Mixed approach in creating a university union catalogue

Publication Date02 November 2015
AuthorDanijela Boberić-Krstićev,Danijela Tešendić
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet
Mixed approach in creating a
university union catalogue
Danijela Boberi´
cev and Danijela Tešendi´
Department of Mathematics and Informatics, Faculty of Sciences,
University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present the software architecture of the university’s union
catalogue in Novi Sad, Serbia. The university’s union catalogue would comprise the collections of 14
academic libraries.
Design/methodology/approach – The basis of this paper is a case study of developing a software
solution for the union catalogue of the University of Novi Sad in Serbia. The solution principles of
object-oriented modelling are applied to describe the software architecture. Specically, the unied
modeling language (UML) component and sequence diagrams are used. The database model is
described by using a physical data model.
Findings – Through the research of related papers and, taking into consideration the problem of
creating a university union catalogue, it is concluded that the best approach is to combine the idea of a
virtual and a physical union catalogue. Records are stored in one physical union catalogue, while the
holdings data are stored in the local library management systems (LMSs) organized in the form of
virtual union catalogues. Because academic libraries often use LMSs from different vendors,
interoperable communication between those LMSs and the union catalogue is provided through the
usage of standard library protocols for information retrieval (Search and Retrieve URL [SRU], SRU
Record Update and NISO Circulation Interchange Protocol [NCIP]).
Research limitations/implications – The development of a union catalogue for the University of
Novi Sad is in its test phase, and, at this moment, only a software solution supporting the functionalities
of a union catalogue has been created.
Practical implications – By introducing a university union catalogue, students would be able to
search the collections of all the university libraries by using a single portal. Their results would indicate
whether a book is available and from which library it is available to borrow.
Originality/value – Originality of this software architecture lies in the usage of standard library
protocols. The described architecture enables the addition of new members to the university union
catalogue, regardless of which LMS the library uses.
Keywords Union catalogue, SRU, SRU record update, NCIP, Software architecture, BISIS
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
The availability of information provided via the Internet, as well as the possibility to
exchange information between libraries which use library management systems (LMSs)
from different vendors, became one of the main prerequisites for successful
management of a library. Modern Web users are accustomed to using search engines,
such as Google or Yahoo, which provide them with the possibility of a centralised search
The work is supported by Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Serbia, through
project no. III47003: “Infrastructure for technology enhanced learning in Serbia”.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 5 February 2014
Revised 2 June 2014
4 September 2014
Accepted 17 September 2014
TheElectronic Library
Vol.33 No. 6, 2015
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/EL-02-2014-0026
service (comScore, 2014). Furthermore, research studies have shown that university
students prefer using Web search engines over all other electronic information services,
such as online public access catalogues (OPACs) or bibliographic databases, to obtain
information. Grifths and Brophy (2005) determined that Google is the rst choice for 45
per cent of students compared with using the OPAC, which is a rst choice for just 10 per
cent of students. Google is their preferred choice because it is an easy-to-use tool that
does not require specialized skills in comparison to an OPAC (Fast and Campbell, 2004).
However, Brophy and Bawden (2005) stated that these two kinds of resources are
complementary and both have their advantages and drawbacks. Their research shows
that Google is superior in coverage and accessibility, while library databases provide
more quality results.
To exploit student Google search trends, libraries should provide their users with a
more comprehensive search engine with an easy-to-use interface. The idea of using a
single OPAC to search the collection of a lone library seems to be of less importance.
Consequently, organising multiple library collections into a union catalogue takes
precedence as a way to bring together more information into a single place. The
existence of a union catalogue is a requirement for developing a modern library OPAC
that has functionalities similar to Google.
The aim of this paper is to describe the software architecture of a union catalogue at
the University of Novi Sad in Serbia. In this paper, we present one software solution,
supporting a union catalogue that would consist of bibliographic records from all the
libraries at the university searchable using a single OPAC. Once implemented, students
could very easily and quickly obtain information about which library possesses a
particular book and what the status of an item is; that is, whether a specic library has
the item and whether it is available for borrowing.
The presented software architecture of a university union catalogue does not follow
any of the existing practices in creating union catalogues. The architecture is based on
a combination of physical and virtual union catalogues. Combining all the good features
of virtual and physical union catalogues in the architecture of the university union
catalogue is the main contribution of this paper. Additionally, the University of Novi
Sad comprises 15 libraries that use different LMSs, so the main idea was to enable
interoperability among them using open standards, such as Search and Retrieve URL
(SRU), SRU Record Update and NISO Circulation Interchange Protocol (NCIP).
The paper is presented in nine sections. A brief description of the organization of
University of Novi Sad academic libraries is given in the Section 2. In Section 3, the
application of a combination of two different approaches – physical and virtual union
catalogues – to create a software solution for a union catalogue is described. Bearing in
mind that a union catalogue requires the exchange of information among libraries, a
short description of protocols used for search and retrieval of bibliographic records, as
well as a description of a protocol used for the exchange of user data, is given in the
fourth section. A software architecture model for the university union catalogue and
the benets of this type of architecture are presented in Section 5. A brief overview of the
university union catalogue’s implementation is given in the Section 6 and Section 7
explains the possible problems that may arise during the creation of a union catalogue.
Concluding remarks, as well as some plans for future work, are presented in the nal two

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