3.00 FYI France: Enewsletter and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Apr 15, 1995 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on April 15, 1995. This particular issue originally was distributed in two parts, as indicated below.
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From: Jack Kessler 
Subject: networking and Internet at the BibMun de Lyon (pt.1/2) (15 Apr 95)

FYIFrance: networking and Internet at the BibMun de Lyon (pt.1/2)

The Bibliothe`que Municipale de Lyon is an institution for which there
really is no parallel in the United States. A typical French
"bibliothe`que municipale" -- with its closed and restricted stacks,
extensive archives, children's activities, general public access
collection, and often immense and rich rare items "fonds anciens", and
particularly in light of the relative impoverishment of university
libraries in that country -- is a cross between what in the US are
called "public" and "research" libraries: it might more accurately be
called a "state" library in France, for lack of a better term. The New
York Public Library offers perhaps the closest US parallel. The BMLyon
is one of the largest and best - endowed of the bibliothe`ques
municipales in France.

The following article, which appears in the current issue of _BBF / The
Bulletin des Bibliothe`ques de France_, of the French national library
school (Paris: ENSSIB, t.40, no.2, 1995, appearing here, translated by
me, with the permission of its author), describes the remarkable
project currently under way to bring to this major French library all
the benefits, and some of the problems, of computerization, the
Internet, and the "Information 'Superhighways' / 'Autoroutes'".

North American librarians might be particularly interested in this
French library's policy on digital media acquisition and development:
"business as usual" is the approach for acquisitions -- the CDROM, for
example, "...is not computer equipment, but a document like any other.
Its acquisition is a function of subject specialist librarians in
collection development", and librarians "...always will be involved in
the analysis of content: only the means of gaining access to that
content has changed. Their role in the training or education of the
public will become important as the networks grow. The public will need
assistance to navigate in this environment, which is not yet formalized
and which yet contains very few reference points."

Jack Kessler



The Multimedia Network of the Bibliothe`que Municipale de Lyon: A
Summary, and Strategies

by Christian Ducharme (translation by Jack Kessler)

In 1993, the Bibliothe`que Municipale de Lyon installed a local area
network (called the Multimedia Network) to permit the consultation of
CD-ROMs, to manage databases of digitized documents, and to provide
access to the Internet. After two years of operation, it is possible to
present a summary of the techniques and of the impact of these new
services on the public and on the professional staff.

The decision to create a Multimedia Network at the Bibliothe`que
Municipale de Lyon of course was motivated by the desire to extend
services to the public, but also by the necessity of experimenting with
different methods of collection development and of information
retrieval, methods which were starting up at the time and which are in
place today. As the network was installed, the following question were
asked: will CD-ROM asssume a significant role in the publishing
market?  Considering the immense size of collections, what documents
should be given priority for digitization? What is the position of a
large public library, like that of Lyon, in the face of phenomena like
the "virtual library" and the Internet? How will the public react to
documentation which is electronic and virtual?

In the course of this experiment, the strategies adopted envisaged,
among other things, access to a range of information that would be as
large as possible, using a workstation attached to the network.
Ultimately, it was hoped, the public, from a multimedia workstation,
would be able to navigate from one document environment to another,
capturing any information desired (as either text or graphics, in local
databases or remote), and building a personal file to print or to save
to disk.

Another reason which motivated the library was a desire to experiment
with these new information technologies. The basic information system
of the library is old. The system, a GEAC GLIS, designed in the 1970s,
no longer is being developed significantly. GEAC is offering other
products now, which rely on more modern technology. A new information
system will be installed at the beginning of 1996, one which must use a
high - speed network, permit information search and retrieval on
distributed databases, and offer database management for digitized
documents. In this sense, the Multimedia Network, which integrates
these functions, prefigures the change of the basic information system
of the library.

The Technical Choice

In the choice of a technical approach, we have forced ourselves to
follow two rules. The first mandates the acquisition of standardized
equipment. Computer equipment must be as standardized as possible. This
helps with the management of information infrastructure, and reduces
costs of capital outlay and operation (maintenance fees). This concern
for standardization extends to software. One must avoid the development
of specialized applications, and instead choose products on the market
which most correspond to needs and, importantly, which are the most
flexible in adapting to their environments.

Taurus, a product of the firm DCI, is a good example of such an
adaptable product. This electronic document management software, used
for the digitization of documents, permits the modification of the user
interface. It is possible, in addition, to add entries to its menus and
to link them in various ways, as long as the programs are written in
"C". This flexibility of adaptation means that there is a single
software program, Taurus, but several ways to use it in managing

The second rule is not to use a single supplier for the entire project.
An information team within the library oversees the work. Several
suppliers have been sought: DCI for electronic text management, GESCO
for color document digitization, CD-TECH for CD-ROM networking and,
finally, WANG for the network, AIRTEC for the routers, and IBM for the
concentrators and other network peripherals.  The network system is
Novell NetWare. This is a 16 Mbps Token Ring in a star configuration.
The concentrators are multi - protocol and ATM / Asynchronous Transfer
Mode - compatible. Cabling is double screened twisted pair with
hermaphrodite connections (IBM type). Two protocols are used in the
network: IPX and TCP/IP.

We are aware that it is not possible to handle large multimedia
applications with a 16 Mbps distributed network. The cables in use,
however, can support speeds of up to 300 Mbps, and are installed so as
to enable eventual migration to a switched network such as ATM. From a
distributed 16 Mbps network we will progress to a 100 Mbps switched
network, one which will permit true multimedia applications.

The 16 Mbps Token Ring network nevertheless has permitted us to
complete certain projects. The response time in search and display for
the digitized images is acceptable. And already the network includes 30
workstations, of which 12 are reserved for the public. The other
workstations are installed for databases distributed in different
reading rooms and in the library offices, where they are used for
indexing and for the digitization of documents.

All workstations are 486 DOS / Windows, with 8 Mbyte RAM and 200 Mbyte
hard disks. The public workstations are equipped with 17 inch high
resolution screens and sound cards. Screen quality is tied to the
digitized image display. A 17 inch screen allows display of image bit -
maps and journal articles, both with a price / quality relationship
which is satisfactory. The NEC screen was chosen because it displays
black and white images as well as it does those in color.

Sound cards were made necessary by the CD-ROMs. The workstations are
not yet equipped with audio headsets, as there are very few CD-ROMs
which allow the networking of sound. The sound found on most CD-ROMs is
designed for the user's loudspeaker, and is not yet encoded so as to
circulate on a network. There are two methods for putting CD-ROMs on a
network: one can use the network server for the CD-ROMs or set up
another server dedicated to this use. The second solution, known as
"client - server", is preferable because it allows many CD-ROMs to be
put onto the network. It also has an advantage in not consuming the
resources of the network server. The installation includes three
optical servers, each giving access to 21 CD-ROM users, totaling 63 CD-


At the beginning of 1993, it was not certain that the CD-ROM would take
a significant place in the world of publishing. We examined the market
and analyzed the titles available in French. We gambled that this
medium would develop. There were favorable signs, such as the number of
titles produced in the United States, and the trend of the online
producers (Questel, Dialog, etc.) to publish versions of their
databases on CD - ROM.

We began with a small number of titles, not by lack of conviction but
for financial reasons. The CD- ROM is not computer equipment, but a
document like any other. Its acquisition is a function of subject
specialist librarians in collection development. It therefore often
enters into competition with the book or with other media. But this is
not the real problem. Most of the time it is relatively easy to
demonstrate the "superiority" in terms of performance of CD-ROM over
other media, including books. The possibilities for research, and the
ease with which the information may be copied (printing on a nearby
printer replacing the waiting lines for the photocopier) are the
convincing arguments. If one adds to this the possibility of
consultation on the network, even the most anti - computer librarian
lines up in support.

The electronic version of Kompass is a very good example of this. Its
paper version, even though it appears in several volumes, may not be
consulted by several users at once. Nor is it easy to use:  its index
is printed in small characters, and shifts from one volume to another.
The CD-ROM, on the other hand, is user - friendly, and represents in my
opinion one of publishing's successes in optical media: easy searching,
the ability to combine search criteria, consultation of search history,
and the printing - out of complete data on the items searched. In
addition, the publisher offers network versions at reasonable prices.
One can see here a product which rapidly will improve attitudes toward
digital media, and will convince decision - makers of the importance of
offering the service of CD-ROM consultation in a library. But this
becomes more difficult when there is no paper equivalent to the CD-ROM.
The librarian in such a case lacks a point of reference for evaluating
the product. It is thus not a choice between two modes of consultation.
The CD-ROM therefore must be integrated into an overall acquisitions



From: Jack Kessler 
Subject: networking and Internet at the BibMun de Lyon (pt.2/2) (15 Apr 95)

FYIFrance: networking and Internet at the BibMun de Lyon (pt.2/2)  

(continued: by Christian Ducharme -- translated by Jack Kessler) 

In March, 1993, the public had access to a dozen CD-ROM titles. Usage
statistics demonstrated that the public responded well to the service.
In the course of the last nine months of the year, there were more than
12,500 consultations at the four posts scattered throughout the
library. The average consultation time of a CD-ROM was 14 minutes. In
1994, the number of titles doubled; see the list accompanied by the

List: use statistics of CDROM -- 1994 [I thought non - French readers
might be interested to see some of these titles. jk.]

Title		Consultations		Title		Consultations

AFP			 1066		Instruments de musique	  420
BGF / Bibliog.Ge'n. Fr.	 1893		Kompass France		 7553
CD Atlas de la France	  284		Kompass Europe		  599
CD Actualite'		 5303		Lexilaser		 1158
CD Litte'rature		  728		Maps and Facts		 1245
CD The`se		 1071		Megastat (France)	  578
Code civil		  662		Le Monde		 3204
Discotext		  421		Myriade			 2742
Electre			 1251		Robert (dictionnaire)	  945
Film index		  666		Megastat (Europe)	  331
Francis			  575					_____
Harrap's		  228					
Histoire au jour le jour 1216		Total			36367

We pay particular attention to statistics. In the policies governing
the CD-ROM server, it was firmly set out that the software should be
able to furnish precise statistics. In a library, these are important
management tools. User statistics are used for the development of the
collection and for determining the distribution of workstations in the
different rooms of the library. Strict rules as to their collection
were established. For example, a user had to pursue a consultation for
longer than sixty seconds before that statistic would be taken into
account. In this we were thinking of the user who simply couldn't use
the CD-ROM (committing errors with the mouse, for example) and who
therefore abandoned a search.

>From the beginning of this year, the following titles were added:
Anne'e strate'gique, Bacchus, Cine'mania, Jour J, Me'moire et
actualite' en Rho^ne - Alpes, Music index, Normandie, Pascal et
Repe`re. The installation now thus includes 33 titles.

>From the first, the librarians took charge of this CD-ROM
consultation.  The library's information service only provided
beginning instruction:  the explanation of different search software
packages, the basic operation of the medium, setting parameters for
printing, etc. The librarians of each department later deepened their
knowledge of CD-ROMs by creating small workshops in which they analyzed
the products. They rapidly took on this mode of information searching
and have no problem in instructing the public.

Digitized Text Documents

The digitization of documents can respond to several needs. One can
digitize to archive the documents (economies of shelving space), to
protect the collections (conservation of rare or precious documents),
improve access to certain documents (improved searching distributed to
several points on the network). After digitization, it is possible to
impose a certain number of improvements on a document. For example, one
can delete parts of the document which are not pertinent, tag and
rearrange the text, and change the size of the document so that it will
occupy a single page on the screen or in printing. In these cases, the
document is stored as an image (a file in graphic format). It also is
possible to use OCR / Optical Character Recognition. The image file
thus is converted into a text file (ASCII or ANSI). The advantage of
OCR is double: economies of disk space, and the possibility of
searching the text itself (fulltext searching).

At the Bibliothe`que Municipale de Lyon, the press files for the
Department of Documentation of the Rho^ne - Alpes Region were given
priority for digitization. For this service, OCR was not used, this
type of treatment not being adequate for newspaper articles. The error
rate due to page formatting (titles in large characters, the use of
wide characters, columnar text, etc.) did not permit good quality
recognition. Otherwise the capture of documents in image files gave the
advantage of conserving the page formatting. Thus the document is
displayed as is on the screen, and its printing produces a copy which
conforms to the original. On the other hand, each news article must be
indexed to be retrieved, and the files take up much disk space.But OCR
software improves, and SGML is making its way toward becoming a
standard. During the next several years, OCR and page format encoding
will be included in all electronic document software. It then will be
interesting to convert this database to fulltext, to permit fulltext
search and retrieval.

For twenty years the library has collected documentation on its Rho^ne
- Alpes region. Until now, the documents have been photocopied and
stored in files, divided among 180 subjects and arranged by years. The
user who searched for information had to apply mental gymnastics to
discover in which file the desired information might be found. And, in
many cases, the user had to consult several files to complete a
search.  In addition, for security reasons, current - year files were
not in open access. The public had to present identification in order
to obtain these.

The digitization of press files did not economize on time or on
personnel. The amount of work seems to remain the same, but it is
distributed differently: there are fewer manual tasks and more
scientific tasks, like the creation of a thesaurus. There has been, on
the other hand, an improvement in the productivity and the security of
the files. The gain in productivity shows because for the same effort
one can obtain a better use of the documentary archive. A search for a
file now may be done by the words of its title, by author, by
periodical title, by date and by subject. As for security, the risks of
theft and of damage to the files are nil.

In the interests of the public we have decided not to index the
documents using the RAMEAU system. The public can only understand this
documentation language with difficulty. Its mode of indexing is useful
only if the search is done by a librarian and not directly by the user.
A thesaurus for regional documentation was assembled, strongly inspired
by the model of RAMEAU. The experiment was interesting, and the
thesaurus, which today includes more than 12,000 descriptors, is well
adapted to the needs of the general public.  The informatization of the
Rho^ne Alpes documentation was a success not only for the public but
also for the staff. The librarians have reacted well to the
organizational changes. Tasks are different and more exacting from a
professional point of view, and therefore of greater value.

Digitization of Iconographic Collections

The Bibliothe`que Municipale de Lyon possesses important iconographic
collections. The Rare Items collection alone contains thousands of
interesting images. The Arts Department also possesses prints, posters,
photographs... so many documents that the public does not often have
occasion to see them except during expositions organized by the
library. Digitization is practically the only means of restoring this
iconographic heritage to the public.

Image documents pose a double problem: on the one hand they are not
well cataloged, and on the other hand they are not freely - accessible
as they often are rare or precious documents. But interest in images is
growing. For example the IRHT / Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des
Textes / Institute for the Research and History of Texts just is
concluding a campaign to photograph 12,000 illuminated manuscripts.
These documents, which are available as diapositives, are sent to a
Kodak laboratory to be digitized. Kodak reruns the image files on CD -
PHOTO. From this they are imported into the image database.

We are assembling an image - bank, which includes a representative
selection of each type of document, from illuminations to modern
posters, and including prints of the 16th century and photographs of
the 19th century. The treatment of images appears similar to that of
press files. But there are two possibilities: either to digitize the
document in place using a digital photo apparatus (Kodak DCS 200), or
to go through a laboratory intermediary to make a CD-PHOTO. The
principal steps: the choice of documents to digitize is made by the
Arts Department; the images selected are arranged by format or document
type (groups of 100 for a CD-PHOTO and of 50 for digitization in place
-- the DCS 200 has a memory capacity of 50 images before downloading);
the photograph is marked with the date, the classification number, and
the fields corresponding to the inventory (these fields indicate the
source of the document); then the librarian fills out an entry, the
subject - indexing of which represents the principal cataloging
element. We have created a thesaurus for the library for the database
of Rho^ne - Alpes Documentation, inspired by RAMEAU and the _The'saurus
Iconographique_ of the abbe' Garnier.

Internet and the "Virtual Library"

The third reason which governed the development of an important network
at the Bibliothe`que Municipale de Lyon was support of the global
project of virtual libraries. This project, begun in North America, is
in the process of overturning the traditional function of libraries. It
soon no longer will be possible, if one wishes to respond to the needs
of users, to stay out on the fringe of the great network of information
exchange like the Internet.

The importance of the library and the richness of its collections
justify this effort, to make cultural patrimony accessible on the
national and international networks. Already, the catalog of the
Bibliothe`que de Lyon may be consulted on the Internet (via telnet to
bm.univ-lyon1.fr). Within a short time, digitized collections will be
accessible using one of the client software packages of the
WorldWideWeb / W3 variety. We are working on the installation of a
"Mosaic" server, which will permit the creation of hypermedia

Navigation on the Internet calls for a particular type of training for
library professionals. They must learn to use the services offered on
the networks: email and bulletin boards, forums (newsgroups), telnet,
WAIS, Gopher, Web. We remain convinced that librarians must learn
information searching on the Internet quickly. It is important that
they learn to exercise their professional skills in this new environment.

For all this, their role will not change. They always will be involved
in the analysis of content: only the means of gaining access to that
content has changed. Their role in the training or education of the
public will become important as the networks grow. The public will need
assistance to navigate in this environment, which is not yet formalized
and which yet contains very few reference points.

In two years of operation, the multimedia network has evolved:
initially seen as including six stations, it today counts more than
thirty, of which twelve are dedicated to public access. Optical - disk
electronic publishing is flourishing and the number of CD-ROM titles
possessed by the library increases from month to month. We are
beginning to digitize other types of text documents, such as tables of
contents, brochures, statistical tables, etc. The database of Rho^ne -
Alpes press files will diversify, and the Arts Department of the
library will begin the digitization of files on the artists for which
documents will come from several different museums.

During the course of the year 1995, efforts also will be made to expand
the images databank. We soon will make this database accessible to the
public at la Part - Dieu [main branch of the BMLyon.  jk.], and
eventually will offer access via Internet. We also will try to put at
the disposition of the public an Internet research tool which will
provide access to the catalogs of the principal libraries of the entire

A long effort remains to be made in the creation of more appropriate
documentation tools which will permit the public to search for
information on the Internet's networks. This work will be done in
collaboration with the librarians, who must select servers responding
to the needs of the library. One of the difficulties of the Internet
networks is that information searching is not static but dynamic.
Information in electronic form evolves rapidly. We never are certain to
have the power to recall the same information from the same place.

There also are problems of the availability of the information servers:
a server always can become overloaded, out of order, or disconnected.
How to explain this to the public?

The evolution of technology encourages us to give to libraries
instruments for the search and retrieval of information which always
are more effective in responding to the needs of the public. But
putting these instruments into place poses more than simply technical
problems. We are concerned here with a transformation in the basic
function of the library, and the work habits of librarians, which even
causes us to reflect on the survival of libraries in a context of the
decentralization of information, on the training of librarians, and on
the problems of the rights of authors.

January, 1995.



FYI France (sm)(tm) e - newsletter        ISSN 1071 - 5916

      |           FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic newsletter,
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      |           "information overload", by Jack Kessler. Any material
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Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison - pen letters       
all will be gratefully received at  kessler@well.sf.ca.us .

        Copyright 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.    

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