Overview and Deliverables

Home| Overview | Contacts | Related Links | Dissemination | Documentation

[ Cairns ]


CAIRNS aims to integrate the 25 Z39.50-compliant catalogues or information services of CAIRNS sites across Scotland into a functional and user-adaptive test-bed service. This will offer efficient and effective search and retrieve capabilities across a 'clump' of services comprising all of the individual CAIRNS bibliographic databases and also across various smaller sub-clumps, and will provide:

  • a comprehensive union catalogue for Scottish HE without the cost and effort of setting up and maintaining a central database
  • a set of smaller specific sub-sets of this catalogue appropriate to particular purposes (e.g. a particular subject interest)
  • a means of integrating access to different types of resources (e.g. simultaneous searches for hard copy and electronic resources)
  • a means of integrating access to these with access to other clumps elsewhere
  • a means of supporting ongoing commitment to improving cost-effectiveness through co-operation and resource-sharing (particularly between members of the Scottish Confederation Of University and Research Libraries (SCURL) who make up the majority of the CAIRNS sites)

With these aims in mind, the project will also:

  • test and seek to extend the limits of inter-operability
  • establish requirements for the future development of the initial service
  • identify any implications SCURL’s current organisational structure and associated inter-institutional agreements
  • establish requirements and standards for continuing and future CAIRNS membership
  • provide a model for other clumps elsewhere

The existence within the clump of servers describing and delivering electronic resources (BUBL, SLAINTE) will also enable a limited amount of investigation of cross-domain implications, particularly in respect of CAL packages (CATRIONA II).


User access to the test-bed service will be via Z39.50 or WWW clients or if required by telnet. Suppliers whose systems are included in the clump are III (INNOPAC), Geac (GEOPAC and GEOWEB), Ameritech (Dynix Classic, Horizon, NetPublisher, Webpac, RSAS servers all included), VTLS, MDIS, SIRSI, SilverPlatter, and OVID.

Three kinds of clumping service will be investigated:

  • local client-based (GEOPAC);
  • local server-based (GEOWEB, III WEBPAC, Ameritech WEBPAC);
  • central server-based (EUROPAGATE, GEOWEB);

and will offer access to the following:

  • a fixed general clump and sub-clumps (includes pre-selected and user-selected clumps and sub-clumps);
  • fixed local restricted sub-clumps (includes pre-selected and user-selected clumps and sub-clumps);
  • user search initiated, dynamically generated, sub-clumps.

Sub-clumps entailed would include:

  • geographical groupings (e.g. servers in the Glasgow area);
  • material type groupings (electronic resources on BUBL Z39.50, CATRIONA II, SLAINTE);
  • subject-based (result of a subject strengths search from the SCURL RCO catalogue);
  • a fully distributed version of the SCURL SALSER service.

Dynamic Clumping Service

The project will take advantage of SCURL’s WWW/Z39.50 conspectus-based Research Collections Online (RCO) service as the basis of a subject-based dynamic clumping service. This will provide users with dynamically generated subject-based sub-clumps of SCURL catalogues to search via Z39.50. An extension of this would enable users to be presented with subject-based sub-clumps dynamically generated via searches of catalogues of electronic resources: BUBL-LINK, SLAINTE, CATRIONA II demonstrator and Strathclyde University Library’s Z39.50 compliant WWW server.

Other issues

To the extent that time and resources permit, the project will also investigate a number of issues of subsidiary interest:

  • some Inter-Library Loans issues (at least one library is currently testing an ILL management system with a WWW/Z39.50 based user request interface)
  • some authorisation/authentication issues (one library is investigating borrower database based mechanisms for controlling access to the Internet)
  • access to serials holdings of individual sites via contents pages and other indexing services

Consortium Members

The University of Glasgow is the primary lead site and the University of Strathclyde the secondary lead site. The following institutions are also members of the project: University of Aberdeen, University of Abertay Dundee, University of Dundee, University of Edinburgh, Glasgow Caledonian University, Heriot-Watt University, Napier University, Paisley University, Queen Margaret College, The Robert Gordon University, University of St. Andrews, University of Stirling, National Library of Scotland, and East Dunbartonshire public library. The project operates under the auspices of SCURL

Project Groups

Three groups play a central role in the project: The CAIRNS Management Group (CMG), the CAIRNS Advisory Group (CAG) and the CAIRNS Liaison Group (CLG). In addition, an external group, the SCURL IT Advisory Group has a role in that it advises SCURL on the progress and implications of the project.


The project deliverables will be:

  • A working system comprising the elements outlined elsewhere in this bid;
  • A user-adaptive system as outlined elsewhere in this bid;
  • A dynamic clumping service based on a development of the RCO service;
  • Progress on ILL, authorisation and authentication services, a distributed serials service, a current contents to serials service, and an explain service;
  • Test results and analyses;
  • Contributions to the draft UK inter-operability profile;
  • Proposal for a metadata scheme for the description of targets and collections;
  • Installation documentation;
  • System operation documentation for local systems and the clumper;
  • User documentation;
  • Regular reports to eLib at intervals specified by eLib;
  • Final report.


CAIRNS is funded under eLib phase 3 and is an offshoot of the UKOLN-based MODELS project (, although discussions and progress towards a Scotland-wide Z39.50-based ‘union’ catalogue service have been ongoing since the CATRIONA I project.

Home | Overview | Contacts | Related Links | Dissemination | Documentation

Last updated: 09 June 2005