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  • Sangeeta Dhamdhere


ABCD is the acronym for a software suite for the automation of libraries and documentation centres. In Spanish
this is, in full 'Automatisación de Bibliotécas y Centros de Documentación', which keeps the same acronym valid
also for French (Automation des Bibliothèques et Centres de Documentacion) or Portugese (Automatização das
Bibliotecas e dos Centros de Documentação). Even in other non-latin languages, with some slight but quite acceptable
variations, -e.g. Dutch : 'Automatisering van Bibliotheken en Centra voor Documentatie' -the acronym
can still be maintained.

The name itself already expresses the ambition of the software suite : not only providing automation functions for
the 'classic' libraries but also other information providers such as documentation centres. Flexibility and versatility
are at the forefront of the criteria on which the software is developed. Thista flexibility e.g. is illustrated by the
fact that in principle, but also practically, any bibliographic structure can be managed by the software, or even
created by itself. Even non-bibliographic structures can be created, as long as the information is mainly 'textual'
information, as this is the limitation put by the underlying database technology, which is the (CDS/)ISIS textual
database. Good understanding of some basic ISIS-related concepts and techniques, e.g. the Formatting Language,
is crucial for full mastering of the ABCD-software. For this reason some sections of this Manual will also deal
with the underlying ISIS-technology.

ABCD is called a 'suite' of softwares for library and documentation centres automation because it exists of some
relatively independent modules, which can fully co-operate but also can exist without each other. These main
parts are :

1. the ABCD Central
The 'Central' module of ABCD comprises modules for Database Administration (creation of databases, Editing
of database-structures, Database Utilities), Cataloging, Acquisitions, Circulation/Loans and Statistics. A
Thesaurus management module is also being prepared as part of the Cataloging module for a specific thesaurus-

Any ISIS-database structure can be defined and managed with currently records of 1Gb maximum size and 4Gb
max, databases (but these restrictions will be taken out by the NBP-based next generation of ISIS and ABCD).
As compared to 'normal' ISIS-technology also 60-character (as compared to 30-character) indexing keys are
used, there are much stronger authority control features (picklists, authority databases such as thesauri) and
all interaction is based on WWW-technology of course, allowing e.g. HTML-coded text-strings, hyperlinks
to help-pages etc.

2. the ABCD OPAC (iAH)
The public search interface (OPAC is an adapted version of BIREME's general 'interface for Access to Health
information' (iAH). It allows meta-searches on not esonly the local catalogs but also many other information

The iAH interface developed by BIREME is currently being upgraded to iAHx, ensuring it will align perfectly
with modern Information Retrieval concepts and techniques (e.g. relevance ranking).

3. the ABCD Site
The search function is offered as part of an 'end-users' portal page offering access to other resource.s (e.g.
Google, Medline...) and communication (announcements, alerts), also paving the way for 'Web 2.0'-like functions.

The Site Manager actually is an ISIS-specific Content Management System which allows designing the structure
and components of the Portal page of ABCD.

4. the ABCD Serials Control (SeCS)
This module offers an advanced management tool for journals (classical and/or electronic) of any publication
type (referring to periodicity). BIREME uses this technology e.g. for its products 'Portal of Scientific Journals'
(see : and SCAD (see :
index.php?lang=en) which is the Brazilian union catalog of over 12.000 journals (with millions of issues) of
more than 50 libraries.

The 'suite' idea reflects the fact that ABCD has relatively independent parts -as is the case with office automation
suites (e.g. Open Office, Microsoft Office) -but with obvious links to co-operate. The Statistics module e.g., as part
of the Circulation/Loans module, can work on any ISIS-database, while the iAH-OPAC also can offer advanced
web-based retrieval in any (set of) ISIS-databases, not only ABCD-maintained ones. The Serials Control System
(SeCS) manages ISIS-databases for serials within or outside the ABCD-context. But together, we believe, these
parts constitute a very powerful suite of tools, and as an integrated part we hope 'the sum is more than just the
addition of the parts' !