The various assets of the Library have hitherto been recorded in separate data sources each of which was devoted to a particular type of asset. There were several of them using more than one type of software with very little ability to be searched and then only on the computer on which the information was stored. In addition none of the data sources was accessible through the internet.

For some time now work has been proceeding on developing an integrated database in which all the assets will be recorded. The design is such that multiple volunteers will be able to interact with and update the database simultaneously and it will be accessible over the internet.

Current situation

The first stage of the integration process was implemented recently with the conversion of the book information. The first tangible benefit of this change can be seen on the books page which produces the two lists of books held by the Library that was part of the previous web site. The important difference is that the information is obtained directly from the new database whenever the page is accessed ensuring that the information is current.

What's next

The database is now accessible. Click on Catalog to enter. Currently the books, maps and drawings, and the photograph databases are available for searching, and work on integrating our periodical holdings is proceeding.

In the case of the photographic collection work has been going on behind the scenes to scan the entire collection. More than 50,000 slides and photos are now available and more will be added as they are scanned. Not only will it be possible to search for information about the holdings of the Library but it will also be possible to view the associated images which will be available at level of resolution that is suitable for viewing on the screen.

The new database will permit visitors to search the database using search criteria specified by them. It will be possible to search subsets of the assets, such as the photographs, looking for images that satisfy the search criteria but it will also be possible to search the entire database to receive information that match the search criteria regardless of the type of asset that is recorded.

And after that?

Experience will be gained with the steps that the Library will be taking as mentioned above. In addition, the feedback from those using the new features will be important. From analysis of the experiences and feedback from users it will be possible to develop and more detailed strategic plan for future development.