Among the major objectives established for the OCLC Internet Cataloging Project was the creation of a database of bibliographic records providing access information for electronic files accessible over the Internet. As important as the establishment of conventional bibliographic control of Net resources was the integration of these records into local catalogs, the OCLC Online Union Catalog, and the OCLC FirstSearch service.
In addition to these conventional efforts, the OCLC Internet Cataloging Project also sought to "test the technical feasibility of providing automated access to electronic files based on coded access and location information provided in the bibliographic record (field 856)." This feature has been implemented within InterCat, the project's catalog of Internet resources, and through NetFirst(tm), a broader, yet related, collection of selected Net resources. While the InterCat service does offer direct Internet access to selected resources, its implementation does not use the full functionality of the browser environment nor does it fully utilize the bibliographic data and information that has been incorporated within records to provide enhanced access to these and related resources.
Within a browser environment, users of the InterCat database are offered either forms-supported or non-supported access to a variety of field search options. These include a 'Subject Words' and a 'Subject Phrases' search option, a 'Basic' index, and other conventional record data search options (e.g. 'Publisher', 'OCLC Number', 'Publication Year'). These and all fields can be searched directly, or reviewed and retrieved from a 'Browse Wordlist'.
While subject headings can be searched or browsed within the InterCat database, and relevant records subsequently displayed, the retrieved records do not have a hotlink to other resources assigned the same subject heading. Although users can browse through screens of retrieved record titles, the current configuration does not permit a direct search on other subject headings assigned a resource from within the record itself. Users must initiate a separate search option, and execute a new search for these other subjects. Likewise, while users can browse an alphabetical listing of subject terms or phrases in the present InterCat database, the current system does not offer a browsable structured thesaurus of these terms indicating broader, narrower or related relationships between and among terms or phrases and their associated concepts. In general, this configuration offers users limited explicit and implicit assistance in searching or browsing.
Although the InterCat database does include an assigned call number with the record of each resource, it does not offer directly-searchable or browsable access to an index of these call numbers. In addition, the current system does not offer a browsable annotated schedule that indicates the specific subject coverage of a given classification number or hierarchical group.