Library Computerisation (information requested)

Dominik Wujastyk D.Wujastyk at
Wed Apr 27 23:15:41 UTC 1994

In message Wed, 27 Apr 1994 10:23:08 BST,
  S.A.S.Sarma at (S.A.S. SARMA)  writes:

> 1. I would be very much interested to know what sort of programmes
> have been used for the computerisation of the main indological
> libraries around the world.
> 2. I wonder whether any one of you has got experience
> with the CDS/ISIS developed by UNESCO.

At the Wellcome Institute we use a library system called URICA by
Macdonell-Douglas as our local system (this is what you get if you telnet to  It uses the ALA character set and has dedicated terminal
software that allows overprinting of the ALA accents, etc., so you see
transliteration correctly, and can even build up multi-accented characters.
The ALA character set includes things like candrabindu.  If you log on to
URICA from outside, with say a vt100 terminal, most of this is stripped
out, and you see plain 7-bit text.

For copy cataloguing we use OCLC, which also uses the ALA character set.
Input is by prefixing accents to a letter; output is whatever you want, or
however you handle things locally.

In Madras last November I saw Mr Sankaralingam of the MOZHI Trust
demonstrating a small library system based on CDS/ISIS running on a PC with
a Gist card.  He showed catalogue records with parts in roman, parts in
Devanagari, and the ability to switch the Devanagari parts instantly into
Tamil, accented romanization, Malayalam, etc., in a round-robin fashion.  It
looked very good.  I don't know about the system's limitations.  CDS/ISIS
stores its records in MARC format, which is important, of course.  And it's
cheap (backed by UNESCO) which is very important in the SA context.

I assume you know Mr Sankaralingam, since you are working at Pondicherry,
and he has been associated with the institute there too.

For an interesting review of some important issues concerning the future of
libraries and library management, I recommend some documents made publicly
available by OCLC at the site  One of the most
interesting and shortest is
/pub/documentation/whitepapers/cataloguing_strategy.  There are other
papers, including the proceedings of an OCLC Symposium ALA Midwinter
Conference held in February, which are worth a look.  Sorry I can't remember
the filenames, but they are on the same site.

Dominik Wujastyk           Phone (and voice messages): +44 71 611 8467
Wellcome Institute, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE.

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