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The Renardus service

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This page describes the Renardus service, a broker service for subject gateways that was developed as part of the Renardus project (2000-2002).


The Renardus Service

The Renardus broker service was established in 2002 to provide a trusted source of high-quality Internet resources, as selected and described by participating European subject gateway services. Subject gateways (sometimes known as virtual libraries) selected Internet resources according to some pre-defined criteria and then created metadata records for them, building on the cataloguing models that libraries had utilised for books. The metadata standards used for this varied but were mostly focused on some form of (simple) Dublin Core by 2002. As a broker service, Renardus provided integrated search and browse access to the content described by participating gateways (data providers) - including by subject classifiation. The gateway partners made up the Renardus Consortium and included the following gateways:

Some of these (especially those based at SUB Göttingen) were primarily topic-based, others (e.g. DutchESS, FVL) aimed to cover a wide range of subjects. The RDN itself acted as a national broker for multiple subject-based gateways, itself gathering metadata from its data providers using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). UKOLN's involvement in the consortium was primarily through the participation of the RDN (later renamed Intute), making records harvested from participating UK gateways available to the Renardus service through the Z39.50 protocol. The service was hosted at the Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, Göttingen (SUB) in Germany, on behalf of the Renardus Consortium.

The main page of the Renardus service (Figure 1) consisted of a search box combined with a high-level browsing structure that enabled users to navigate through library classification scheme headings - in this case the Dewey Decimal Classification (DCC) - in order to link to the subject pages provided by participating gateways.

Screen shot of the Renardus service

Figure 1: Screen shot of the Renardus service

While Renardus was interesting as a proof-of-concept, the service was always dependent on the continued existence and support of the underlying gateway services. After being used as a research test-bed for a few years, the Renardus Service was finally switched-off in around 2006. Its approach to browsing by mapping library classification systems (in this case, mapping DCC to the schemes used locally) was innovative, but its underlying business model ultimately proved unsustainable.

The Renardus project (2000-2002)

The Renardus service grew out of a project funded 1 January 2000 to 30 June 2002 by the EU's Information Society Technologies 5th framework programme. See the project archive (now available from the Internet Archive) for public deliverables and for more information on the original project and its context. The main Renardus search and browse page is also available from the Internet Archive, but please note that the search and browse functions will no longer work. Information on UKOLN's specific involvement in the project is available at: