30 June 2013


Another standard, and coincidentally another Sunday.

Z39.50 is a protocol for search and retrieval of information from remote databases. Most library systems and many citation management applications offer z39.50 searching of remote databases.

This means that if you are using EndNote, for example, to manage your citations you can use it as a search interface of library catalogues, and when you find a result you like it can be immediately retrieved and saved in your EndNote library.

Librarians, cataloguers in particular, quite frequently use this protocol when they are making use of other libraries’ records as part of copy cataloguing. The functionality is built into their library system to query another library’s database.

The way each remote library catalogue has z39.50 implemented can vary. This is due to how the search type has been matched to particular indexes in the database. For example, an author search via z39.50 may be mapped to an index of authorised author records in one system, but be mapped to author fields of bibliographic records in another system.

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The Library of Congress is the agency responsible for the registration and maintenance of the two (equivalent) standards.

  1. ISO 23950: Information Retrieval (Z39.50): Application Service Definition and Protocol Specification
  2. ANSI/NISO Z39.50

Read more (and maybe provide some inline citations to improve it) in the Wikipedia article.

And that wraps up #blogjune for me. By choosing this alphabet theme I got to learn, or refresh my memory, about quite a few things. Many thanks to those who commented during the month.