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1 November 2005














Cross Currents No 24 November 2005 

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 Australian Network for Early European Research | Cyberinfrastructure for Social Sciences | Theatres in Melbourne


CONVERGENCE & COLLABORATION Higher education services for general public | Libraries, archives and museums


DIGITISATION & DIGITISATION Approaches and funding | Costume collections | Enabling research and education | Future - wider deployment? | Future - a single digital library? | Institutional repositories | Mass digitisation programs | OAIster | Personal digital collections | Tools 


KNOWLEDGE & INFORMATION MANAGEMENT Complexity | Higher education information environment | Information abundance | Orphan works | Talent economy


MUSEUMS Museums Association strategy


RECORDS & ARCHIVAL MANAGEMENT Information black holes, digital tsunamis, data under the desk and fading memories | International archival gateways | NZ Electronic Recordkeeping Systems Standard


STANDARDS & SYSTEMS Automated metadata generation | Collection management software | Digitising newspapers | Gateway standardisation ] The invisible web | Library automation | Personal resource portal tool | Search software | Subject Portals Project | Thesauruses and authority control | XOBIS


Australian Network for Early European Research
Toby Burrows presented the paper Reinventing the Humanities in a Networked Environment: the Australian Network for Early European Research at the UK Digital Resources in the Humanities conference in September 2005. The Network for Early European Research (NEER), with funding from the Australian Research Council and based at the University of Western Australia, aims to broaden and deepen research in the field of medieval and early modern studies. Its digital agenda has two complementary strands – the provision of access to commercial databases and creation of resources for and by the Network itself. It has negotiated access to selected ProQuest and Brepols databases for participants in small, isolated institutions. It hosts links to an electronic version of the refereed Australian and New Zealand journal, Parergon, which is available directly to subscribers as well as through services like Project Muse in North America. It has established its own digital repository for research, including articles, books and conference papers. It is promoting and improving access to relevant objects in Australian public collections, aided by partnerships with libraries, museums and galleries. Other intentions include the development of postgraduate skills and partnerships with commercial database providers. Web: Paper abstract at

Cyberinfrastructure for Social Sciences
The National Science Foundation’s report NSF SBE-CISE Workshop on Cyberinfrastructure and the Social Sciences (May 2005) explores tools, economics, impacts and other issues relating to the development of cyberinfrastructure for the social and behavioral sciences. Recommendations revolve around better ways of collecting and using data sets, improving communication systems, redesigning the Internet, developing better trends and decision support systems, and improving productivity and effectiveness. Web:

Theatres in Melbourne
Louise Blake, in Rescuing the Regent Theatre (Provenance: the Journal of Public Record Office Number 4, 2005), explores the origins of the Regent Theatre and other Melbourne theatres and the campaign to save them in the 1960s and 1970s. Web:


Higher education service for general public
Di Martin, in The M25 Consortium Initiatives on Resource Discovery (New Review of Academic Librarianship vol 10, no 2, 2004: 139-153) discusses issues and challenges for regional resource discovery through the InforM25, a service that integrates online services for higher education and research communities and the general public in London. Web:
Libraries, archives and museums
The Research Libraries Group’s RLG News Fall 2005 highlights issues discussed at the New York forum Libraries, Archives and Museums: Three-ring Circus, or One Big Show? Michael Fox, Minnesota Historical Society said: “In a world where educational and cultural institutions face dwindling financial support, both private and public, none of us will thrive unless we can make the case that we provide compelling, essential, and unique value to a significant public.” Kenneth Soehner, Metropolitan Museum of Art, said: “Librarians are fanatical about cooperative projects…But all of these consortial arrangements have necessitated very few changes, structural, organisational, or philosophical, within the individual organisations. These are exchange or contractual relationships. They are additive, as opposed to transformational.” Wendy Duff, from the University of Toronto, said: “Convergence does not mean homogeneity.” Speakers suggested that that the sectors create alignment by retooling educational programs in order to connect professionals early on in their careers. Web:
Eulalia Roel, in The MOSC project: Using the OAI-PMH to Bridge Metadata Cultural Differences Across Museums, Archives, and Libraries (Information Technology and Libraries vol 24, no 1 2005, pp 22-24) discuss the Music of Social Change (MOSC) project, undertaken by Emory University Libraries, in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the Atlanta History Center, and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, to develop a new model for library-museum-archives collaboration. The project will use OAI-PMH as a tool to bridge widely varying metadata standards and practices across museums, archives, and libraries. Web:
The Journal of Internet Cataloging, volume 7, no 1, 2004, available via Hawthorn Press, focuses on collaborative access to virtual museum collection information. Articles include Searching for Nirvana: Cataloging and the Digital Collection at the Experience Music Project by Marsha Maguire and others (pp.9-31), looking at the development of rules and tools for cataloguing artefacts and their digital reproductions in Seattle’s Experience Music Project (, an interactive museum dedicated to rock 'n' roll and other forms of popular music. Kody Janney’s Collaborative Cataloging: Using Dublin Core to United Local Heritage Organizations (pp 33-48) discusses a project by University of Washington Libraries, Museum of History & Industry and other small local heritage organisations to make available selected images online with assistance from IMLS ( Elizabeth Nelson and Laurie Gemmill in Building a Common Catalog for Cultural Heritage Repositories: A Case Study of the Ohio Memory Online Scrapbook (pp 49-63) look at the development of a catalogue of resources in over 300 cultural heritage repositories in Ohio, involving use of Dublin Core, other metadata standards and adoption of controlled vocabularies. (
Library Hi Tech, vol 23, no 2, 2005 http://www.emeraldinsight.lht.htm includes Ken Middleton’s Collaborative digitization programs: a multifaceted approach to sustainability (pp 145-150) and Katherine Wisser’s Meeting Metadata Challenges in the Consortial Environment: Metadata Coordination for North Carolina Exploring Cultural Heritage Online (pp 164-171).


Approaches and funding 
RLG Diginews August 15, 2005 includes Watch This Space: Ten Promising Digital Preservation Initiatives. The promising initiatives are: The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (such as ECHO DEPository Project), Digital Archiving and Long-Term Preservation program (such as Incentives for Data Producers to Create Archive-ready Data Sets), Supporting Digital Preservation and Asset Management in Institutions Program (such as Digital Asset Management Tool) , the Metadata Research Center projects (such as Metadata Generation Research), SURF programs (such as Digital Academic Repositories – DARE), Systemic Infrastructure Initiative (such as Australian Partnerships for Sustainable Repositories), JISC’s Digital Preservation and Records Management programs (such as Digital Curation Centre), Andrew L Mellon Foundation programs (such as Auditing and Certification of Digital Archives), DELOS Digital Preservation Cluster programs (such as Digital Preservation Cluster), and National Archives and Records Administration research programs (such as Virtual Archives Laboratory). Web:

Costume collections
Jeff Trzeciak presented the paper Developing a Collaborative Library/Museum Historic Garment Database at the UK Digital Resources in the Humanities conference in September 2005. The paper describes steps for creating two-dimensional image databases representing three-dimensional museum objects for the purpose of instruction, based on on the Digital Dress project at Wayne State University. The project digitised the Dorothea June Grossbart Historic Costume Collection of over 400 garments and accessories from the 19th and 20th centuries. With a grant of US$250,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the project expanded to include metadata and images from Detroit Historical Museums, Henry Ford Museum and Meadow Brook Hall. Conference abstract: Costume collections:
Enabling research and education
The US National Science Board has released a report by Chris Greer, Long-Lived Digital Data Collections: Enabling Education and Research in the 21st Century. The report is critical of the National Science Foundation’s piecemeal, incremental approach for managing digital data. It proposes strategies revolving around clear technical and financial requirements and recommends: (1) clarification of current investments in resource and reference digital data collections; (2) development of an agency-wide umbrella strategy for supporting and advancing long-lived digital data collections; (3) evaluation of ‘community–proxy functions’ acquired and supported by organisations; (4) more effective evaluation of digital data components or research proposals; (5) ensuring that relevant education and training are available and effectively delivered; and (6) development of career paths for data scientists to ensure that the research enterprise includes a sufficient number of high-quality data scientists. Web:

Future – wider deployment?
Clifford Lynch, in Where Do We Go From Here? The Next Decade for Digital Libraries (D-Lib July/August 2005), begins: “The field of digital libraries has always been poorly defined, a ‘discipline’ of amorphous borders and crossroads, but also of atavistic resonance and unreasonable inspiration” attracting dreamers and engineers, visionaries and entrepreneurs, a diversity of social scientists, lawyers, scientists and technicians and librarians. Compelling areas for future research and development include: personal information management and related digital medical records, e-portfolios in the education environment, the overall shift of communications to email, and the amassing of very large personal collections of digital content; long term relationships between humans and information collections and systems; the role of digital libraries, digital collections and other information services in supporting teaching, learning, and human development, from early childhood to old age; and active environments for computer supported collaborative work offer the starting point for another research program. He concludes: “Perhaps the overarching connecting and integrating digital libraries with broader individual, group and societal activities, and doing this across meaningful time horizons that recognize digital libraries and related constructs as an integral and permanent part of the evolving information environment. The next decade for digital libraries may well be characterised most profoundly by the transition from technologies and prototypes to the ubiquitous, immersive, and pervasive deployment of digital library technologies and services in the broader information and information technology landscape.” Web:

Future – a single digital library?
William A. Arms in A Viewpoint Analysis of the Digital Library (D-Lib July/August 2005) explores the question, should digital libraries be self-sufficient islands or should we strive for a single global digital library? He says we need to rethink specifications and evaluation of digital libraries, which tend to be based on an organisational viewpoints rather than user viewpoints. “About twenty years ago, independent computer networks began to merge into the single unified Internet that we take for granted today. Perhaps now is the time for digital libraries to strive for the same transition, to a single Digital Library.” Web:

Institutional repositories
D-Lib September 2005 has two articles analysing institutional repositories. In the first, Gerard van Westrienen and Clifford Lynch, in Academic Institutional Repositories: Deployment Status in 13 Nations as of mid 2005, conclude that, although institutional repositories are becoming well established as campus infrastructure components, their development is still at a very immature stage. The acquisition of content is still the central issue for most institutional repositories. It will be important to gain a better understanding of the extent to which institutional repositories are necessary and of their part in a broader national and international context the managing scholarly materials. In the second, Institutional Repository Deployment in the United States as of Early 2005, Clifford Lynch and Joan Lippincott conclude that they “represent a critically important new policy and operational role for research libraries, and one that renews their connection with the core academic processes of the university”. Web:

Mass digitisation programs
Brian Lavoie, Lynn Connaway and Lorcan Dempsey, in Anatomy of Aggregate Collections: the Example of Google Print for Libraries (D-Lib September 2005, look at collection overlap and uniqueness patterns in the context of large-scale digitisation programs such as the Google initiative. They conclude: “As mass digitization programs become more common, many are likely to originate within the library community itself, rather than through external organizations like Google. For library-initiated..programs especially, it is imperative that digitization efforts 1) are organized in ways that leverage available resources to maximize community benefits, and 2) reflect a digitization strategy that is conscious of system-wide implications. Careful analysis of proposed digitization programs, using the best data sources at hand, helps decision-makers anticipate and shape the impact of these programs in ways that contribute toward the realization of both of these objectives.” Web:
Katerina Hagedorn, in Looking for Pearls (Research Information, March/April 2005), reports on the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting and associated OAIster service at the University of Michigan, which provides access to over 4.8 million metadata records from research institutions around the world. She outlines procedures used and future plans for the service. Web:
Personal digital collections
Neil Beagrie, in Plenty of Room at the Bottom? Personal Digital Libraries and Collections (D-Lib Magazine vol 11, no 6, June 2005), looks at personal digital collections of photos, videos and blogs. He concludes: “The growing abundance of personal data and collection…will present numerous challenges to individuals…how to physically secure such material sometimes over decades, how to protect privacy, how to organize and extract information and to use it effectively, and for material intended to be shared, how to effectively present and control access by different groups of users. [The] shift towards personal collections, and to services aimed at supporting activity from the desktop, will also lead to new forms of shared services, publishers and information banks, and will reinforce informal social networks and mechanisms of communication…The digital material in many of these personal collections is likely to be as significant for future users of historic collections as their paper equivalents are today, providing it survives for future access. Personal digital collections should become a major area of interest for research collections.” Web:
The Arts and Humanities Data Service has published a number of information papers on digitisation projects. Titles include Planning and Managing Digital Resource Creation Projects, The Digitisation Process, Metadata for Your Digital Resource, Copyright and Other Rights Issues in Digitisation, and Why bother with Digitisation? The latter concludes: “Digitising has many benefits, not least the large number of users that can access and contribute to a digital resource. But digitisation is not an end in itself, nor should users be taken for granted. Evaluating the uses that a resource can support, and understanding how those uses can be expanded is critical to the success of any digitisation project. Decisions made early in the digitisation process can both reduce and expand the ability of a resource to meet these expected uses, so it makes sense to consider these uses at an early stage”. Web:


David Singer and Sara Moulton Reger, in The Many Facets of Complexity (IBM Think Research, 2005), discuss characteristics, problems and solutions relating to unthinking, chosen, diffused and layered complexity within organisations. Web:
Higher education information environment
Andy Powell, in The JISC Resource Discovery Environment: a Personal Reflection on the JISC Information Environment and Related Activities May 2005, looks at the way resource discovery technologies are deployed across the UK higher and further education community. Topics discussed, with 26 associated recommendations, include: service oriented architectures, the maturity of the environment, manual versus automated approaches, the Semantic Web, community-led approaches, peer-to-peer approaches, managing complex objects, metasearching and search interfaces, portals and shared infrastructure. Web:

Information abundance
Tom Storey, in The Long Tail and Libraries (OCLC Newsletter no 268, 2005: 6-9), looks at Wired Magazine Chris Anderson’s ‘long tail business model’ for the digital age and assesses the role of libraries in this abundant digital future in which bottlenecks that stand between supply and demand disappear and everything becomes available to everyone. “Basically, the Long Tail says that big changes are in store—in fact, already taking place—as a new digital media and entertainment economy emerges. Digitization and e-delivery are radically changing economic fundamentals and creating new markets for millions of niche items. No longer are megahits, blockbusters and best-sellers designed for mass audiences, the Holy Grail to success and riches. The digital environment, with its low storage and distribution costs, offers a viable alternative: aggregating the obscure and unpopular with the popular and widely celebrated use of an automated recommendation system to link the two. The new economy is one based on abundance, infinite availability and unlimited shelf space and is driving Internet companies like Amazon and iTunes and NetFlix. They use personalization features and software filters—the user recommendations that say ‘users that like this item also like’—to help users move from the popular to the obscure in the tail of abundance.” Web:

Orphan works
The US Copyright Office has launched a major examination of the "orphan works" problem -- the huge number of works that are still under copyright but where the copyright owner cannot reasonably be found, thus blocking use of the work. Associated documentation is available at

Talent economy
Malcolm Gillies, in Rethinking Australian Innovation: the Talent Economy (National Press Club 17 August 2005), outlines the principles behind the ‘talent economy’, talks about why it is supplanting the idea of an economy based on knowledge, and describe the steps Australia can take to keep pace in a competitive world. Despite a considerable investment by Government, Australia still sits in the middle of the pack in the OECD list of innovative countries. Australia’s policies on innovation have been set too cautiously. Its policies have innovative products rather than innovative processes in mind. They still reflect the mindset of technology transfer. We need to re-think the game plan. We have become hung up on knowledge, when we should be concentrating our efforts on building the long-term capabilities of our most talented people both through education and through research. Web:


Museums Association strategy
In the UK, the Museums Association’s Collections for the Future considers collective opinion from a drawn-out survey and presents the association’s strategy for positioning underused museum collections to “reassert the place of their collections at the heart of the public realm.” Museums should do more to expand the opportunities open to people to engage with collections, provide better information about their resources, and invest in digitisation programs. The sector needs increased collaboration, more investment in training, development and succession planning, more of a focus on developing the potential of collections, better communication, better links with the higher education sector. There is a shortfall in expertise, talent is wasted, and too many energetic and committed people leave the sector. Museums need to pool their resources by working across institutional boundaries. The idea of defining a comprehensive ‘distributed national collection’, covering all disciplines, is unrealistic. There is resistance among museums to an over-centralised approach to collecting. A judicious approach is needed that leaves room for personal vision, is discriminating and selective, and encourages museums to work together when appropriate, without imposing a rigid centralised approach. Action springing from this assessment revolves around the catch-cries engagement, the dynamic collection, and strengthening the museum sector. They encourage debate and research, working with the Art Fund and other appropriate bodies, investigating ways of supporting museums in the transferring of collections to more appropriate institutions, seeking ways to work in partnership with the Local Government Association and higher education bodies, workforce development, and exploring models of collaboration, including investment in subject-based networks. Web:


Information black holes, digital tsunamis, data under the desk, and fading memories
David Talbot, in The Fading Memory of the State (Technology Review, July 2005), interviews Allen Weinstein, the Archivist of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), about NARA’s Electronic Records Archives (ERA) project, which attempts to deal with the pending "tsunami" of digital records in government agencies. Currently, NARA holds only a small quantity of electronic records. It has an inadequate system for taking in more data. A tremendous backlog has built up. Born digital material follows a convoluted electronic path. Data formats are often incompatible. Electronic storage media has a limited lifespan. Electronic records rot much faster than paper ones. There are questions about the preservation of digital ‘marginalia’, digital tidbits and email. Although more data will be generated in the next three years than in the previous 1000 years, US Air Force historian, Eduard Mark, among others, has commented on the disappearance of important historical information in the digital age, including for example, information on the US 1989 invasion of Panama. NARA has hired two contractors, Harris Corporation and Lockheed Martin, to develop solutions drawing on initiatives elsewhere, such as Australia’s open-source software XENA (for XML Electronic Normalising of Archives), which attempts to convert records into a standardised format able to read by future technologies, the Library of Congress’s US$100 million digital preservation program, and MIT’s Dspace. The future calls for a new kind of information professional - a data curator with an historian's eye, a computer scientist's understanding of storage technologies, and a librarian's fluency with metadata. Web:

International archival gateways
In May 2005, a meeting on international archival gateways, organised by the Research Libraries Group in the US and National Archives in the UK, explored standards, tools, business models, users, leadership, partners, funding models, discovery strategies, culture and language issues and recommended that an RLG working group continue to examine issues and begin work on a set of international interoperability protocols. Web:

NZ Electronic Recordkeeping Systems Standard
Archives New Zealand has released Electronic Recordkeeping Systems Standard as a discretionary best practice standard in New Zealand public offices and local authorities. The standard defines a set of functional specifications for electronic recordkeeping systems based on the European Union's Model Requirements for the Management of Electronic Records ('MoReq') specification. Web:


Automated metadata generation
The Library of Congress’s Final Report for the AMeGA (Automatic Metadata Generation Applications) Project, prepared by Jane Greenberg and others, February 2005, evaluates current automatic metadata generation functionalities supported by content creation software and automatic metadata generation applications, reviews automatic metadata generation functionalities supported by integrated library systems, and surveys metadata experts to determine which aspects of metadata generation are most amenable to automation. It concludes that there is a disconnection between experimental research and application development and that metadata generation applications could be vastly improved by integrating experimental research findings. Although most people support automatic metadata generation, they favour an approach that also facilitates manual intervention. The report recommends that the Library of Congress: build an automatic metadata generation application; foster and facilitate research on automatic metadata generation; implement mechanisms for communicating and negotiating with content creation software vendors. Web:

Collection management software
OCLC has released the latest version of CONTENTdm, its digital collection management software for libraries and other cultural heritage institutions. CONTENTdm software offers a set of tools for managing and delivering access to digital collections of historical documents, photos, newspapers, audio and video on the Web. Enhancements include fast multiple document entry, increased security for items, and reporting improvements. Web:

Digitising newspapers
A report and presentations from the OCLC seminar Digitizing Historic Newspapers: A Practical Approach, July 2005, are available at:

Gateway standardisation
Brian Kelly, Amanda Closier, and Debra Hiom, in Gateway Standardization: A Quality Assurance Framework for Metadata (Library Trends vol 53 no 4 2005: 637-650), describe a quality assurance framework and self-assessment toolkit to support the Joint Information Systems Committee's digital library programs in the UK and its application to metadata. Web:

The invisible Web
Yanbo Ru and Ellis Horrowitz, in Indexing the Invisible Web: a Survey (Online Information Review vol 29 no 3 2005; p. 249-265), identify the challenges and problems underlying work in this area. Existing technologies and tools for indexing the invisible web follow one of two strategies: indexing the site interface or examining a portion of the contents of an invisible site and indexing the results. Web:

Library automation
Roland Dietz and Carl Grant, in The Dis-Integrating World of Library Automation (Library Journal, 15 June 2005), say that working together librarians and vendors can solve the problems that hamper innovation. “To do so, library systems must no longer solely deal with the internal flows of cataloging, circulation, acquisitions, serials, and OPACs but rather must be compatible with other internal systems and…external systems…For librarians to understand how they need to integrate into the larger information landscape, they first must spend equal amounts of time looking internally and externally. Seeking out discussions on the future at library conferences can be frustrating. Most sessions report on the past. The exhibit floor, where clues to the future can be found, is frequently all too empty….Attendees return home filled with more ideas of how things are being done, rather than how things will be done.” Areas requiring attention: integration with other services, such as virtual learning, distance education, or web searching, development of service models, e-commerce, institutional repositories (instead of digital library systems or digital asset management systems), and open source software. Web:

Personal resource portal tool
Edward Almasy, in Tools for Creating Your Own Resource Portal: CWIS and the Scout Portal Toolkit (Library Trends, vol 53, no 4, 2005: 620-636), examines the open source software packages, Scout Portal Toolkit (SPT) and the Collection Workflow Integration System (CWIS), which are inexpensive to maintain and operate and easy for nontechnical staff to download, set up, and populate with metadata. Web:

Search software
ISYS Search Software has released ISYS:web 7, the company’s enterprise search solution for public Web sites, corporate intranets and portals targeting small to medium organisations and departments of large enterprises. Web:

Subject Portals Project
Marieke Guy, in Lessons and Outcomes From The Subject Portals Project (Vine vol 35, no ½ 2005: 58-63), investigates the purpose of the Subject Portals Project and the viability of using Open Source. It says that portal functionality is the key aspect of presenting data to users. A supplementary approach is to create portable functions or portlets that can be incorporated into other services. Web: Vine:

Thesauruses and authority control
Cataloging & Classification Quarterly vol. 37 no 3-4, 2003 on thesauruses includes the following articles: Distributed Thesaurus Web Services by Eric H. Johnson (pp 121-153) and Tools of the Trade: Vocabulary Management Software by Melissa A. Riesland (pp 155-176). Volume 38 (2004) no. 3/4 on the theme, Authority Control in Organizing and Accessing Information: Definition and International Experience, has the following articles: Authority Control in the World of Metadata by José Borbinha (pp 105-116), Creator Description: Encoded Archival Context by Daniel V. Potto (pp 201-226), LEAF: Linking and Exploring Authority Files by Jutta Weber (pp 227-236), NACO: A Cooperative Model for Building and Maintaining a Shared Name Authority Database by John D. Byrum, Jr (pp 237-249) and Creating Up-To-Date Corporate Name Authority Records By Using Official Corporate Home Web Pages by Qiang Jin (pp 281-290).

Dick R. Miller, in XOBIS - An Experimental Schema for Unifying Bibliographic and Authority Records (Cataloging & Classification Quarterly vol 39 nos3/4 2005, pp 285-303), discusses XOBIS, an experimental XML schema which reorganises bibliographic and authority data elements into a single, integrated structure and attempts to create a middle path between the complexity of MARC and the oversimplification of the Dublin Core. Web:

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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