Information Today
Volume 18, Issue 10 November 2001
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VTLS Introduces the Chameleon iPortal

VTLS, Inc. has announced the release of the Chameleon iPortal, an aggregate Web service for libraries that captures information via multiple Internet channels and search engines. Although the company says its flexibility makes it appealing to all types of users (hence the name "Chameleon"), Chameleon iPortal caters to those who want immediate access to a broad range of online resources associated with a defined subject area or their particular area of interest.

"Libraries need to be able to mirror or compete with other Web services such as Yahoo!, Netscape.com, and MSN.com," said Vinod Chachra, president of VTLS, Inc. "Consequently, ILS vendors need to embrace and build on the developing technologies and resources made available on the Web. It is time for ILS vendors to rethink the traditional gateway and provide the flexibility and tools libraries need to take advantage of these new Web resources."

The Chameleon iPortal is an extension of the features of Virtua ILS Chameleon Gateway. With the Chameleon Gateway, the library's catalog may be viewed through the patron's preferred interface or "skin," whether it is one designed for advanced users, for children, or for another specific patron group. The Chameleon Gateway's skin technology allows VTLS to deliver "just for you" software; libraries can design multiple interfaces and patrons can choose which interface to use.

In addition to the Chameleon Gateway's features, the Chameleon iPortal will provide "drop-in/pull-out" (DIPO) components that will allow for the following items:

  • Easy access to subscription or external databases

  • Broadcast searching across multiple Z39.50 databases

  • Simple-to-construct "canned" searches into a library's collection

  • Access to external search engines and other portals that offer links to subject-based collections of interest to the patron

  • Easily configurable, multi-subject-based interfaces

  • A library calendar of events

  • Extended multimedia services with links to material such as book covers, tables of contents, and book reviews

  • Integrated message boards, forums, and chat rooms

  • The ability to embrace new "open" technologies such as the Open Archives Initiative (OAI)
The Chameleon iPortal differs from the Chameleon Gateway in that it provides enhanced methods of searching, including thesaurus searches, selective dissemination of information (SDI), and extended bibliographic services (XBS) for pinpointing specific bibliographic records within a catalog.

Further, with the Chameleon iPortal, a user can select a research topic, such as "exercise," and then be presented with a number of "smart" links to other resources, including Books In Print, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and search engines like Google. For example, by clicking the link to Books In Print, the user will be presented with the results of a search of all Books In Print on the topic of "exercise." Current customers using the Chameleon Gateway may migrate to the Chameleon iPortal simply by asking VTLS for an upgrade.

Source: VTLS, Inc., Blacksburg, VA, 540/557-1200; http://www.vtls.com.

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