In the last few years the PORBASE cooperation system has suffered a slowing of pace in relation to their activities. In great part, this is due to the complex process of substituting the GEAC system for the new HORIZON solution. All this has implicated an extraordinary overload for the National Library, and has had consequences on the related services and even on the internal professional structure associated to procedures and management. That phase is soon to be completed. Therefore, the moment has come to revitalize the PORBASE network in hope of recuperating not only lost time but also searching for new opportunities.
In this context a discussion for a PORBASE strategic plan has been proposed, to begin in 2002, and is orientated by the following lines of action: services, learning programmes and network dynamization. It is the National Library’s responsibility to guarantee the execution of this plan, as part of their specific responsibilities towards PORBASE (especially by their PORBASE Division). The cooperants will however, be solicited to have a more active contribution. An important aspect that should be taken into consideration during the implementation of this strategy is the exploration and exploitation of extraordinary financing opportunities such as the Cultural Operational Programme or the Society of Information Operational Programme.
The aim of this line of action is defining and implementing a line of stable and relevant services, in hope of making PORBASE a more useful tool for the cooperants. One of the main priorities is to consolidate the current structure, focusing on the retrieval and update of the main database. The succeeding actions should be put into practice:
1.1 Catalogue Consolidation:
1.1.1 Normalization and quality control of the main database: Immediate implementation of a group of pragmatic tasks that seek to improve the main database’s quality concerning the syntactic (diacritical correction, mistakes in words) and semantic (authority normalization, invalid indexing detection, etc) consistency levels. For this effect the National Library has been in contact with a group of specialized companies, seeking the services that allow the execution, in a very short time, of a batch of urgent correctional tasks and subsequently the implementation of periodical automized corrections of records associated to the importing of batches to PORBASE.
1.1.2 Cooperant’s records updates: Immediate implementation of a group of pragmatical measures to update the cooperants records in the main database, and produce the corresponding statistical information. This objective should be accomplished by using traditional procedures and requesting updated copies of all the cooperating libraries databases. After this step it is intended to develop more efficient measures to update this information, preferentially in an automized fashion, according to the possibilities of each cooperant.
1.1.3 Cooperants technical and technological analysis: Promotion of a detailed technical and technological analysis of the current computer solutions used by the cooperative libraries and, with base on these results, the development of a plan that will allow the integration of an efficient system with the main database at the National Library. Technically, this plan should consider various types of solutions that should range from simple HTTP+HTML interfaces to sophisticated XML based systems, including the traditional Z39.50 services and formats such as Dublin Core. This should allow the accomplishment of two objectives: facilitate the update of the cooperants information to the main database; facilitate cooperants locally importing records from the main database (including CIP – Cataloguing in Publication - records).
1.2 www.porbase.org Portal. The “www.porbase.org” Internet address should offer updated information and services about the cooperation network, consisting especially of: descriptive information, statistical characterization and contacts of each cooperating library; online catalogue, with functions that clearly identify each cooperating library’s contribution; National Library’s specific online catalogue, displaying details for the CIP items (service supported by the National Library) and new ways to explore the catalogue by creating virtual thematic databases (following for example the library’s profile or the UDC).
1.3 Cooperative Catalogue. Promotion of a more intense and widespread cooperative cataloguing scheme, namely viewing:
1.3.1 Current National Bibliography. Optimization of the Current National Bibliography’s update and resolving the problems that occur due to the late delivery of the Legal Deposit at the National Library (involving not only the libraries that also receive tardily the Legal Deposit but also all the cooperative network). This objective may use the CIP service to its advantage.
1.3.2 Component Part Cataloguing .Extension of the cataloguing activities to component parts (or simply share the digitalized periodic titles’ indexes of the most relevant areas, specially science, technology, literature, etc., which may be submitted to OCR at the National Library and indexed by that method).
1.3.3 Internet Resources’ Cataloguing . Extension of the cataloguing activities to relevant Internet resources (allowing the development of thematic portals and coordination by the National Library’s selective deposit strategy of those resources).
2. Learning Programmes
This line of action should continue to offer the cooperants basic and complementary learning opportunities, through the PORBASE learning programme as well as other complementary methods, such as programmes held by universities and by BAD (Portuguese Librarian, Archivist and Documental Professionals’ Association). In this context, the following tasks should be carried out:
2.1 PORBASE learning programme. Dynamism of the PORBASE learning programme, orientated towards basic, short term learning objectives (normally five day courses).
2.2 Advanced Learning. Promotion of opportunities for advanced learning so as to offer the cooperants new learning opportunities and to encourage reflection. A PORBASE Seminars programme shall be created.
3. Network Dynamism
This line of action should motivate and attract new cooperants. Another objective is to guarantee a larger interaction between the cooperants. This should be accomplished by the following actions:
• Permanent Cooperants. Strategies should be developed for attracting the largest number possible of traditional cooperants (here designated as permanent cooperants), that fulfil the minimum technical requisites, to contribute with their records to the main database. This aim should be extended to new international cooperants, normally foreign libraries with significant collections of relevant items for PORBASE.
• Candidate Cooperants. Any institutions partially relevant to PORBASE even if they don’t, at the time, have the technical conditions to acceptably contribute to the database should be accepted as candidates. The aim is to give these new cooperants access to the necessary information and opportunities to become permanent cooperants, which shall be decided after receiving and analyzing, at the central base, the first batch of records. Representatives of these new cooperants may be invited to participate in all PORBASE activities at the same level as the permanent cooperants, except when it comes to eligibility for the Technical Assembly and voting at the General Assembly.
• Exterior Cooperants : The possibility of motivating and attracting new exterior PORBASE cooperants as long as their contents (for example the RTP archive), services (such as the LUSA news agency or APEL’s ISBN registry service) or areas of action (such as museums and archives in general) are relevant. When there are similarities in aims (such as promoting services or cultural and scientific references) or in technological development (definition of data models and interoperable communication protocols, etc.) it’s possible to develop synergies. Those representing these potential cooperants may be invited to participate in all PORBASE activities at the same level as the permanent cooperants, except when it comes to eligibility for the Technical Assembly and voting at the General Assembly.
3.2 Normalization. Dynamic normalizing initiatives specifically applied to three concrete actions:
3.2.1 Technical and Strategic Recommendation. Development or translation of international recommendations, accompaniment of UNIMARC developments, etc. The continuation of the CLIP - Compatibilization of Indexing Languages in Portuguese – initiative deserves a special mention.
3.2.2 Technological Forum. Promotional policies that involve companies that produce and distribute solutions for computer systems or services for libraries or respective user communities. This action should origin a technological forum in which these strategic partners are invited to participate in promotional activities and discuss aspects of technological nature. The aims are to promote sensibility for a genuine technological normalization of products and services and to create conditions for the development of innovative experiences or new solutions.
3.3 Editorial Activity. At least every two months a PORBASE Bulletin shall be published and shall include information concerning the network (technical facts, statistics, news, etc). This activity shall further promote the translation, to Portuguese, of reference texts and monographs initially in a foreign language and that are considered relevant for the PORBASE objectives. The National Library may assume the responsibility of dynamizing this activity but a request is made for a widespread contribution from all cooperants.