UK Union Catalogue of Chinese Books


In 1999, the Research Support Libraries Programme (RSLP) made a substantial award to a consortium of six major British university libraries to construct a union catalogue of Chinese books in the UK, and to promote this initiative by a programme of retrospective catalogue conversion, concentrating on the most recent (post-Cultural Revolution) scholarship in all fields.

There now exists a single, publicly accessible union catalogue of all major Chinese language collections in the UK, namely those in the British Library, and the university libraries of Oxford (Bodleian Library), Cambridge, London (SOAS Library), Leeds (Brotherton Library), Edinburgh and Durham. Substantial retrospective catalogue conversion was achieved in all the participating university libraries, but the British Library lay beyond the remit of RSLP, and therefore received no funding.

Although the project is now officially complete, and the funding exhausted, the database is constantly being revised and improved, and machinery is in place for the automatic updating of the database for an indefinite period hereafter.

During the course of the Programme, the project was known as the "UK Database of Chinese Research Materials", and had two strands: database construction, and cataloguing. The database construction took place in Oxford according to the principles set out in these pages, using allegro software in conjunction with other utilities. Concurrently, substantial retrospective record conversion was effected in all the participating libraries either by engaging extra staff, or by the secondment of existing, fully trained personnel.

In Oxford, the data conversion and database design was done by David Helliwell, using allegro software. Conversions which allegro could not handle were made by utilities programmed in Perl by Thaddeus Lipinski, who also implemented the web interface to the allegro database. Those interested in the technicalities of this should refer to the Standards, Conversion, Indexing and Downloads pages.