The Cheshire II system is intended to provide a bridge between the purely bibliographic realm of previous generations of online catalogs and the rapidly expanding realm of full-text and multimedia information resources. To accomplish this goal, the Cheshire II system includes the following design features:
These design elements of the Cheshire II system represent a significant advance over the simple left-to-right matching of subject headings used in first generation online catalogs, and the Boolean keyword matching used in second generation online catalogs. The Cheshire II system was designed to be a next- or third generation online catalog using advanced information retrieval techniques to improve subject searching performance, help combat the twin problems of search failure and information overload, and to support networked access to global information resources using standardized information retrieval protocols. Other experimental online catalogs have used various forms of ranked retrieval (see, for example, ), but the Cheshire system is the first to provide all of the design elements listed above.
The remainder of this section will describe each of these design elements of the Cheshire II system, their rationale, and the research issues associated with them in more detail.