following an exhaustive research, focus group, and interview phase, Abacus called on the FEDLINK Advisory Council (FAC) to articulate its mission statement and relationship as the operational arm of the Federal Library and Information Center Committee (FLICC). In April, the FAC devoted one of its sessions to a thorough discussion of FEDLINKs role both within FLICC and for its members from the federal information community. roup consensus developed the following mission statement: The mission of FEDLINK is to work cooperatively with libraries and information centers to achieve effective management and effective delivery of essential information-related products and services (traditional and virtual) in the rapidly changing federal environment, and to sustain FLICC.

Once the statement was drafted, Susan Tarr, FLICC Executive Director, presented the mission to both the FLICC Executive Board (FEB) and moderated a discussion of the statement at the Spring FLICC Quarterly Membership Meeting. Since FEDLINK was organized to support FLICCs mission to achieve better utilization of federal library and information center resources and facilities through professional development, promotion of services, and coordination of available resources, the general consensus from FLICC members on the new FEDLINK mission statement focused on two general areas. First, members applauded its business-oriented focus on service to both members and to the broader federal library and information center community. Second, members recognized the importance of FEDLINKs support of the broader FLICC goals of library cooperation and coordination and FLICC work to ensure the quality of information services within federal agencies and to others concerned with libraries and information centers. FLICC membership was, however, divided as to whether FEDLINKs mission statement should be explicit about its role vis-a-vis FLICC.

5-Year Business Plan Balances Service with Business

At the same time FEDLINK strives to fulfill its mission, it must generate sufficient fee revenues to provide its member services and to support FLICCs various activities. Consequently, FEDLINK finds that as its business environment evolves, it must increasingly balance its customer service role with a cost effective approach to business. The Abacus business plan guides FEDLINK through this process, helping FEDLINK analyze costs and benefits, define its market focus, and establish benchmarks to create, implement, and evaluate its efforts. It also recommends goals and objectives that, over the five years of the plan, increasingly contain operating costs without compromising the FEDLINK mission.

The eight primary goals of the FEDLINK business plan are:

  1. Understand the business environment. FEDLINK relies on comprehensive and current data about the information business environment. To have such current information available, FEDLINK will implement procedures to gather information about member needs and satisfaction, identify existing and emerging markets, and develop efficient means of documenting and reporting this information.
  2. Understand FEDLINK customers. To provide the best services and make sound business decisions, FEDLINK must identify customer satisfaction criteria. With the criteria in hand, FEDLINK can develop targeted plans to align its offerings, procurement, and financial management services to best serve its members.
  3. Focus FEDLINKs product and service offerings. To promote cost effectiveness within FEDLINK, FEDLINK needs to identify criteria to evaluate current and potential products and services. By comparing its offerings against these criteria, FEDLINK will better refine its selection of products and services in terms of quality and cost effectiveness.
  4. Keep members current with trends in information products, services, and procedures. To offer valuable cutting-edge products and services, FEDLINK must keep abreast of trends, developments, and innovations in the information industry. This thorough knowledge will facilitate FEDLINKs ability to assist federal libraries in their use of emerging information products and help members better participate in their agencies information policy development.
  5. Implement a cogent marketing plan. FEDLINKs members need to be aware of the value added by FEDLINK services including support for FLICC initiatives. To reach the greatest appropriate audience, FEDLINK must ensure that existing and potential members understand the range of products and services FEDLINK offers.
  6. Maintain FEDLINKs fiscal soundness. The stroger FEDLINK is, the better able it is to sustain the efforts of FLICC. Through a combination of an effective pricing structure, controlled growth, and cost containment, FEDLINK will continue to enhance FLICCs mission of improving federal library cooperation and coordination and ensuring the quality of information and services within federal agencies.
  7. Maximize management of human resources. To provide more customer-oriented staffing, FEDLINK will leverage its personnel strengths. FEDLINK will analyze a variety of staffing structures to determine which personnel mix best serves its members in a cost-effective manner.
  8. Streamline FEDLINK internal resources. To assist members and operate more cost-effectively, FEDLINK will need to increase its use of internal electronic resources. FEDLINK will investigate facilitating member communication and develop a plan to improve both customer satisfaction and reporting.

Taking the Next Steps

With the recommendations of the FAC and FEDLINK staff, combined with the comments of the FLICC Executive Board (FEB) and the FLICC membership, the business plan will become integral in the 1998 FEDLINK performance plan. Currently, all levels of FLICC and FEDLINK member representatives and staff are reviewing the specific objectives and action steps that Abacus identified. Since the business plan covers a five-year period, many of the first actions will include data collection and exploration of new approaches to current efforts. As FEDLINK continues to move ahead with the business plan, more innovative efforts will come into being by 1999.

As the FEDLINK business plan takes shape, FLICC staff and officers need your guidance to make the right choices on behalf of both FLICC and FEDLINK members. Please contact us by letter, phone, fax, email (flicc@loc.gov) or through the FLICC web site (http://www.loc.gov/flicc).

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TECH NEWS

Creating Web Forms

by Jessica Clark

Previous Tech News columns have explained how to present information and graphics via the Web. This column will focus on how to create Web forms in order to glean information from users--such as registration information, answers to survey questions, or requests for materials (see below).

CGI Scripts

With a basic grasp of HTML, creating Web forms simply involves learning a new set of tags. Implementing the forms, however, requires a basic understanding of programming and server mechanics.

Forms link to CGI (Common Gateway Interface) scripts which connect the users browser with programs on your server that house and process the form information.

CGI scripts may be written in a number of different programming languages, including AppleScript, Visual Basic, the UNIX Bourne Shell, and Perl. Different servers accept different programming languages; ask your system administrator which language is appropriate. You will also need to ask if there is access to the CGI-BIN directory of the Web server. Scripts must be stored in this specially configured directory, or they will not work.

Creating a Form in HTML

Forms may be entered directly into HTML documents. Like other elements, such as lists and tables, forms begin with an opening tag <FORM> and end with a closing tag </FORM>.

A typical opening form tag looks like this:

<FORM METHOD=POST ACTION="http://www.institution.gov/cgi-bin/script"> The tag must contain two attributes: a METHOD, which tells the browser how to submit the entered information to the script, and an ACTION, which containsa URL for the script that needs to be run.

There are two accepted values for the METHOD attribute--GET, which appends the entered information to the end of the URL for the script, and POST, which sends the form data to the script in a separate unit. POST is safest to use because information attached to the script URL could be truncated during transmission.

The ACTION attribute points to the script that processes the form information. It is written in the same format as a URL (For example: http://www.institution.gov/cgi-bin/script), and may be indexed by a relative path or a full URL. A web page may contain multiple forms, but they may not be nested. Each form must end before you may introduce a new form pointing to a different script.

Providing Data Entry Options

You can offer your users several ways to enter information: single-line text fields, radio buttons (which allow them to choose only one option from many), checkboxes (which allow them to choose several items from a list), scrolling lists, and text areas.

You may format these form elements using HTML commands, and enter titles, instructions, and options in plain text. Please note: if there is no text next to form elements such as check boxes, the user will see nothing but the boxes.

The INPUT Tag

Text fields, password fields, radio buttons, checkboxes, and Submit and Reset buttons are all created with the <INPUT> tag. This tag stands alone--it does not require a closing tag--and contains the following attributes:

The TEXTAREA Tag

This tag creates a field for users to type text or numbers. While the text field created with the INPUT tag is limited to one line, this command allows you to specify the height and width of the field using the ROWS and COLS attributes. The TEXTAREA tag is also different from the INPUT tag in that it must be closed with </TEXTAREA>. You must include a NAME in the TEXTAREA tag (For example: "title").

The SELECT Tag

This tag creates a scrolling list. You may use the optional "SIZE" attribute to specify how many choices will appear on the screen (For example: in the SELECT tag below, all four items will be displayed. If the SIZE attribute was not there, only "Standard Mail" would be displayed, and the user would have to scroll down to see the other options.) If users can select more than one item in a select list, you may include the attribute MULTIPLE within the tag.

List items are preceded by the <OPTION> tag. Unlike the INPUT tag, the SELECT tag does not require a NAME attribute. When the user hits the Submit button, the text which appears next to the <OPTION> tag is submitted to the script.

Submit and Reset Buttons

For a form to interact with a CGI script, it must contain a Submit button. As noted above, you create a Submit button using the <INPUT> tag, and may change the text of the button by including text in the VALUE attribute. You may also include a Reset button which clears the form; the code for this is: <INPUT TYPE=RESET>

Sample Form

Here is an example of a form which allows a user to submit a request for library materials. This form may be viewed at http://www.erols.com/samizdat/sample.html:

</HTML>
<HEAD><TITLE>Request for Materials</TITLE>< HEAD>
<BODY>
<H2>Request for Materials</H2>
<FORM METHOD=POST ACTION=http://www.institution.gov/cgi-bin/script²>
Your name:<INPUT TYPE=TEXT NAME="username">
<P>Your password: <INPUT TYPE=PASSWORD
NAME=PASSWORD>
<P>Type of resource:<BR>
<INPUT TYPE=RADIO NAME="resourcetype"VALUE="book" CHECKED>Book<BR>
<INPUT TYPE=RADIO NAME="resourcetype"VALUE="periodical">Periodical<BR>
<INPUT TYPE=RADIO NAME="resourcetype"VALUE="whitepaper"> White Paper
<P>Topic area(s):<BR>
<INPUT TYPE=CHECKBOX NAME="policy"VALUE="chosen"> Policy<BR>
<INPUT TYPE=CHECKBOX NAME="history"VALUE="chosen"> History<BR>
<INPUT TYPE=CHECKBOX NAME="court decisions"VALUE="chosen"> Court Decisions
<P>Enter the title of the resource in the box below:<P>
<TEXTAREA NAME="title" ROWS=10 COLS="50">
</TEXTAREA>
<P>Select a delivery method:
<SELECT NAME="delivery" SIZE="4">
<OPTION>Standard Mail
<OPTION>UPS
<OPTION>Federal Express
<OPTION>Courier
</SELECT>
</P> <INPUT TYPE="SUBMIT" VALUE="Submit your request">
</FORM>
</BODY>
</HTML>

CGI Resources

Form Creation Resources

Please note that the tutorials are specific to certain audiences and may contain instructions which dont apply to your situation.

HTML Guides

WWW Style Guides:

Graphics:

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OCLC News

Timely Registration Required for FY98

Members are reminded to register and return signed IAGs in a timely fashion for FY98 services. Access to OCLC services will be blocked earlier than in the past for those who do not register and return signed IAGs. Registration should be completed as soon as possible once the forms are made available in August. Those who have not registered by the end of October will receive reminders from FEDLINK Network Operations in early November, and OCLC access will be blocked if members do not return their registrations by that time. Assuming funds are authorized by Congress in a timely manner, signed IAGs will need to be returned within the allowed 30 days.

Command Error in OCLC Technical Bulletin 222

The recently distributed Technical Bulletin 222 for OCLC Interlibrary Lon Enhancements contains an error in Section 5, The Apply Command. In both Step/Action tables on page 12, the command for returning to the display of a Review request is incorrect.

The command line should read:

To return to the display of the Review request, type "ill" and press <F11>.

Please make a note of this correction in the printed copy of TB 222. The error has been corrected in the electronic versions of the Technical Bulletin available via the OCLC Web site and via FTP. OCLC apologizes for any inconvenience this error may have caused.

Keyword Searching Response Times Improve

Since OCLC introduced system keyword searches several years ago, it continues to grow in popularity. This has resulted in system response times creeping toward an average of six seconds per search. To improve response times, OCLC installed some software and changed the system configuration in mid May.

Early system statistics indicate this effort was successful; the current average response time for keyword searches on Monday, May 19, 1997, came in at around 2 seconds per search. Other than faster response times, there are no other changes apparent to users.

Laser Printer Stock Information Available

OCLC has an update on vendors creating label stock for laser printers for the OCLC formats (SL4, SLB, SL6, SP1, SP2) and the status of each. This stock is compatible with CatCD for Windows and will be compatible with CatME for Windows and the OCLC Cataloging Label Program. They will also be compatible with the next version of CJK. The vendor list includes:

Brodart--1-800-233-8959
Included in their 1997 catalog (page 72)
SL4/SLB--order number 55 395 020
SL6--order number 55 395 021
SP1/SP2--order number 55 395 022
Gaylord--1-800-448-6160
Included in their 1997 catalog (page 54)
SL4/SLB--order number 9001
SL6--order number 9002
SP1/SP2--order number 9003
Vernon--1-800-878-0253
Included in their 1996-1997 catalog (page 17)
SP1/SP2--order number 7839
SL4/SLB--order number 7846*
SL6--order number 7856*
*(These two are NOT in the catalog; information is available on the Vernon Web site at www.vernlib.com; these will be added to next years catalog.)
Highsmith--1-800-558-2110
All formats will be available August 1 and will be included in their new 1997/1998 catalog which will be available in August.
University Products--1-800-532-9281
They plan to create stock in the future, but it is not available at this time.

Six More Publishers Offer Journals Through FirstSearch

Blackwell Publishers, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Munksgaard, NRC Research Press, Scandinavian University Press and Stockton Press have agreed to offer their journals electronically through OCLC FirstSearch Electronic Collections Online, a new OCLC reference service scheduled to be released in June. These six bring the number of publishers to 16 and the number of journals to almost 500. Additional content agreements are expected in the coming months.

The journals these six publishers will provide broaden the scope of the Electronic Collections Online service," said John Barnes, director, OCLC Electronic Publishing. "They expand the offerings in the humanities and social sciences and deepen the coverage of medical, biological and physical sciences, in keeping with our goal of meeting the diverse needs of our member libraries."

Adis International, Blackwell Science Ltd., Carfax; Chapman & Hall, North America, Current Biology Ltd., the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, MIT Press, Thomson Science and Professional Publishers, which includes Chapman & Hall Ltd. and Rapid Science, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and Sigma Theta Tau International have previously agreed to offer journals electronically through Electronic Collections Online.

OCLC FirstSearch Electronic Collections Online enables libraries to subscribe to large collections of academic journals, from many publishers in a discipline, and access them remotely through a sinle World Wide Web interface that supports cross-journal searching and extensive browsing.

Libraries using Electronic Collections Online will subscribe to journals directly with publishers or subscription agents. Access accounts established via the network (e.g., FEDLINK) will allow libraries to access the journals through the World Wide Web at OCLCs headquarters in Dublin, Ohio.

End users of Electronic Collections Online will be able to search, browse for, and display article citations for all the journals available through the service and display abstracts or complete articles for journals their library subscribes to. Users can browse lists of journals, selected issues, or a selected topic area.

Electronic Collections Online combines the cost benefits associated with remote access to data with the advantages of local collection management. It will reduce information costs for libraries by centralizing storage and access. This will enable libraries to share the cost of loading, archiving, and providing access to their electronic journal collections. In addition, Electronic Collections Online offers libraries a number of value-added features, including print-quality article representation, usage statistics, technology migration, and technical and product support.

Founded in 1926, Blackwell Publishing serves the research, education, and training worlds with English-language material: student textbooks, professional periodicals, and interactive software. As part of the Blackwell Group, the worlds largest privately held book and journal company, Blackwell Publishings printed and electronic publishing spans the humanities, social sciences, business, and information technology.

Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. is a leading publisher of books and journals in social and behavioral sciences [www.erlbaum.com].

Founded in 1917, Munksgaard is a publishing house that is internationally recognized for its scientific journals, especially for its journals on dentistry and medicine, which have established a unique position in the world market. Munksgaard now has more than 70 scientific journals, primarily in the fields of medicine and dentistry, and is currently in the process of adding new titles to the list.

For more than 80 years, the National Research Council of Canada has been the principal science and technology agency of the Canadian federal government. With 16 research institutes located in 11 major centers across the country, NRC is well-positioned to foster regional economic innovation. In addition, NRCs information and technology diffusion services--the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI), NRC Research Press, the Industrial Research Assistance Program, and the Canadian Technology Network--help thousands of clients every year.

Scandinavian University Press is Norways largest publisher of journals. The wide publishing program ranges from highly acknowledged international research publications to scientific magazines for the general public. A major part of the publications consists of scientific journals within medicine and science, humanities and social sciences. Of the 110 journals published by Scandinavian University Press, more than 60 are in English. Thus Scandinavian University Press has become one of the leading journals publishers not only in Scandinavia but among the university presses of the world.

As part of one of the worlds largest publishers, Stockton Press has a substantial list of leading international journals in the key areas of science and medicine. Stockton Press journals re dedicated to the most rapid publication of new scientific papers consistent with the high standards of peer review, using the latest technologies for cost-effective, high-quality publication. Stockton Press is part of Macmillan Ltd, which is a part of the Georg von Holtzbrinck group. Stockton is affiliated in the U.S. with sister companies Nature Publishing and Saint Martins Press.

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End-of-Year Schedule for FY97 Accounts

FEDLINK Fiscal Operations (FFO) must receive requests for adding or canceling services, or for adding or transferring funds by the deadlines noted below to complete necessary IAG, delivery order, and billing activity by the end of FY97. Requests received after these dates cannot be processed this fiscal year.

Add Funds

New Service/New Funds form to add funds to accounts over $25,000 must be received in FFO. July 31

Signed IAG amendment to add funds to accounts over $25,000 must be received in FFO. August 15

New Service/New Funds form to add funds to accounts under $25,000 must be received in FFO. August 15

Signed IAG amendment to add funds to accounts under $25,000 must be received in FFO. September 17

Refund

Transfer Pay Account Adjustment form to request a refund must be received in FFO. The form includes a requirement that members certify that they have checked with the vendor(s) to be sure that funds remaining in the account after the refund will be sufficient to cover pending invoices, on-order items, and planned usage. July 31

Terminate Service

Transfer Pay Account Adjustment form to terminate service before the delivery order expires must be received in FFO. August 15

Move Funds

Transfer Pay Account Adjustment form to move funds for accounts that will pass the $25,000 threshold must be received in FFO. The move funds request includes a requirement that members certify that they have checked with the vendor(s) to be sure that funds remaining in the account after the refund will be sufficient to cover pending invoices, on-order items, and planned usage. August 22

Transfer Pay Account Adjustment form to move funds for accounts that will not pass the $25,000 threshold must be received in FFO. The move funds request includes a requirement that members certify that they have checked with the vendor(s) to be sure that funds remaining in the account after the refund will be sufficient to cover pending invoices, on-order items, and planned usage. September 5

For more information, contact the FEDLINK Fiscal Hotline at (202) 707-4900 with questions regarding the FY97 end-of-year schedule.

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How to Use FEDLINK in FY98

On August 4, FEDLINK will present a workshop on how to use our interagency cooperative procurement and finance program to simplify your job of acquiring information services for federal libraries and other offices. The workshop is designed both for current FEDLINK members and new and potential users.

To be sure that the topics of greatest concern are covered, we encourage both local and regional FEDLINK members to submit questions in advance of the workshop. LC contracting office personnel, FEDLINK network program specialists, and FEDLINK fiscal staff will be on hand throughout the day to answer questions for individual agencies. FEDLINK extends a particular invitation to the procurement and finance personnel who support FEDLINK users to attend the program along with the agencys regular FEDLINK point of contact.

The day will run from 9:00 am-1:00 pm, and will include presentations on the following topics:

FEDLINK Program
Meg Williams, Network Program Specialist
Services, Authority, Eligibility, Cost/Benefits
FEDLINK Contracting
Shirley Courtney, FEDLINK Contracting Officer
How to Join FEDLINK
Ruby Thomas, Member Services Supervisor
Registration and Inter-Agency Agreements (IAGs)
FEDLINK Accounts
Mary Wilson, Fiscal Manager
Invoice Payments and Statements

To register for this free program, call (202) 707-4800.

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NOW AVAILABLE!

FEDLINK Technical Processing Services Kit

For a complete overview and complete step-by step instructions, the FEDLINK Technical Processing Services Kit is your guide to initiating and managing

Appendices acquaint you with terms of the Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) and furnish all the forms and documentation needed for your project. For a copy of the FEDLINK Technical Processing Services Kit, please call (202) 707-4800 or fax your request to (202) 707-4818.

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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: fliccfpe@loc.gov
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 effective 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 (07/18/97)