Z39.50: Where is It and Who Cares?
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The Z39.50 Information Retrieval Service Definition and Protocol Specifications for Library Applications, published by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) in 1988, defines a mechanism to be used by a computer system to search for and retrieve information from another computer system, not necessarily made by the same vendor. While the standard is geared to the manipulation of bibliographic data, it is general enough to support a large range of information types. The standard was written to be an application level protocol of the ISO Open Systems Interconnection model (OSI) and as such appeared to be inextricably intertwined with the evolution of the entire OSI suite of protocols. Recently, there has been interest in building OSI applications on top of the well-established Department of Defense TCP/IP protocols running in the Internet. In addition, at least two major vendors (DEC and IBM) have released full OSI protocol stack support. These two trends have combined to make Z39.50 implementation feasible in the immediate future.