British Library’s Automated Information SErvice (BLAISE)

British Library’s Automated Information SErvice (BLAISE): Blaise is an online information retrieval service that includes access via a new graphical interface on the World Wide Web. It is a library network which was introduced in April 1977 and now it is the world largest commercial service. It is an online interactive computerized information retrieval and cataloguing system and the individual databases are stored on an IBM-370 computer located at Harlow. Teletype compatible terminals are used together with the ordinary public telecommunication system to access BLAISE. Thus BLAISE can be called up from anywhere in the UK and Europe. The system is available from 9-5 on Monday to Thursday and 9-4.30 on Friday. To access BLAISE, subscribers are given individual identity numbers and passwords.

The following services are available through BLAISE-

a) BLAISE Line: It is operated from the existing computer installation at Harlow, Essex. It host British library bibliographic database. Telnet access is also available. The Web version of BLAISE-LINE is called BLAISE Web.

b) BLAISE Link: It is the official host providing full access to all US National Library of Medicine MEDLARS databases, in the UK and Ireland, via the British Library. It is also involved in processing UK / Irish contributions to the MEDLINE database. The BALISE Link provide access to the following

i) MEDLINE: The MEDLARs databases are available through online in the form of Medline.

ii) SDI-Line: It contains the latest month’s reference to be used primarily for current awareness.

iii) Chem-Line: It is an online dictionary files which enables the user of Toxline to describe chemical substances before beginning the search.

iv) Mesh: It is a controlled indexing structure of MEDical Subject Heading.

c) Catalogue: The catalogue production is made through Local Catalogue Service (LOCAS) which is an integral part of BLAISE.

d) Database: BLAISE provide access to 21 databases containing 18.5 million bibliographic records.

e) Editors Software: It was developed by British Library. The editor system of BLAISE allows records to be transferred from MARC files and edited. The new records can also be created and added to the main database.

Blaise gives access to a wide range of bibliographic information that includes not only British Library catalogues but also complementary bibliographic databases, some of which are produced outside the British Library. Blaise has other value-added features, such as its link to the British Library Document Supply Centre for ordering loans and photocopies and its ability to supply fully formatted catalogue records for use in local automated catalogues. Blaise has traditionally been used by trained librarians in other libraries. Recently, Blaise has added a World Wide Web option that makes it much easier to use by untrained and inexperienced searchers.

According to Allen Kent "the success and survival of libraries will much depend on how much and to what extent the libraries cooperate with each other in future". Further, tremendous explosion of information, financial constraints, information in different forms, etc., compelling the libraries to form network and consortia is an essential facet of modern library practices.

In library network the particular focus is forming online networks by using computers and linking members to the computer resources by means of telecommunication connections. When a group of libraries using computers decide to exchange information, a network is developed.

The library network deals with the development of software for library automation, automation of the member libraries, retro-conversion of records, cooperative acquisition, creating union catalogue, development of database of the holdings in member libraries, conducting training, workshops and seminar, providing DDS, Email, CD-ROM, internet access facilities. It also provides reference service, referral service, and provides technical support to member institutions in the selection of hardware, software, and technical problem faced by the member libraries. But till now except DELNET and INFLIBNET, most of the other library networks have yet to develop databases of library holdings in a significant way. Even these two networks have to go a long way to cover in their databases the entire holdings of all the participating libraries. Unless this is achieved, the networks would not be able to achieve significant resource sharing as well as rationalization in library acquisitions.