OCLC SiteSearch 4.0 software field tests completed

DUBLIN, Ohio, April 2, 1998--Six library systems have completed field tests of the OCLC SiteSearch 4.0 suite of software, paving the way for an April release that will offer libraries increased flexibility and expandability in integrating and managing electronic resources.

Beta testing of the OCLC SiteSearch 4.0 software began in November with GALILEO, the Georgia Library Learning Online system, which continued testing through March.

EDINA National Datacentre (located at Edinburgh University, in Scotland), SABINET Online (an online service provider for South Africa and southern African countries), University of Arizona, University of California at Berkeley, and University of South Florida conducted OCLC SiteSearch 4.0 field tests from January through March.

"We've been very fortunate to have these prestigious institutions test OCLC SiteSearch 4.0 and assist us in its development," said Taylor Surface, manager, OCLC Distributed Systems. "The testing process gives participating libraries an opportunity to use the new software and to provide suggestions on how we can improve it. We have received excellent feedback from these institutions, and we hope that feedback will help us to meet or surpass the high expectations of our users."

As part of the version 4.0 release, OCLC SiteSearch server components have been rewritten in the Java programming language, which will increase libraries' ability to extend the

functionality of the OCLC SiteSearch software to create unique features specific to local needs. Additionally, local customization of WebZ interface functionality will be easier using Java.

"Over the years, the developers of GALILEO have requested a number of changes, improvements and enhancements to the OCLC SiteSearch suite of software," said Brad Baxter, information analyst, Library Automation Group, University of Georgia. "By adopting the Java language as a foundation, OCLC has developed a new version of OCLC SiteSearch that is meeting all of our requests and exceeding our expectations by giving us programmers almost complete control over the systems we develop."

During the field test, OCLC sought feedback from the libraries on such topics as the design of the interface and ease of configuration and customization, as well as the ease of upgrading to the new Java architecture.

"It's been fun learning and working in Java," said Janet Garey, head of UNIX servers and applications, Library Systems Office, University of California at Berkeley. "The new software also opens up a lot of possibilities since it is so much more flexible and expandable. It really feels like we can do whatever we need to now."

SiteSearch 4.0 will offer expanded features such as enhanced multi-database searching and browsing, and the ability to search non-Z39.50 resources.

"One of the best things about the new version--that comes right out of the box--is the cross-database search capabilities," said Ms. Garey. "It took very little effort for us to set up a group of databases to search in one pass. I think the library users will like this feature a lot."

The OCLC SiteSearch 4.0 suite of software is scheduled to be released in late April.

A prototype of the new interface can be viewed. For more information on the OCLC SiteSearch suite of software, visit the OCLC SiteSearch Web site.

Developed in 1992 by the OCLC Office of Research and Special Projects, the OCLC SiteSearch suite of software helps libraries integrate and manage their electronic library collections. More than 250 libraries use OCLC SiteSearch to build electronic collections, offer access to global and local resources, and extend access to information when and where their users need it.

With the OCLC SiteSearch suite, users view library catalogs, local and remote reference databases, image collections, full-text resources and more using one interface and one search process from users' desktops--whether in the library, home or office. OCLC SiteSearch provides libraries with features such as Web access to Z39.50 resources, the ability to maintain the state of a user's interaction with resources, and the capability to create unique local databases.

OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization whose computer network and services link more 26,000 libraries in 64 countries and territories.