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15 October 2003














Cross Currents No 18 December 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 Arlis.Net | Art Images Union Catalogue | Artifact | Asia Pacific Journal of Arts & Cultural Management | Backstage | Creative Industries Precinct | Cultural Statistics Seminar | Dance Collection Guide | Education and the Arts | JSTOR Arts and Sciences Collection | Media and Communications Literature | National Art Library Changes | Regional Cultural Alliance | Visual Arts Network | Visual Resource Library and Museum Digital Reference Services

DIGITISATION Digital Licences } Digital Opportunity Investment Trust | Email | Industry sector case studies | Learning Objects | What's New in Digital Preservation

GATEWAYS & PORTALS Gabriel | Library Portal Architecture | Portal Definitions | Vascoda 


LIBRARIES Special Collections | Strategies to Compete with the Internet | US Corporate Library Employment | US Spends to Offset Librarian Retirements

UNIVERSITY INFORMATION Australian University Information | Changing Research Practices | Guide to Institutional Repository Software | Services to Graduates | US Research Libraries and University Presses

USERS & USAGE Cultural Content | Electronic Resources | Universities and Colleges     



Gabriel, the gateway to Europe's national libraries, provides access to the periodicals, catalogues, exhibits, bibliographies and other services in 41 national libraries from 39 member states of the Council of Europe. Free registration is required to access some resources. Web:  http://www.bl.uk/gabriel/   

Library Portal Architecture

Lorcan Dempsey, in Recombitant Library: Portals and People, examines how libraries can be expected to reconfigure their digital portal architecture to support research and learning in an increasingly networked information environment. Dempsey says that, at the moment, the major portal issue facing libraries is developing a web environment which: ‘enriches learning and research by providing timely, convenient access to relevant and appropriate resources; surfaces potentially valuable resources which otherwise might be overlooked; and enables users and the library to focus on fruitful use of collections rather than on the messy mechanics of interaction.’ Such environments, he says, need to interact with other environments such as the learning management system, institutional portal frameworks, and the other 'hubs' of network presence.  This means that the portal issue to be addressed is not the current concern with integrating library resources with each other, but bringing library services in line with the learning and research behaviours of users. Up to this point in the short history of network information systems, library portals have focused on becoming a single hub in network space, but now it is likely that they will move to an architecture that enables them to function in a recombinant role, linking users seamlessly to whatever other hubs will serve their specific information needs. [Source: ShelfLife] Web: http://www.oclc.org (research section, staff papers)

Portal definitions

Paul Miller, in Towards a Typology for Portals (Ariadne issue 37), looks at a variety of portals and argues for better words to describe them. Web: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue37/ [Source: Diglib]


Frontline German libraries, research centers and academic information providers have established a science information portal, Vascoda, supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and German Research Foundation (GRF) . The vast majority of the information offered is free of charge, but fee-based information is also available on a pay-per-view basis. There are 23 subject-based areas being developed under four main headings including the humanities. Web: http://www.vascoda.de [Source: Goethe Institute]



Amazon.com has announced a new feature called Search Inside the Book, making the text of 120,000 books (more than 33 million pages) fully searchable at no charge. The feature will make it possible to scan a database for the word or phrase entered by a visitor to Amazon's site for each relevant portion of a searchable book. [Source: ShelfLife]


Meanwhile, Google has been courting publishers to convince them to turn over book content that could be used in Google's database. The details of these negotiations are unclear at this stage although it is rumoured that Google has reached agreements to allow it to include as many as 60,000 titles in its database. [Source: SOAF]


Special Collections

Libraries have been unable to keep up with the backlog of special materials awaiting processing. Finding a method to catalogue these items in a meaningful way is a significant challenge. A study by the Association of Research Libraries, Hidden Collections, Scholarly Barriers: Creating Access to Unprocessed Special Collections Materials in North America's Research Libraries, looks at ways libraries can bring hidden collections of rare books, manuscripts and archival materials to light. One  answer lies in the use of ‘flexible, case-specific cataloguing’ (ie cataloguing at collection level, rather than individual items). Web: http://www.arl.org/collect/spcoll/ehc/HiddenCollsWhitePaperJun6.pdf [Source: ShelfLife]

Strategies to Compete with the Internet

Marylaine Block, in Net Effects: How Librarians Can Manage the Unintended Consequences of the Internet, reviews a variety of creative ways librarians are adapting their traditional role. Web: http://marylaine.com/book/index.html

US Corporate Library Employment

US recruiters are seeing a boost in job opportunities for librarian in the corporate sector, compared with 2002, when layoffs were more common. According to Outsell, the average number of corporate library FTEs is now 9.18, up from 8.77 in 2002, but that's still down from the 13.09 full-timers reported in 2001. However, the situation may be rosier than those numbers indicate. Some librarians have lost their libraries, but they haven't lost their jobs. The most active areas of hiring are in the pharmaceutical, legal and medical sectors. [Source ShelfLife abstract from Career Journal 22 Oct 2003]

US Spends to Offset Librarian Retirements

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has allocated US$9,898,338 in 27 inaugural grants to offset a national shortage of professional librarians due to retirement, expected to reduce current ranks by 58% by 2019. The program will target tuition assistance, service expectations, job placement, recruitment of non-traditional library students, and research aimed at increasing the number of library science students at the paraprofessional, masters' and doctorate levels. Web: http://www.imls.gov/whatsnew/current/102803.htm [Source: ShelfLife]


Australian University Information 

The Australian government, through the Department of Education, Science and Training, has made available $12 million for managing university information. The funding will provide for four new projects as well as international consultation and collaboration. The new projects will be guided and coordinated by the newly established Australian Research Information Infrastructure Committee (ARIIC) headed by Professor Wyatt R Hume, Vice Chancellor of the University of New South Wales, building on the work of the Higher Education Information Infrastructure Implementation Steering Committee, which found there was a need to enhance the creation and management of information, improve access to information resources, and facilitate the discovery and dissemination of new information to researchers and institutions. Agencies involved in the projects include 15 Australian universities, Australian and international libraries, industry representatives and international organisations, The funded projects are: Meta Access Management System; Towards an Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories; The Australian Research Repositories Online to the World (ARROW); and Australian Digital Theses Program Expansion and Redevelopment. [Source: SOAF] Web: http://www.dest.gov.au/ministers/mcg/main.asp (see Media Centre 22 October 2003)

Changing Research Practices

The Australian Department of Education, Science and Training, has published Changing Research Practices in the Digital Information and Communication Environment by John Houghton with Colin Steele and Margaret Henty (August 2003). Web: http://www.dest.gov.au/highered/respubs [Source: SOAN]

Guide to Institutional Repository Software      

The Open Society Institute has published Guide to Institutional Repository Software describing the five open source, OAI-compliant systems currently available.  [Source: SOAF] Web: http://www.soros.org/openaccess/software/

Services to Graduates

Clifford Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, says today's college and university graduates are expecting, even demanding, to have continued access to the kinds of information-rich facilities they grew accustomed to during their student days. He argues that more must be done to accommodate these expectations, that higher education institutions and their faculty have an obligation to make their information services available beyond their academies' walls. However, the transition from an information service within higher education to one broadly available to the public, he says, will not always simple or quick. Currently the demand for information services focuses on content rather than computation and communication, creating a market for the licensed, proprietary digital content that schools do not own but pay licensing fees for under contract with the publishers and other service providers who hold the rights to the content. Because many suppliers are not set up to license to individuals or want to charge absurd prices, libraries, both public and academic, represent a potential resource to serve both their graduates and the public at large. Web: Educause Review Sep/Oct 2003 http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0356.pdf [Source ShelfLife]

US Research Libraries and University Presses

The Association of American University Presses and the Association of Research Libraries have formulated a Joint Statement on Scholarly Communication, setting out the complementary roles of press and library within higher education and a new commitment to cooperation and joint action. A program is under development and more information will be available soon. Web: http://www.arl.org/scomm/aauparlstatement.pdf [Source: SOAF]


Cultural Content

The Digital Cultural Content Forum, facilitated by Resource, CIMI and UKOLN, has published a number of reports on users and usage including Evaluation of Digital Cultural Content: Analysis of Evaluation Material (Nov 2003). Web: http://www.culturalcontentforum.org/publications/ [Source: DigLib]

Electronic Resources

Carol Tenopir, in Use and Users of Electronic Library Resources: An Overview and Analysis of Recent Research Studies (The Council on Library and Information Resources, August 2003), analyses more than 200 recent research studies focusing on the use of electronic library resources. Several consistent themes reoccur regularly. Both faculty and students like electronic resources, particularly if the sources are perceived as convenient, relevant and time-saving to their natural workflow, but most of these users still print out their e-journals for reading. Electronic resources are especially handy for browsing and for taking advantage of hyperlinks to related material, although subject experts make much more use of the hyperlinks than students. Different disciplines exhibit different usage patterns and preferences for print or electronic, but print is used for reading assignments in almost every discipline, and is considered important in some disciplines, especially in the humanities. Print is definitely the most popular medium for books, with electronic books still in the embryonic stage of usage. With rising prices in academic publishing, many faculty are allowing their print subscriptions to lapse, relying instead on electronic subscriptions subsidised by the library or on the Internet. Internet-based resources have become the dominant medium used by most college and high schools students, who often believe that they are more expert at searching than their teachers, but their criteria for judging the quality of those sources often differs from that of their teachers. Web: http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub120/pub120.pdf. [Source: ShelfLife]

Universities and Colleges 

Deanna B. Marcum and Gerald George, in Who Uses What? Report on a National Survey of Information Users in Colleges and Universities (DLib October 2003), report on a recent national survey commissioned by the Digital Library Federation and the Council on Library and Information Resources. 93.9% of professors, undergraduate and graduate students surveyed agreed that they are comfortable retrieving and using information electronically. An equally high percentage professed a high comfort level with their institution's Web sites. And while more than a third report using the library significantly less than they did two years ago, nearly two-thirds say that the bulk of the information they use for research comes from their institution's physical or virtual libraries. Conclusion: while the Internet enables academics to conduct more of their research remotely, they are still dependent on the library to help structure the resources at their disposal. The survey also indicates that physical libraries still have a strong place in academic culture: More than half of respondents say that browsing the stacks or journal shelves is an important way for them to get information. Web: http://www.dlib.org/ [Source: ShelfLife]

Previous section

This issue of Cross Currents compiled by Paul Bentley


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