Technological Development in Asia: Library Automation in Taiwan

Article excerpt

Library automation in Taiwan began in the 1970s and has been marked by an impressive array of achievements since the 1980s. In 1972, the Department of Physics at National Tsinghua University began automation using an IBM 1120 computer for the book catalog of Western materials.[1] Three years later, in 1975, Margaret Fung experimented with an integrated library system of acquisitions, cataloging, and circulation on a Wang MVP minicomputer.[2] In 1980, the Chinese Character Code for Information Interchange (CCCII) was completed, and--a year later--the Chinese MARC was developed.[3]

In library automation, the National Central Library has taken the helm.[4] Its Automated Information Service (NCLAIS) is the most ambitious library project in Taiwan. In 1980, the National Central Library and the Library Association of China jointly developed the Chinese Library Automation Planning Project with four main objectives: to develop the Chinese MARC format; to organize the data processing system for Chinese-language materials; to create a database for Chinese publications and introduce foreign databases; and to establish a national information network.

The National Central Library has developed four main databases: acquisitions, catalog, serials control, and index. The acquisitions database consists of four subfiles, namely: acquisitions, budget control, publishers/suppliers, and statistics. The statistics file provides statistical data on cancellations, budgeting, performance of suppliers, and average price. There is, however, no breakdown by discipline.

The index database indexes Chinese periodicals and gazettes published since 1983. About one thousand periodicals and gazettes are regularly reviewed for inclusion. The index database is not yet available for public access. Its print counterparts are Index to Chinese Periodical Literature and Index to Chinese Official Gazettes. A CD-ROM version is also available. The serial control has not operated as part of the integrated system.

The best and currently fully implemented database is the online catalog. This database uses the Chinese MARC format, structured on the basis of UNIMARC with modifications to meet local requirements. Full descriptions of bibliographic records in the Chinese language conform with the Chinese cataloging rules and, to a large extent, with the International Standard Bibliographic Descriptions and the second edition of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules. The online catalog database provides the source for publishing the Chinese National Bibliography, a monthly with annual and multiyear cumulations.

The online catalog of the National Central Library provides a dozen or so access points, such as title, author, Chinese subject heading, English subject heading, Chinese classification, Library of Congress classification, Chinese printed card number, SuDoc number, ISBN, ISSN, Library of Congress card number, and accession number. In addition, four qualifiers (language, publisher, publication date, and format) are available for restricted searching. A set of Chinese characters can be searched with Boolean logical operators. Four methods can be used for inputting Chinese: three-corner, chuyin (phonetic symbols), ts'ang-chieh (radical index), and simplified ts'ang-chieh. In 1989, the National Central Library purchased a Tandem and developed a cooperative online cataloging project. At present, the National Central Library uses URICA, which began operation in March 1995.

A survey of library automation released in 1988 indicates that the National Central Library, the Academia Sinica, nine universities, four colleges, twelve special libraries, and two producers have implemented, developed, or tested their library automated systems to varying degrees.5 In 1984, the National Chengchi University began its automated circulation system designed by First International Computer (FIC), and later developed an FIC integrated library system. …