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Chapter 3: Core Library Services


This chapter presents the core services that underpin most Parliamentary Libraries. Core services are those that can be considered central to the typical fulfillment of the mission of the Parliamentary Library. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) forms the foundation of most modern libraries. Starting with automation functions for cataloging and circulation, the range of tools that the library can draw in has grown progressively over the last four decades. Since the 1990's libraries have had available mature and robust integrated solutions that manage all aspects of traditional library functions: acquisitions, cataloguing, circulation, serials management and reporting. Electronic journals and books, rich database services and expansion of multi-lingual capabilities of software platforms have opened up the range of options that a library has. By 2000 the first examples of open source software for libraries were emerging in parallel with the rapid expansion of the Internet as the main vehicle for information communication. In parallel with the emergence of open source has been the gradual expansion of Digital Libraries and Open Access services.

The Parliamentary Library may therefore have oversight of considerably more than the management of a physical collection of resources. Core services provided by the library have an significant ICT element, including the library management system, the ICT services supporting the reference desk (including Document Delivery) and website content management. Typical benefits of ICT for the Parliamentary Library include:

  1. Collection building, including management of the physical and digital resources provided by the library. ICT can manage the collection acquisition, indexing, discovery and circulation of the resources. This chapter discusses the role of the Integrated Library Management System in this area.
  2. Reference and Research services. ICT can give staff access to a wide range of online resources to communicate with library staff and access library resources. ICT can also support the delivery and publishing of research results and dissemination of news and information feeds.
  3. Resource sharing. ICT systems can support the delivery of resources through interlibrary loans that are not included in the current library collection.
  4. Resource discovery. ICT services provided through Intranets and Web 2.0 presence can facilitate direct access to library resources by clients. Federated Search software can aggregate all library resources into a single search framework. Single sign-on can reduce the complexity of accessing multiple resources.

The Parliamentary Library should develop a roadmap for ICT development of the library that harnesses the new technologies available while maintaining a stable and robust services to the members of Parliament and their staff. This section of the handbook summarises the ICT solutions, standards and workflow processes that are core to the services provided by most libraries. Undertaking major ICT projects can have considerable project risk. The development of a roadmap needs to be situated in the capabilities, resources and constraints of each institution and should be focused on those areas of priority that most meet the needs of the Parliament. The roadmap for development core ICT services supporting the library should be undertaken in a systematic manner that minimises the ICT project risk. There are well established principles for ICT project management that are relevant to the planning for implementation of the systems discussed in this chapter. This chapter illustrates the workflows that typify library management, reference services, document delivery and web content management. These principles apply whether selecting open source or commercial software to meet the needs of the library.

Parliamentary libraries that are upgrading their current systems or exploring new services can take advantage of a generational advance in the core systems used by libraries. Library Management systems, Digital Library systems, Document Delivery systems and research services have all been transformed by web-based delivery of services. Understanding the information needs and information seeking behavior of members and their assistants, parliamentary committees and other stakeholders is important in this context. This section outlines core services that are enablers of information delivery in the Parliamentary Library. The selection of these systems should be framed in an understanding of the role of the Parliamentary Library that is centred on the parliamentary needs as discussed in the previous chapter.

Integrated Library Management Systems (ILMS)

One of the core roles of the library is to provide efficient access to the assets and resources of the library for elected members, their staff and clients. The traditional card catalogue is typically being replaced by ICT-based electronic catalogs, often made available on the Internet as an Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC). The cataloguing of the resources that appear on the electronic catalogue can be achieved through a standalone system or through an integrated approach which ties together the whole life cycle of management library assets, from acquisition to disposal: the Integrated Library Management System (ILMS). Most Integrated Library Management Systems will at least support a budget-based acquisitions module, cataloguing and authority support, online catalogue access, serials and subscription management, and of course circulation. This traditional set of functions can be significantly extended where the system also supports Web 2.0 capabilities (such as tagging and book reviews) and client self management (self-renewal). Finally, these features may be further extended with RFID for asset tracking and self-checkout.

The ILMS can facilitate the management of resources at all stages of:

  • Purchase suggestion management (possibly integrated with Acquisitions)
  • Acquisitions - Purchase Orders (possibly with Electronic Data Interchange), tracking of orders, Receiving of orders, tracking of orders against funds/budgets)
  • Integration of acquisitions with the Cataloguing process
  • Cataloguing (and copy-cataloguing using Z39.50 or MARC import of catalogue records)
  • Presentation and searching through the electronic catalogue and/or OPAC
  • Serials management (for print subscriptions)
  • Preparation for circulation: Barcode and allocation of shelf location or storage location
  • Selective dissemination and communication of items held (for example new items lists) through web and syndication methodologies
  • Reservation of items and reservation workflow (request, retrieval, inter-branch transfer and fulfillment)
  • Circulation (loans, loan overdue alerts, returns, fines and fines management)
  • Reporting
  • Resource management (stocktaking, reporting)
  • Support for RFID (where applicable).

The ILMS is therefore central to the management of library resources. Typically the focus of ILMS is on the management of physical assets (books, journals and other print publications). However, many ILMS come with a good, integrated search engine and this can play a role in discovering digital resources owned by the library (see for instance the NSW Parliamentary Library case study below) Effective ILMS software can yield great efficiencies in service delivery and day-to-day operation of the library. With the advent of Web 2.0 library systems could be categorised as “generation one” and “generation two” - those services which are web-enabled, online and web-2.0 capable versus the in-house desktop-based cataloguing system. WinIsys, which is supported by the US and has played an important role in extending library capabilities, is an example of a “generation one” system. A generational “leap” in functions is possible by adopting library management systems that have made this generation migration to fully web-enabled operation.

ILMS workflows

Integrated Library Management Systems also tend to have an embedded workflow for common tasks such as circulation. For example, a the Koha system allows the library to define the workflow rules for holds/reservations and circulation management.

The common workflow tasks supported by the ILMS are:

Holds and reservation workflows. The workflow stages for holds/reservation management can include rules about who can make reservations on items and on what types of items. A hold might generate an alert to the library regarding the library. The library may then fetch the item and the completion of this task may entail an inter-branch transfer (or even inter-library loan). The next stage of this workflow may trigger an alert (e.g. SMS or email) to the client advising of the item availability. The complexity behind these tasks is managed by the software itself.

Circulation workflows. Typical circulation workflows are checkout, and check-in, but with an Integrated Library Management System may also entail processes for online renewal, automatic pre-due and over-due notices, fines management and inter-library loans tracking.

Cataloguing workflows. An integrated approach to the library management system can allow the acquisitions process to flow through to cataloguing. Cataloguing and classification may potentially be outsourced. Once cataloged, the process of preparation of resources for use by library patrons may entail stages of cataloguing-in-process workflow steps. Finalisation of cataloguing may automatically flow through to RSS feeds of new items alerts, and online web-based promotion of new items.

Metadata enhancement workflows. Where the ILMS is indexing a variety of digital resources, workflows can support the metadata of enhancement of these items. For instance, digital documents that are added to a Parliamentary Digital Library might be subject indexed in the ILMS. Workflow processes can facilitate the capture of the digital documents in the Digital Library and indexing of the document in the ILMS.

Extending the ILMS with Web 2.0

Web 2.0, including social networking, provides a vehicle for the integration of multiple services to provide a framework for highly personalised and functional access to resources (see the Web 2.0 section of this handbook). The ILMS can be further extended to include Web 2.0 functions in a manner that recognises the interactive nature of Web 2.0 participation in information systems. Web 2.0 functions in the ILMS are commonly called “Library 2.0” functions, and can include:

  • Tagging, or the ability for clients to add their own identifiers (‘tags’) which are visible to others on your catalogue
  • Reviews, or the ability for your clients to annotate entries in your catalogue with their own comments
  • Mash-ups – or making your catalogue available through web services to allow your clients to create their own views of your resources.

These aspects are discussed further in the chapter on Web 2.0 and social networking.

Mobile devices - extending the reach of the library

Mobile devices such as smart phones (for example the Apple iPhone) and tablet devices (such as the Samsung Galaxy and the iPad) provide an increasingly popular platform for access to web-enabled applications. For Parliamentarians and their staff, they are increasingly a point of access to library research and electronic resources. Mobile devices have outpaced computers in sheer numbers, in both the developing and the developed world. As a point of information access, they can present a means for information delivery that bypasses other infrastructural issues of fixed networks. Library clients are voting with their electronic “fingers” in demanding information access on their mobile devices, and it is important for Parliamentary libraries to assess and monitor the ways in which they many need to adapt their information delivery to these new platforms. This assessment can include:

  • The capability of current systems for effective use in the constrained screen space of mobile devices
  • The ability to deliver full text content to these devices. For instance, PDF's may be difficult to read on some mobile devices.
  • The security and authentication constraints to achieve this while maintaining the integrity of library services.

Web pages and full text resources can be adapted to present better in a mobile context, sometimes with quite simple adjustments to the style sheets used for web pages. Content management strategies for the library should also take into account mobile devices.

Enabling access through mobile devices can extend the reach of the library and accessibility of the collection and research services, and may be as important as a presence in web 2.0 environments.


RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a smart tag which replaces barcodes in books, client membership cards and other devices. When an RFID tag is included in an item, it can be checked out simply by placing the item near an a reading mat. The chip in the RFID tag can be programmed with information and can also act as a security device. It is commonly used by libraries for self-checkout and has had considerably take-up in Public libraries where circulations rates are relatively high but collection sizes are small. It has relevance to both records management and library asset management. The annual RFID survey by Mick Fortune ( indicates that self-service is a key justification for RFID, followed by cost reduction, with less focus on security and resource sharing (Inter-Library Loans). This is possibly because the High Frequency (HF) tags currently used for RFID implementations in libraries have a limited scanner range and therefore have limited suitability for bulk stocktaking and stock management functions.

RFID is most useful for libraries with high levels of circulation or where self checkout is important. The relevance of RFID to the Parliamentary Library will therefore depend on the level and type of circulation of the library resources. Self-checkout using RFID can provide benefits by enabling access to library resources at times when the library is unattended. Self-checkout also has benefits for libraries that have high lending rates.


Cataloguing & Metadata
  • AACR2 – Anglo American Cataloguing Rules 2: an influential standard internationally that is the basis for many other standards.
  • MARC – Machine Readable Cataloguing: a standard method for interchange of bibliographic data – note MARC21, UNIMARC and MARCXML.


  • DDC – Dewey Decimal Classification: created in the 19th century by one man to classify all human knowledge, the DDC is currently owned by OCLC, and is probably the most popular classification system internationally.
  • LCC – Library of Congress Classification: created shortly after the DDC, Library of Congress takes a more complex approach to classification. It was originally designed to describe the books in the Library of Congress, not all of human knowledge, so it tends to focus on the United States.
  • CLC - Chinese Library Classification : beginning in the 1970s, the CLC is used in most information institutions in the People's Republic of China.

Library registries


  • ISO 28560 - A proposed ISO standard for data present on RFID tags.


Open Source


Tools for the Systems Librarian

There are also a range of tools that facilitate the day-to-day role of the system librarian for data conversion, querying databases.

Case Study

NSW Parliament experience integrating Koha and DSpace

When the Parliamentary Library of New South Wales began using Koha as its Library Management system and DSpace as its digital repository, the staff didn't do so to make a political statement about the viability of open source software. “This was just the software that fulfilled our requirements,” said Deborah Brown, Parliament’s chief librarian.

While having a physical collection, NSW Parliament library's lifeblood is digitized news media. Parliamentary libraries in Australia are granted a parliamentary copyright exemption for provision of news and media resources for the Parliament. On this basis they reproduce and store dozens of articles each day for the use of the Members of Parliament (and their staff) who make up their user base. When their MPs are sitting for parliamentary sessions many of them are far from their constituencies, so it’s essential to have a reliable source of news clippings from the regional papers covering their ridings. The library has a service that scans for mentions of all the Members' names in the regional papers, and digital fulltext versions of those articles are stored in DSpace to ensure their accessibility so the Members can keep up to date with policy development research.

The news articles are received in digital form from a news provider and are imported through an automated process into the Digital Library. However, the metadata is extended by a library staff-member who reviews the seven metropolitan newspapers with subject headings specifically relevant to members. These articles are digitally clipped and catalogued and put into the repository, as are the various Media Releases put out by parliamentarians (the NSW Parliamentary library is the state’s only centralized collection of those electronic Media Releases).

To handle these requirements (as well as their physical collection) the library has been using a digital repository combined with library management software since 1997, but 2010 saw their shift to Koha and DSpace. The division of tasks, which is maintained in their current open source implementation, has Koha storing the detailed metadata in bibliographic records, while DSpace stores digital entities themselves with “just enough metadata to get by.” When an item is loaded into DSpace it also gets loaded into Koha for detailed cataloguing, and electronic documents can be loaded into DSpace through Koha. DSpace is used as a repository while Koha is used as the principle search engine.

Integrating the two approaches took approximately 6 months for the conversion. News clippings can be imported, get indexed, and have authorized subject headings applied in 2-3 hours each day. Most articles are loaded using an automated process customised for the library which creates the DSpace and Koha initial entries. Some subject headings are automatically generated from the externally provided electronic clippings files. DSpace and Koha workflows are used t add the additional subject heading work as part of the standard workflow. Subject cataloguing is enhanced through the use of auto fill-as-you-type subject cataloguing forms.

Case study prepared by Justin Unrau (Prosentient Systems) with feedback from Deborah Brown and Chris Burns from the Parliamentary Library of NSW, Australia.

For further information or queries, contact Deborah Brown at

Electronic Resources and Digital Libraries

This section explores the role of electronic resources in collection building, and the use of tools such as federated search and single sign-on to hide the complexity of access to disparate underlying resources. It examines the growing importance of digital resources within the Parliamentary library collection. The increasing presence of digital resources entails growing complexity in the resources management by the library, including subscriptions, digital libraries/collections, digital news feeds, and digitisation of resources owned by the Parliament. This additional complexity can lead to requirements for a Federated search capability (integrating into a single portal the major information resources) and workflow management systems (to management the complex processes in electronic collection development) and single sign-on (to hide the complexity of access to multiple underlying database resources).

The Parliamentary Library will need to manage an increasingly divers range of electronic resources, including:

  1. online electronic databases services - external provides with search services and possibly full text
  2. digital libraries - providing a facility for managing digital documents created by the library (either born-digital or converted to digital form)
  3. syndication feeds - information feeds providing current information resources based in information preferences (for instance news feeds)
  4. electronic subscriptions - including e-books and e-journals.

The increasing access to digital resources entails growing complexity in the resources management by the library, including digital libraries/collections, digital news feeds, digitisation of Parliamentary resources. This additional complexity can lead to requirements for a Federated search capability (integrating into a single portal the major information resources) and workflow management systems (to management the complex processes in electronic collection development) and single sign-on(to hide the complexity of access to multiple underlying database resources). The rapidity of technological development brings long-term difficulties in the management of intellectual and creative output in digital form. Libraries and museums have a key role in the preservation of analytical and creative endeavors over the long term. However, most libraries are ill equipped to undertake research into the preservation of new media artefact's and creations. Where the preservation of printed works is well understood, issues of obsolescence of new media technologies affect all aspects of the new media artefact's. As each new technological innovation introduces new methods of creative content delivery, our long-term horizons of archive planning appear to reduce. The widespread adoption of Information Technology as an integral part of the research process, and the speciation of software vehicles for content creation, mean that on the basis both of cost and volume of content creation the meager budgets of most libraries simple are not sufficient to sustain the role of comprehensive collection builders. Digital Library collection building has associated with it inherent risks of technological obsolescence. In addition to the systematic risks associated to critical information technology architecture, are the problems of software and hardware obsolescence. Issues of obsolescence are not inherent obstacles to the move to management of electronic resources – but they are issues that need to be addressed by the institution in the management of the disparate resources that constitute an electronic collection. Information systems inevitably go through a continuous series of transformations over time, as do digital objects stored in an information system.

Where the Parliamentary Library is responsible for the management of assets created by the Parliament, the systematic management of these assets through the workflow and Digital Library systems is an important role for the library.

Electronic collection development

The resources involved in electronic collections are complex. They can include image libraries, subscriptions to digital news feeds, subscriptions to database services, e-books (electronic books), and internally created digital documents. Because of this complexity, a systematic digital collection development policy is recommended. This will help to effectively integrate the disparate digital resources into a unified view. Typically your intranet or web site will be the portal by which clients can discover these resources. The searching of resources may be further unified through a federated search approach.

The collection development process should entail a review of electronic collection requirements based on the information needs of members and staff. For Parliamentary Libraries, the typical focus of end user requirement is for access to Parliamentary archives, news and current affairs feeds and current awareness bulletins, dissemination of press releases and other member information, and access to born digital resources such as electronic books and e-journal resources. A survey of current and future requirements for electronic resource access will assist in categorising electronic collection requirements in two broad areas: Digital Library services (including digital archives) managed by the library, digital resources provided through subscription and document delivery. Library patrons can be informed about new material in both these areas through news and alerting services.

The library should undertake an asset audit to determine the needs/requirements for digitization for purposes of both access and preservation. On-demand digitization requirements to support reference services, document delivery and alerting services (e.g. full text disseminating of news items in relation to Parliament and its members) should also be reviewed. Both of these digitisation processes will feed through to the Digital Library which can preserve these entries as a permanent record.

Digital Library Systems

If the Parliamentary Library has responsibility for archives, then the need to build a effective document management or Digital Library system will be imperative. The library can use a Digital Library framework to improve access to current and historical information. Some parliaments, for instance, use digital libraries to store media releases by Members over time, and to store news stories related to members (refer to the NSW Parliament case study below). Finally, the Parliamentary library can play an important role in preserving the collective memory of the parliament, and the Digital Library can be used to support the digitisation of historical resources held by the library for purposes of historical preservation and ease of access. These archives can form an important information resources on the parliamentary website.

The selection of appropriate software for Digital Library management is a significant project for the library and will entail a software selection and implementation process similar to the implementation of other major core library services (refer to Evaluating Software in the second chapter). The selection process should begin with a requirements gathering process to determine the types of media and assets that the Parliamentary library will be responsible for. There are many solutions that can provide very effective management of full text and image documents. Management of video materials is more demanding - both in software and the data storage requirements. Broadly the classes of software that can address the requirements of storage and preservation of digital resources are:

  • File system management and indexing tools
  • Document Management Systems
  • Digital Asset Management or Media management systems (for management of multimedia objects such as audio and video, and managing streaming services)
  • Digital Library systems

File systems approaches to the Digital Library

Useful documents of historical value may already be in digital form and can be managed by the library. Many Digital Library systems grow from a simple file-system approach to collecting digital documents relevant to the members - with the library being the logical repository for these documents. While the collection of documents remains relatively small, this approach can be quite effective. The ILMS catalogue can potentially be used to collect metadata relating to these documents and provide searching for the documents held on the file store.

As the collection of digital document grows, such an approach will become unmanageable. The file system folders must be maintained and preserved and there is the risk that documents are removed from the file system without reference to the associated metadata. The library catalogue, being mainly focused on descriptive and subject cataloguing, does not always have sufficient metadata for ongoing records management of archival electronic resources.

Document Management Systems

The Document Management System (such as Microsoft's Sharepoint) can provide an intermediary approach to Digital Library management for a Parliamentary archive, where the focus is on managing largely internal-facing digital documents and where the focus is not on long term interoperability and data exchange. For the Parliamentary Library starting in this area, Digital Library software is the better choice where possible - but utilising an existing installed Document Management application such as Sharepoint may be the beginning of a Digital Library strategy.

Digital Asset Management

If the library is responsible for capturing, preparing and distributing large collections of images, audio or video, it may be necessary to consider the use of digital asset management solutions. This class of software is deployed by broadcasting and media organisations to manage the workflow around ingestion, preparation, metadata annotation and retrieval of non-text digital assets. This not typically the choice for Parliamentary Libraries.

Digital Library systems

The Digital Library system is in many ways similar to the Document Management system, but extended to provide a public-facing web interface and an underlying archiving system. The Digital Library is therefore the typical choice for long term ongoing management of a digital archive for text-based digital resources (and often also for image libraries). Digital Library software typically has integrated capabilities for metadata exchange with current standards. Even where in the early stages of electronic collection development interoperability may appear to be of limited relevance, such metadata can be used in many different ways. Web 2.0-based services can use metadata to feed through to alerting systems.

Software for Digital Library systems is available commercially and in open source, and is robust and stable. Typical software choices are WinISYS CDS, DSpace, Greenstone and for larger libraries Fedora Commons.

Interoperability and metadata

Metadata is the information describing objects in the Digital Library. For instance, the item title, author, dimensions and format are all examples of metadata. Metadata serves three purposes in the Digital Library:

Descriptive metadata - as with traditional cataloguing, digital objects need to be described and identified so that they can be discovered within the Digital Library. Digital Library metadata standards for describing objects serve the same role as AACR2 and MARC standards do for traditional catalogues. Examples of Descriptive metadata standards commonly used in Digital Libraries are Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI), Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS), and Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard (METS). While DCMI is probably more widely used by Digital Libraries, MODS and METS provide a fuller descriptive framework as a successor to MARC. DSpace and Greenstone use DCMI as their descriptive metadata framework.

Semantic metadata - the semantic metadata provides the subject classification and relationship information for objects in the Digital Library. While this may be based on a traditional name/value pair of identifiers (subject = 'Parliamentary History'), the current trend is to move to Resource Description Framework (RDF). RDF underpins many projects that are realising the possibilities of the Semantic Web for purposes of stronger metadata description of documents on the web (and in archives). A semantic metadata description goes beyond the name/value descriptive pair to describe metadata in a series of “statements” in a subject, object and predicate statement (the title of the book is 'The history of Parliaments'). Central to the concept of RDF is the ability to unify concepts across many resources in a meaningful way. Fedora Commons implements RDF as its underlying schema.

Harvesting metadata - There are many Digital Library systems - commercial, open source and bespoke (home grown). Irrespective of the internal metadata approach for description and subject classification of the objects in the library, support for a harvesting metadata standard provides a means for inter-operability between Digital Library systems. The most widely implemented harvesting system is Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI/PMH). This scheme supports metadata “harvesting” between digital libraries to allow discovery of digital resources between systems. Kete uses OAI/PMH for its internal schema. DSpace, Greenstone, Fedora Commons and Kete support an OAI/PMH harvesting interface.

The long term inter-operability of your digital resources with other digital resources being developed in-country and regionally will be enhanced or impeded by the level and quality of the metadata you collect associated with your digital resources. The selection of a metadata framework should be undertaken with reference to existing projects nationally and regionally. It is worth approaching your National Library to discuss their metadata standards. It is also worth examining metadata standards being implemented regionally in other Parliamentary libraries.

Minimum metadata requirements

Parliamentary Libraries should ensure that the Digital Library system chosen uses one of DCMI, MODS, METS or RDF, and supports OAI/PMH for purposes of inter-operability.

Digital Library systems: Workflow, Ingestion/Digitization (including for parliamentary documents) & Digital preservation

Workflow management is also crucial to Digital Library operation. One of the challenges to institutional acceptance is the efficiency of the ingestion process. The more complex the workflow, the less likely the institutional buy-in on the system. The open design of of the Digital Library system in this area is important - focus on systems that have adaptable means for ingestion is important - for example to allow the addition of “plug-ins” adapted by institutions to suite their local preference for file uploads. DSpace for instance supports several paths for file uploads, including:

  • An integrated, highly structured and configurable web-based workflow system.
  • A batch-oriented file upload system for bulk ingestion.
  • Use of plug-ins or internally built workflows using API's (Application Programming Interfaces) such as (such as the SWORD interface in DSpace which allows direct submission of documents in Microsoft Word format).

Some Digital Library systems focus on the archival role: the long term preservation and management of the digital resource. Some systems focus on the presentational role: the facilitating the discovery of the digital resource. Large volume digitisation projects (such as Parliamentary Archives) may require a focus on strong workflow systems to simplify the ingestion process.

Your Digital Library system will change over time. These changes may entail institutional name changes, website redesigns or changes to the website platform. The print form of a book or a journal has the virtue of a static nature: the content is the same for all readers for a given publication. Distributed access is simple. Personalisation, on the other hand, dispenses with any degree of finality of information delivery: the content delivery may be different for each individual. Without a fixed point of reference in which content can be thought to have reached a “final” form – that is, which is essentially dynamic, the issues of attempting to preserve content in its final generated form become problematic. One way of supporting the portability of electronic resources through website and organisational changes is the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI). These generally entail the registration of objects through a central referencing agency that provides a proxy-based reference to the current web page/resource location. DSpace, for instance, includes full integration with the public DOI service (Corporation for National Research Initiatives 2010). It also incorporates functionality to host and manage your own DOI handle service.

Case Study

Inter-operability between the Czeck and Slovak Parliamentary Libraries

The award-winning common digital Parliamentary Library embracing the two parliaments of the Czeck and Slovak republics represents a valuable case study in the integration of digital resources.

This experience illustrates the rich benefits of building a Digital Library system focused that achieves key goals of:

  • preserving the collective memory of Parliaments
  • providing a rich resource for discovery of legislative and parliamentary publication
  • providing a preservation framework in case of natural and other disasters
  • providing quick access for Parliamentary members adn heir staff
  • giving a framework for interoperability between two Parliamentary Libraries.

The availability of off-the shelf Digital Library software makes interoperability between Digital Libraries a practical option for small-to-medium sized parliaments.

Eva Malackova and Karel Sosna published a paper at the annual IFLA congress in Korea, 2006 on the joint Czeck and Slovak Digital Parliamentary Library, available at


Digital Library Metadata

Metadata schema's for digital libraries are typically XML based.

  • MARCXML. MARCXML is a direct mapping of MARC tags to an XML schema. It therefore provides a rich, and deep, bibliographic framework. While good for data interchange it is a little more difficult than some standards for data transformation.
  • DCMI - Dublin Core Metadata Initiative: a flexible metadata standard with many flavours. It is the basis for many born-digital resources, and is providing a framework for new methods of resource description. DCMI is one of the possible successors to MARC for bibliographic description and data interchange. Dublic core provides a minimum set of metadata for a simple digital collection. Qualified Dublin Core (QDC) is an extension of Dublin Core with better capability for mapping to RDF. Dublin core is widely adopted in open source Digital Library systems (for instance, Greenstone and DSpace use DCMI for the underlying metadata but can present this information through “crosswalks” in other schemas).
  • MODS MODS - Metadata Object Description Schema - is a metadata schema developed by Library of Congress in 2002 for complex bibliographic description as a close successor to MARC, but better oriented to digital object description.
  • METS METS - Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard) - is a metadata standard that provides a description framework suited to complex hierarchical object structures with associated usage rights
  • PREMIS Preservation Metadata Implementation Strategies (PREMIS) - Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard) - is a metadata schema focused particularly on preservation. It is not typically implemented in smaller Digital Library systems. It is one of the most complete (and therefore complex) descriptive frameworks with an object oriented view of the objects broken down into metadata covering the objects, their intellectual entities (a particular expression such as book or web page), events associated with the object, agents associated with preservation or use, and rights statements regarding the object.
  • RDF - Resource Description Framework - RDF is a metadata descriptive framework emerging from the Semantic Web development oriented to complex description of metadata in the form of “statements”. In RDF the “subject” is a resource, the “predicate” a property of the resource and the “object” a given value - for example a specific PDF object “x” (Subject) has a subject (predicate) of value Science (object). Fedora commons Digital Library uses RDF as its metadata schema.
  • OAI/PMH- Open Archives Initiative / Protocol for Metadata Harvesting - is an important metadata schema for Digital Library inter-operability. Crosswalks - or XML schema transformations - are used to implement an OAI/MPH harvesting service for a Digital Library. Most Digital Library systems support OAI/PMH.

Digital libraries & archives

E-Resources and Digital Subscriptions

The diversity of electronic journals, books and resources presents a frustrating challenge for the library: that of discovery. Full text resources may be spread across internal digital archives, electronic databases, e-book subscription services and free online websites. The Parliamentary Library website can play an important role if facilitating the discovery of relevant resources in subject areas relevant to the parliament, and through training and awareness sessions - especially briefing sessions that the library may host for newly elected members and their staff. Where e-readers are used, this may encompass training in use of the readers.

E-Books, E-Journals and electronic consortia arrangements

The transition to electronic delivery of traditional print publications is well underway in many libraries. Library clients show a strong preference for electronic over print for research and information discovery. This has driven a rapid transition in collection development in many libraries to the management of electronic subscriptions to resources.

It is in the area of journal subscriptions where the transition to an electronic delivery is the most evident. Access to electronic resources to support reference and research services can be achieved by direct subscription with the relevant publisher. There are also a number of aggregate providers of electronic journal subscriptions. Finally, some publisher offer consortia arrangements that can be negotiated by groups of libraries or at the national level.

Major information vendors such as Proquest, Ovid, EBSCO, Lexis/Nexis provide aggregate and consortia based subscriptions that provide a single fee to access a database (usually Whit full text documents) across hundreds of journals. Collaborating with other libraries (for example other government libraries) in negotiating consortia access arrangements can reduce the individual cost for membership to such resources. Universities and government departments will often already have consortia arrangements in place. While consortia arrangements may reduce the cost of some e-resources, they need to be scrutinized to ensure the Parliamentary library gets a good selection of relevant publications. The information needs of Universities are often quite different from those of Parliamentarians.

In less-developed countries, there may be specific arrangements to provide access a considerably reduced prices to subscription databases. Parliamentary libraries in Asia, Africa and Europe may also be able to draw on assistance from ( in order to gain access to e-journals, e-books and open access resources at lower cost for developing countries.

As part of the licensing subscription the library should consider requirements for local archiving of the electronic journals subscription. Where publishers allow, it may be possible to store electronic journal articles in a local Digital Library (with appropriate restrictions for access). Such a local archive provides for long-term archival management of important digital subscriptions and may also provide a useful knowledge resource when integrated with other assets in the local Digital Library.

Supporting e-resource reading software or hardware may also be required: for instance e-book readers. The library may need to maintain and lend a collection of e-book/e-resource readers for the members or ensure that the standard operating environment available to Parliamentary members includes relevant software.

Key questions in the selection process for these services include:

  • How is access granted (and what access management is available from within the Parliamentary computing system and for those accessing remotely or externally.
  • What is the best price available with the best mix of electronic resources relevant to your library
  • Are schemes available to assist developing countries
  • Can you partner with other libraries/institutions to reduce to cost for subscription
  • Does the provider support single sign on.

Open Access Journal resources

The traditional model for publishing journals and books has been challenged by a new model for distribution: Open Access. Resources published through Open Access are free for the client accessing the resource (through the Internet). Publishing is usually funded by requiring the author to pay a fee when submitting an item for publication. Some institutions also maintain Open Access repositories for pre-publication copies of research work created by the institution. Finally, some journals that are released on a subscription basis make their publications free for access after an embargo period.

Many electronic journals are now available by Open Access. It can be beneficial to integrate the metadata related to these Open Access journals in the catalogue to facilitate awareness of and access to these online resources. There are now good online indexes of electronic Apen Access publications (refer to Resources below).

Electronic subscription workflows

E-journals and e-books have a quite distinctive workflow, quite distinct from the management of traditional print serials. This workflow entails processes for review and selection of electronic resources (that is, conscious collection building of the items in the electronic resource collection as a whole). The selection process can entail negotiating with several suppliers, as there may be considerably overlap of coverage between different subscription suppliers.

Typically the steps should at least include:

  1. Development of an e-resource collection building policy focused on subject categories relevant to the Parliamentary Library
  2. Researching the potential suppliers and what open access coverage is available for these resources
  3. Negotiation between different suppliers where content can be sourced from several different suppliers
  4. Ensuring that suppliers provide effective metadata against a standard usable by your library to facilitate integration with your catalogue and/or search engine: for instance, provision of MARC-format records or NewsML XML records associated with the records supplied.
  5. Where necessary updating e-book devices with full text content
  6. Processes to automatically load this data and where necessary catalogue or meta-data enhance the data
  7. Publishing resources through relevant traditional and web 2.0 distribution channels.
  8. Subscription tracking and renewal processes
  9. Periodic review processes to detect and address content overlaps between subscription provider (duplicate subscriptions are commonplace in aggregate and consortia subscriptions).

Where the library has subscriptions to content that needs to be retained for the long term, the library should negotiate with the publisher placing the articles in a local Digital Library, or should maintain a separate print subscription.

E-Book formats and devices

The emergent e-Book market has a range of formats for popular devices. The four most commonly used formats are text, Kindle (an Amazon publishing format), ePub (an Adobe format) and HTML. Kindle and ePub support a Digital Rights Management functions which can restrict the usage of the item. For instance, DRM can be used to simulate traditional book lending by limiting the number of times and duration and item can be checked out. Common readers include:

The Amazon Kindle. The Kindle is a dedicated e-book reader with a few additional functions (a simple web browser and RSS feed reader). The Kindle concept of “Whispersync” goes some way to express the limitations of DRM by enabling transition of e-books across many different platforms and devices while maintaining the readers position in the text. The Kindle provides free Internet access (in some countries) as an enticement to browsing and downloading fee-for-use e-books.

The Sony Reader. This reader can play audio books and view PDF and word documents.

The Apple iPad. Larger than the Sony and Kindle readers, the IPad is a multi-function tablet computer that supports PDF, EPub and other formats.

Android-based devices. Googles Android operating system has become a further popular platform for delivery of e-books across a range of tablet-style devices.

The laptop and desktiop. The traditional laptop and desktop remain ubiquitous and important devices for discovering and downloading or reading e-books.

Mobile phones and mobile computers. Mobile access to news, tweets and electronic resources as well as social networking sites has made the mobile platform an important entry point for many to electronic resources.

The Parliamentary Library may need to support a number of platforms to meet the needs of parliamentary researchers and staff.

Resources - provides low cost access to e-journal, e-book and open access resources for developing countries in Africa, Asia and Europe. They support a number of programmes in facilitating promote access to knowledge through licensing arrangements, open access infrastructure, copyright guidance and advocacy and promoting the adoption of open source. - Wiki Books - contains a large collection of books free for download. - Project Gutenburg has 36,000+ e-books for free download. A number of e-book formats are supported. - Google Books has full and partial contents of e-books, some for purchase, some free for access.|French e-books. - Gallica is a major project by Bibliotheque nationale de France, with French, English, Portuguese and Spanish interface with a broad collection of French books, manuscripts, maps, images periodicals and sound recordings. - Digital book index is an index of English language e-book titles. - Librostauro Spanish e-book index Many books has > 25,000 e-Books, across 36 languages DOAJ is a directory of Open Access Journals- a directory of more than 2000 scientific and open access journals across 111 countries and many languages. Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) a directory of open access repositories. The directory has more than 1,500 repositories. Highlights the importance of inter-operability of online electronic resources. It is International in scope. Scirus is a specialized search engine form Elsevier focused on scientific research and researchers. It has has faceted searching that can filter on Digital Libraries.

Standards EPUB (Electronic Publication) is a free, open e-book standard promulgated by the International Data Publishing Forum Portable Data Format (PDF) is a widely used format for digital e-book distribution. It includes some capabilities for rights management. The specification is managed by Adobe but made available free of charge Text encoding initiative (TEI) - a markup standard for texts in the Humanities.

Alerting services and News feeds

Parliamentary members and their staff rely on access to current information on news and developments. Typically news feeds will be sourced by commercial news gathering agencies that provide selective dissemination of information relevant to organisations. For Parliaments this may include:

  • news items on or about parliamentary members,
  • press releases,
  • journal publications and parliamentary publications in their interest areas.

NewsML ( is the most commonly used XML interchange standard for disseminating the metadata associated with news items ( Selective dissemination agencies will typically provide the full text news content and associated NewsML metadata to subscribing agencies, sometimes with associated full text or PDF images of the articles.

The role of the Parliamentary Library can be to disseminate this information, and possibly also to aggregate this information in a Digital Library. Typically this process will entail:

  • receipt of data feeds for dissemination agents comprising NewsML metadata and the text or PDF versions of the articles,
  • workflow processes to ingest this information into a local Digital Library store - for instance of member press releases,
  • dissemination functions (through the intranet, extranet, website and RSS) to deliver this information to Parliamentary members and library clients.

Some content (such as news feeds) may be subject to licensing restrictions that limit the extent to which content is disseminated. In this context it may be necessary to limit access to the electronic repository or Digital Library in which this content resides. Many Digital Library systems provide the workflow processes for ingestion and selective access to digital content.

Alerting services, including push methods (routing lists, email) and pull methods (such as RSS) can provide targeted information delivery to Parliamentary Library clients. Routing lists are a standard process available in most ILMS to distribute print serials on a selective basis.

Google news ( is a free source for international news that allows regional and topical based news feeds.

News bulletins and feeds

The library should develop a communication strategy around the needs of Parliamentarians and their staff. Where the library undertakes significant research, this information can be communicated through e-news letters or Web 2.0 dissemination of information (see Chapter Five).


  • NewsML is the most commonly used XML interchange standard for disseminating the metadata associated with news items ( Selective dissemination agencies will typically provide the full text news content and associated NewsML metadata to subscribing agencies.
  • RSS RSS is a popular syndication format. Many web content management systems provide RSS capabilities to provide a syndication-based alerting service for clients when web pages or web resources change. It is an alternative way for the distribution of news feeds.
  • XML At the core of all syndication systems is XML, a standard for the Markup of text and data.

Case Study

Member communication

The Parliamentary Library in Australia provides independent research to members and the general public with detailed briefings on current issues before Parliament and affecting the nation. These briefings are published on the website and through news bulletins. The following is a sample of their e-news briefings.

Whats new e-newsletter from the Parliamentary Library of the Australian Federal Parliament

Further information:

Parliamentary libraries are actively engaged in activities that enhance democracy through engagement with digital services. The Legislative Yuan, Taiwan, China published an profile of their engagement with electronic services in their country report “The Role of Parliamentary Libraries in Enhancing Democracy in the Digital Age” for the 7th Biennial Conference of APLAP, 9-14 September, 2002 available at

(1)A Chinese E-paper for Library Clients

Our current information delivery service is a daily (in weekdays) electronic newspaper published by the Parliamentary Library and distributed to the public as well as library clients. Beginning on July 1, 2000, it had published five hundred twenty issues by August 8, 2002. Items in our e-paper include: (a) daily legislative news; (b) the latest laws; © legislative summaries; (d) a record of general policy questions (interpolations) to the government in the Legislative Yuan; (e) a parliamentary forum; (f) committee reports; and (g) a report from our international legislative awareness service.

(2)Multilingual Legislative Awareness

Our multilingual, international legislative awareness service, or Dispatch of Current Legislative Information, is a daily report service providing major international news and updates on the status of legislation around the world. Translated from reliable sources in eleven countries, this report provides a Chinese edition of news and other materials which originally appeared in the Chinese, English, Japanese, German, Spanish and Russian languages. It is one of our most rewarding and popular services.

(3)Library E-mail Distribution Service for Press Clippings

News and commentary about the parliament & legislators from sixteen local Chinese or English newspapers will be selected and filed electronically each day through an extension of the Legislative Yuan News System. These electronic press clippings on parliamentarians are automatically send out to each legislator’s individual e-mail box within the day.

(4)Information and Knowledge on Demand

The new system of our library automation project (or LA II) at the Parliamentary Library of the Legislative Yuan features an on-demand Internet information dissemination service on topics chosen by our clients. Users may easily select topics of interest and construct a research profile from our subject thesaurus. Then the LA II system will compile all the current website resources related to the chosen subjects and e-mail site references to users promptly. This subject access to websites is an individual subscription feature of our web library

(5)Subject-oriented Information Packages

The subject-oriented information package service of our web library draws on a well-organized and comprehensive online collection of web resources arranged by subject headings. 1 The service collates and stores links to previously prepared research materials under an online menu, and thus makes them available for use by everyone, whether as a direct reference or as background for further research.

Single sign-on

As the number of electronic resources managed by the library grows, so does the complexity of accessing these resources. Many subscription providers of electronic resources will have different sign-on methodologies to access their resources. In this context the library faces the challenge of providing simple access to underlying resources that are delivered in quite complex and different ways.

IP address authentication is offered by most providers. This entails providing access to the underlying electronic resource based on the Internet address(es) of your library. This allows your library clients to access these resources without sign-on, but only when used locally at the library. This approach requires no further authentication by the user. The solution has one principle weakness: remote users cannot access the service unless they gain access through a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This weakness is sometimes address by adding a further layer of software: the proxy server. The role of the proxy server is to locally authenticate users and then pass their web page requests through a local “proxy” service which fetches the web pages from the remote service on their behalf.

Another approach widely used by libraries is Single Sign-on. Users of your service authenticate only once (for instance through your library management system or through your intranet sign-on). This authentication automatically provides the necessary authentication to remote electronic databases. Two systems have gained acceptance in libraries:

  • Athens - a commercial single sign-on service that has a wide number of relationships with existing electronic database vendors
  • Shibboleth - an open source framework for developing your own single sign-on service.

The choice of service depends a great deal on your current infrastructure and capabilities. While Shibboleth is gaining acceptance it requires local development and integration work to enable. Athens authentication is often already integrated in existing library applications.

In addition to the ILMS catalogue, the library may have access to several Online databases of electronic full text content (such as journal subscriptions). The library may also have specific journal subscriptions separate from these consortia database subscriptions. This is often managed by a “databases” reference page on the local intranet or website. This requires the reference services and library clients to discriminate the most appropriate electronic resource for a given query. The library may also have a subscriptions to a variety of online database resources. It is not always easy to know which of these resources is relevant for a particular information requirement. The federated search solves this dilemma by bringing many of the library resources together in a single search. As the complexity of these resources grows, federated searching becomes an important factor in your library architecture.

Commercial providers such as Serials Solutions provide software such as “Summon” which provides a single search platform across both the local catalogue and electronic subscription content.

Some open source library management systems can also provide a platform for federated searching. For instance, Koha provides search capabilities through the Zebra search engine. This engine can itself index different types of resources (such as your Digital Library content). This opens the possibility of making your catalogue not only a portal to the physical assets managed by your library but also a metadata hub to the wider electronic assets managed by the library.

There are alternatives to managing your own federated search software. Google has focused on providing a “single” search framework which is in fact a heterogeneous set of search engines, including:

  • Google Search
  • Google Scholar search
  • Google Maps search
  • Google “my library”

Google scholar allows direct linking to your own library collection (see making it a viable low-cost framework for federated searching.

Another impressive resource that also searches to the article level and can link through to your library is OCLC's WorldCat. Membership of OCLC allows you to make your collection visible in WorldCat, and the WorldCat search includes some article-level searching.

Regional groups have also established their own unified searches. An example of this is the Federated Parliamentary Library System (FPL) established by the African Parliamentary Knowledge Network (see the case study below).

Case Study

Federated Parliamentary Library System (FPL)

The Federated Parliamentary Library System (FPL) is an initiative of the African Parliamentary Knowledge Network. It provides a unified search across 18 African Parliamentary libraries using the Koha library management system as the search framework. This resource is available as a public catalogue at A Google-style search can be used to discover resources across all member libraries with four language interfaces implemented.


Single Sign On

Digital Library and Digital asset management

  • DSpace. DSpace provides an integrated solution to the Digital Library. It has a built-in workflow for document ingestions. Its presentation layer is highly structured, allowing content to be divided into collections, sub-collections and communities. It is very widely used, internationally and as a result support exists. It has a strong support for language internationalisation. DSpace has 96 language packs.
  • EPrints. EPrints, like DSpace, has a wide installation base, and is popular as a method for digital resource delivery. It has a smaller base of language internationalisation and is more focused on the presentation layer/user interface than DSpace. It is an integrated solution. EPrints has 19 language packs.
  • Fedora Commons. - Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture (FEDORA) Fedora provides a systematic tool for management of digital archives. As such it is not an integrated Digital Library solution such as E-prints or DSpace, but provides the archival base for a Digital Library system. It can therefore serve a role as the core component of a Digital Asset Management system, Digital Library system or archive for a Content Management system. DSpace and Fedora have announced a project to work together on an approach that allows a DSpace front-end to a Fedora archive.
  • Greenstone. Greenstone was developed by the New Zealand Digital Library Project at the University of Waikato and has been supported by UNESCO. It has a strong base of implementation in Non-Governmental organisations and has four core language packs: English, French, Spanish and Russian.
  • Kete . . Kete is a further contribution of the Horowhenua Library Trust and Katipo Communications Ltd. funded to the open source community. Like core#software|Koha., it has a good presentation layer and is more focused on the user interface than the underlying archival management of the digital resources. Kete has 21 language packs.
  • Knowledge Tree. Knowledge Tree is a document management system that uses the Amazon S3/Cloudfront to store data.
  • Activae. Activae is a robust and scalable Spanish-language digital asset management system. Activae is an open source product of Cenatic. It is Python based DAM (like, Notre DAM and some proprietary DAM solutions such as AssetBank).It includes a transcoding server. Like DSpace it has a strong built-in workflow and is Dublin Core-based.
  • EnteMedia. EnterMedia is an integrated digital asset management system with some capability is for transformation and extraction of embedded metadata, written in Java with an XML metadata framework (rather than a database back end).
  • FocusOPEN. - FocusOPEN is a product with an “open source” version and a commercial version with a range of support options. The free for distribution option includes a wide range of strong digital asset management functions. Written in for Windows servers.
  • TRIM. TRIM. One of the earliest and best known commercial enterprise Records Management systems, supported by Hewlett Packard.

Aggregate Electronic Resource Providers

  • Zebra. “Zebra is a high-performance, general-purpose structured text indexing and retrieval engine. It reads structured records in a variety of input formats (e.g.. email, XML, MARC) and allows access to them through exact boolean search expressions and relevance-ranked free-text queries.”
  • Summon. Summon is designed to provide access to the entirety of a library's collection, be it journal articles, books, or media clippings, through a single search that provides relevancy-ranked lists of results. This is a product from the Proquest family and is integrated tightly with their databases.
  • EBSCO Discovery Service. Another all-in-one package, integrated with EBSCOHost's large number of databases.
  • Google Search, Google Scholar & Google Books. & & http:// As it creates more specialized features, like Google Scholar, Google Maps and customized Google indexes

Reference and Information Services

An important role of the Parliamentary library is the provision of information and research assistance to Parliamentary members and their staff. This service may be integrated with the library or operate as a parallel service. The advice given through the Reference service is the keen edge of the library interface with the Parliament, and as such is the most affected by changing trends in information seeking behaviour.

The advent of Web 2.0 and Social Networking brings tools of extraordinary depth and sophistication at no charge to the fingertips of the library clients. The proof of the relevance of the library therefore relies on the ability of the Parliamentary library to fulfill its role in provision of an impartial, authoritative, and timely information service.

A number of ICT systems can facilitate the work of information research and provision. The traditional ICT tools supporting reference services have been request tracking, database research and document delivery systems. Request tracking systems provide a workflow for submission, tracking and fulfillment of client requests, as well as statistical reporting for purposes of periodic reporting. Database tools have traditional been the means by which reference services have extended the reach of research beyond the core library collection. Document delivery systems formed the means by the results of research could be fulfilled for the client by use of other libraries resources.

Parliamentary Libraries share some characteristics with Law libraries in their need to build a knowledge base off known information requirements of the Parliament. As reference queries are resolved they can form the basis of a knowledge base. They may also be used in a web-based FAQ to assist others following the same information path. Reference tracking systems naturally form an element of the library knowledge base. However, this knowledge base can include the provision of alerting services to target the information needs of members (such as news feeds). A further element of effective Knowledge Management by the library is the evolution of a profile of the specific information needs of clients - potentially through an appropriate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. While Web 2.0 could be seen as presenting a challenge to the traditional approach to information service delivery, it also provides an opportunity for very personal service provision. This can include the substitution of web-based forms for information service requests with email or instant messaging.

The reference services should also inform the collection building activity of the library. As one of the principle interfaces with the library clients, the types of requests placed and the relationships established with clients can give guidance and direction in the priorities for print and electronic collection priorities.

As with Integrated Library Management Systems, reference tracking systems (such as the well-known RefTracker software), have an implicit workflow. This includes:

  1. Reference request submission forms and request services- (including email and Mobile device submission).
  2. The request is recorded in the reference tracking system.
  3. Reference tasks are allocated where appropriate and a confirmation of the task request is provided to the client (usually by email).
  4. The request is researched. As part of this process the resources used are recorded.
  5. Client response prepared: electronic resources collated and supplied.
  6. Feedback is requested (often as part of the response to the client).
  7. Automatic or manual review of response for inclusion in FAQ and knowledge base.
  8. It should facilitate a periodic review of requests for purposes of collection building - with statistics on resource usage and library KPI's.

The reference services of the library are one among many information sources that members and their staff will draw on. The library is in a unique position to provide a well researched and informed advise on issues raised. Awareness of this service can be enhanced through marketing techniques and a high level of accessibility of the service. Marketing is an important element of the reference services. Marketing can include:

  • Presence in relevant Web 2.0 forums for visibility of the library services and also for placement of requests
  • Indication and training programmes for incoming parliamentarians
  • Current awareness bulletins in areas relevant to parliamentary members
  • Newsletters
  • Visibility and promotion of the service through the intranet

The delivery of these services therefore needs to balance timeliness with relevance

Reference tracking systems

The starting point for effective management of client information needs is an analysis of the system requirements to track client requests. The growing set of tools that the library can draw upon, and the increasingly complex information requirements of clients, can make the process of tracking requests quite complex. Apart from the benefits to the client of efficient fulfillment of their requests, the effective tracking of requests can enhance the library's ability to analyse the areas of most need and demand. There are a variety of tools that can be used to effectively track requests. A starting point, for instance, is to use the productivity tools at hand to build to-do lists and integrate with calendar functions to provide event alerting. Open source (Open Office), commercial (e.g. Microsoft Office) or Web 2.0 (Google Docs) all provide extensible tools for tracking requests that can provide the initial core of a reference tracking system.

The systematic management of the workflow around reference requests may, however, go beyond the capabilities of standard productivity tools. The use of software designed for reference tracking will typically provide a structured workflow around the reference tracking process. A simple reference tracking system will include:

  • Online request forms, email or Instant Messaging for submission of information service requests.
  • Resource management tools to allocate the request.
  • Request tracking tools to allow management of the request through to fulfillment (through internal resources, databases or document delivery systems).
  • Providing the results to the client.
  • Recording the results in order to build up a knowledge resource over time of requests.
  • Statistical reporting.

The use of Instant Messaging or SMS for interactive response to service requests has an immediacy that can be attractive to clients. Staff resourcing (and training) for such a service needs to be sufficient that client scan trust that it's use will elicit a timely response. There are many commercial and open source Instant Messaging solutions available, some design for library requirements. Some of the aspects that may be important in selection of an Instant Messaging solutions can be:

  • Capability for integration with your reference tracking system/knowledge base.
  • Ability to save sessions, review session transcripts.
  • Capabilities for anonymous operation where relevant.
  • Ability to route requests between staff.

The extension of the instant messaging approach to SMS offers the ability for Parliamentary clients to submit requests “on the fly”.

Client Relationship Management (CRM) & Knowledge Management

In the introduction to this handbook we discussed the need for the library to focus on the information requirements of members and their staff, and to provide impartial information from disparate sources that service their needs. Some libraries are moving away from the concept of the “Reference Desk” as a point of information delivery. They are moving to a more personalised service management that may be framed around concepts of client relationship management. An effective CRM can encompass elements of event management and information needs analysis. It may also feed into and draw on a knowledge management resource to facilitate effective response to client information needs. The information for a Client Relationship Management (CRM) may emerge from the implicit knowledge of staff as well as the information captured in the reference tracking system. The CRM model should include the elements of knowledge management that will allow effective fulfillment of known information needs and a history of questions asked and resources commonly used. This information can also inform the direction of collection building.

The CRM should capture:

  • Member/staff contact details,
  • Their information needs,
  • Contact history,
  • Report and request history,
  • Syndication preferences and interest areas, and
  • Key events (to allow alerts for followup and escalation of issues).

Reference tracking and Client Relationship Management software

Examples of Instant Messaging platforms (there are many more)
  • Library3lp. A commercial solution that can be added to websites with a range of add-ons covering a broad range of platforms.
  • Pidgin. - A popular Open Source IM solution with a large range of plugins.
  • LiveZilla. LiveZilla is a free solution with extensibility through commercial extensions (for example statistics). Script-able and flexible.

Software for SMS Reference

Online sharing or video based support

Office productivity tools and simple Client Relationship Management

Reference Sources

Reference Tracking


Guidelines for Behavioural Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers (Reference and user Services Association board of Directors)

Document Delivery

No matter how well resourced your library, the number of books, journals and electronic resources published is much greater than the capability of any individual library to build a complete collection representing all these resources. Libraries have a strong history of collaborative sharing of resources. Document Delivery systems allow libraries to draw in the wider network of libraries to prepare a more complete response to information requests. Document delivery systems rely on aggregation of the holdings of regional, national or sectional groups of libraries into Union Catalogues. These Union Catalogues are an essential element for discovery and supply of holdings and can extend the research reach of your library through access to a national, regional and global resources. The fulfillment of requests for resources in another library is called an inter-library loan (ILL). Standards for fulfillment exist, and there are also standards for electronic workflow management of the inter-library loan process – the International Standards Organisation (ISO) Inter-Library Loan standard ISO 10160 and ISO 10161 are relevant (Interlibrary Loan Application Standards Maintenance Agency 1997) and the electronic placement and fulfillment of ILL requests is common in some regions.

Electronic delivery is rapidly becoming the favoured means of inter-library loan fulfillment, especially when the source material is already in digital form. However such fulfillment may be constrained by licensing and copyright restrictions. For instance, some consortia limit electronic delivery to non-profit research organisations only.

A number of commercial and government delivery services (such Infotrieve) can provide documents on a per-item fee basis in a more timely manner than traditional inter-library loan systems, where speed of delivery is critical.

Document Delivery workflow

Document delivery systems facilitate the workflow management of inter-library loans. Libraries have a long history of collaboration through inter-library loans, and the national and international processes for fulfillment are well understood by libraries. While document delivery systems can vary in capabilities, the key functions they can support are:

  • A request form, sometimes integrated with your search engine, to enable your clients to raise document delivery requests, or possibly part of the reference tracking system.
  • A submission function to allow discovery of libraries with this resource and to place an ILL request
  • A tracking function to track the request through to fulfillment
  • A delivery function to deliver the item to the client
  • Management of the loan to the client and recall at the relevant due time for return (sometimes integrated with your ILMS)
  • Reporting for copyright and management reasons of ILL requests
  • Where applicable, billing and voucher management systems

Similarly, your library will receive ILL requests from other libraries and will a workflow system to track this loan through to return. Key functions for this element of the document delivery workflow are:

  • Receiving a ILL request
  • Discovering the resource and arranging document delivery to the requesting institution
  • Tracking the loan through to return
  • Where applicable, billing and voucher management systems
  • Reporting for copyright and management reasons of ILL requests

Document Delivery Standards

  • ISO 10160:1997 Information and Documentation - Open Systems Interconnection - Interlibrary Loan Application
  • ISO 10161-1:1997 Information and Documentation - Open Systems Interconnection - Interlibrary Loan Application Protocol Specification
  • ISO 10161-2: Information and Documentation - Open Systems Interconnection - Interlibrary Loan Application Protocol Specification - Part 2


Content Management: Intranet, Extranets & Websites

The Parliamentary Library may be responsible for part or all of the management of the intranet, extranet and website of the Parliament. The starting point for evaluating the role of the Parliamentary library in this context is the development of a content strategy. The content strategy can help determine the focus of content presentation in each of the three modes of information delivery. Above all the content strategy should be directed to the needs of Parliamentary members and their support staff.

The Intranet (for service delivery of resources provides the means for focused delivery of resources to the Parliamentary members and their staff. Elements of the content strategy relating to the intranet might include:

  • A focus on news feeds and access to current information and briefings targeted to the members and their staff.
  • Access to digital resources that are available only to members.
  • Access to research and reference services.

The extranet extends the visibility of the intranet to remote users.

  • Virtual Private Network access provides a framework for secure authenticated access for those not using services locally in the Parliament.
  • Single-sign-on or proxy systems to provide web-based access to members without multiple passwords.

The public website provides the means for more widely reaching interested communities: such as schools, universities and the general public. In additional to information about the role and function of parliament and parliamentary democracy, the library can provide valuable information on its collection and resources.

Please refer to the following detailed guidelines on content management for Parliamentary websites:

Guidelines for Parliamentary Websites: a document prepared by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations Department of Economic and social Affairs, through the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, March 2009.

Getting started

Minimal infrastructure approaches

There are several approaches to building an intranet that require minimal existing infrastructure. Wikis provide a simple, quick and low-investment approach to presenting content online. Once familiar with the Wiki syntax they can be an effective method for information presentation. An example of an internal wiki tool for documentation is DocuWiki ( Google provides a free hosted facility for document management that allows forms-based scripting and collaborative document preparation (

Managing your own web server

There are a multitude of web and wiki-style content management systems available in Open Source. Two that have a large international installation base are Joomla and Drupal. Joomla has some nice existing modules that suite libraries getting started in document management, such as DocMan ( and has a good language support (


Most public and corporate entities are under an obligation to ensure that their websites fulfill at least the minimum requirements for web accessibility, especially for public-facing websites. The most commonly accepted standard for accessibility are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which can be found at The thrust of this guidelines is sensible and practical. They are divided into four categories of perception, operation, understandability and robustness. First and foremost, websites should provide text alternatives to all non-text content and time-based media. Content should be amenable to presentation in different ways (for example a simplified layout for website readers). WCAG guidelines have quite practical implications in site design that can readily be implemented with new websites, although retro-fitting existing web applications may be difficult. They include:

  • The use of style-sheet based design and DIV's rather that tables for layout to facilitate representation with different readers
  • For web pages with forms to fill out, all forms items should have labels.
  • All images should have descriptions (the “ALT” tag)
  • Redirection to an external website without warning
  • Strong colour contrast on pages and avoiding flashing images
  • Good use of metadata, especially the title tag and the language attribute
  • Good page organisation - for example the ability to skip past navigation and layout structure directly to the content of a page
  • More recently, the captioning of all video where relevant supporting text is not provided.

Your websites can be tested for practical compliance using one of the screen reading applications available (see software below).



Website content management
  • Joomla. Joomla has good language capabilities and a wide range of “plugins” that support functions such as document management for simple document repositories
  • Drupal. Drupal has strong language capabilities but less “off the shelf” setup
  • Sharepoint. - Microsoft's popular corporate intranet and web content management product
  • Google Docs. Google Docs is Googles newest contribution to their fold - a simple easy web site development tool that includes document collaboration capabilities and some scripting for forms handling.
  • Wordpress. A tool that allows rapid development of well styled sites.
  • MediaWiki. MediaWiki has limited styling by effective development of collaborative documentation sites.
  • DokuWiki.|DokuWiki]] - DokuWiki is a good tool for documentation sites.
  • Kete. Kete is from the originators of the open source Koha ILMS, Kete is a “wiki-inspired” content management system with more natural support for multimedia than most wiki software. It is open source.
  • PHPBB Forums. PHPBB is a bulletin board system. It integrates with many content management systems as a tool.
  • vbulletin. vbulletin is a proprietary bulleting board system.

Accessibility testing

core.txt · Last modified: 2011/10/19 18:47 by admin

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