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Do I still need to upload records to the union databases now that I have our Z39.50 server activated in Illume? 

[Union Databases] Set-up and activation of a library Z39.50 server/resource in the Illume (SHAREit) software is mainly for the purpose of activating Live Shelf Status so each library can facilitate Patron-Initiated Interlibrary Loans and streamline requesting... and not for their use as Search Targets/Resources. We currently recommend each library continues to submit at least a yearly upload, if not more, of records to sustain healthy levels of Interlibrary Loans for your institution.

Can everyone just use our Z39.50 server target instead?

  • Each library would need to individually add your Z-target as a Search Resource in Illume, rather than relying on the ease of the consolidated union database search targets only. It can be cluttering and overwhelming for many libraries to add and maintain dozens of search target resources as each Z39.50 server becomes available.
  • While you can add any search targets you desire, we currently recommend adding the University Z-target-only resources (SFU, UBC, UVic and UNBC), if you'd like to request items from them, and your own library Z39.50 search for your patrons to see up-to-date records. Please note that SFU, UBC & UVic requests have attached fees.
  • Warning: If a library doesn't add your search target and you no longer upload records to the union databases, you will not receive ILL requests from these libraries.

Problems with Z39.50 searches compared with union databases?

  • Cataloging Mis-matches: We've found that there are many inconsistencies in cataloguing of items between each institution and these are highlighted during Z39.50 searches where items are not consolidated within one record even though many institutions may own the same item. The union databases try to overcome these issues by adding your records under a Master Record so you will receive requests for that item. Note: This can cause the Mis-match error message with live shelf status checks and Auto-Graphics is investigating options to improve this. In the meantime, we recommend ILL Staff use the work-arounds available.
  • Consolidate Lenders: Frequently if someone requests an item from just your Z39.50 retrieved record the system is unable to consolidate other lenders, who also may own the item, under the same request due to mis-matches with your Z39.50 retrieved record. This results in other applicable lenders not ERTI smart-loading into the Lender List when a borrower makes a request directly from z-target results only. Due to these mis-matches, we recommend that borrowers make requests from an available Illume record instead to reliably auto-load the most lenders. If you do not upload your records to the union databases you may miss receiving these requests if your z-target record mis-matches.
  • Complex Searches: Most Z39.50 servers are set-up for simple searching only. Complex searches for items frequently fail to retrieve records resulting in your library being skipped for ILL, unless you've uploaded separate records to the union databases. For example a title search for an item containing a Title and Sub-Title will frequently fail against many Z39.50 servers as too complex. The master records in the union databases allow for complex searching.
  • Missing Lender Code: We're also finding with some requests that your Lender Code will not automatically populate the Lender List even if the request was created from a record found via your library's z-target, due to Auto-Graphics algorithm issues or mis-matched mapped locations and statuses. Borrowers will need to manually enter your code. Creating requests from union database records more frequently overcomes this issue.
  • Shadowed Locations: While you are able to set-up certain z-target locations (eg. Reference) as not lendable, most Z39.50 servers are unable to shadow these locations from display. A search against your Z39.50 server will always return every matched result even if it's an item you have normally blocked as "viewable", such as in your library catalogue OPAC.  With the union databases you can choose to exclude these records during upload instead.
  • Connection Issues: Every time a z-target is searched via Illume, or a request is submitted where a live shelf status check is performed, there is the opportunity for the connection between the Illume server and institutional Z39.50 server to fail due to internet connection issues or temporary server problems. Uploading your records to the union databases overcomes these issues and ensures that ILL requests will make their way to you even if Illume was unable to connect to your Z39.50 server.
  • "Flashing" Search Results: Patrons and Staff will need to use the new refresh button to display results from slow Z39.50 live targets. To remove the issue of "flashing" records due to slow Z39.50 targets, Auto-Graphics implemented a process where union database & fast Z39.50 target results are shown quickly while slower Z39.50 targets continue to search in the background. The refresh button can be used to actively add new results from slow Z-target resources later.

Any feedback, questions or concerns about these issues? Or having trouble with your Z39.50 server settings, live shelf status or union database uploads? Please contact us for additional assistance!