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Paper no 47









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by Paul Bentley


Article originally published in Online Currents April 2009 and reprinted with kind permission of the publishers Thomson Reuters

This year’s ALIA Information Online Conference ( began on the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration. Words from his address no doubt rang in the ears of those who applauded his ascension at the conference dinner. Images from his campaign slogan – “Change You Can Believe In” – appeared in the Powerpoint slides of several prognosticating presenters. More than a thousand delegates became involved in thinking about the challenges of change.


Our challenges may be new [and] the instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends…are old.[i]

Values were mentioned in a number of presentations. For most presenters, though, values were simply instincts that explained the things they did or wanted to do.

Reading the signals

Senator Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, officially launched the conference and stepped through evolving Rudd Government online policies as a context for operating library and related information services.

Australian government digital economy strategies over the past decade were reported in the previous issue of Online Currents.[ii] Since that article was written, the Government has released a Digital Economy Future Directions Consultation Paper as another step towards a strategy. Senator Conroy flagged anticipated elements – improving open access to public sector information, building digital confidence and skills, providing a regulatory framework, and measuring the digital economy and its impacts. The strategy is expected to be published soon.

In the meantime, projects awaiting decisions include the National Broadband Network and an internet service provider filtering pilot. The Government’s $125.8 million Cyber-Safety Plan attracted mixed reaction in the auditorium. Senator Conroy sought to mollify antagonists by assuring everyone that the Government is taking an evidence-based approach in finalising policy by testing concerns about technical issues and freedom of speech.

Michael Ossipoff, Director of Capability and Innovation at Telstra, a company jettisoned from the broadband bid, said in his keynote address that two things will drive fundamental change: broadband – available like water in a tap and with sufficient speed to do anything we want - and generational change. Broadband is now widely available at relatively slow speeds. But a month after the conference, those waiting for the slides or a recording of Michael Ossipoff’s presentation on the conference website have been left with only the memory of the subliminal message of the company logo on the slides. Connectivity is one thing. Delivering content is another.

Andy Hines, a consultant with Social Technologies and Adjunct Professor of Futures Studies at the University of Houston, amplified issues associated with generational change in his talk Anticipating the Future of Librarians. The profession needs to look at the future through six lenses: values, demography, lifestyle, technology, work, and education. The economy was “the big gorilla in the room”.

Changing values, he said, change the predictability of the future. The old trust for the institution has been replaced by more trust for one another and scepticism about technology. Demographic changes have produced unexpected behaviours. Don’t be fooled by appearances. Lifestyles now emphasise “practical happiness”, involving shared creativity, ethics and a slower paced life. Technology is producing more porous boundaries between real and virtual life.

Treating it as a game?

Liz Lawley, Director of the Lab for Social Computing at the Rochester Institute of Technology, urged delegates to treat libraries as a game. People do better when they are happy. They are already predisposed towards games. A number of libraries are currently using game concepts as part of their operations.

Janine Schmidt, Director of Libraries at McGill University in Montreal, was also attracted to the idea of games. She used Second Life as a metaphor for exploring new directions. Today’s library products and services, she said, must be designed for today’s environment. Libraries must stop seeking perfection: near enough is usually good enough and perfection remains the enemy of the good. The transition will not be easy. It will be chaotic and messy. But the transition provides ample opportunity for collaboration and creativity. “If the Library does not take on a Second Life, it may well be in its Last Life.”

Driving this change, she said, emphasising a point by Andy Hines, are changing user dynamics. A number of reports and surveys provide the evidence of the need for change. Social networking is the single most significant issue. Everyone today is both a knowledge producer and a consumer. Everyone is an expert. Everyone is communicating much of the time with people he or she might rarely, or never, see. Everyone relies on Google, but most lack web literacy. They are impatient and demanding. Behaviour patterns of the young are becoming the norm for all.

Although today’s libraries have moved beyond their print environs, she said, more innovative thinking and new approaches are needed. Clients must be the focus. Although libraries remain important physical spaces, they must change these spaces to suit new user habits. Staff must be closer to users. Some activities must be abandoned to accommodate new ones. Collaboration will be central to the Second Life libraries, which must make holdings available locally and at the same time searchable through Worldcat and other channels. Websites must become more consistent and useable. Effective information literacy programs will become even more important. The biggest area of change, to use Second Life terminology, will be with avatars – the librarians. Second Life librarians must be nimble and outwardly-focused.

One of the reports cited in Janine Schmidt’s paper was No Brief Candle: Reconceiving Research Libraries for the 21st Century.[iii] In asserting the need for more effective collaboration between librarians, faculties and information technology experts, the report proposes that libraries be redefined as multi-institutional entities. Redundancies could be eliminated by calibrating resources, staff and infrastructure to a collective enterprise of federated institutions.

To drive change, the report suggests, librarians must become less risk-averse. At the moment, they are constrained by a sense of ownership that has kept them from engaging in truly collective work. Digitisation activities are currently stymied by the lack of effective print repositories, models for organising them and copyright constraints. Libraries must allocate more funds for experimentation and innovation. At the centre of new services could be a renewed investment in metadata – making material available to the scholarly community in a systematic way. However, production of data and metadata on a very large scale for broad use needs a high level of organisation, and libraries currently do not have institutions that can deliver that organisation. The traditional separation of libraries and commercial entities needs to be reconsidered.

Those waiting to review Michael Ossipoff’s thoughts on broadband and its relevance to libraries will be well served by a recent article from OCLC’s chief strategist Lorcan Dempsey, who treats the future as less of a game in “Always On: Libraries in a World of Permanent Connectivity”.[iv] Among the challenges, he says, is the need to synthesise a range of products and services from multiple sources. Sourcing decisions are getting more complex as the service environment diversifies. There has been experimentation with social networking services, but libraries may not be in the best position to continue their efforts because enough users may not perceive the incentives that motivate participation in other environments. Unlike other enterprises, libraries have limited flexibility in what they offer.

Questions about approaches by libraries to manage the new generation of learning materials and print collections need to be answered, especially at an aggregated or group arrangement at consortial, State, and national levels. In searching for answers, Dempsey says, libraries are faced with a paradox as network services grow in sophistication: the need to make themselves invisible and, at the same time, more visible.

Getting on the Web 2.0 bandwagon

It became apparent that Mal Booth enjoys a game when he confessed to being provocative in his address about digital convergence at the Australian War Memorial.

The Memorial’s information management strategy involves an enterprise content management system and a digitisation program to convert war diaries, military rolls, photographs, art works, relics, sound recordings and other material. The use of social media has become a priority. Each department is expected to participate in the development of the Memorial’s website and to pursue opportunities for collaboration and community engagement using blogs, wikis, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Delicious, Ning and other Web 2.0 services.

He urged delegates to just jump in and start using these technologies. It is sometimes easier to seek forgiveness, he said, than gain permission. He believes that “users will get bored with conversations and catalogue records. They want the stuff. They expect it to be online. Now. And preferably for free”. It is our responsibility to be there. “It should not be seen as the exclusive domain of strange-looking people who live only in Second Life and spend too much time Twittering about rubbish.” Words of advice?

Be less precious about copyright. Don’t over-analyse. Don’t obsess about metadata. Learn by doing (forget about doing a course). Do it yourself or build lasting partnerships. Get involved and compromise. Don’t try to replicate analogue processes. Don’t put revenue generation up front. Position yourself to be an innovator.

Several other presenters from major institutions and public libraries talked about their engagement with social networking technologies.

Paul Hagon considered four experiments by the National Library of Australia into the design and use of its websites. The first two, involving Picture Australia, led to a new interface to reduce the complexity of search options, but an experiment with to improve bookmarking was only partially successful. “We need to be patient before drawing conclusions about as it is not commonly used on library websites and our users will take some time to discover it. It may also be beneficial to extend the experiment to other bookmarking sites such as Digg, ma.gnolia and Facebook.”

The third experiment also involved, this time for AskNow, and led to a simple mechanism for reference librarians to work together to create a consolidated list of quality resources. The new list reduces duplicate effort and is easier to maintain than an in-house system. The fourth experimented with Flickr, Google Maps and Google Streetview to create mashups using Powerhouse Museum images to help users select a location in Sydney and then compare the historical image with its current day equivalent. Cultural institutions, he said, are presented with a wealth of opportunity in using application programming interfaces and participating in the mashup culture.

Karen Stone, in her presentation on the State Library of Queensland’s One Search initiative, outlined policies that had been developed to manage and track client input to its new social spaces. At the State Library of Victoria, Linda Angeloni and Lili Wilkinson have been involved in the websites, ergo ( and insideadog ( to encourage younger generations to use the library’s collections and develop critical skills. Wendy Quihampton and Anne Beaumont, also from the State Library of Victoria, described the use of DigiTool as a digital object management system for the library’s extensive digitisation program.

Local government library efforts were represented by Ellen Forsyth and Ross Balharrie, who described collaborative efforts by Manly Library, the State Library of New South Wales and Clarence Regional Library, to improve reference services using Web 2.0 tools. Lynette Lewis and Leslie Sharples spoke about the employment of wikis, blogs, LibraryThing, MySpace, Faceback, podcasts and Wikipedia at Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service.

Ben O'Carroll and Angela Vilkins provided details of a current awareness service using blog and RSS technologies at the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet Library and Research Services.

John Law was one of several presenters who were critical of library websites. Making them compelling starting places for users will require better marketing, library access points in end-user applications, and information literacy programs. Jane Burke was critical of cumbersome interfaces and authentication barriers in her presentation about e-resource access and management services (ERAMS). She suggested that less time be spent on processing print materials and more time be spent on marketing and managing e-resources. James Robertson offered examples of superior sites in his presentation What Do Innovative Intranets Look Like?

Other presenters looked at a low-cost, easily maintained collaborative platform to enhance communication, knowledge sharing and professional development for a geographically dispersed library team (Chris Zegelin); strategies and tools to manage the change process (Sally Schofield); the merits of Cisco Unified MeetingPlace as a tool for collaboration (Leanne Griffiths); and blended physical and virtual spaces based on the web 2.0 concepts (Geoff Mitchell and Cathy Crawford).

Addressing metadata questions

Mal Booth’s provocation that delegates become less obsessed with metadata set some hearts palpitating. One conference blogger wrote in Mal’s defence:

Some found [his] comments on metadata unsettling [but] let me say that just as we have lost the search portal wars to players such as Google, we seem to be oblivious to the fact that we are quickly loosing…the tagging and client content war to players such as Flickr who make it so easy for people to upload content and who do not ask for ‘12 core metadata fields’ in the process!

Conferences need their provocateurs. But, those who were unsettled by his comments were probably thinking along the following lines. Metadata have many types and elements. Tagging is one of them. Exposing collections on Flickr is one worthwhile approach, but not the main game. Different types of researchers walk up a number of avenues to get their information. The need for librarians and kindred collecting organisations to create better metadata solutions in an aggregated world is underscored in numerous reports and articles. Not everyone in the profession needs to be obsessed with metadata solutions, but some specialists need to find the right answers. The assertion that libraries are in competition with Google ignores the fact that Google seems to have encouraged more people to visit some libraries.

Recent research by Besiki Stvilia and Corinne Jörgensen on user-generated metadata in Flickr offers some insights on the habits of taggers and the need for more research on the implications.[v] Greta de Groat’s report on the future direction of metadata remediation, discussing the Digital Library Federation Aquifer, underscores the fact that successful aggregation depends on the development of robust, consistent metadata. “Infrastructure for work collocation…is still underdeveloped and will probably need to wait for the widespread adoption of the new standard for resource description, Resource Description and Access.”[vi]

At the conference Deirdre Kiorgaard flagged impending cataloguing changes through Resource Description and Access. Anna Gifford asserted that controlled vocabularies need to be kept current and fresh to be meaningful to user groups. “In an environment of changing literacies, [solutions for controlled vocabularies] provide the greatest opportunity for [creating] better harmonisation between the users, the creators, and the online environment.” Evan Bailey and Sue Carpenter drew attention to an experiment with automated metadata creation at the Knowledge Sharing Services, Centre for Learning Innovation, New South Wales Department of Education and Training. They concluded that people-powered search is still the best approach, but the use of technology for metadata creation is worth exploring further.

Managing digital resources

Sherman Young, author of The Book is Dead, Long Live the Book (UNSW Press, 2007), considered long-term prospects for the book. After tracing its development through four historical phases to the internet age, which encompasses the best of previous phases, he speculated on the environment for the next stage, the semantic web, by screening an Apple computer knowledge navigator video produced in 1987 to promote a vision for invisible, ubiquitous knowledge navigators.[vii] We won’t understand Web 3.0, he said, until we build it. New forms of books are now being created for the electronic domain. We need to ensure they retain their rightful place in the scheme of things.

User acceptance of e-books in Australian universities was examined by several speakers. Martin Borchert and Alison Hunter said their research had found a high level of awareness, but relatively low usage at Griffith University and the University of Southern Queensland. Iris Perkins reported that barriers identified by a group of students at La Trobe University included the difficulty of reading from the screen for extended periods and the lack of recommended e-books on reading lists. According to Meg Boness, the University of Western Sydney Library created more widespread use of e-books and e-resources following a campaign to promote their availability.

Issues explored by other presenters included the challenges surrounding shareable online learning objects (Catherine Clark); the challenges of providing streamed video (Diana Blackwood); the need for libraries to reorganise services to demonstrate value, based on restructuring at the University of New South Wales (Lyn Bosanquet); the impact of Australian journals in the social sciences and humanities (Paul Genoni, Gaby Haddow and Petra Dumbell); efficiencies to be gained by capturing, creating, storing metadata in only one location for reuse (Elke Dawson); and managing client queries and feedback in a single system (Daisy Tyson). Amanda Lawrence explained information architecture, usability and web 2.0 technologies at Australian Policy Online (; Gerry Ryder called for repositories to become involved in science data management; and Jane Garner, Shirley Sullivan and Eve Young gave an account of their experience publishing an online journal using Open Journal Systems software at the University of Melbourne.


Efforts to respond to the government-driven requirement that Australian universities capture and measure research outputs, often involving institutional repositories, were described by Carole Gibbs and Kate Sergeant (a scripted solution at the University of South Australia Library), Karin Smith and Tony Cargnelutti (a collaborative solution between Charles Sturt University Library and UNILINC), Rebecca Parker and Helen Wolff (on taking the repository to the researchers), Katie Wilson (who also championed an “academic-friendly” or do-it-for-you approach to encourage improved deposit rates), and Teula Morgan and Robin Wright (practical risk management strategies for open access repositories).

Describing efforts outside academia, Graham Spooner and Gillian Wood gave their thoughts on managing digital resources and systems in the health sector. Colin Potter and Caroline Foxon talked about the Nambour Chronicle Digitisation Project. Jake Wallis and Bob Pymm generated discussion on the question of very large data stores and their usefulness as exemplified by the whole of domain web archiving undertaken by the National Library of Australia, and Tony Iezzi outlined work on making print-based information accessible at Vision Australia.

Managing rights

Management of intellectual property was explored by Caroline Morgan, from Copyright Agency Limited, who examined myths about copyright and outlined steps being taken to get the balance right. Kent Fitch drew attention to the failure of digital rights management technology, flaws in current copyright laws and the need for a digital lending right, operating like the public lending right. Margaret Warren discussed the development of a risk management strategy for the use of orphan works at the State Library of Queensland, and Jessica Coates discussed steps being taken internationally to lower the barriers presented by copyright law, as explored in the International Study on the Impact of Copyright Law on Digital Preservation.

Teaching and reaching customers

Several speakers championed anew the cause of information literacy programs. Beatriz Aroche and Helene Brown explored the use of Second Life and virtual environments in a program developed at TAFE NSW Libraries. Natalie McDonald and Peter Keenan gave the example of Beyond Google, a course at the NSW Business Chamber, designed to improve search engine skills, broaden understanding of information sources in the library, and deal with information overload. Leona Jennings, from Gold Coast City Council Libraries, elaborated on IT literacy initiatives underway in public libraries within the United Kingdom. Kate Davis reported on blogging strategies to engage youth in the Gold Coast, and Philip Kent and Michael Samarchi demonstrated the benefits of managing client satisfaction at Victoria University Library.

Managing knowledge

At a time when job losses are likely to lead to less trust and increased protection of personal knowledge, several speakers gave their perspectives on the continued application of knowledge management in some corporations and government environments such as Macquarie Bank (Justin Harness), Parsons Brickenhoff Australia Pacific (Cory Banks) and NERA Economic Consulting (Barbara Hirsh). Nerida Hart explained the use of narrative techniques, anecdote circles, sensemaking and intervention design as tools for continuous improvement at Knowledge and Information Services, which provides library, research and knowledge services to five Australian government agencies including the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. James Bosanquet outlined experience with the management of clinical documents in a knowledge management system at the Cancer Institute NSW.

Forging new roles, skills and attitudes

At the end of the conference, a panel nibbled at the question: “Are we (the information profession) cool enough to attract the Y and Z generations?” Liz Lawley reiterated her view that, to recruit the new generation and those who only want to be part-time librarians, libraries need to be developed as flexible places of fun. Andy Hines, on the other hand, thought that being cool was an overrated concept. People want to do meaningful work, they want to work with people they enjoy and they want to move around.

In an earlier presentation, Ross Coleman, Director of Sydney eScholarship at the University of Sydney, offered “a personal view with sweeping generalisations” about the cultural challenges of new roles. Libraries have been responsive to changes over the past decade, but web technologies and services are changing more than just communication and publishing practices. They are changing the way research and study is conceptualised, how new knowledge is created, and the relationships around research practice and innovation. University libraries seem reluctant or unsure about the best way of embracing this change. Software and services are out of touch with faculty needs. Institutional repositories tend to be under-resourced.

Changes in library and information science courses received coverage from Mark Pegrum and Ralph Kiel who gave details of an e-learning professional development course at the University of Western Australia. Simon Shurville and Heather Brown spoke about collaboration between the University of South Australia and State Library of South Australia to provide post-graduate programs that encourage a capacity for problem-solving with allied professions.

Gillian Hallam spoke about the neXus2 workforce study, funded by the ALIA and NSLA, designed to develop a clearer understanding of issues affecting workforce sustainability, capability and optimisation. According to the study, larger organisations, such as academic libraries and those in NSLA consortium, are better placed to commit to ongoing training and development and smaller libraries face greater challenges in overcoming deficiencies in the provision of professional development.

Rewarding excellence

The organisers of the conference are to be congratulated for continuing to allocate up to $10,000 for the ALIA IOG Excellence Award – a trip to an international conference of choice. It is worth acknowledging this year’s nominations. The award went to the Australian Taxation Office eLibrary Team for its eLibrary solution, a personalised service to more than 25,000 ATO desktops throughout Australia using a single search box, blogs, folksonomies and wikis.[viii] The other shortlisted nominations were Engineering Australia’s Elena Evedenskaia for a project with RMIT Publishing to incorporate Engineering Australia’s collection of 17,000 technical papers into the Informit e-library, and the University of Sydney’s Southnary Tan for the successful launch of iResearch, a suite of online learning objects to support student information literacy skills. Details of all 22 nominations can be found on the conference blog.


The buzz around change and innovation

The world has changed, and we must change with it.[ix]

Three widely expressed assumptions at the conference were that transformative change is needed, changing behaviours of users will drive this change, and librarians should jettison their risk-averse bent in favour of being more innovative. They have been a common thread in information online conferences for the past decade.

The other side of the coin probably needs exposure. Libraries, even public libraries, are part of someone else’s business. Librarians have limited control over what they spend and are not well placed to take risks. Although Google is frequently touted as a competitor to libraries, continued visitation rates suggest that, by and large, they occupy a different niche. Many future researchers and users are likely to continue to use libraries in much the same way as they do now.

Calls for change pinpointed the need for environmental scanning, marketing and hiring the right people – management issues that have been part and parcel of previous mindsets. The need for a new type of person may underestimate the quality of service-oriented, problem-solving librarians who worked in the different environment of the past. Certainly there was evidence at the conference that the profession is now populated by people who are exercising imagination to deliver services to their customers.

It was Walt Crawford, in 2006, who urged librarians to take a deep breath. His 32-page essay “Library 2.0 and ‘Library 2.0’” expressed the view that libraries have never been the primary source of information for most people and he rejected the notion that most American public libraries either require or would benefit from a revolution. Some new tools and concepts won’t work, some will. Keep an open mind to ideas and tools outside the library field. Consider the benefits of change. But don’t assume that all change is inherently good.[x]

Innovation was another of the conference buzz words.

It was the Roman playwright Terence who implied that innovation is not doing what is already done. Most of the presentations at the conference were about catching up to speed with someone else’s innovation. Scott Burken, spruiking his book, The Myths of Innovation (O’Reilly Media Inc, 2007), recently asserted that innovation is entirely overrated. It’s a vague, subjective term, he said, that distracts from what you’re really doing. Instead of asking how we can be innovative, a toothless and vague question with mostly useless answers, we should be asking how we can make great things. He thought that departments of innovation are a waste of money.[xi]

My thought is that buzz words have their place in encouraging a focus on important issues awaiting fresh consideration and reinvention. But we need to take them on board rather than take them at face value.

The need to spend money wisely

And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits and do our business in the light of day.[xii]

Peter Drucker once asserted that innovation is a term of economics rather than technology. Library conferences rarely consider questions about money, at least at a macro level. The nature of the library profession and libraries, as mentioned several times in this article, makes it difficult for the sector to respond to challenges in broad economic terms, but it is something it must tackle.

Vivienne Waller and Ian McShane, in a recent article, have argued that:

While library sector rhetoric rightly imagines that digital technologies bring change to all aspects of library operations, it is not enough to focus on the technologies. Large public libraries need to obtain a thorough understanding of the nature of the environment in which they operate; in particular, an understanding of the ways in which both the ecology and economy of information are changing. [xiii]

It was therefore instructive to hear John Houghton’s talk about a Joint Information Systems Committee project, which has investigated budgetary and wider economic implications of models for scholarly publication. Although an analysis of the costs and benefits of alternative scholarly publishing models faces considerable challenges, “there are gains to be realised from moving towards more open access publishing models and…despite the lag between the costs and the realisation of benefits, the transition would probably be affordable within current system-wide budgetary allocations”. The report makes several recommendations for overcoming the current barriers. Part of the mix could be enhancing metadata standards and quality, organising more effective federated services, making resources easier to find, and using metrics for research evaluation. International cooperation is of great importance if we are to realise the benefits of more open access.

Working creatively with others

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. [xiv]

The need for more effective cooperation has also been a widely accepted assumption for some time.

One of the highlights was Laura Campbell’s presentation on Library of Congress digital initiatives over the past two decades, including the American Memory project, Thomas, the Learning Page, the National Digital Newspaper program, and increased access to and interaction with users through the use of Flickr, YouTube and other channels. The Library of Congress leverages this experience through two main network strategies.

The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, now more commonly called the National Preservation Program (, has more than 30 partners involved in: the collection and preservation of important digital content at risk of loss; digital preservation research; development of an interoperable technical infrastructure; and exploration of intellectual property issues. Diverse partnerships are involved in the preservation of geospatial data, political websites, business and economic history, cultural material, public television and social services data sets. This “national alliance of content stewardship” now has 248 terabytes of at-risk digital content. This is expected to reach 650 terabytes by 2013.

The World Digital Library ( is a network of 25 partners offering significant primary materials of different cultures from institutions around the world to increase global understanding among all cultures. The multilingual site has a range of unique historical material contributed by the partners. The project is being developed in cooperation with UNESCO and will be launched in April 2009. The screening of the concept video at the conference drew spontaneous applause, presumably because delegates saw a future in one international library.

Laura Campbell said these projects have involved evolutionary phases of transformation. “Most of us work in non-profit or government organisations where change is not as easy as it is elsewhere. We need to make choices about what business we are in. Technology is not the hard part, it’s the people. Creative collaboration is the key to future invention and innovation.”

Further evidence of creative collaboration was represented at the conference by the local efforts of two State libraries.

Ian Patterson and Prue Mercer described the State Library of Victoria's slv21 strategy, a four-year, $25.1 million, government-funded program to accelerate the library’s digital online service, which began in 2006. The project required extensive planning, organisational restructuring and an investment in technology to support 30 sub-projects of varying size and complexity. Restructuring meant redeployment of staff, use of casual staff in shifts, and some activities were outsourced.

Four major IT projects resulted in the development and implementation of a digital object management system, a federated search system, a digitised-items-on-demand system, recasting the library’s web presence, and the purchase of additional PCs and wireless network and broadband capacity. An Open Source content management system will be launched in 2009.

The project set out to achieve increases of 20% in online access, 10% per annum in onsite access, 20% in the number of students attending education sessions, as well as 75% of unique Victorian material digitised and available online, and a balanced budget by 2010. Most of these goals are on track. To date, 40% of unique Victorian material has been digitised. Collaboration with the Victorian Land Titles Office and the Chief Parliamentary Counsel has made the Victorian Government Gazette freely available online.

The State Library of Queensland acts as a catalyst on a wider front through its Memory Outreach project, with funding from the State Government's Blueprint for the Bush program. The project encourages public libraries and local museums, history groups and archives to become partners in its Picture Queensland service (

As outlined by Gavin Bannerman and Margie Barram, organisations can contribute MARC records exported from their library systems or provide structured data for conversion to qualified Dublin Core. Alternatively, they may create qualified Dublin Core records and submit these, via a web form, to a metadata repository. Joint agreements specify arrangements for storage, processes, contributions, and responsibilities. Contributions are made by organisations all the way north along the coast, including Aboriginal communities, and training is provided to contributing organisations.

In the future, the State Library of Queensland is planning to expand the service to include more images from government departments, historical societies, museums and galleries and from those held by individuals. Following the most recent local government boundary changes, it will be working with newly amalgamated library services to bring various types of cultural heritage resources online.

And finally…

In his article calling for more effective networked services,[xv] Lorcan Dempsey said it is always tempting to talk about the need for transition. This is misleading, he said, because it suggests a stable end state. It is probably more reasonable to talk about continuous change. It is important to focus effort where it will have most impact, and not to duplicate effort needlessly or work on solutions that may be overtaken by other work.

Australia has a firm foundation in its federated system of national and State libraries and various collaborative online services. The place to focus efforts may be in the major institutions, with funding in targeted areas, to nudge smaller libraries, archives and museums towards a more efficient and effective future. Understanding the economics may be more important than being creative.

[i] Obama B, Inauguration Speech (Washington DC, USA, 20 January 2009).

[ii] Bentley P, “The Digital Economy Dance: Getting Into Step with Government Policy” (2009) 23(1) Online Currents 13.

[iii] Council on Library and Information Resources, No Brief Candle: Reconceiving Research Libraries for the 21st Century (August 2008), viewed 10 March 2009.

[iv] Dempsey L, “Always On: Libraries in a World of Permanent Connectivity” (2009) 14(1) First Monday, viewed 10 March 2009.

[v] Stvilia B and Jörgensen C, “User-generated Collection Level Metadata in an Online Photo-sharing System” (2009) 31(1) Library & Information Science Research 54, viewed 10 March 2009.

[vi] de Groat G, Future Directions in Metadata Remediation for Metadata Aggregators (Digital Library Federation, 2009), viewed 10 March 2009.

[viii] We hope to cover this in more detail in the next issue of Online Currents.

[ix] Obama, n 1.

[x] Crawford W, “Library 2.0 and ‘Library 2.0’” (2006) 6(2) Cites and Insights: Crawford at Large Issue 72,

[xi] Berkun S, “Why Innovation is Overrated” (Harvard Business Publishing, 14 July 2008), viewed 10 March 2009; and Berkun S, “Should Obama Create a Department of Innovation?” (Harvard Business Publishing, 4 December 2008), viewed 10 March 2009.

[xii] Obama, n 1.

[xiii] Waller V and McShane I, “Analysing the Challenges for Large Public Libraries in the Twenty-First Century: A Case Study of the State Library of Victoria in Australia” (2008) 13(12) First Monday, viewed 10 March 2009.

[xiv] Obama, n 1.

[xv] Dempsey, n 4.

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