Like many libraries, the National Library of Wales provides the public
with a huge repository of information. In addition to having the right
to hold every British and Irish printed work since 1911, the Library also
holds thousands of manuscripts and archives, pictures and photographs,
maps, sound recordings and moving images.
Unlike many libraries, however, the National Library of
Wales uses ISYS to make even the most obscure information available to
anyone around the world. All they need is an interest in Welsh culture
and an Internet connection. As a long-time user of ISYS:web, the Library
has enabled users anywhere to visit its website and search through an
astonishing range of records and archived material, dating back as far
as the 12th century.
Visitors to the Library website can find records of marriage
applications from 1616-1837; photographs from a collection of 750,000;
19th and 20th century Welsh ballads from the largest public collection
in the world; details of 3,000 78rpm phonograph records; and other items
from ever-expanding lists and schedules of the Library's holdings.
The Library holds a staggering array of Welsh information,
and simple searches can uncover the family tree of Oliver Cromwell, correspondence
from poet Dylan Thomas and composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, and articles
about famous Welshmen such as Richard Burton, Harry Secombe and Sir Anthony
ISYS:web allows site users to accurately pinpoint information
using a single word or phrase, even if they are unsure of spelling, in
Welsh or English. A single search might return both English and Welsh
results, so users can find exactly the information they're searching for,
even if it is stored in a different language. A feature of the search
function of the site is the "sounds like" and "starts with"
options, which help users search for words, even if they are unsure of
how to spell them. This is a handy feature for users who are unfamiliar
with Welsh spelling, which can be tricky for non-Welsh people!
For example, a user in the United States might be researching
a family tree and want to search for the name "Llewellyn" amongst
the Library's archive of Marriage Bonds. Unsure of the correct spelling,
this user can simply enter in the word the way it sounds, such as "luwellen",
and click on the "sounds like" button on the search interface.
ISYS:web looks in its index, finds any words that are phonetically similar
to "luwellen" and returns no fewer than 1,470 instances and
16 variations on the spelling of "Llewellyn" to choose from.
The user can then include whichever spelling they think is right in their
query and search all the archived Marriage Bonds. The Library's electronic
records of these documents are presented in long, comprehensive lists,
but with ISYS:web the user can jump from one highlighted instance of "Llewellyn"
to the next, even if they are hundreds of records apart. ISYS makes it
easy to get to desired pieces of information with a minimum of hassle,
saving users time and the headache of scrolling through pages of text.
ISYS:web doesn't just make things easier for end users.
Webmasters and content managers can implement ISYS quickly and easily,
and use it to minimize the time and effort it takes to prepare content
for online publishing. Regardless of the format in which original files
are kept, ISYS converts each document to HTML on-the-fly with each request,
so virtually no time is spent converting any one of over 125 different
file types to a web-compatible format.
Having used ISYS successfully for several years, The National
Library of Wales plans to expand the use of ISYS:web on its site, beginning
with a software upgrade in mid-2003. More of the Library's extensive databases
will be searchable over the web, including a list of Welsh pseudonyms
and the multi-library Newsplan Project, which aims to preserve the scarcest
and most vulnerable local newspapers published in Britain from 1780 to
The National Library of Wales is a great example of how
enormous stores of varied information can be turned into meaningful, valuable
results with ISYS:web.
Visit the National Library of Wales website at www.llgc.org.uk.