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The Journal of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

ISSN 1743-5471

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February 2009 Volume 7(1)

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

Online library

Gateway to engineering

Nicola Harrison charts the growth of the national online library for engineering, based at Heriot Watt University and part of a national network of subject gateways.

The Edinburgh Engineering Virtual Library (EEVL) project started in August 1995 with the aim of providing access to high quality online information resources at UK higher education establishments. It was a collaboration between the Institute for Computer-Based Learning (ICBL) and the Library at Heriot-Watt University with partners at five other UK universities and at the IEE.

A collection of records describing engineering-related websites was prepared and the service went live in September 1996. Each record consisted of a URL and title along with a short description of its coverage and contents, keywords, a subject classification and a resource type classification. The EEVL catalogue could be searched by keyword or browsed by subject heading.

Subject classifications were based on the Ei thesaurus subject divisions, although less detailed. As the collection expanded (from 2000 records in April 1997 to 22,000 today) further sub-divisions were made in areas with larger numbers of resources. So, for example: mining and mineral processing is a single top level heading, whereas electrical engineering, with nearly 3000 records, has been divided into nine secondary headings, some of which are divided down further into a third level of headings, with the aim of having not more than a couple of hundred records in each section for ease of browsing.

EEVL worked with a range of other projects including Offshore Engineering Information Service, Recent Advances in Manufacturing and AERADE. EEVL also produced a variety of extra services, including a searchable database of freely available full-text online engineering journals (called EESE), a listing of engineering-specific search engines and another of engineering news sources. As technology advanced, an RSS feed of news stories from a wide range of sources was developed.

The nature of the project changed over the years. In 2001, for example, it expanded to incorporate Computing and Mathematics. The name EEVL was retained, since it was well recognised in the UK academic library community, although it could no longer be expanded out to Edinburgh Engineering Virtual Library. The engineering part of the new hub was thus called EEVL Engineering. Also in 2001, the Resource Discovery Network (RDN) launched the Virtual Training Suite, a series of tutorials on Internet searching strategies for UK students, lecturers and researchers. They are intended to address the needs of specific subject areas. EEVL staff created several of the tutorials, and are developing new ones.
In 2006 the name EEVL disappeared when EEVL Engineering became Intute Engineering.

Intute was formed from the staff and data resources of several major subject gateways which were part of the RDN funded by JISC. These gateways included: BIOME (Health and Life Sciences); GEsource (Geography and Environment); Humbul (Humanities); PSIgate (Physical Sciences); and EEVL (Engineering, Maths and Computing). EEVL had acquired resources from Mathgate (maths) and Aerade (aerospace) prior to the formation of Intute. The Virtual Training Suite was also incorporated into Intute.

Intute was formed to reduce the duplication of effort, and to allow searching across all subject areas by holding all the information in a single database.

The various RDN gateways had been created independently, so the software used, and the structure of the databases was entirely different. The first technical challenge was to create a dynamic database which was much larger than had been used before by any of the gateways. It also needed to be flexible, easy to access and to have response times to searches which were not noticeably slower than those of the services it replaced.

Intute is split into four primary hubs: Arts and Humanities; Health and Life Sciences; Science, Engineering and Technology; and Social Sciences. There is an ongoing project to link subject sections together where appropriate and to form new sections to reflect current practice in HE.

One of the early projects for Intute Engineering was to combine Materials Engineering and Materials Sciences into a single section, which involved collaboration with colleagues from Manchester University.

In addition to the basic catalogue of Internet resources, a number of additional features associated with Intute Engineering have been developed: an E-Journals Search Engine; a blog with weekly entries; and Newsround (a news aggregator service for sciences and engineering). 

Nicola Harrison is Technical Librarian, Harley Haddow.

References

EEVL News and Enhancements
An Exceptionally “EEVL” Search Resource
The EEVL Metadata Format
About Intute
Raising the profile: Intute Engineering Online Library


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Information Scotland Vol. 7(1) February 2009

© Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Last updated: 27-Mar-2009