Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Project Builder

Stephen Pinfield outlines the aims of Project Builder, a phase-3 eLib project.

BUILDER is an eLib Hybrid Library project based at Birmingham University. It aims to develop a working model of the hybrid library to support both teaching and research through providing unified access to a wide range of printed and electronic information sources, local and remote, using a standard Web-based Intranet interface. It is known as The Birmingham University Integrated Library Development and Electronic Resource (http://builder.bham.ac.uk) and the model will be based on a series of six inter-related modules which will be developed for and applied across six subject areas.

The first module, User Registration and Induction, sets out to look at authentication issues relating to local and remote services, aiming to achieve single login access to a variety of services. It will also incorporate online induction packages to provide new users with training and support. The second module will examine ordering and document delivery processes with the aim of producing a series of Web based forms for ordering purchases and inter-library loans. Direct connections with online bookshops and document delivery services will also be established. The third module of BUILDER will seek to establish a high-level metadata index to provide seamless access to a range of printed and electronic sources. This will help users to move between various information formats using a single interface. The next module, Teaching and Learning, will encompass a variety of issues ranging from electronic short loan collections to computer assisted learning packages. The enhancement of student-teacher communication throughthe use of Intranets will also be investigated. A fifth module will be concerned with developing services in the area of publication and digitisation. A number of specific digitisation projects will be undertaken using previously published material. Electronic publishing of new material will also be investigated with the assistance of the University of Birmingham Press. The final BUILDER module is Access Gateways. This will consider a wide range of issues associated with the accessing of external resources. Technologies such as Z39.50 and services such as dial-up will be particularly relevant.

The modules will be implemented at Birmingham across a number of subjects. The disciplines that have been chosen are: history and archaeology, education, business, physics, sports science and medicine. However, it will be essential that the results of the project are portable. To achieve this a number of primary partners from other institutions will be involved in designing, testing and evaluating BUILDER products. These are the University of Oxford,University of Wolverhampton, Westhill College of Higher Education and Birmingham Central Library. In addition, a number of non-library secondary partners have agreed to bring a range of expertise, advice and value-added services and products to the project. They are publishers, systems suppliers and professional associations. A system of evaluation involving representatives from all of these different groups has been set up for each of the six modules. This will help to ensure that the project remains not only user-focused but also innovative. The training of users and information professionals will also be an essential part of the project. The BUILDER project homepage is at http://builder.bham.ac.uk

Author Details

Stephen Pinfield
Project Leader
University of Birmingham