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1 March 2008

 

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Cross Currents No 30 March 2008 

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 music information | Australian Screen Online | Digital projects in the humanities | London Theatre Museum | Tunes | UK concert programs | UK digital arts and humanities | US humanities collaboration DIGITAL REPOSITORIES & DIGITISATION Digital lives | Digital preservation | Institutional digital repositories | Newspaper digitisation | Sydney Morning Herald  KNOWLEDGE & INFORMATION MANAGEMENT Open access trends

 

LIBRARIES & LIBRARIANSHIP Blogging about libraries | Libraries in digital information landscapes MUSEUMS Cyberinfrastructure and museums | Online resources and open content licences RECORDS & ARCHIVES Archivopedia | Online archive development SYSTEMS & STANDARDS Bibliographic control | Descriptive metadata practices | Functional requirements for library, archive and museum systems | KNOLS | Library systems | Open source digital archival and preservation systems | Sound preservation | Xena 4.0  

ARTS & HUMANITIES

Australian music information
The Music Council of Australia has added an Australia Knowledge Base to its website incorporating information on music sector performance, support, and statistics. Web: http://www.mca.org.au

Australian Screen Online
The Australian Film Commission, in partnership with other Australian institutions, has developed Australianscreen Online to facilitate access to Australia’s audiovisual heritage. It has information about and excerpts from a wide selection of Australian feature films, documentaries, television programs, newsreels, short films, animations and home-movies produced over the last 100 years. It also includes teachers’ notes identifying and describing the educational values of many of the film clips. Partner institutions include the National Film and Sound Archive, National Archives of Australia, ABC, SBS, and AIATSIS. Web: http://www.australianscreen.com.au

Digital projects in the humanities
Brad Eden’s Innovative Digital Projects in the Humanities (American Library Association’s Library Technology Reports vol 41, no 4 2005) is a directory of humanities web portals, digital projects, associations, conferences, discussion groups, blogs, journals and software. Web: http://www.ala.org

London Theatre Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum has completed the move of its theatre collections from the London Theatre Museum building at Covent Garden, following the decision of the V&A's Board (the Theatre Museum’s parent body) to close the Covent Garden space. In September 2007, the London Theatre Museum offices and staff moved to the V&A at South Kensington, where work is continuing on new plans for the theatre and performance collections, including new permanent galleries at South Kensington, exhibitions and touring displays, education activities, on-line publications and digital projects. The role of the V&A Theatre Collections as the UK’s national collection for the performing arts will not change. The work of documenting performance and developing the collections will continue, and research access to them will continue to be provided at the V&A Collections Centre. Web: http://www.vam.ac.uk/tco/index.html

Tunes
Find the Tunes is a website offering details of songs, artists, bands and free downloads. Web: http://www.FindTheTunes.com.

UK concert programs
The Concert Programmes Project Online Database describes holdings from 1690 to the present day in major libraries, archives and museums throughout the UK and Ireland. Participating institutions include the British Library, Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, national libraries of Scotland and Ireland, Bodleian Library and Trinity College, Dublin. Although based on UK collections, the database covers material from venues in 80 countries worldwide. Collection-level descriptions outline the significance and content of each collection and give details of their physical arrangement, date range, performers and venues. Phase 1 of the project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and jointly hosted by Cardiff University and the Royal College of Music. The database does not include descriptions of individual programs. Web: http://www.concertprogrammes.org.uk

UK digital arts & humanities
The Arts and Humanities Research Council’s ICT Methods Network, in collaboration with several other institutions and communities, has launched the Digital Arts & Humanities site, which aims to promote relevant research through member profiles, blogs, discussion groups, and RSS feeds. Web: http://www.arts-humanities.net/.

US humanities collaboration
The US National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services have invited applications for collaborative digital humanities grants. The program, Advancing Knowledge: the IMLS/NEH Digital Partnership, seeks projects that will “explore new ways to share, examine and interpret humanities collections in a digital environment and develop new uses and audiences for existing digital resources.” Grants are intended “to spur innovation and new collaborations, advance the role of cultural repositories in online teaching, learning and research, and develop collaborative approaches involving the scholarly community and cultural repositories for the creation, management, preservation, and presentation of reusable digital collections and products.” Projects must have at least one museum, library, or archive as an integral member of the project team and seek funds ranging from US$50,000 to US$350,000. Web: http://www.neh.gov/grants/guidelines/Digital_Partnership.html

DIGITAL REPOSITORIES & DIGITISATION

Digital lives
The Digital Lives Research Project is studying personal digital collections. Led by Neil Beagrie of the British Library, and with funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, partner institutions include University College London and University of Bristol. The project began in September 2007 and will run until March 2009. Of particular relevance to memory institutions, it will also be of potential interest to individuals who wish to manage their own personal digital collections for family history or other purposes. Web: http://www.bl.uk/digital-lives/

Digital preservation
Nancy McGovern, in A Digital Decade: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going in Digital Preservation? (RLG DigiNews Vol 11, no 1, April 15, 2007), reviews past developments and future needs in digital preservation. The digital preservation community is coalescing and maturing, she says. Signs of this maturing include the development of accepted standards and practices and an increasingly effective communication network. Standards in archives, libraries, museums and other cultural heritage institutions “are moving towards more comprehensive codification of accepted practice, the promulgation of standards and practice through community channels, and the means to develop and maintain policies and procedures.” Web: http://www.rlg.org/en/page.php?Page_ID=21033#article3.

Institutional digital repositories
The Primary Research Group has published an International Survey of Institutional Digital Repositories, presenting data from 56 institutional digital repositories from eleven countries, including the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, South Africa, India, Turkey and other countries. The 121-page report covers costs, budgets, software, personnel, open access policies, marketing, relations with faculty and other contributors of content, and many other issues relevant to those managing or designing an institutional digital depository. Among its findings: the average institutional digital repository spends US$78,802 in start-up costs and the largest repositories — those requiring 3,600 hours or more annually — have budgets averaging US$145,444. The mean number of journal articles held is 772. Available for purchase at Web: http://www.primaryresearch.com/200711071-Information-Science.html

Newspaper digitisation
Edwin Klijn, in The Current State-of-art in Newspaper Digitization: A Market Perspective (D-Lib Magazine Feb 2008) gives a bird's-eye overview of current technology in the field of newspaper digitisation. “Market trends reflect shifting goals on the side of those that produce the requirements, ie the cultural heritage institutions. There is a growing tendency to open up newspaper collections at the article level. Zoning and segmentation technologies provide article-level access. Also, in an increasing number of newspaper digitization projects, the digitized articles are classified into specific genres such as news items, classified ads, editorials, etc. These technologies can be very labour-intensive, as they are usually semi-automated processes. The accuracy of OCR technology is improving, but – especially for historical texts – there is still a lot that needs to be done.” Web: http://www.dlib.org/

Sydney Morning Herald
The National Library of Australia has received $1 million from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation to support the digitisation of out-of-copyright editions of The Sydney Morning Herald from its inception in 1831 to 1954, as part of a nationwide collaborative effort, coordinated by the Library, to provide free online access to a major daily newspaper from each state and territory, from the first newspaper published in 1803 through to 1954. The $8 million newspaper digitisation program, involving millions of pages of content, began this year. The Herald project will cost an additional $1.7million, with $700,000 contributed by the Library, and is expected to be completed in 2009. Other titles in the digitisation program include: The Sydney Gazette; The Maitland Mercury; The Argus; The Courier-Mail; The Hobart Town Gazette; The Advertiser; and The West Australian. For more information about the program, see http://www.nla.gov.au/ndp

KNOWLEDGE & INFORMATION MANAGEMENT

Open access trends
Peter Suber, in his SPARC Open Access Newsletter, January 2008, pinpoints 13 open access trends of the past year. Among them: (1) The compelling case for mandating OA for publicly-funded research spread even further in 2007; (2) OA journals and repositories grew vigorously in 2007; (3) the hybrid OA journal model, publishing both OA and non-OA articles in the same journal, generally charging a publication fee for the OA articles, expanded in 2007, but much more slowly than in 2006; (4) with or without mandates, more governments committed themselves to OA for publicly-funded data; (5) book-scanning projects grew significantly in 2007; (6) more countries and institutions saw the logic of OA for electronic theses and dissertations; (7) there was an explosion of interest in OA videos for scholarship, research, and education; (8) there was a flurry of activity in what could be called the Wikipedia neighborhood; (9) more and more OA discussions zeroed in on the details of open licenses; and (10) open access to courseware and other teaching and learning materials surged in 2007. Web: http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/

LIBRARIES & LIBRARIANSHIP

Blogging about libraries
Meredith Farkas, in The Bloggers Among Us (Library Journal, 15 December 2007), after surveying the "biblioblogosphere", found among other things that (1) there are many more bloggers in the library community than before; (2) women have begun to close the blogging gap with their male counterparts, and (3) the number of public librarians blogging has also increased in comparison to academic librarians. Web: http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6510669.html.

Libraries in a digital information landscape
Eric Lease Morgan, in Today's Digital Information Landscape (Musings on Information and Librarianship, 1 December 2007), after exploring MARC and XML, databases and indexing, networks and relationships, institutional repositories and open access, and library cataloguing concludes: "The principles of collection, organization, preservation and dissemination are extraordinarily relevant in today’s digital landscape. The advent of the globally networked computers, Internet Indexes and mass digitization projects have not changed this fact. If anything, they highlight the need for these processes even more. Libraries are just one of many players in the information universe. It is increasingly important to adapt to the changing landscape and at the same time bring new value to the collections and services we provide. It is not so much about the what we doing. It more about the how.” Web: http://infomotions.com/musings/digital-landscape/.

MUSEUMS

Cyberinfrastructure and museums
Academic Commons December 2007 is devoted to cyberintrastructure and the liberal arts and is dedicated to the memory of Roy Rosenzweig (1950-2007, http://thanksroy.org/). A section on colleges and museums, includes: David Green’s Museums, Cataloging & Content Infrastructure: An Interview with Kenneth Hamma and John Weber’s College Museums in a Networked Era--Two Propositions.

Kenneth Hamma says museum digitisation is “about attitude and a willingness to invest effort. The Pacific Asia Museum is a good example. It doesn't have the budget of the other large institutions in LA and yet it was among the most successful in taking advantage of this opportunity from the Getty's electronic cataloging initiative. They were very clear about the fact that they wanted to create a digital surrogate of everything in their collection, do some decent cataloging and documentation and make it available. That just sounds so perfectly obvious.”

John Webster, on college museums, argues for (1) the importance of networked digital technologies to the mission of the college museum, and (2) the potential importance of the college museum in teaching forms of visual literacy. “If [they] are to play an even more essential and intriguing role in higher education, museums of all varieties must explore how [they] can function as a core aspect of the overall teaching effort of institutions, and how [they] can regularly address multiple disciplines in exhibitions.” Web: http://www.academiccommons.org/).

Online resources and open content licences
Eduserv, the not-for-profit IT services group, has published a study which reveals that while many UK museums, libraries and archives share their collections online with the public, the majority are not familiar with the use of open content licences which would allow the public to use texts, images and other materials legally for their own projects. About 40 percent were unfamiliar with open licensing and only 22 respondents are currently using or planning to use open licences. Of the digital material being made available, the organisations surveyed were most likely to share text and images online. Multimedia materials were among those that many organisations were planning to make available for the first time. In contrast, many organisations surveyed did not have audio materials available online, nor were they intending to do so in the future. Web: http://www.eduserv.org.uk

RECORDS & ARCHIVES

Archivopedia
Archivopedia is a new wiki-based encyclopedia for people who want to write, edit and create articles about terms, important individuals, news and issues of interest to archivists, librarians, records managers and museum professionals. Web: http://archivopedia.com/

Online archive development
Ian G. Anderson, in Necessary but Not Sufficient: Modelling Online Archive Development in the UK, (D-Lib Magazine January/February 2008), gives a framework for evaluating the state of online archives and indicates potential paths for future development. He concludes: “As it stands, the majority of UK archives are providing the necessary, if sometimes basic, range of information and services that support different archive functions and user needs…However, UK archives overall are far from providing online services that are sufficient to reflect the full range of their services in the analogue world. In particular, the development of online finding aids, digitised content and material to support different types of user require more development…Making more use of hub services (particularly to implement Web 2.0 technologies), integrating local versions of hub finding aids back into repository web sites and harnessing user input may lift the burden of service delivery sufficiently to enable archives to accelerate the development of their online presence. In the meantime, there are a range of relatively minor steps that a large number of archives could take that would greatly enhance their online presence. Indicating the extent to which holdings are represented in online finding aids is one obvious example. Linking existing exhibition material to finding aids, tailoring research and source guides to particular users, providing more extensive external links and providing more information on the range of services, policies and practices that archives have are all small, but valuable, steps archives could take.” Web: http://www.dlib.org

SYSTEMS & STANDARDS

Bibliographic control
The Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, convened by the Library of Congress, has released On the Record, its report on the future of bibliographic description in light of advances in search engine technology, the popularity of the Internet and the influx of electronic information resources. The report presents findings on how bibliographic control and other descriptive practices can effectively support management of and access to library materials in the evolving information and technology environment, recommends ways in which the library community can collectively move toward achieving this vision, and advise the Library of Congress on its role and priorities.

Three broad guiding principles form the foundation of the report: bibliographic control is broader than cataloguing; the bibliographic universe has moved beyond libraries, publishers and database producers to include creators, vendors, distributors, stores, and user communities, among others, across sectors and international boundaries; and it is neither feasible nor necessarily appropriate for the Library of Congress to continue to perform all its assumed roles. 

It makes five general recommendations: (1) increase the efficiency of bibliographic production for all libraries through cooperation and sharing of bibliographic records and through use of data produced in the overall supply chain; (2) transfer effort into high-value activity — particularly for knowledge creation by leveraging access for unique materials held by libraries that are currently hidden and underused; (3) position technology by recognising that the World Wide Web is libraries’ technology platform as well as the appropriate platform for standards; (4) position the library community for the future by adding evaluative, qualitative and quantitative analyses of resources, particularly in realising the potential of the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records framework; and (5) strengthen the library and information science profession through education and development of metrics that will inform decision-making. The Working Group hopes that the report will be viewed as a “call to action” that “informs and broadens participation in discussion and debate, conveys a sense of urgency, stimulates collaboration, and catalyzes thoughtful and deliberate action” and “looks forward to the development of specific implementation plans, research agendas, and educational programs.” Web: http://www.loc.gov/bibliographic-future/

Descriptive metadata practices
The Research Libraries Group has published the results of a descriptive metadata practices survey involving 18 RLG partners in the United States and the United Kingdom with "multiple metadata creation centers" on campus that included interacting libraries, archives, and museums. Its aim was to gain a baseline understanding of current descriptive metadata practices and dependencies with a view to changing metadata creation processes. There were some expected variations in practice across libraries, archives and museums, as well as high levels of customisation and local tool development. This produces limited opportunities for sharing tools and practices, highlights the lack of confidence institutions have in the effectiveness of their tools, the disconnect between their interest in creating metadata to serve their primary audiences and the inability to serve that audience within the most commonly used discovery systems (such as Google). The reports are available at http://www.oclc.org/programs/publications/.

Functional requirements for library, archive and museum records
Brad Eden’s Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (Library Technology Reports vol 42, no 6, November/December 2006) provides an overview and list of annotated sources in relation to FRBR — it’s impact on current standards, application studies, FRBR implementations, relation to other models and types — such as ISAD (G) and Archives — and other functional requirements. Other functional requirements include FRAR (Functional Requirements for Authority Records), FRMAR (Functional Requirements for Numbering of Authority Records), FRSAR (Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Records), FRVRR Functional Requirements for Visual Resources Records), FROR (Functional Requirements for Object Records) and FRDA (Functional Requirements for Describing Agents). According to Eden: "It has become apparent to library administrators the current organizational arrangement and division of operations of technical services and public services is not sustainable either financially or organizationally. The clear imperative is: libraries need to be able to morph, change, reengineer, and strategically invest and train personnel and resources toward a future in which information is no longer controlled or held by the library, but by a large number of publishing and service conglomerates for whom there is little incentive to think about issues, such as persistent access, preservation, or standardization of digital objects....We have neither the money nor the market dominance that companies like Google, Amazon and eBay have in the new information environment; we must change, and we must change now! FRBR and its subsequent follower abbreviations and/or acronyms may be able to provide the marketability and viability towards this new direction. Only time will tell." Web: http://www.techsource.ala.org/ltr/

KNOLS
Google has invited selected people to test a new, free tool called Knol, aimed at encouraging people to write authoritative articles on topics and seen by some as a rival to Wikipedia. Editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors. Google will rank pages to enhance search quality. Once testing is completed, participation in Knol will be completely open.

Library systems
Marshall Breeding, in Perceptions 2007: An International Survey of Library Automation (9 January 2008, http://www.librarytechnology.org/perceptions2007.pl) explores perceptions of library systems and their vendors by looking at customer satisfaction dimensions. The article complements his annual Automated Systems Marketplace in the Library Journal (http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6429251.html).

Open source digital archival and preservation systems
Kevin Bradley, Junran Lei and Chris Blackall’s report for the UNESCO Memory of the World Sub-Committee on Technology, Towards an Open Source Repository and Preservation System: Recommendations on the Implementation of an Open Source Digital Archival and Preservation System and on Related Software Development (Paris, 2007), defines the requirements for a digital archival and preservation system using standard hardware and describes a set of open source software which could be used to implement it. It recommends that UNESCO (1) establish a steering committee to support the development of a single package open source digital preservation and access repository; (2) support a pilot project with a number of communities or institutions who can articulate their requirements and act as beta testers of such a system; (3) through that and other committees and projects, influence and support the development of specific software; (4) investigate the development of solutions to the system gaps noted in this report, particularly in the area of preservation planning and archival storage systems; (5) support the integration of a number of open source tools to develop a single package open source repository system; (6) encourage the development of federated and cooperative approaches through the adoption of standard data packages; (7) ensure that, low cost notwithstanding, the solution is based in international standards and best practice; (8) support and expand existing training and education to include technical training in the envisaged system in parallel with work on intellectual property and cultural rights; (9) liaise with existing open source distributors to support these aims. Web://portal.unesco.org.

Sound preservation
The Sound Directions project at Harvard University and Indiana University has published Sound Directions: Best Practices for Audio Preservation, dealing with personnel and equipment for preservation transfer, digital files, metadata, storage, preservation packages and interchange, and audio preservation systems and workflows. Web: www.dlib.indiana.edu/projects/sounddirections/.

Xena 4.0
The National Archive of Australia’s has made available the 4.0 version of Xena software as a free and open source tool for digital preservation. Xena (Xml Electronic Normalising for Archives).may be used as a desktop application to determine file formats and convert files into standards based, open formats. New features include an export facility (un-Xenafy), a default audio plug-in, an image file metadata device and an archive plug-in. Web: http://xena.sourceforge.net.

This issue of Cross Currents compiled by Paul Bentley

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