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RIDING - A Gateway to Yorkshire Libraries

Project web site

Programme area

Contact details

Peter Stubley, Project Director,
St. George's Library, University of Sheffield, Mappin Street, SHEFFIELD S10 2TN
Phone: 0114 222 7327 Fax: 0114 279 6406

Verity Brack, Project Manager,
St. George's Library, University of Sheffield, Mappin Street, SHEFFIELD S10 2TN
Phone: 0114 222 1143 Fax: 0114 279 6406

Project description

as of 16th April 1998


RIDING is a project supported by the Yorkshire and Humberside Universities Association (YHUA), a group formed in 1993 by the Vice-Chancellors of the region's universities to provide a forum to enhance and promote the HE contribution to regional development. All the universities are committed to regional collaboration in many activities, including shared access to information resources. The university libraries of the YHUA institutions already have formal co-operative arrangements providing reciprocal access and borrowing rights for academic staff and research students, and there are many examples of less formal arrangements, particularly among libraries in the same city. The collections represented by the participating institutions are of outstanding value regionally, nationally and internationally, and enhancing access will have far-reaching benefits. In addition, two other libraries are RIDING members Leeds Library and Information Services (the public library in Leeds) and the British Library Document Supply Centre (BLDSC) and bring particular databases, expertise, scope and breadth to the Project. The RIDING consortium is completed by Fretwell-Downing Informatics.


The virtual union catalogue or clump that is the focus of the technical stream within RIDING will comprise the OPACs of the nine YHUA university libraries and catalogues from BLDSC and Leeds Library and Information Services. In developing the proposal, RIDING members funded a feasibility study into the technical and service issues associated with clumping and this confirmed their capabilities to support the required technologies and standards. Six different automated library systems are currently in use at member libraries.

The key to the technical implementation of RIDING is the Z39.50 Gateway which will act as the electronic mediator between users of the system and the library catalogues. This software will reside on a single server. The Gateway will provide parallel heterogeneous database searching, hold profile knowledge and record syntax and schema knowledge; and allow authentication of users. The feasibility of individually configurable user interfaces or 'landscapes' will also be investigated.

Access to the RIDING Gateway will be via a web browser, the minimum configuration being 'frames' capability. The Gateway software is being developed by Fretwell-Downing Informatics who have considerable expertise in this area having led earlier Z39.50 initiatives such as the EU-funded UNIverse project, which also includes BLDSC and the University of Sheffield as partners. RIDING member libraries also form the core of the UK Special Interest Group for UNIverse, giving a special European dimension.

While the building of the Gateway is essential to the success of RIDING, the Project is not simply a technical exercise. At an early stage improved methods of co-operative working, different service scenarios, and alternative business models will be investigated, particularly in relation to the introduction of document request services via the ISO ILL protocol. The Project will also actively develop collection level profiles, taking account of the national activities in this area.


  • large scale demonstration of Z39.50
  • enhancement of existing collaboration
  • demonstration of cross-sectoral collaboration
  • development of collection level profiles
  • development of configurable user interfaces
  • development of costing models for collaborative options

The official start date was January 1998 with a project duration of 22 months. An operational service of 10 months is proposed with an extensive evaluation lasting seven months.


  • University of Bradford
  • University of Huddersfield
  • University of Hull
  • University of Leeds
  • Leeds Metropolitan University
  • Lincolnshire & Humberside University
  • University of Sheffield
  • Sheffield Hallam University University of York
  • British Library Document Supply Centre
  • Fretwell-Downing Informatics

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The Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
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