25 June 2013


Once upon a time there was this neat database that only librarians could search to find out if a book or other resource was in another library’s collection. This database was created by hundreds of libraries contributing their catalogue records. Each of the libraries was a member of the Australian Bibliographic Network (ABN). The members were academic, public and special libraries. The database was hosted at the National Library of Australia and it’s interface was text-based enquiry and results. Think green text on a black screen!

What a fabulous idea! This was back when the term “internet” was not used interchangeably with World Wide Web. After the www brought along a revolution in interface design the ABN was transformed into Kinetica.

Kinetica brought the ABN database to the web browser and enabled member libraries to search, add holdings information and save catalogue records all within the web browser. It also had some other interfaces for adding and editing catalogue records. Who got access to Kinetica was still limited – although I can’t remember exactly what the arrangements were – but I think when it was first made available to library patrons to search they had to be on-site or at least authenticated in some way.

Then along came Trove – at last she gets to the topic at hand. So, Trove is available to everyone who can get their hands on a computer that has Internet access – at least for searching. There are still constraints on who gets to manipulate catalogue and holdings records of contributing libraries. Trove is more than what the old ABN was. Trove has other types of databases in it as well. It now includes records from research repositories, digitised newspapers, and photographs contributed by FlickR users. Like this contributed by Jeannie Fletcher…

Erosion on Currumbin Beach.

Image Erosion on Currumbin Beach by Jeannie Fletcher. CC licence. Some rights reserved.    Record in Trove

Thank you to the visionary librarians who got the ABN kicked off all those years ago.

And in other interesting Trove news this week. There is now @TroveNewsBot – tweet a topic to this twitter account and it will query Trove digitised newspapers and tweet back a link to a treasure on the topic. How cool is that?