RLIN21 & RLG Database Infrastructure Migration

This activity is now closed. The information on this page is provided for historical purposes only.

In 2005 RLG implemented a new support infrastructure for our online services. These changes affected all RLIN® users, institutions that search the RLG Union Catalog with Z39.50 clients, and those that import MARC records from the RLG Union Catalog.

Our objectives were to simplify retrieval and creation of authority and bibliographic records, streamline workflow, make it easier to support users, and take advantage of the most current technology and standards implementations.

As part of that work, RLG introduced a new RLIN21 Web interface in 2004 for locating and exporting MARC bibliographic and authority records. We also introduced a new Windows®-based RLIN21 client for cataloging, archival processing, and record maintenance in the RLG Union Catalog, for cataloging in the SCIPIO: Art and Rare Book Sales Catalogs database, and for contributing name authority records to the LC/NACO Authority File. These services completely replaced the former RLIN searching and processing systems.

Archival Control Design Users Focus Group

Created in August 2003, this group comprised experts from the institutions that created and updated the greatest number of records in the RLG Union Catalog in the Archival and Mixed Collections format, using RLIN® Terminal for Windows®. These users advised us on how RLIN21™ would handle archival control fields and archival processing in all bibliographic formats.


Elaine Engst
Cornell University
Sue Hodson
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Nancy Lyon
Yale University
Nancy Shawcross
University of Pennsylvania
Judy Silverman
Canadian Centre for Architecture
Robert Trujillo
Stanford University
Robert Wolven
Columbia University
Melanie Yolles
New York Public Library

RLG staff liaison:
Karen Smith-Yoshimura
Manager, Bibliographic Services

Authorities Design Users Focus Group

Created in July 2003, this group comprised experts who represented a cross-section of large research libraries, art libraries, special collections, area studies and NACO funnel projects. These users advised us on how the new software can best handle creating, updating, and contributing name authority records.


Bill Bovino
University of Pennsylvania
Mark Bresnan
Frick Art Reference Library
Anne Champagne
Art Institute of Chicago
Sherman Clarke
New York University (ArtNACO funnel coordinator)
Mary Jane Cuneo
Harvard Fine Arts Library (liaison to ArtNACO funnel)
Joanna Dyla
Stanford University
Anne Flavell
University of Oxford
Peter Guilding
Trinity College Dublin
Mickey Koth
Yale University (MusicNACO funnel)
Heidi Lerner
Stanford University (HebrewNACO funnel)
Elizabeth Lilker
New York University
Philip Melzer
Library of Congress, Regional Cooperative Cataloging Division
Pat Rader
New York Public Library Dance Heritage Collection
Laura Stalker
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Hugh Taylor
University of Cambridge
Manon Theroux
Yale University
Rachel Wadham
Brigham Young University

RLG staff liaison:
Karen Smith-Yoshimura
Manager, Bibliographic Services


The three main components:

  • A new RLIN21 interface used to retrieve, display, and export MARC records.
  • A new RLIN21 client used to create and update bibliographic and authority records.
  • Underlying structural changes in virtually all RLG databases. These changes affected Z39.50 client users, all who exported records from the RLG Union Catalog into their local systems, and above all, RLIN users of the RLG Union Catalog.

Structural changes to the RLG Union Catalog

The "cluster" structure of the RLG Union Catalog was retained (that is, each record for the same title was available, with shared access points). All earlier versions of Name Authority and Subject Authority records were retained. Changes:

  • Full format integration—all eight bibliographic files were merged into one (with an option to limit results by material type). Impact:
    • Users retrieved records regardless of which RLIN file originally held it (the same work might be in two different files due to changes in cataloging rules or institutional practices).
    • The CLS index (indexing LC and Dewey classification numbers) was available in all formats (it had not been available in RLIN Books).
    • New record contributors needed to sign off on only one bibliographic record conversion (formerly, institutions had to sign off on conversion of each record format).
  • Data was stored in Unicode™ (UTF-8); this opened up future support for scripts beyond the MARC 21 character sets (Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean).
  • Data was stored as XML; this opened up future record export in XML format for systems also based on XML.
  • Modified criteria for selecting the Primary Cluster Member (first record seen), based on a 2002 survey of RLG members.
  • Presentation of more information about other records in a cluster (e.g., presence of classification, Program for Cooperative Cataloging record). This additional information was the same regardless of interface used.
  • Support for simplified MARC 21 holdings—only. (The information in RLIN holdings fields was mapped to subfields in the MARC 21 852 field or dropped.)

RLIN21 Web interface

This greatly improved link to "record supply" interface allowed users to search, display, and export MARC records in the RLG Union Catalog, Name and Subject Authority files, English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), Hand Press Book database, and SCIPIO: Art and Rare Book Sales Catalogs.

Users could navigate easily among records in a cluster and retrieve earlier versions of name and subject authority records. The default "command line" allowed expert users to chain commands, use any combination of Boolean operators, and limit results by any value within a record. The RLIN21 interface had the same Internet browser requirements as RLG's Eureka® research-oriented interface.

RLIN21 introduced these features not available in RLIN interfaces:

  • Browse all clusters in the RLG Union Catalog by author, title, or subject heading.
  • See results sorted by publication date, with option to sort by author or title instead.
  • Select and view multiple MARC records at one time; scroll through long records.
  • Click to see a specific record from within the same cluster.
  • Return to previous search results or combine them without rekeying.
  • Display diacritics and all supported scripts at one time.
    (Formerly, to see diacritics and original scripts one needed RLIN Terminal for Windows software—which displayed either Arabic/Cyrillic/Hebrew or Chinese/Japanese/Korean at one time.)
  • Link to electronic resources (in the 856 field).
  • Export records in MARC 21 format (rather than RLIN MARC):
    —Only one export format (formerly there were three: RLIN Pass, RLIN Put, and modified MARC 21 for Z39.50-retrieved records).
    —MARC 21 character sets, with a future option to request Unicode encoding.
  • Identify established authority headings easily—and refer to superseded headings with a click.

RLIN21 client software

This streamlined client was free for licensing and downloading. It took fuller advantage of the wealth of records in RLG databases and expedited technical processing. It made the most of Windows and Unicode capabilities and offered features RLIN users had long requested. It used the RLIN21 Web interface for record retrieval.

Catalogers in the RLG Union Catalog and SCIPIO database used the RLIN21 client for creating and updating bibliographic records and for the record-export-to-disk feature.

The client's basic functions were complete at the end of May 2005 with a release that supported creating and contributing LC/NACO authority records. NACO contributors could generate name authority records from headings in bibliographic records.

New capabilities:

  • Set up profiles for users' accounts to accommodate local work flows.
  • Create user work-form templates.
  • Use labeled MARC templates for fixed fields and holdings.
  • Retrieve help text and validate MARC data on demand.
  • Copy any bibliographic record, even your own.
  • Use keyboard shortcuts for all menu options.
  • Enter a subset of MARC 21 holdings in a template, which can be profiled.
  • Search authority files while creating or editing bibliographic records.
  • Enter additional diacritics and special characters in Latin, and original scripts using Arabic, Cyrillic, and Hebrew characters with keyboards downloadable from RLG.
  • Enter original scripts used in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean with Windows® Input Method Editors downloadable from Microsoft.

System requirements for using the new client:

  • Windows NT or higher for any user who used RLIN Terminal for Windows to create or update records without using original scripts.
  • Windows 2000 or XP for any user who used RLIN Terminal for Windows to create or update records with original scripts (Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean). RLG recommended the Arial Unicode MS font that was available with MS Office 2000 and MS XP. (This universal Unicode font has over 50,000 glyphs and seemed to be the best available.)


  • August 31, 2005: Migration project home, overview, and timeline moved under Past Work.
  • August 4: First redesigned customer usage statistics reports made available through the protected site reports.rlg.org, for activity from March 2005 and after.
  • July 28: Ongoing data loading, deferred during peak of migration activity, resumed.
  • May 31: Final database migration: LC/NACO Name Authority File released for NACO contributors to create, update, and submit records.
  • May 23: Release of RLIN21 cataloging client version 2.1, adding features for catalogers and providing capacity for NACO authority records contribution to come.
  • March-May (reported through a post-migration updates page): Progressive recovery from stability/response problems encountered with new systems; continued migration work on databases and searching.
  • March 1: RLG database services resumed with migrated databases. Users who enter records directly in the RLG Union Catalog and SCIPIO began adding records using version 2.0 of the RLIN21 cataloging client. Intensive work begins on migrated system problems.
  • February 26-28: Database service outage for changeover to migrated databases—during this period, only the RLG Cultural Materials database, Trove.net™, The AMICO Library™, and RedLightGreen were searchable.
  • February 25: The last day for all bibliographic record retrieval and input using RLIN Terminal for Windows. (NACO contributors only can still use RLIN Terminal for Windows software—to create, update, and submit name authority records in the LC/NACO Authority File.)
  • February 14: The test RLIN21 client for SCIPIO cataloging was released to all SCIPIO catalogers.
  • February 1: The first migrated database was released to users: the Chicano Database.
  • January 10: A new version of the RLIN21 client for SCIPIO cataloging was released for testing by RLG's SCIPIO Advisory Task Force.
  • January 7, 2005: Information was posted for users exporting records through Z39.50, about the 952 fields that identify every record in a title cluster.
  • September 29, 2004: The cataloging client was further enhanced in response to users' suggestions.
  • September 22: Users began filling in a Web form to confirm/change the user IDs and passwords their institutions will use after RLG database migration.
  • August 13: A test database of sample migrated RLG Union Catalog records was created for users to test their Z39.50 clients.
  • August 2: New user ID guidelines were posted for current RLIN users on how to determine the need for and format of access IDs for the RLG Union Catalog post-migration.
  • July 22: The new cataloging client received a set of enhancements in response to user feedback.
  • July 1: All users had converted from RLIN telnet to RLIN21 Web interface searching, and the old access was turned off.
  • June 21: A test file of sample, migrated RLG Union Catalog records was created for record-exporting users to test their loaders.
  • June 2: Users begin creating and updating bibliographic records in the current RLG Union Catalog through the new Windows-based RLIN21 client. (Client roll-out events were held around the country all year.)
  • May 31: This was the last day to order snapshot files prior to a temporary halt in snapshots production until after full database migration is completed.
  • April 16: Changes were made to current RLG Union Catalog records retrieved by Z39.50 clients and Eureka MARC export. The RLIN21 Web interface got a set of enhancements in response to early users.
  • April 7: MARC 21 equivalents for RLIN fields were issued on the Web; these will be used in the RLG Union Catalog database migration.
  • March 15, 2004: Users began searching the RLG Union Catalog, and the Name and Subject Authority files, through the new RLIN21 Web interface. (In June, the new interface was extended to the English Short Title Catalogue, Hand Press Book, and SCIPIO: Art and Rare Book Sales Catalogs databases.)

For more information

Karen Smith-Yoshimura
Program Officer