Selecting An Automated Library System For Finnish Research Libraries

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Selecting An Automated Library System for Finnish Research Libraries, Linnea2 Annu Jauhiainen
Helsinki University Library Finland

1 The Present Situation
All Finnish academic libraries and a number of other Finnish research libraries have used the VTLS software during the 90’s. The contract with VTLS Inc. was signed in 1988 and implementation took place during the following years. A unified network called Linnea was created, consisting of the local installations and a common physical union catalogue which all were connected by the powerful academic data transmission network FUNET. The VTLS-based network, now called Linnea1, was very advanced when built a decade ago, and it has served Finnish libraries well. VTLS Inc. has also been a trusty companion of Finnish academic libraries during these ten years. Creation of the union catalogue Linda in early 90’s was an ambitious project. Not only was data from all academic libraries loaded into a single database; software development was also needed. For example, a duplicate control algorithm was designed in Finland and implemented by VTLS. VTLS developed many unique consortium features which enabled the libraries to use the Linda database efficiently for copy cataloguing purposes. Depending on the library, 50-90% of MARC records can be copied. ILL localisation is also very efficient, because Linda contains summary-level serials holdings from about 400 Finnish libraries. The Automation Unit of Finnish Research Libraries, created in the Ministry of Education in 1974, was instrumental in the implementation, development and running of the Linnea network. In 1993 the Unit, with all its tasks and resources, was moved to the National Library, where the Division of Library Network Services is now managing the Linnea1 network, functioning as a common agency for the academic libraries. In this capacity the National Library is also responsible for the new steps toward Linnea2, as the next generation network is called.

2 Selection of a New Automation System
To summarize the need for a new generation software we can say that all library system vendors are building so-called third generation library systems with relational database and Client/Server technology, graphical user interface and web gateways, the ability to search multiple databases simultaneously, multimedia support and support for internationally accepted standards such as Z39.50, Unicode, Edifact and ISO ILL, to meet the growing needs of the users. It was also evident that the classic VTLS system was coming to the end of

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its life-cycle and would not be developed further since VTLS Inc. is concentrating on their new system, which is called Virtua. The Finnish academic libraries have since early 90s enjoyed the benefits of being a consortium. The ten years of VTLS use have taught the libraries and all parties involved that co-operation is power, even if it is not always easy or simple. Because of the great success of Linnea1, there was no need to revise the basic service philosophy when moving to a new system. Libraries were satisfied with the system and the work flows and with co-operation with one another. When the present VTLS system was purchased, the Ministry of Education funded the acquisition of both software and hardware. This time the universities had to find the money out of their own budgets. Nevertheless, both the universities and their libraries wanted to ensure the benefits of the present common approach. Libraries also were open to totally new technical and organizational solutions if they should prove more favourable both functionally and economically. Libraries clearly wanted to avoid transplanting old patterns into a totally new environment. Everything had, therefore, to be looked at from a new perspective. Three major issues had to be tackled: the selection of the software, the future database or network architecture and the maintenance of the hardware. 2.1 Selection of the Software...
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