Copac Beta can search your library too

One of the new features we are trailing in the new Copac Beta is the searching of your local institutions library catalogue alongside Copac. To do this we need to know which Institution you are from and whether or not your Institutional library catalogue can be searched with the Z39.50 protocol.

To identify where you are from, we are using information given to us during the login process. When you login, your Institution gives us various pieces of information about you, including something called a scoped affiliation. For someone logging in from, say, the University of Manchester, the scoped affiliation might be something like “”

Once we know where you are from, we search a database of Institutional Z39.50 servers to see if your Institution’s library is searchable. If it is we can present the extra options on the search forms, and indeed, fire off any queries to your library catalogue.

Our database of Z39.50 servers is created from records harvested from the IESR. So, if you’d like your Institution’s catalogue available through Copac, make sure it is included in the IESR by talking to the nice people there.

Many thanks to everyone who tried the Beta interface early on and discovered that this feature mostly wasn’t working. You enabled us to identify some bugs and get the service working.

Harvesting records from Copac with OAI-PMH

We have recently implemented an OAI-PMH interface to Copac (access details can be found on our Copac Interfaces web page.) It has passed all the tests of the OAI-PMH protocol validator hosted by the Open Archives Initiative, so I’m reasonably confident we have a useable service up and running. The niggling doubt I have is that the OAI Repository Explorer seems to have a problem parsing the MODS records we deliver — it has no problems with our DC records, so I’m hoping it is a problem at their end, not ours. If you know different then please let us know!

Several Sets are available through which you can harvest sub-sets of the Copac database. We currently have only four Sets: Music, Sounds, Images and Maps. If there are sub-sets of the Copac database you think it would be useful to harvest and are not in the list, then let us know and we’ll see what we can do. (We are limited in what Sets we offer by what is easily and efficiently searched for in the database.)

The Copac database contains almost 34 million records. We are a little worried about the performance hit our servers (and hence our users) might suffer should someone decide to try and harvest the whole of the database. Therefore, we are currently insisting that any ListRecords or ListIdentifiers requests must specify a Set. If no Set is specified then a BadArgument error is returned.

Unfortunately we do not maintain information about deleted records, so it will be necessary to periodically re-harvest records from us. I wish we could offer deletion information, however the way we receive records from our contributing Institutions and the de-duplication process makes it very difficult to track deletions and keep a stable record number. But such difficulties are probably a blog post for the future.