MnLINK is the Minnesota Library Information Network http://www.mnlink.org/. The MnLINK vision states that “All people in Minnesota will have access to a wide array of high quality library services and global information resources in a range of formats whenever, wherever, and however information services are needed.”
The MnLINK Gateway is a virtual library that provides access to Minnesota library catalogs, selected links to selected free Internet resources, and some subscription-based electronic databases.
Twenty Minnesota library systems and approximately 450 libraries’ collections are available. These include public libraries, some K-12 libraries, state agency libraries, and technical, community college, and university libraries.
At the heart of the MnLINK Gateway is the ability to search multiple library catalogs and electronic databases with a single command. To accomplish this “broadcast” searching, the MnLINK Gateway servers run OCLC’s SiteSearch WebZ software, which uses the Z39.50 communications protocol, the foundation on which broadcast searching is based. Broadcast searches can be initiated on library catalogs and electronic databases that have implemented software that makes their resources available via Z39.50.
Searches initiated on the Gateway pass through the WebZ software and are sent simultaneously to the selected library catalogs and/or electronic databases. The results from the searches are then transferred back through the WebZ software to the searcher. There is no need to learn how to use the individual search engines used by the library automation systems and electronic database providers, as Z39.50 translates the search effectively for each individual system.
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