The UK national library has around 14 million catalogue records said to comprise a wealth of bibliographic data. The new initiative is expected to help expose this vast dataset to users worldwide, allowing researchers and other libraries to access and retrieve bibliographic records for publications dating back centuries and relating to every conceivable subject area.
The new free service will operate in parallel to the British Library’s priced bulk MARC data supply activity which is used extensively by large commercial customers.
In some instances researchers may use the library’s records for purposes very different from those for which they were originally created. The library recently provided the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) with some eight million bibliographic records – allowing the IPO to conduct research into publishing trends dating as far back as 1650, and to plot these patterns against the course of changes in IP legislation.
As the national library of the UK, the British Library seeks to provide world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offer access to a large and comprehensive research collection. The library’s collections include 150 million items from every era of written human history beginning with Chinese oracle bones dating from 300 BC, right up to the latest e-journals.