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  • AustLit Briefing Note

This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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In discussions with Bamboo participants, Australian National University staff have referred to a candidate collection called AustLit. This briefing note aims to provide background for this collection.

The Australian Literature Resource (AustLit)

AustLit's aim is to be the definitive virtual research environment and information resource for Australian literary, print, and narrative culture scholars, students, and the public.

AustLit is a non-profit collaboration between a network of researchers from Australian universities and the National Library of Australia, led by The University of Queensland (UQ) Their goal is to support research in and the teaching of Australian literary, narrative, and print cultures. The site provides authoritative information on creative and critical works by and relating to Australian writers, relevant cultural organisations, and industries.

AustLit collaborators form a powerful coalition of senior literary researchers, librarians, and information-management professionals. Members of this group define AustLit's direction and orientation. In fulfilling its role as an element of the national research infrastructure, AustLit supports the activities of researchers working across a broad range of Australian literary and narrative cultures, book history, and print culture. AustLit makes available bibliographic and production information for works of fiction and poetry, writing for the theatre, biographical and travel writing, writing for film and television, criticism and reviews and the people and organisations who produce them.

  • 713,303 works
  • 127,444 agents
  • 29,104 subjects

The majority of AustLit records for literary works provide citations and library holdings information for published works, rather than access to full text. However, a range of selected full text of both creative and critical works is available through AustLit.

Platform and technology

Investigations into the underlying technology behind AustLit have just begun. This entry will be updated as new information becomes available.

AustLit employs the Z39.50 server-client protocol to allow a number of other projects to interrogate their database directly.

They use the YAZ toolkit to provide the services. YAZ also provides client libraries in Java, PHP and many other languages. This makes it a useful candidate for creating any new connector between Bamboo and Z39.50 sources.

Auslit records/titles are each identified via a field named "workId" in the HTML interface. URLs to items contain this ID. The workID is returned in all Z39.50 XML search results as "tag 001", which is reserved as a Unique ID in the standard MARC results syntax which they use. This makes matching records between search result URLs and retrieving objects via Bamboo very straightforward.

AustLit search result pages via HTML use Embedded RDF which Zotero understands. This is compatible with creating and using Zotero bookmarks for the Manifest Pattern which will be one method of identifying records and returning them via Bamboo.

Z39.50 data in MARC XML format can be returned by query to an HTTP based webservice provided by AustLit identified by the "workId". Eg: will return record data for

AustLit supports queries ONLY on the following fields via native z39.50 connection (field id, name):

  • 4 Title
  • 1003 Author
  • 31 Date of Publication
  • 7 ISBN
  • 8 ISSN
  • 21 Subject
  • 1016 Any (does not include "workId")

Context within Bamboo

AustLit is an excellent early candidate collection and, due to its existing API, should be relatively straightforward to integrate into the Bamboo infrastructure.

Any connector created for AustLit/Z39.50 will be suitable as the basis for connecting to any other Z39.50 source. A quick search shows over 2000 available collections online with Z39.50 interfaces.

Some publicly listed Z39.50 targets and their connection details are listed at and

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  1. Unknown User (

    We are in very early stage discussions and investigation with AustLit. Just placed this page under CI but please move it to a better location if it doesn't belong here.

    1. Unknown User (marlita)

      Thank you Ashley, this seems a good place for this page. However it seems that there are several pages about collections and perhaps we should soon create a parent page for these. I'll check with Bob.

  2. Unknown User (

    Connection details for the AustLit Z39.50 source are available on request.

  3. Unknown User (

    A prototype connector class for Z39.50 targets is being developed by the ANU, with AustLit as the first test candidate. A project page will be created soon. Please contact me for details in the meantime.