The California Digital Library is pleased to announce that a contract has been signed with Ex Libris [http://www.exlibris-usa.com/] for its ALEPH 500 system to serve as the underlying technology for the University of California’s Melvyl® Union Catalog.  Ex Libris has a strong client base of academic institutions and consortia, and among its recent customers are the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), the State University of New York (SUNY) system with 64 campuses, and the Harvard University Library.  As of January, ALEPH had a base of over 3 million users at 540 sites in 43 countries.

The contract is the result of an exhaustive RFP and evaluation process as well as extensive consultation with faculty, library staff, and the university community about their needs for online catalog services.

The Ex Libris ALEPH 500 system will provide the university community with several new features that do not currently exist in the Melvyl Catalog, while not losing any significant functionality found in the current system.  Examples include a combined book and periodicals database, call number searching, multilingual character support, a general keyword search and better options for sorting search results.

In addition, a CDL system based on Ex Libris will provide a more stable platform for future enhancements than can be provided with our twenty-year old Melvyl software.  The database design proposed by Ex Libris is one that preserves the sophisticated ability to merge like titles in the current Melvyl Catalog and adds more flexibility in providing displays of significant variations in merged records.  In addition, it will be possible to add CDL “proprietary” features into the Ex Libris system, such as the Request service for interlibrary loans, links to campus systems’ circulation data, and an efficient command-line search option.  Ex Libris’ understanding of these functions and their commitment to develop solutions were other important factors in the selection.

Librarians and staff from the ten campuses and the CDL are involved in planning for the migration to the new catalog, and will be seeking input from faculty and students at critical junctures throughout this complex process.  We anticipate the conversion to the new catalog to begin immediately.  For most of 2002, the new catalog and the current version of Melvyl Union Catalog will be available simultaneously, allowing substantial time to explore the new system.   The conversion to the new catalog is expected to be complete in January, 2003.

Information for the public including background information and regular updates on progress are available on the Melvyl/ExLibris Faq page [http:// www.cdlib.org /news/melvyl.html] and the What’s New at CDL page [http://www.cdlib.org/news/whatsnew.html].

Details on the implementation process and progress, of interest to library staff, will soon be available in the “libstaff” section; watch for an announcement next week.

Background

In the Fall of 1999 the California Digital Library began a process to investigate options to ensure the continuing quality of the Melvyl Union catalog, an essential and renowned resource and discovery tool for materials held in the libraries of the University of California campuses as well as those of several partners.  This process has been centered around an RFP for replacement of the catalog’s supporting technology. Systemwide steering committees developed the RFP and evaluated the results with extensive input from the university community including regular discussions with UC faculty and administrative committees, open Q&A sessions with faculty, library staff, and others at each campus, an online survey that generated over 3,000 responses, and a thorough review by committees of the University Librarians Advisory Structure.

Seven vendors responded to this RFP and a rigorous evaluation process, which followed all applicable RFP policies and procedures, was then conducted by the CDL RFP Evaluation Steering Committee.

The CDL wishes to thank the many members of the UC community who contributed to the construction of the RFP and the arrival at this milestone. We especially thank the following members of the RFP Evaluation Steering committee and its chair, Bernie Hurley, for their thorough and exemplary work:

Diane Bisom, UCI
Karen Coyle, CDL (ex officio)
Laine Farley, CDL
Cheryl Gomez, UCSC
Jon Good, UCOP, IR&C
Bernie Hurley, UCB (Chair)
Ann Jensen, UCB
Julia Kochi, UCSF
Terry Ryan, UCLA
Catherine Nelson, UCSB
John Ober, CDL (ex officio)
Susan Starr, UCSD
John Tanno, UCR
David Walker, CDL
Gail Yokote, UCD

This announcement concerns only the Melvyl Union Catalog.  The need and strategy for a transition of CDL-hosted journal abstracting and indexing databases is being examined separately (public information can be found at http://www.cdlib.org/news/cdlhosteddatabases.html ); details for library staff are available at: http://www.cdlib.org/libstaff/sharedcoll/a-i-trans/.