Ralph LeVan

Senior Research Scientist

Ralph LeVan

I've been in the bibliographic retrieval business since I left college. I spent ten years working at SDC (later Burroughs and Unisys) ORBIT. With the sale of ORBIT to Robert Maxwell, I chose to join OCLC and have been here for the last 29 years.

During that time I led the development of the retrieval software that underlies the FirstSearch service (Newton). With the successful launch of FirstSearch, my attention shifted to database interfaces, the most significant being Z39.50. I continue to be active in the Z39.50 Implementors Group (ZIG).

Moving up the interface stack, I led the development of OCLC's Z39.50-to-Web gateway (WebZ), which became the interface development environment for FirstSearch. WebZ, combined with the Newton database software, became the SiteSearch product. More recently, I have produced a second generation of database software (Pears), which is available as Open Source as part of OpenSiteSearch.

Recapitulating previous work, I returned to working on database interfaces, specifically the initiative to implement Z39.50 as a Web Service (SRU), and an initiative to allow content providers the ability to describe how to access their content rather than prescribe how their content should be exposed (OASIS SWS). We have an Open Source SRW engine and connectors for several databases available on the Research github page.

For the last several years I've been working with Thom Hickey and Jenny Toves on the VIAF and Identities projects. My part of those projects is to provide the database technology (Pears) and interface software (SRW) that exposes their content online. Cranking the cycle one more time, I'm currently looking into Solr as a replacement for Pears


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