The first single guide to the resources, locations, and access arrangements of 30 higher education libraries in the Greater London area has been launched on the World Wide Web.
Jean Sykes, deputy director of information resource services at the University of Westminster and chair of the M25 Consortium of higher education libraries, said the service would offer searchable access to the estimated 12 million books and 10,000 periodical titles in more than 100 separate library sites.
For each library site the guide gives three categories of information: * a geographical page: address and nearest public transport * subject information: the subjects in which it has a sizeable collection * access information: opening hours in term and vacation, and the levels of access to the collections permitted to various categories of outside users.
The M25 area has been divided into eight zones, enabling users to confine their search to zones near to their own institutions or their homes. The M25 web pages have links to the web pages of member institutions. Users can click on to any M25 institution's online library catalogue to search for specific books or periodicals, or to do subject searches.
Two digital maps, one of the whole M25 area and one of the inner zones, complete with famous London sights to facilitate orientation, give a graphical dimension to the M25 web service.
Each M25 library is nominating a web weaver to keep its own pages up to date. The webmaster role will remain at the University of Westminster, which will organise a training session for the web weavers in May and will oversee any major technical updates. The database will be distributed between the M25 libraries instead of residing centrally on the Westminster server, creating a truly decentralised web service.
The M25 service is available at http://www.M25lib.ac.uk/M25/