multi language support

Holt, Richard RHolt at
Sun Oct 10 19:51:38 EDT 1999

I've worked on two multilingual projects for public libraries which I think
list members concerned about these issues might like to visit.

At Port Phillip Library we now offer multilingual web browsing on all public
web terminals in a broad range of latin and non-latin script languages. Both
the projects are based on providing links in a range of languages with
enough information to allow users to work independently regardless of the
language in which the previous user was browsing. (This issue was a major
problem for specific multilingual browsers such as Tango which made them
unsuitable for public area usage).

The two projects are:-
 The Open Road   -

The Open Road is designed to provide Victorian libraries with a single,
simple to implement, multilingual solution. It includes links in Arabic,
Vietnamese, Chinese (trad 7 simplified), Amharic, Turkish, Hebrew, Russian
and Greek. I feel that beyond the equity issue the provision of multilingual
information on the web is a collections issue. LOTE collections in public
libraries serving diverse communities are notorious, regardless of the best
intentions, for their condition, size, currency and cost to maintain. Where
a supplementary source of information exists that is free and readily every
effort should be made to provide it.

SLING is an older product produced to meet the needs of users in this
particular area (an inner suburb of Melbourne). It incorporates pop-up
instructions on the firly simple action of changing character encoding
settings in Netscape 4 (thankfully the instructions also make sense, to a
user with minimal familiarity, in IE5).

I'd also recommend anyone interested in these issues take a look at these
other sites by Victorian (the State, not the era) library professionals
involved with our projects. These projects run, as they say, on the smell of
an oily rag, so, of course, any assistance, feedback or potential
partnership opportunities would also be greatly appreciated.

Andrew Cunningham's LOTE IT site, acomprehensive list of information and
links at:- . This site includes papers
presented some time ago by myself and Andrew concerning multilingual web
( )

Also Larry Stillman's resources page is an excellent starting point:-

Hope these sites prove useful.
Richard Holt
Port Phillip Library Service
Melbourne Australia

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Bob Rasmussen [SMTP:ras at]
> Sent:	Saturday, October 09, 1999 7:59 AM
> To:	Multiple recipients of list
> Subject:	[WEB4LIB] RE: multi language support
> Ah, a favorite topic of mine! How high a priority is it for your library
> to
> serve multilingual (or "other-lingual") patrons? As others have mentioned,
> this covers several areas.
> Because the HTML standards have grown well beyond ASCII, the major
> browsers
> have gradually improved their multilingual support. I am most familiar
> with
> IE; IE5 has added considerable multilingual support (as have Windows 2000
> and
> Office 2000). Here are some of the issues:
> * If the web page indicates its encoding, can the browser recognize it,
> and
> display it using an appropriate font?
> * If the web page does NOT indicate its encoding (many do not), is it easy
> for
> the user to configure it (and will it revert to Latin1 for the next user)?
> * Are there adequate fonts on the PC?
> * Can the browser and platform handle bidirectional scripts (Arabic and
> Hebrew)?
> * Can the browser and platform handle "complex" scripts (Arabic,
> Vietnamese,
> etc.)?
> * Is there a way of keying in non-native characters, particularly CJK? CJK
> generally involves an Input Method Editor, which might be part of the
> platform
> (Windows 2000), an add-on from Microsoft (Global IME), or a third-party
> add-on
> (UnionWay, WinMass).
> I believe that with IE5, even on a US-English installation of Win98, all
> the
> above items are possible WITHOUT addons from third parties. However...
> The standard in libraries, for CJK, is called variously ISO Z39.64, CCCII,
> and
> EACC. Some catalog systems (e.g., Innopac) can output in this encoding.
> But
> this is not a standard that is part of the HTML spec, and so browsers do
> not
> recognize it. Therefore, an add-on such as UnionWay or WinMass is
> necessary.
> Also, there is not a one-to-one relationship between EACC and Unicode, due
> to
> EACC's concept of variant forms.
> I believe that the USMARC standard includes the ability to store a
> "vernacular" author and title, in addition to the Romanized form. So in
> that
> standard, at least, you would not necessarily lose information when batch
> posting from OCLC or RLG, subject, of course, to the restrictions imposed
> by
> your particular catalog software.
> If your library has a web interface, it would be educational to have
> someone
> who is natively Czech, Chinese, Arabic, etc. browse it, while you watch
> over
> their shoulder. Pull a Chinese book off the shelf, and see if they can
> find it
> on the system. Also, look at the HTML source put out by your system. Does
> it
> indicate encoding? Does it indicate language?
> Not everything is done through a web interface. Some catalog systems
> actually
> do a fairly good job of outputing CJK in a telnet interface. Of course you
> need a telnet that can handle that. Anzio (our product) can, not only for
> but for various European languages, Hebrew, and Arabic. See web site for
> more.
> The library community was once a leader in multilingual computerization.
> My
> sense is that it is rapidly falling behind. The Unicode standard
> represents a
> tremendous opportunity to move librarianship forward into much more
> all-encompassing language support. However, there seems to be very little
> interaction between the library industry and the Unicode organization. At
> the
> last Unicode conference, I found only 3 people from the library
> industry (I'm not counting myself). Check out <>.
> Again, how high a priority is serving your non-English patrons?
> -- 
> Regards,
> ...Bob Rasmussen,   President,   Rasmussen Software, Inc.
> personal e-mail: ras at
>  company e-mail: rsi at or sales at or support at
>               voice: 503-624-0360
>                 fax: 503-624-0760

More information about the Web4lib mailing list