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News from BIOME

Donald Mackay reports on BIOME participation in a major project to enhance interoperability between the BIOME core database and those projected by LTSN Subject Centres.

BIOME is currently participating in a major project to enhance interoperability between the BIOME core database and those being created by our cognate Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) Subject Centres. The partners in the project are the Resource Description Network (RDN) Hubs BIOME and ALTIS and five LTSN centres: Bioscience; Health Sciences and Practice; Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism; Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine; and Psychology. The overall aim of this project is to provide members of the health and life science communities in the UK with richer and easier access to learning and teaching resources and to act as a starting off point for future Hub/LTSN Subject Centre collaborations.

An interoperability framework will be created that will allow the partners to share data with each other, to create new resource descriptions, to add value to existing Internet resource descriptions (such as reviews and educational levels) and to allow members of our user communities to cross-search all of our catalogues. The project will use a range of common standards to ensure interoperability between all of the partners. This will involve the use of a core set of common metadata and the Open Archive Initiative’s Protocol for Metadata Harvesting as a standard for metadata exchange, ensuring that records from different LTSN subject centres and ALTIS/BIOME will be comparable and can be combined into a single database that can be searched from the Hubs and the Subject Centres.

This work is being undertaken as part of a wider RDN/LTSN project and uses funding that has been made available by JISC to develop partnership arrangements between LTSN and RDN.

BIOME Web Site Developments

BIOME will soon be introducing some changes to the look and feel of our site and to our search interface.

Because of increasing popularity, (from 30,000 page returns per month in 1995 to 1.7 million per month in 2003), our old search interface was starting to suffer under the weight of searches that it had to handle. We decided therefore to introduce a new search interface to coincide with the increase in searches that occurs at the beginning of each academic year.

In light of ever changing Internet accessibility and other standards we have also decided to introduce a new content management system. This uses XML and XSLT (eXstensible Style Language Transformations) to enable us make our gateways more accessible and easier to update. We took advantage of this situation to introduce some new features and to change slightly some existing parts of the site. This was partly in response to user feedback obtained during our recent Portal focus groups, (summary to be made available on our Web page in the near future) and also in response to previous user comments about the look and feel of the site. These new aspects include a new wildcard feature in our search interface, (to replace the existing automatic stemming) and the ability to sort results by a range of options.

As a service we are keen to make sure that these changes reflect the needs of our users and to find out what other aspects of our Web pages and service can be further developed or improved. If you have any comments or suggestions about the new search interface or about any other aspect of our service, please let us know. You can contact us through our e-mail address at help@biome.ac.uk

We look forward to hearing from you!

Author Details

Donald Mackay
Service Manager

Email: dmm@biome.ac.uk
Web site: http://biome.ac.uk/

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Article Title: “Interoperability for Learning and Teaching”
Author: Donald Mackay
Publication Date: 30-October-2003
Publication: Ariadne Issue 37
Originating URL: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue37/biome/