UKOLN Interoperability Focus: About

Interoperability Focus

Since January 1999 UKOLN has hosted Interoperability Focus, jointly funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the UK's Further and Higher Education Funding Councils and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

Interoperability Focus was initially a one person post held by Paul Miller. Since late 2004 Interoperability Focus has become a team of people responsible for exploring, publicising and mobilising the benefits and practice of effective interoperability across diverse information sectors, including libraries and the cultural heritage and archival communities. A key aspect of this work is the identification and exploitation of synergies with existing UKOLN and external projects, with a view to maximising returns on the ongoing work of projects such as MODELS and other initiatives.

A leaflet entitled Looking at Interoperability was first published in April 2005.


Across information providers as diverse as public libraries, museums and data archives, access to related resources beyond the physical holdings of a single institution is becoming increasingly important. Under initiatives from the National Grid for Learning to the Higher Education community's Information Environment, attention is focusing upon enabling users — wherever they may be — to discover and access resources drawn from different sources. The importance of seamlessly querying information from multiple repositories at the same time has also been recognised, with effort expended upon distributed query protocols such as Z39.50, and continued development of local solutions like the ROADS software employed by a number of Hubs within the Resource Discovery Network.

Within the context of information 'clumps' and the emerging Hybrid Libraries, too, interoperability is a core requirement for effective service delivery.

'Interoperability' is a broad term, encompassing many of the issues impinging upon the effectiveness with which diverse information resources might fruitfully co-exist. These issues are many and varied, but a key set may usefully be identified as;

These issues, and more, fall within the remit of Interoperability Focus.

Dissemination and Awareness

The activities of Interoperability Focus include a significant degree of information dissemination, both to advertise Interoperability Focus activities and to promote cross-fertilisation of ideas and knowledge within the community. Regular articles in Ariadne serve to deliver accessible introductions on a number of topics to a wide readership, supported by more in-depth discussions through this and other channels.

The Interoperability Focus Web site will be frequently updated, keeping visitors abreast of work in the United Kingdom and beyond, and providing pointers to examples of Interoperability in action.

A request for your input

The landscape within which Interoperability Focus moves is both extensive and constantly evolving. It is clearly impossible to apply significant effort across all regions of this landscape simultaneously, making it imperative to quickly establish communications with other focal points so that information may be more effectively shared, and to prioritise activity to maximise community benefit.

Projects and individuals with experiences to share, working implementations to show, or core issues to resolve which might usefully be addressed by Interoperability Focus, are invited to get in touch.

For a lighthearted view of interoperability have a look at the Interoperability Focus Cartoon.

Further Information

For further information on Interoperability Focus, please contact:

Marieke Guy
UK Interoperability Focus
University of Bath
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1225 385105
Fax: +44 (0)1225 386838

Web site: <>


UKOLN is funded by MLA: the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the Higher and Further Education Funding Councils, as well as by project funding from the JISC and the European Union. UKOLN also receives support from the University of Bath where it is based.

[UKOLN] [Interoperability Focus]