The Wolanski Foundation Project


Report no 1 section 3:  Information management









List of papers









performing arts information management in New South Wales


3.1 A Framework

Generic concepts and trends in the information industry influence the way performing arts information is managed. Information management has become more complex. The sources of information and the means of delivering information have become more diverse. Neil McLean’s Taxonomy of Information Architecture illustrates some of the complexity.

3.2 Information technology and telecommunications

IT & T is now described as the most important infrastructure in the world: it is the platform on which knowledge and information management disciplines operate and it is producing new ways for individuals, companies and communities to function.

The Internet offers ready access to digital information around the world. However, the increase in electronic information is accompanied by hasty decisions about conventional libraries. Occasionally, they are squeezed or closed down because of superficial judgements about the current scope, quality and accessibility of information available from the Internet. Paul Gilster, in Digital Literacy, encourages a balanced approach:

The Internet is not a threat to traditional books any more than the airplane is a threat to the automobile. Each provides opportunities for significantly enriching the human experience; each can be a gateway into expanded knowledge and the productive use of information. As the two delivery mechanisms develop in parallel but distinct tracks, those who predict a paperless future are doomed to disappointment, but so too are their technophobic counterparts.

3.3 Knowledge and information management

It is widely acknowledged that technology should be an enabler, not the driver of information systems.

In recent years the practice of information management has been enhanced by the theory of knowledge management, which gives emphasis to capturing and re-using tacit as well as explicit knowledge. It utilises process skills, analytic tools and enabling technologies such as intranet, groupware, workflow, electronic document management, imaging, search and retrieval, presentation and cognitive software. Normally applied in corporate environments, knowledge management as a theory has the potential for wider application.

3.4 Records management

Records management is concerned with the way companies manage paper and electronic records to comply with legal obligations and meet cultural and competitive objectives. Under the influence of David Bearman and other leading thinkers on the subject, the discipline is currently undergoing major reform, particularly in Government circles, because of information ‘black holes’ that have been created through the widespread use of the PC. New state legislation covering record-keeping programs and the adoption of Australian Standard AS4390 will encourage government organisations, at least, to adopt a more disciplined approach in managing their business records.

3.5 Quality management and standards

The management of quality systems, services and products is guided by the international standard ISO 9000 and its Australian counterparts. The concepts of benchmarking, quality control, quality improvements, quality assurance, quality goals and quality systems are all relevant to the development of performing arts information management structures, systems and services - as are more specific library management and data standards. Some typical information quality characteristics and related values from Burk and Horton’s Infomap include:

  • quality of information - such as accuracy, comprehensiveness, credibility, relevance, and reliability.
  • utility of holdings -such as ease of access, ease of use, browsability, freqency of use, and reproducibility
  • impact on organisation effectiveness - such as finding new markets, improving customer satisfaction, and meeting goals and objectives

Standards more closely identified with the library industry include: guidelines on data elements (eg AS/NZ4450.3:1995), item identifiers (eg ISBN), data content (eg Library of Congress Subject Headings and Dewey Decimal Classification), record structures (eg USMARC specifications, Dublin Core Metadata) and interconnection protocols (Z39.50). Specialised standards for performing arts information need to be developed.

3.6 Convergence

Paradoxically, diversity is also producing converging practices and relationships between suppliers, managers and users of information. Convergence of libraries, museums and archives was the theme of a seminar at the recent IFLA conference. In the United Kingdom, a report initiated by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has recommended the creation of a new single national strategic body for museums, libraries and archives to replace the Museums and Galleries Commission and the Library and Information Commission. Museums are beginning to treat information as an object. Libraries now have ready access to information that used to be the exclusive domain of records managers. The corporate world is experiencing a trend towards integrated library and recordkeeping operations.

3.7 Challenges and critical success factors

Challenges and critical success factors for articulating and developing new paradigms in the information management industry, according to McLean and echoed by other commentators, involve knowledge and skills in

  • mapping information infrastructures and bringing together the curatorial side, network information managers and third party service providers;
  • defining and specifying the scope and functional requirements of development projects;
  • anticipating market place technology shifts;
  • adhering to open system architectures and common standards;
  • sharing experience and technical expertise.

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