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15 October 2003














Cross Currents No 17 October 2003 

A digest of cross sectoral information management events, issues and ideas in organisations, libraries, archives and museums, with special emphasis on arts and the humanities.


ARTS & HUMANITIES Arts & Humanities Data Service | Arts education & libraries | Broadband & the humanities | Creative Industries e-learning | Music libraries in the UK | Rethinking the humanities in the global age


DIGITISATION Challenges | E-prints | Economics | National initiative | Visual resources

LIBRARIES Collaborative reference services | Competition from direct access | Economics | Future | Statistics



MEDIA & NEWSPAPER ARCHIVES Australian Broadcasting Corporation | BBC | Moving Image Collections | Newspaper archives  MUSEUMS Museum Treasures CD Series | National Forum on Performance in Cultural Institutions


RECORDKEEPING & ARCHIVES Australian National Audit Office report | Business records and archives | Describing Archives in Context | National Online Archival Network | NSW DIRKS manual

STANDARDS & SYSTEMS Fedora digital resource management | Metadata, Really Simple Syndication | XML


Arts and Humanities Data Service

Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS), established in 1995 with funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Board and Joint Information Systems Committee in the UK, has been involved in managing specialised higher education collections and research into standards and best practice relating to digital resources. In future, it will pursue a dual focus in subject specialisation and cross-disciplinarity. Services will be renamed as the following AHDS Centres: AHDS Archaeology, AHDS History (formerly the History Data Service), AHDS Literature, Languages and Linguistics, AHDS Performing Arts (formerly the Performing Arts Data Service), AHDS Visual Arts (formerly the Visual Arts Data Service), and AHDS Executive. It is also upgrading its website and cross-collections search capability. Web: http://ahds.ac.uk. [Source: AHDS]

Arts education and libraries

Tara L. Dirst, in Improving Art History Education: Library and Faculty Partnerships in Instructional Technology Development (Information Technology and Libraries Vol 22 no 2, 2003, p. 83-87, http://www.lita.org/ital/index.htm), writes on a partnership at Northern Illinois University between the Library’s  Digital Projects Department and Art History Department that seeks to improve art education at the university and create a tool for accessing slides of artwork via the Web. 

Broadband & the humanities

The [Australian] National Scholarly Communications Forum’s workshop, Strictly Broadband: Broadband and the Humanities, Social Sciences & Creative Arts (Museum Victoria, Melbourne, 31 October 2003) deals with opportunities presented by broadband communication networks for scholars, teachers and researchers in the humanities, social sciences and creative arts. It includes presentations by researchers involved in projects that illustrate innovative use of advanced networks in fields as disparate as tele-microscopy, file and media archives, the preservation of language and the mysteries of the heavens. [Source: Aus-archivists]. Web: http://www.humanities.org.au/NSCF/.

Creative industries e-learning

RMIT’s Faculty of Art, Design and Communication conference CREATE.ED 2003 (2 October 2003) was devoted to advances in online creative interaction, experience design, new skills for the creative student, online collaborative learning, photography online, teaching design online, visual representation of learning materials, design and technology educational practices. Web: http://www.rmit.edu.au/adc/create-ed. [Source: Arts Hub Australia].

Music Libraries in the UK

The UK Branch of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres has published Access to Music & Collections: a Plan for Music Libraries and Archives in the United Kingdom and Ireland. (£15.00). The plan, by Pamela Thompson, Chief Librarian at the Royal College of Music and Malcolm Lewis of Nottingham City Libraries with funding from the Research Support Libraries Programme, reaffirms the importance of music to the economy, culture, society and learning, the need for sustainable management and delivery of services, and the continuing need to ensure access to music collections, services, expert advice and guidance. Order form: http://www.iaml-uk-irl.org/  

Rethinking the humanities in the global age

Rethinking the Humanities in the Global Age was the title of the 2003 annual meeting of the Research Libraries Group. Keynote speaker Thomas Bender, University Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History at New York University, in Changing World, Changing Scholarship, argued that the traditional boundaries between disciplines are becoming more and more tenuous and it is increasingly important to make contextual linkages across a wide variety of domains. Professor David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, in The Future of the Humanities: Prospects and Challenges, provided an overview of humanities funding in the UK. He encouraged more collaborative approaches to humanities research, and urged a re-evaluation of the concept of the ‘lone scholar.’  Proceedings: http://www.rlg.org/annmtg/index03.html.


A November 2003 workshop organised by four Australian professional associations - Museums Australia, Australian Library and Information Association, Australian Society of Archivists and the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials will address the value of collections to the community, the role of associations and the pressing need to sustain the collections sector through appropriate and adequately resourced education and training. [Source: Museum National]

The Australian Computer Society has embarked on a process to reform its structure. According to a plan distributed to its 16,000 members, the ACS plans to move from its current model, which consists of a national office and eight state/territory branches, to a unitary model designed to address the use of eight sets of regulations, strategic plans and activities and is intended to allow volunteers and staff at branch level to concentrate on “transferring knowledge and delivering services to members rather than being consumed by administrative tasks.” [Source: Sydney Morning Herald 2 Sep 2003] Web: http://ww.acs.org.au 



Neil Beagrie, Joint Information Systems Committee program director for digital preservation concludes, in National Digital Preservation Initiatives: An Overview of Developments in Australia, France, the Netherlands,and the United Kingdom and of Related Activities  (April 2003), that digital preservation is poorly funded in relation to the scale of the challenge. Institutions have received little or no additional core funding to address digital preservation. As a result, they must rely on short-term external project funding or reallocate internal resources. Generally speaking, funds are more widely available to provide digital access than for digital preservation. One critical factor is that awareness of digital preservation issues is low among members of the governing bodies who could provide funding. Several factors make preservation a pressing issue. Increasingly, institutions don't hold physical copies of their digital works, but license access to them. It is often unclear where the responsibility for preservation lies. Digital media are fragile. Preservation must be dealt with early in a work's lifecycle, or valuable materials could be lost forever. Web: http://www.clir.org/ [Source: Shelflife]

Clifford Lynch, in The Coming Crisis in Preserving Our Digital Cultural Heritage (Journal of Library Administration, Vol 38 no 3-4, 2003, pages 149-161), concludes that we face a looming crisis as consumer goods move into digital form. Although there are formidable technical and economic problems, progress is being made in preserving scholarly information in digital form because of a shared commitment to permanent access throughout the entire community of authors, publishers, libraries, and readers involved with financing, producing, distributing, managing and using this literature. Libraries are a niche market rather than the primary market for these goods and have little bargaining power. The producers of any consumer materials today do not understand or care about what they must do to ensure preservation of their digital works for the very long term. Steps to at least limit its impact are discussed. [Source: Shelflife]


The Open Society Institute and Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition have published Model Business Plan: A Supplemental Guide for Open Access Journal Developers & Publishers to complement new editions of Guide to Business Planning for Launching a New Open Access Journal and Guide to Business Planning for Converting a Subscription-based Journal to Open Access, first published in February 2003. All are available free of charge at  <http://www.soros.org/openaccess>.[SPARC Open Access Forum].


Shelby Sanett of AMIGOS Library Services, in RLG DigiNews 15 Aug 2003, says an economic framework is required to ensure continuing access to information preserved in electronic form. Research to date has focused on the development of software and hardware to support long-term preservation strategies. Future efforts should include ways to evaluate costing strategies for acquisition, preservation and access activities and formulating associated policies and strategies. Possible strategies include fee for use, fee from the author, fee from the publisher and legislative support. Web: http://www.rlg.org/. [Source: Shelf life]

The Journal of Digital Information, 9 Jun 2003, is dedicated to the theme of economics. Includes pieces on evaluating the cost of digital libraries, including start-up costs, costs of providing access to content, and costs of preserving, managing and maintaining digital resources for the long term. Web: http://jodi.ecs.soton.ac.uk/. [Source: ShelfLife]

National initiative

The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, the US$100-million project spearheaded by the Library of Congress, is currently seeking applications aimed at developing and testing models for the collection of digital materials. The first set of projects to be funded will focus on the selection and collection of at-risk and historically significant digital materials for which no analogue equivalent exists. In addition, NDIIPP is seeking to develop a network of committed institutional partners to support the long-term collection and preservation of digital content. Web: www.digitalpreservation.gov/

Visual resources

Paula Hardin writes on issues and the costs of managing slide libraries and other visual resources in Integrating the Digitization of Visual Resources into Library Operations (Journal of Library Administration, vol 39 no 1, 2003 p 45-55).  Web: http://www.haworthpressinc.com


Collaborative reference services

The Internet Reference Services Quarterly, vol 8 no 1-2, 2003, is devoted to issues and trends in virtual reference services. Web: http://www.haworthpressinc.com [Source: New Technologies in Libraries].

Anne R Kenney and others, in Google Meets eBay: What Academic Librians Can Learn from Alternative Information Providers (D-Lib June 2003), report on a study comparing the cost and effectiveness of Google Answers with reference librarians at Cornell University. The study found that, although the  reference librarians scored higher overall than Google's freelance researchers, their scores were not significantly better. Both groups were rated good overall. Google's prices were significantly lower than the cost of a traditional reference librarian's time. They recommended regular monitoring of developments in the broader information landscape, implementation of a peer review process in library reference services, and the introduction of mechanisms for users to publicly rate responses to reference enquiries. Web: http://www.dlib.org/

Competition from direct access

Brian L. Mikesell, in Fee or Free? New Commercial Services Are Changing the Equation (Journal of Library Administration, vol 37 no 3-4, 2002, p.465-475), looks at the impact of competition from online full-text research services such as Questia and Ebrary, which are offering library-like services directly to faculty and undergraduates for a fee. [Source: New Technologies in Libraries].


Library Trends, vol 51 no 3, 2003 is devoted to theme of library economics. Articles include Library Economic Metrics: Examples of the Comparison of Electronic and Print Journal Collections and Collection Services by Donald W. King and others (p. 376-400), which deals with a framework of library economic metrics including service input and output, performance, usage, effectiveness, outcomes, impact, and cost and benefit comparisons, Cost, Statistics, Measures, and Standards for Digital Reference Services: A Preliminary View by R. David Lankes, Melissa Gross and Charles R. McClure (401-413), which reports on work from two studies related to the assessment of digital library reference services and the development of standards for such services. [Source: New Technologies in Libraries]


Clifford Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, writes on the future libraries in Ubiquity, Vol 4, Issue 23, July 30 - August 5, 2003): “My personal view is that we're going to start seeing a two-layered model. We're going to see digital collections that are presented and managed in a passive way. They will function similar to a repository where stewardship is the major theme. Then you're going to find access systems layered on top of these, which may be more volatile. They may have shorter lives than the underlying collections. You may see the same collections presented through multiple access systems. These access systems will be not just retrieval tools, but analysis environments in some cases. We'll see a great diversity in these access systems -- what I call 'digital libraries' as opposed to digital collections. Some will be affiliated with traditional libraries; others will come from very different places, and will go very far out towards the 'active' end of the services spectrum that we were discussing, towards analysis environments and collaboratories. I think we'll also increasingly harness social and community capabilities in digital libraries, for example. Libraries (as organisations) have avoided this due to concerns and traditions around patron privacy, but commercial organisations like Amazon.com have been very aggressive and creative in deploying recommender system technology and other social filtering and personalization technologies. These will find their way into the next generation of digital libraries on the Net."  Web: http://www.acm.org/ubiquity/interviews/c_lynch_1.html. [Source: ShelfLife].

Michael A Keller, Victoria A.  Reich and Andrew C. Herkovic in What Is A Library Anymore, Anyway? (First Monday, 5 May 2003) assert that forecasts of library obsolescence are often the result of projection.  They all too often miss the deeper functions libraries perform. Local custodianship of collections is a key value point for libraries. The extent to which libraries forget their roles as custodians of collections may determine how bright their future turns out to be. [Source Current Cites]. Web: (http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue8_5/keller/).

According to the report Better Public Libraries, published in the UK by Resource and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), libraries enjoy widespread popularity with the British public, with over 96% of survey respondents citing them as a valuable resource to local communities. But, while libraries have been quick to adapt to changing technology, outmoded design and in some cases poor location have led to a decline in patronage of some public libraries. Looking toward the future, the report cites several key trends in library services: (1) libraries increasingly will function as communications centers for residents, business travellers and tourists, with patrons regularly using library PCs for e-mail exchange; (2) virtual library services will be available 24/7 as libraries become more flexible in their hours; (3) library patrons will extend the length of their visits for study purposes, creating a need for ‘comfort zones’ and auxiliary services such as cafes and lounges; (4) children's services will become increasingly important, as libraries promote themselves as safe havens, both in physical location and in cyberspace. [Source: Resource]. Web:  http://www.resource.gov.uk/documents/id874rep.pdf


The Association of Research Libraries has released its ARL Supplementary Statistics 2001-02, indicating that the portion of the library materials budget spent on electronic resources has grown fivefold in the last 10 years - from an estimated 3.6% in 1992­93 to 19.6% in 2001-02. 110 ARL university libraries reported spending more than US$171 million on electronic resources in 2001-02. The vast majority of that amount was spent on electronic serials and subscription services. 48 ARL libraries reported another US$20.3 million was spent on their behalf through centrally funded consortia. In addition to library materials funds, libraries in 2001-02 spent US$12,578,752 for document delivery and interlibrary loan activities and US$25,006,573 for bibliographic utilities, networks, and consortia from their operating funds excluding staff costs. Web: http://www.arl.org/stats/sup/.

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This issue of Cross Currents compiled by Paul Bentley


The Wolanski Foundation would be grateful for feedback on the scope, format and content of this bulletin..


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