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New web-based library system

Published: 8 Jun 1999

McGill University and Ex Libris (USA) Inc. announce a new library system that will enable users to access the Libraries' online catalogue and collections, as well as worldwide resources, through a web-based interface.

New library system will empower students and researchers in a web-based world

The arrival of a new library system is causing some excitement around the University these days. McGill University and Ex Libris (USA) Inc. announced recently that they have signed a contract for the installation of an ALEPH 500 (TM) system. The ALEPH 500 system will enable users to access the Libraries’ online catalogue and collections, as well as world-wide resources, through a web-based interface. It will replace the current NOTIS/McGill library management system, which has been in place for more than decade.

Library systems designed in the ’80s are no longer adequate to support the needs of institutions of higher education. Text-based mainframe systems are not internet-ready and don’t support images or links to web resources. Because the teaching and learning environment at McGill is moving towards web-based course support, library services must keep pace. In the past ten years, new technological tools like the web have been developed that offer easier access to information, and provide improved services to researchers and students.

McGill Libraries are following a North American research library trend. Investments made in new information technology will contribute significantly to the quality of our students’ education and the ability of our faculty to deliver excellent teaching and research. The acquisition of the ALEPH 500, part of the McGill University Digital Library Millennium Initiative, will help fulfil the mandate of the Libraries, namely, to collect, preserve, and make available the information necessary to teaching and research at McGill University.

"We were looking for a system that would reflect the international aspects of our university," said Frances Groen, Director of Libraries. "This included not only superior multi-lingual capabilities, but also a sophisticated design that would enable us to realize our future goals with regard to world-wide access of information resources. We see the ALEPH 500 system as the cornerstone of our digital library efforts and as an intelligent gateway for users who are dealing with global information resources."

"McGill is in the midst of replacing most of its administrative systems with new network and web-based systems," said McGill’s Vice-Principal (Information Systems & Technology) Bruce Pennycook. "Aleph 500 is the perfect complement to our IT directions on campus." Like the other major components of the new network systems, ALEPH 500 uses Oracle database client/server technology.

McGill University Libraries are very proud that Seymour Schulich, BSc’61, MBA’65, one of Canada’s major benefactors, has helped make the installation of the new system possible. Schulich made an initial donation of $1 million through the McGill Twenty-First Century Fund campaign, and has since committed an additional $500,000 towards information technology resources. Principal Bernard J. Shapiro has also committed $500,000 towards this project.

"We are very pleased to have been selected by McGill," said Carl Grant, president of Ex Libris (USA) Inc. "This selection further validates for North American research libraries that they have options, particularly when they are looking for a system with state-of-the-art sophistication and superior international capabilities for dealing with global information."

McGill’s University Library System is comprised of sixteen individual libraries. Serving over 29,000 students, McGill’s collections number over 3 million volumes. McGill University Libraries are active members of the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec network of libraries, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, as well as the Centre for Research Libraries. McGill is a major North American university with an international focus.

The system marketed by Ex Libris, called ALEPH, is now used in over 450 installations with more than 16,000 concurrent users in 40 countries. Ex Libris is a multinational company with offices located around the world.

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