Ralph LeVan

Senior Research Scientist

Ralph LeVan

I've been in the bibliographic retrieval business since I left college. I spent ten years working at SDC (later Burroughs and Unisys) ORBIT. With the sale of ORBIT to Robert Maxwell, I chose to join OCLC and have been here for the last 20 years.

During that time I led the development of the retrieval software that underlies the FirstSearch service (Newton). With the successful launch of FirstSearch, my attention shifted to database interfaces, the most significant being Z39.50. I continue to be active in the Z39.50 Implementors Group (ZIG).

Moving up the interface stack, I led the development of OCLC's Z39.50-to-Web gateway (WebZ), which became the interface development environment for FirstSearch. WebZ, combined with the Newton database software, became the SiteSearch product. More recently, I have produced a second generation of database software (Pears), which is available as Open Source from OCLC Research.

Recapitulating previous work, I am again working on database interfaces, specifically the initiative to implement Z39.50 as a Web Service (SRU), and an initiative to allow content providers the ability to describe how to access their content rather than prescribe how their content should be exposed (OASIS SWS). I have also been working with Thom Hickey and Jenny Toves on the Identities project.


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O: +1-614-764-6115



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