The Wolanski Foundation Project

What's new

29 June 2008














Cross Currents No 31 June 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 Museum of Architecture | Australian performing arts collections conference | Ballet Russe in Australia symposium | National Film and Sound Archive | Singapore's Library@Esplanade  DIGITAL REPOSITORIES & DIGITISATION  Australian cultural institutions and

technology | Digital preservation | Digital universe LIBRARIES & LIBRARIANSHIP Library spaces MUSEUMS Museum Computer Network RECORDS & ARCHIVES Community archives | Ephemera SYSTEMS & STANDARDS Australian METS Profile | Open source social software | Searching the Deep Web | Subject guides


Australian Museum of Architecture
Architecture historian Philip Drew has launched a campaign for an Australian Museum of Architecture. Drew hopes the museum will: act as a national lighthouse for architecture and design; stimulate public understanding and appreciation of architecture; present displays on ‘classical’ Australian Aboriginal architecture, individual architects and architectural topics; collect and preserve drawings, records, models, images, videos and contemporary comment; commission research, surveys and retrospectives on leading architects and designers and on Australian architectural history; and host public forums on architectural matters of public concern and lecture series by eminent scholars on Australian architecture.

In Housing Our Best Designs (The Australian 18 June 2008), he reviews designs for such a museum on the Fort Street Primary School site south of Sydney Observatory overlooking the Sydney Opera House, undertaken by design students from the University of NSW Faculty of the Built Environment. In the context of the economic importance of architecture (the building industry is worth more than A$70 billion in Australia), he concludes: “Not only would a national architecture museum educate Australians and encourage sensitivity to design, it would be vital to a growing sense of who we were, our place in the world, and whether what were forming in this place was indeed a bona fide civilisation.” If you would like to record your support, contact Philip Drew at 12 View Street, Annandale, NSW 2038, email (phone 02 9660-8369).

Australian performing arts collections conference
Museums Australia’s Performing Arts Special Interest Group held its 2008 conference at Queensland Performing Arts Centre on 23-24 June. The program included presentations by Richard Fotheringham, Mark Cryle, Clay Djubal, Jenny Fewster, Jonathon Bollan, Richard Stone, Michael Marendy, Gayle MacGregor and others on performing arts collection, online resources and projects. Further details: Beryl Davis

Ballets Russes in Australia symposium
In May 2008, Adelaide played host to a symposium exploring the important influence of the Ballet Russes on the development of classical ballet in Australia. Organised to coincide with the Australian Ballet’s Adelaide season, the seminar took place at the Elder Conservatorium (University of Adelaide) and Adelaide Festival Centre. For further details see the article, Diaghilev’s Legacy by Lee Christofis, (National Library of Australia News March 2009) and

National Film and Sound Archive
The Australian government has passed legislation to establish Screen Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive as separate statutory authorities. Screen Australia brings together the Australian Film Commission, Film Finance Corporation and Film Australia. The National Film and Sound Archive will be separated from the Australian Film Commission and become a national collecting institution in its own right from 1 July 2008.

Singapore’s Library@Esplanade
Low Si Wei describes the growth and evolution, collections and services of The Library@Esplande, Singapore’s first dedicated library of the performing arts, in Continue, the Journal of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres Australian Branch (vol 35/36, 2006/2007). In 2006, the library, attracted 719,957 visits, lent 359,942 items and handled 125,568 enquiries.


Australian cultural institutions and technology
Michael Middleton and Julie M. Lee, in their report Cultural Institutions and Web 2.0 (Smart Internet Technology CRC, November 2007) investigate how Australia’s cultural institutions are taking advantage of Web 2.0 technologies.  Among their observations, based on consultations with representatives from major libraries, archives and museums, are: (1) improvements in access will depend upon improving retrieval capabilities in repository software and rationalisation of descriptive metadata to permit unification of different types of information repositories; (2) audience support may be fostered by the use of software that supports collaborative spaces in conjunction with information resources from institutional repositories; (3) mechanisms for retaining and identifying authority of institutional data must combine a management framework, a design framework, and a technical framework; (4) collaboration by combining distributed collections through federated search mechanisms may be further pursued by inter-institutional development of educational products and extended public and professional participation; (5) current awareness facilities need to be exploited more effectively; (6) metadata continue to provide a foundation for effective retrieval; (7) publishing opportunities are virtually limitless based upon the extent of collections; (8) recordkeeping has the potential to become a process more prominent for all institutions; (9) there is a great deal of potential for exploiting rich Web applications for associating material from distributed repositories, for bringing different metadata to bear on the information that it describes, and for introducing material to and from socially constructed avenues; (10) although seeding of external social networks with information about repositories is a useful exercise, it is unlikely to be sustainable while the process is carried out manually on an ad hoc basis; (11) cultural institutions have the opportunity to contribute to skills development by providing ‘laboratories’ for student projects; (12) there is much to be learnt through social network analysis, supported by suitable metrics; (13) a flexible approach to management of digital content is desirable under the umbrella of wider sector strategy, which responds to the rapid environmental changes. To access the report: Smart Internet Technology CRC

Digital Preservation
Brian F Lavoie in The Fifth Blackbird: Some Thoughts on Economically Sustainable Digital Preservation (Dlib Magazine March/April 2008,, says that “we have not yet established a systematic mapping between general economic models of resource provision and particular digital preservation contexts.” The ease with which we create information in digital form tends to obscure the true cost of maintaining it over long periods of time. Our capacity to produce digital materials far exceeds our capacity to maintain. The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access, funded by the National Science Foundation and Andrew Mellon Foundation with support from the Library of Congress, Joint Information Systems Committee, Council on Library and Information Resources, and National Archives and Records Administration, will review the issue. An interim report is expected by December 2008 and a final report in December 2009. Lavoie says there may not be a single model. A key aspect of the challenge is the need for a transition from "lakes of funding" to "rivers of funding" — from a reliance on project-based, one-time grants of soft money, to the establishment of self-sustaining flows of resources sufficient to support ongoing digital preservation activities. Another challenge is to change perspectives from a micro approach to a macro approach — organising limited institutional preservation resources as community-wide initiatives that produce maximum output of digital preservation activities from a given set of inputs. But economic sustainability is not an issue that can be considered in isolation: it must take into account surrounding technical, social, and legal environments.

Digital universe
John F Gantz, Christopher Chute, Alex Manfrediz and others, in The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe: An Updated Forecast of Worldwide Information Growth through 2011, say that the digital universe is already bigger than the number of stars in the larger universe. In 2007 there were 281 billion gigabytes (281 exabytes) — about 45 gigabytes of digital information for every person on the planet. By 2011, this is expected to grow ten-fold to 1.8 zettabytes (1,800 exabytes). And, because the digital universe is expanding by a factor of 10 every five years, in 15 years it will surpass Avogadro's number (602,200,000, 000,000,000, 000,000). Web: 2264647/The-Diverse-and-Exploding-Digital-Universe-EMC-IDC


Library spaces
The Association of College & Research Libraries and the Library Administration and Management Association have jointly produced a Guide for Planning Higher Education Library Spaces, in response to inquiries from architects about background materials, models and best practices Web:


Museum Computer Network
The Museum Computer Network’s Project Registry, MuseTech Central, provides a place to share information about technology-related museum projects. Although anyone is welcome to browse, only registered users may create new records. Web:


Community archives
The National Archives of Australia has published Keep It For the Future!: How to Set Up Small Community Archives, a 64-page publication available for A$4.95 plus postage and handling. The contents include sections on getting started, collecting records and keeping archives, acquiring and organising archives, preserving archives, access archives, and preparing a disaster recovery plan. Appendixes include sources for further information, archiving software, suppliers and a glossary. May be purchased online from the National Archives of Australia or local NAA offices. Web:   

Lorien Milligan, in The Long Term Significance of Ephemera (Australian Society of Archivists ACT Branch newsletter ACTive Archives, March 2008), reports on a talk at the National Library of Australia on 6 February 2008, Dr Michael Twyman, Director of the Centre of Ephemera Studies, University of Reading, UK. The word ephemera has a Greek lineage and can be translated roughly as “through the day.” Britain's Bodleian Library was the first major cultural institution to form the view that there was value in retaining ephemera, when it purchased an extensive collection from the Oxford University Press in 1968. Without ephemera it is unlikely that a full picture of the work of printers and their allied trades could be formed. “How can you capture an age without ephemera? The value of these passing prints is undeniable, particularly in view of the extraordinary gift received by the National Library last September from the Canadian government – the 1796 Sydney playbill, which we were fortunate enough to see on the night. When two Prime Ministers exchange paper, you know that something momentous has occurred.” Web:


Australian METS Profile
Judith Pearce, David Pearson, Megan Williams and Scott Yeadon in The Australian METS Profile - A Journey about Metadata (D-Lib Magazine March/April 2008), chronicles work towards a common way of packaging and exchanging digital content in a future Australian data commons, using METS (Metadata Exchange Transmission Standard), extended by PREMIS (PREservation Metadata Implementation Strategies). It describes how the main profile and the sub-profile work together and what additional profiling work is planned by the National Library of Australia and its partners to address the needs of the Australian repository and international communities. They conclude: “METS is a good fit for reaching our destination. It is, however, one of a long line of standards developed to meet emerging needs. Standards will continue to be developed to meet changes in technology and the dynamic nature of the digital universe…As part of the international METS community we still have a lot of thinking to do. The community itself is currently reviewing the profile process to move towards best practices, rather than registering solutions developed for specific implementations. Perhaps in an ideal world there would be no need for an Australian METS Profile. In the meantime we are hopeful that chronicling the journey we have taken may be of assistance to those travelling to a similar destination.” Web:

Open source social software
Erik Mitchell and Kevin Gilbertson, in Using Open Source Social Software as Digital Library Interface (DLib Magazine March/April 2008), investigate social software applications as the interface in digital library environments, using as a case study the Digital Forsyth project in the United States Wordpress blogging software for metadata management, data migration and user interface management. They explore technical and sustainability issues, list key questions to ask in selecting existing open source applications, and conclude “We found that the implementation of the user interface was accomplished quickly…Despite the issues that we experienced with metadata management, system assumptions/limitations, and interoperability, overall the use of WordPress lowered our development and maintenance costs. We are hopeful that the system will benefit from increased sustainability and portability as future releases of WordPress are installed, and as special functions are developed and deployed.” Web:

Searching the Deep Web
Joan A. Smith and Mike L. Nelson, in Site Design Impact on Robots: An Examination of Search Engine Crawler Behaviour at Deep and Wide Websites (D-Lib Magazine March / April 2008) examine the conventional wisdom that search engines "prefer" sites that are wide rather than deep and that having a site index will result in more thorough crawling by the Big Three crawlers – Google, Yahoo, and MSN. After creating three sites, they analysed the logs of the sites for a year to see if the conventional wisdom holds true. They found that each spider exhibited different behaviour and crawl persistence. In general, width does appear to be crawled more thoroughly than depth, and providing links on one or two "index" pages improves crawler penetration. Google was quick to reach and explore the new sites, whereas MSN and Yahoo were slow to arrive, and the percentage of site coverage varied by site structure and by top-level domain. Google is clearly king of the crawl: its lowest site coverage was 99%, whereas MSN's worst coverage was 2.5% and Yahoo's worst coverage of a site was 3%. Web:

Jody L DeRidder, in Googlizing a Digital library (Code4Lib Journal, Issue 2, 24 March 2008) describes how to increase access to digital library content by leveraging the capabilities of popular search engines. He provides overview of the problem, discusses solutions being developed, and explores some current methods before concluding: “With the use of the sitemap method of communication with…search engines, the freely available wget software, and a few Perl scripts, dynamically delivered digital library items can be captured statically and provide functionally via web searches…In addition, browse indexes, which serve to increase page ranking in search engine results, also increase usability to consumers.” Web:

Subject guides
Edward A Corrado and Kathryn A. Frederick, in Free and Open Source Options for Creating Database-Driven Subject Guides (Code4Lib Journal, Issue 2, 24 March 2008), review cost-effective options for updating and maintaining pathfinders such as subject guides and course pages. Static HTML guides, while useful, have proven difficult and time-consuming to maintain. The article discusses the functionality, strengths and weakness of open source database-driven solutions (such as SubjectsPlus, LibData, Research Guide and Library Course Builder), Wikis, and social tagging sites like 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..


 About us |  What's new |  Site map | Searching  | Managing  | Learning  |  LibraryResearch 

  Contact us | Home  

© 2007 The Wolanski Foundation Project 

 Email web manager.  URL:

Page last updated: 29 June 2008