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4 September 2001














Cross Currents No 4 Sep 2001 

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.



The  Australian Society of Association Executives held its New South Wales Branch Conference in Sydney on 30 August 2001 under the theme The Electronic Future: Associations Embracing Change. 

Allen Blewitt, CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia (ICAA), outlined how his organisation, with 35,000 members, has refocused its energies on stronger customer service using technology.

Its mission statement - to be the organisation of first choice for leading business, finance and knowledge professionals -  is an indication of the degree to which information technology is producing a convergence of interests in the business world and an indication of the spirit of optimism that pervades many associations wanting to cast their net beyond their traditional membership territory.

ICAA has introduced limited committee terms, reduced the number of standing committees, increased the use of task forces and adopted ‘an outside-in’ marketing approach, relying more heavily on market research and satisfaction surveys. The technology suite includes an interactive website and portal, several specialised e-newsletters, a customer relations management system and a customer service call centre that aims to satisfy 80% of enquiries at the first telephone extension.

Wendy Foster of Musketeer Management presented a case for association amalgamations and alliances. Associations are too small if they don’t have the resources to meet member needs and when they can’t afford the resources to achieve their goals. The consequences of being too small include loss of members and committee burn out from overload. Barriers to growth and expansion usually include ego as well as financial and logistical considerations. The potential benefits of amalgamation or other forms of collaboration include increased membership, more effective use of limited resources and unexpected synergies through shared experiences, events and activities. 

Kate Carnell presented a case study on how one small organisation (the ACT Government) addressed the problems of a small population base, small revenue base and uncompetitive economies of scale by emulating big business and the larger states by targeting strengths and offering incentives. 

Other presentations were given by Juliet Swain (on the benefits of direct marketing over or as part of other types of marketing), Michelle Gilliver-Smith (on best practice HR systems), Robert Thompson (on professional development and online learning in associations), John Graves (on legal issues associated with email and e-commerce) and Julian Ledger on how Youth Hostel Association NSW has generated $3 million in Web sales through its award winning site during the past year. .        

Of particular interest to archives, libraries and museums was Peter Walsh’s presentation on Standard’s Australia use of technology to change its committee, production and distribution processes to generate standards and earn income. This will be the subject of a separate article to be published by the Wolanski Foundation. 


Australian Heritage Collections Study

The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA), on behalf of Cultural Ministers Council, is undertaking a study of  the current and foreseeable needs of collecting institutions in Australia. The review is being conducted to allow informed decisions to be made about future support mechanisms for the heritage sector, including collections held by museums, art galleries, libraries, archives, specialist collections, regional and remote collections, representing the Distributed National Collection. Critical issues include collection management, the role of on-line resources, audience access and engagement, major sectoral differences and requirements, awareness and use of Heritage Collections Council,. government and collecting institutions’ products and initiatives. DCITA is l also undertaking a parallel mapping of support programs provided by the Commonwealth Government and State and Territory Governments, large collecting institutions and sector associations.  The review is expected to be completed by mid-November.

Australian Library and Information Association initiatives

The Australian Library and Information Association intends holding a national forum on cross sectoral collaboration to identify key issues and joint actions to address them. The viability of the forum will be investigated prior to ALIA’s 2001 National Policy Congress in December 2001. 

ALIA has also made a submission to the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts’ ICT Corporate Citizen Initiative, recommending that the government establish a program or partnership arrangement to increase ICT access, advance information literacy and break down the ‘digital divide” through ICT company/library and information service links, training and support. [Source: Incite Aug 2001]`

Electronic College and University Records

Clifford Lynch, Executive Director of the Coalition of Networked Information, recently called for colleges and universities to examine the critical challenges of managing their data.

"The relatively static boundaries that we’ve understood between scholarly publication, academic records and what happens in the classroom are all getting blown out the window. We have to fundamentally rethink what we’re doing about records.

"The discussion about management, archiving and access to records is going to become a very rich and complicated conversation which is going to engage everyone from archivists to librarians to faculty to publishers to systems builders to legal counsel to registrars."

Although the design of an adequate digital signature infrastructure is critical for e-learning, Lynch emphasised that when thinking through the interplay of such evolving infrastructure with records management policies and approaches, universities "also have to hedge bets a little bit, and recognise that twenty years or so downstream this infrastructure itself might change in radical ways."

The full speech: [Source: CNI].

European Memory Institutions Study

The European Commission has initiated DigiCULT, a 12-month study to identify challenges and opportunities for archives, libraries and museums (the so-called ALM sector) in the digital cultural economy.

The consortium overseeing the project consists of prime partners - Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft and Consorzio Civita, (Rome) - core expert partners - Austrian National Library (Vienna), Filmmuseum of the Netherlands (Amsterdam), Haus der Kulturen der Welt, (Berlin), Royal Library and National Library of Sweden (Stockholm).Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network (Edinburgh) - and network partners - The Digital Guild (London), International Music Center (Vienna) and The Pulman Consortium (Antwerp).

The  study focuses on five topic areas:  .

  • Technology: content digitisation, resources and use - highlighting how European memory institutions use information technologies, specific technological problems and challenges for extending digital services and applications,

  • Services and demands: national actions and policies - opening the information resources of memory institutions to a broader audience through ICT.

  • Organisational and financial aspects - the technological development and the complex requirements to guarantee convergent information delivery to the user, drivers and constraints for co-operation. .

  • Exploitation – looking at new partnerships with commercial firms, new business models and business relations.

  • Future trends - developing scenarios for future trends focusing on the long-term access of cultural resources, digital preservation of our cultural memory, and new applications and services for ALM-institutions and their users.

The study is expected to be completed by December 2001. Website: 

Linking and Exploring Authority Files

The Linking And Exploring Authority Files (LEAF) Consortium is undertaking an analysis of authority files used by archives, libraries and museums. The LEAF Consortium Project Co-ordinator is located at the Austrian National Library, Vienna Website: http;// Online survey forms are available at

Web Document Digital Archive

Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) is developing a digital archive to track and preserve web-based documents that exist solely in electronic format.  The goal of the Web Document Digital Archive project is to create a sustainable service to provide long-term access to web documents. 

A pilot study will use and test the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model to develop a working digital archive.  Work on the project will be informed by the developments of the Preservation Metadata working group convened by OCLC and RLG.  The working group has published an initial white paper of current best practices at

OCLC is seeking input on the project from a variety of institutions already focused on the issue: the US Government Printing Office (GPO),   Connecticut State Library and Joint Electronic Records Repository Initiative (JERRI), a partnership of the State Library of Ohio, the Ohio Historical Society's State Archives, Ohio Supercomputer Center and Ohio Department of Administrative Services.

The Government Printing Office catalogues items distributed through the federal depository program into WorldCat. GPO makes government publications in all formats freely accessible to the public through more than 1,300 federal depository libraries throughout the United States. Online and print publications catalogued and disseminated by GPO provide information of current and enduring interest on a broad assortment of topics, including congressional documents, federal research, business, science, technology, statistical data, law, medicine and federal regulations.

The Joint Electronic Records Repository is a collaborative partnership of the Technology Policy Group of the Ohio Supercomputer Center, Ohio Historical Society's State Archives, State Library of Ohio and Ohio Department of Administrative Services.  Its purpose is to find ways to appraise, preserve and provide access to Ohio's electronic and e-commerce records of enduring historical value, and to position Ohio as a leader in archiving electronic records and publications. Currently, the group is in the planning stage of a pilot electronic records long-term storage and retrieval program for state records.

OCLC website: Source: [Diglib Digest].

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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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