The UnityUK™ service is the UK’s first and only national network for resource sharing. Among its many features are:
- catalogue data (bibliographic records and holdings) uploaded on a regular basis by libraries across the British Isles;
- additional catalogue data searched in real time using the Z39.50 protocol;
- cross-searching of COPAC, the British Library Integrated Catalogue and Revealweb at the same time as the UnityUK data;
- a sophisticated inter-library loans management system that interoperates with most library management systems;
- an integrated fee management system that aggregates inter-library loan charges and credits into a single invoice, for loans arranged through UnityUK.
In all, UnityUK gives access to holdings data from over 300 UK libraries. Many of these also subscribe: a full list of UnityUK subscribers is available on this site.
The first version of the Unity union catalogue was launched by TCR in May 1995, as a desktop application updated by means of data tapes and later CD-ROMs. The Unity catalogue contained data contributed by libraries across the British Isles, with the exception of the West Midlands, London and the South East, and parts of South Wales.
In May 2001, Unity underwent the transformation from a distributed desktop application to a Web application, and was therefore renamed UnityWeb. The new way of working opened up a range of new possibilities for the catalogue, so in 2005 TCR began looking for a developer that could bring innovative features to UnityWeb. The contract was awarded to OCLC, and the new UnityUK service was launched in April 2006.
The new name reflected not only a complete change in the underlying software, but also the fact that OCLC brought with them the data and user base of LinkUK, the catalogue serving those areas not covered by UnityWeb. Thus UnityUK became the first union catalogue to cover the whole of the UK.
For information on how UnityUK was received by libraries in its first year of operation, see our Case Study Archive.
Since UnityUK was launched, OCLC has made significant improvements to the underlying database inherited from UnityWeb:
- The bibliographic records are now more effectively de-duplicated.
- The database has been cleaned of erroneous records.
- MARC data is now recorded in more appropriate fields.
In addition, OCLC is assisting more libraries to upload their data to UnityUK on a regular basis, improving both the currency and speed of the service.
Significant recent additions to the database include the catalogues of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, National Library for the Blind, CALIBRE Audio Library and The Torch Trust, representing the majority of the former Revealweb catalogue.
Libraries considering subscribing to UnityUK may also wish to consult with an authority in their area that already subscribes. A list of regional contacts is available on this site.
An added benefit of subscribing to the system is access to the UnityUK Members Area. This dedicated Web site offers information on all aspects of the UnityUK service including development and data news, user group and workshop details and downloadable training materials. The best way to access the UnityUK Members Area is through the link provided within UnityUK itself.
UnityUK is a trademark of The Combined Regions.