Web-based searching is the accepted contemporary mode of retrieving relevant literature, and retrieving as many full text articles as possible is a typical prerequisite for research success. In most cases only a proportion of references will be directly accessible as digital reprints through displayed links. A large number of references, however, have to be verified in library catalogues and, depending on their availability, are accessible as print holdings or by interlibrary loan request.
The problem of verifying local print holdings from an initial retrieval set of citations can be solved using Z39.50, an ANSI protocol for interactively querying library information systems. Numerous systems include Z39.50 interfaces and therefore can process Z39.50 interactive requests. However, the programmed query interaction command structure is non-intuitive and inaccessible to the average biomedical researcher. For the typical user, it is necessary to implement the protocol within a tool that hides and handles Z39.50 syntax, presenting a comfortable user interface.
PMD2HD is a web tool implementing Z39.50 to provide an appropriately functional and usable interface to integrate into the typical workflow that follows an initial PubMed literature search, providing users with an immediate asset to assist in the most tedious step in literature retrieval, checking for subscription holdings against a local online catalogue.
PMD2HD can facilitate literature access considerably with respect to the time and cost of manual comparisons of search results with local catalogue holdings. The example presented in this article is related to the library system and collections of the German Cancer Research Centre. However, the PMD2HD software architecture and use of common Z39.50 protocol commands allow for transfer to a broad range of scientific libraries using Z39.50-compatible library information systems.