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11 April 2005














Cross Currents No 22 April 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 e-research & cyberinfrastructure | Council of the Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences | MusicAustralia KNOWLEDGE & INFORMATION MANAGEMENT Collaboration & convergence | Collections Council of Australia | Information costs | Information format trends | World Summit of the Information Society

LIBRARIES British Library e-learning strategy | Digital libraries | Library costs | Library innovation | Open WorldCat | Reference work

RECORDS & ARCHIVES Endangered Archives Program | US government e-records and web content SYSTEMS STANDARDS AND SCHEMES Digital images metadata | Digitisation | DigiCULT reports | Email and document management | Federated searching | Library software trends | Metadata | Newspaper clipping thesaurus | RSS | Searching | Technology in educational environments  


Arts & humanities e-research and cyberinfrastructure
Diane Goldenberg-Hart, in her report Libraries and Changing Research Practices, on the ARL/CNI Forum on E-Research and Cyberinfrastructure, (ARL BiMonthly Report 237 (December 2004), summarises deliberations on science and engineering, humanities and social sciences, a national virtual observatory, and the roles of federal funding. Unlike the sciences, the humanities face a more difficult challenge in developing a common cyberinfrastructure because knowledge communities are more difficult to foster, data tends to emerge from human experience rather than scientific enquiry, there is less dependency on information technology, and a bigger challenge in promoting a payoff from the use of information technology and digital information. To cope with this challenge, the American Council of Learned Societies has discussed the idea of asking funding organisations to require recipients to make their research more accessible in digital form and to support inter-institutional collaboration and collaboration. Increased demand may flow from an increased level of online humanities research. But the scale of a cyberinfrastructure vision for the humanities is so great that it can only be achieved through global cooperation rather than local competition. Web:

Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
CHASS, with and funding from the Department of Education, Science and Training, has embarked on two new projects. The first, due for completion in mid-2005, is a national study to develop measures for assessing the quality and impact of humanities, arts and social science research on Australian life. The second is a series of seminar investigating possible improvements to the management of university research and education centres. The seminars will examine international models and develop proposals for a new Australian program. [Source: CHASS].

The National Library of Australia, on behalf of its partners the National Film and Sound Archive and other cultural organisations, has officially launched MusicAustralia, the new online service offering information on Australian music, musicians, organisations and services from a single access point. Drawing on the extensive bibliographic resources contained in the National Bibliographic Database (NBD), and a new database on Australian music and music organisations, MusicAustralia currently offers information on 130,000 music items. Web:


Collaboration & convergence 
Timothy Cole and Sarah Shreeves, in The IMLS NLG Program: Fostering Collaboration (Library Hi Tech, vol 22 no 3, 2004: 246-248), describe seven projects funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Service’s National Leadership Grant program. These include: (1) state-wide and regional collaborations between multiple types of organisations; (2) communities of interest that have coalesced to spawn successful and wide-ranging collaborations between information specialists and subject specialists such as students, teachers and scholars; and (3) ongoing research into and demonstrations of key infrastructure components that take advantage of collaborative opportunities afforded by new technologies in a geographically dispersed environment. Available online from Emerald at

Mary Alice Ball, in Libraries and University Presses Can Collaborate to Improve Scholarly Communication or Why Can't We All Just Get Along? (First Monday vol 9 no 12, 6 December 2004), writes on the historical underpinnings and direction of scholarly communication and on the competing cultures of book publishing and the library profession. She concludes that, despite the perception that university libraries are at the heart of the university, “ARL statistics indicate a continuing decline in library expenditures as a percentage of total university expenditures. ”Despite a view that academic presses are "an indispensable component of the modern research university…presses are being downsized and closed. Economic realities belie both romantic impressions.” Web:

Converging Culture is the title of a plenary address by Ian Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, at the Museums and the Web 2005 conference. Wilson is the first person to hold the joint national responsibility for both archives and libraries. According to the abstract, cultural institutions run the real risk of becoming virtual ivory towers. The technology can only be used to its fullest potential when we make the appropriate non-virtual convergences in mentality and practice. Converging content not only means bringing together knowledge digitally, but also bringing together all cultural and knowledge-based institutions in the development of, and interaction with, this content.” Web:

Collections Council of Australia
With the appointment of Margaret Birtley as inaugural CEO, and with the support of the State Library of South Australia in providing space at the Institute Building on North Terrace, the CCA has opened its office in Adelaide. Contact details: PO Box 263, 145 Rundle Mall, Adelaide, SA 5000, Telephone 08 8207 7272, Facsimile 08 8207 7207. Email: Margaret Birtley, The CCA will publish a website in due course.

Information costs
Susan Feldman, in The High Cost of Not Finding Information (KMWorld Magazine vol 3 no 3 March 2004) says that roughly 50% of most Web searches are abandoned, knowledge workers spend from 15% to 35% of their time searching for information, searchers are successful in finding what they seek 50% of the time or less, 40% of corporate users report that they can not find the information they need to do their jobs on their intranets, not locating and retrieving information has an opportunity cost of more than US$15 million annually, some studies suggest that 90% of the time that knowledge workers spend in creating new reports or other products is spent in recreating information that already exists. Web: [Source: Current Cites]

Information format trends
OCLC published its latest report on information format trends, Content, Not Containers, in October 2004. The report says that formats now matter less than the information within the containers. The top trends for libraries over the next 5 years are: (1) the legitimacy of open source publishing such as blogs, (2) the rapidly expanding economics of micro content, (3) the repurposing of ‘old’ content for new media, and (4) multimedia content as a service for an array of devices. Web:

World Summit of the Information Society
The international conference, UNESCO Between Two Phases of WSIS, will be held in St Petersburg in the Russian Federation under the auspices of UNESCO on 17-19 May 2005. The conference will clarify the next steps and key decisions for building the global information society and will discuss: (1) building the information and knowledge societies; (2) human capacity building for knowledge societies; (3) education in knowledge societies; (4) science and innovations in knowledge societies; (5) cultural diversity in cyberspace; (6) universal access to public domain information; (7) development of communications and freedom of expression; (8) stakeholders' partnership and cooperation to foster information society development; (9) business environment for knowledge societies; ( 10) information society technologies for knowledge societies; (11) policies for digitisation and preservation of digital cultural and scientific heritage. Web:



British Library e-learning strategy
The British Library has launched a new program, Inspiring Learning for All, aimed at creating accessible learning in museums, archives and libraries. Founded on four principles – people, places, partnerships, and polices/plans/performance - the framework is designed to stimulate professionals to focus on and improve the way learning is supported. Working from a broad definition of learning - ie it is not related solely to formal curriculum, but rather to everyone's ability to access information, cultural resources or entertainment in order to develop as individuals - the program recognises that people learn in different ways and require a variety of stimuli to engage them in the learning process. It stresses that museums, libraries and archives need to remove barriers to access, cater for individual learning styles (not just ages), create exciting environments, use innovative methods, value learning experts, consult with users, and reach out to new users. Web: {Source: ShelfLife]

Digital libraries need transformative change
The report Knowledge Lost in Information: Report of the NSF Workshop on Research Directions for Digital Libraries, emerging from a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation in June 2003, recommends that, in order to maintain national expertise and achieve necessary gains in research and education, the NSF should provide US$20 million per year for innovative and exploratory research to address challenges in the creation, collection, organisation, use and long-term availability of digital resources of all sorts in a rapidly evolving global information infrastructure. The report also suggests that US$40 million per year be budgeted for transformative change to infrastructure and practice. The danger facing digital libraries is an abundance of information paired with insufficient information management. As a result, individuals and communities risk losing the ability to control and manage their own data. Web: [Source: Shelf List]

Library costs
Roger C Schonfeld, Donald W. King, Ann Okerson and others, in The Nonsubscription Side of Periodicals: Changes in Library Operations and Costs between Print and Electronic Formats (Council on Library and Information Resources, June 2004) use data from 11 US academic libraries to examine the effects of the shift to electronic resources on library operations and costs. These shifts point to the need for staff with new skills, a new array of reader services geared to digital delivery, and a willingness to negotiate new relationships with other units on campus, from academic computing to facilities management. Web: [Source: Current Cites]
The Association of Research Libraries, in The Project on the Future of Higher Education (ARL Bimonthly Report 234 June 2004), commenting on the changing electronic publishing marketplace, anticipates significant loss of budget and purchasing power in libraries over the foreseeable future. Consequently, librarians need to develop new models for making decisions about how to invest limited resources. One strategy is to think about library material prices in the broadest context. For example, if we think only in terms of percentage increase, the price of a US$1,000 journal with a US$50 increase appears to have gone up less than a US$300 journal with a US$25 increase. But automatically cancelling the less expensive journal as a result demonstrates flawed thinking. The problem is not the price, but the price increase. Instead of focusing on the percentage increase, focus on the total price. Is the more expensive journal worth the cost of three that are less expensive? Automatically paying the increases on high-dollar titles penalises publishers who keep prices low and now find cancellations rising because libraries have little funding left after the big bills are paid. Web:

Library innovation in small chunks
Roy Tennant, in the Library Journal 15 March 2004, suggests that innovation can happen in small chunks. By mixing and matching small solutions, libraries can make big ideas a reality. Web [Source ShelfLife]

Open WorldCat
OCLC launched WorldCat about a year ago to help libraries make their collections visible and available on the open Web. In more recent developments, the entire Worldcat collection of 57 million records has been made available for harvesting by the search engines (compared with the original 2 million records) and hot linked subject headings have been added. Web:


Reference work
Jana Ronan, Patrick Reakes and Gary Cornwell, in Evaluating Online Real-Time Reference in an Academic Library: Obstacles and Recommendations (The Reference Librarian, vol 38, issue 78/79, 2002/2003: 225-240), present a broad overview of the current state of reference services using chat technology and related obstacles - organisational structure, scarcity of resources, newness of the service, and the difficulty of developing techniques of assessment of applying existing methodology. They recommend, among other things, that we use traditional methods of measuring reference performance where possible and treat user feedback and usage statistics with a grain of salt. [Source: Current Cites].



Endangered Archives Program
The British Library, with funding from the Lisbet Rausing Charitable Trust, has launched an Endangered Archives Program, a £10 million global effort to help save endangered archives. The program will be administered by the British Library in conjunction with a panel of international experts. Institutions and academic researchers will be able to apply for grants to identify endangered records and relocate them to local institutional archives. It will also provide funds for overseas librarians and archivists to foster improved archival management and preservation for the longer term. Source: British Library News Release 16 Nov 2004)

US government e-records & web content
The US National Archives & Records Administration has embarked on a plan to archive billions of electronic government documents "so that anyone, anywhere, anytime, far into the future, can access these records with the technology in use then." As part of the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) program, NARA has instructed federal agencies that, by 2007, they must have their digital records organised for inclusion in an operational archive. The finished system is to include features such as online access to an archivist, perhaps using live-chat technology. As part of the project activities, managers will be shown how to communicate effectively with information technology personnel in charge of the systems. An ultimate goal of the project will be to make it possible for researchers to access nearly all of the services as if they were using a physical library. Carlin predicts new products and processes to be developed will benefit other archivists, including colleges and universities, libraries and archives, small businesses and large corporations. Source: US National Archives & Records Administration Prologue Spring 2004. Web:  

Meanwhile, Florence Olsen, in, 21 June 2004, reports on the The Federal Depository Library Program, which has fallen behind in cataloguing and preserving access to government documents published only on the Web. Daniel Greenstein, head of the California Digital Library, representing ten libraries in the Program, says this is not a problem – it’s a crisis. A recent California Digital Library study found that about 85% of the Deep Web is in the .gov domain. To capture such documents, the Government Printing Office is contemplating use of Web-harvesting technologies, but officials acknowledge Web-crawler and datamining technologies might prove to be inadequate. Greenstein says that, while Web-crawlers are fairly good at capturing documents from the Web's surface, they miss much of the information on the Deep Web. The GPO has enlisted the University of North Texas Libraries to maintain a collection of electronic documents known as the Cyber Cemetery, but acknowledges it has no idea how many fugitive documents they're missing. [Web:



Digital images metadata
The Research Libraries Group in the United States has published Automatic Exposure: Capturing Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images, promoting the need for a suite of tools to give cultural heritage institutions the ability to preserve their digital images and the full range of associated metadata. The RLG-led initiative aims to lower the barrier for institutions to capture the data elements proposed by NISO Z39.87-2002 (AIIM 20-2002) Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images. Web: See also [Source: Shelflife].

As an alternative point of view to those expressed in recent reports encouraging large scale rationale approaches to digitisation, Terence Huwe, in Building Digital Libraries: Scanning Is Still Hip High-Tech (Information Today Nov-Dec 2004), looks at the strategic value of scanning by small libraries. Tech-savvy collection specialists can create a modest-sized, manageable digitisation project, he says, using the new generation of scanners without relying on outside funding. The first step is to conduct a thorough survey of the collection, look for photographs or other historical materials of high value, select a small, manageable portion, scan and upload them to your Web site. Creating a prototype digital library from scratch can help attract outside funding, may yield a new revenue stream, or help build a relationship with a consortium, based on new awareness of what the collection has to offer. Web:

DigiCULT reports
Among Digicult’s recent publications include Info Issue 9, with articles on digital contextualisation for knowledge acquisition, reproducing Greek masks for performance, and other subjects. The other, Thematic Issue 7, The Future Digital Heritage Space- An Expedition Report (December 2004) ventures predictions on the future of digital heritage in the next 10-15 years and warns of ‘blind spots’ in an emerging ambient environment. The report gives recommendations that may be “useful for ensuring the creation of a thriving and inclusive future digital heritage space. Web:

Email and document management
Xerox Research Centre Europe, according to Florence Olsen in Federal Computer Week 2 Mar 2004, has developed an automated categorisation software tool that performs "deep linguistic analysis" to read a document, categorise it by subject, and then routes it to a relevant e-mail address (based on a pre-set user profile). Current categorisation tools, according to Olsen, treat each subject category as a discrete grouping, unconnected to any other, but the Xerox system uses a hierarchical model that is able to understand the interdependency between two subjects - such as biochemistry and biophysics. The system can handle documents in up to 20 languages and is easily customised for specific user requirements. Web:

Federated searching
Barbara Fiehn, in Federated Searching: A Viable Alternative to Web Surfing (TechNewsWorld 21 March 2004), presents an overview of the topic and future challenges, focusing on school library media centres and the products available for that market. Dynix/Horizon, Follett, Sagebrush and Sirsi currently offer federated search or portal add-ons to go with their automation systems. Alexandria's SearchAll and Mandarin's Enhanced Web OPAC portals are also anticipated. Some vendors are also working to add XML capabilities to take advantage of existing Web clients, protocols and tools. [Source: Current Cites]. Web:

Library software trends
David Dorman, in American Libraries March 2004, gives his thoughts on the key library software trends emerging from a recent ALA meeting and trade exhibition. There is a high interest in partnerships to expand functionality. There is a focus on product differentiation to create market advantage. And data mining and metasearch services have emerged as major areas for innovation and development. The vendor pendulum tends to swing from convergence to divergence. After a decade in which vendors moved closer together, the pendulum is now swinging back the other way. But it will be a few years before the new developments reach maturity. Web:

The American Library Association has published Diane Hillmann and Elaine Westbrooks’ Metadata in Practice (Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 2004), a set of reports on how metadata is being used today in libraries. Web:
Bradford Lee Eden for Library Hi Tech vol 22 no 1 2004, has edited a special issue MARC and Metadata: METS, MODS, and MARCXML: Current and Future Implications, as the first part of a two-part series. The issues includes Metadata and Librarianship: Will MARC Survive, the MARC Standard and Encoded Archival Description, Pulling it All Together: Use of METS in RLG Cultural Materials Service, and A Preliminary Crosswalk for METS to IMS content packaging.
DPC/PADI’s What's New in Digital Preservation Bulletin no. 9 (July-December 2004) has information on the recently released National Library of New Zealand's Metadata Extraction tool and the National Archives of Australia's XENA (XML Electronic Normalising of Archives) tool, among other initiatives. Web:  

Newspaper clipping thesaurus
Gregor Retti and Birgit Stehno, in The Laurin Thesaurus: a Large, Multilingual, Electronic Thesaurus for Newspaper Clipping Archives (Journal of Documentation vol 60 no 3 2004 p. 289-301), describe the Laurin thesaurus, which is used for indexing and searching in the Laurin system, a software package for digital clipping archives. As a multilingual thesaurus it complies with corresponding standards, but also presents some approaches that go beyond some of the standards. The Laurin thesaurus integrates all kind of indexing terms, including keywords and proper names. Web:

Tony Hammond, Timo Hanay and Ben Lund, in The Role of RSS in Science Publishing: Syndication and Annotation on the Web (D-Lib Magazine vol 10 no 12 December 2004) explain RSS technology and its development, particularly its use in the world of scientific publishing. The article has extensive notes and a bibliography. Web:

According to Emarketer 22 June 2004, a recent survey by FIND/SVP found that 84% of business executives think that Web searches using commercial search engines take longer than they should because they tend to deliver too many irrelevant results. This results in an estimated loss of US$31 billion in lost productivity. In addition, 74% expressed doubts that the results are reliable and 39% felt that information found online is outdated. Despite their reservations, 67% indicated it would be difficult or impossible to do their jobs without Web-based search tools, with 28% reporting they spend between 6 and 10 hours a week researching online. The most sought information was financial information and reports, followed by information on competitors. [Source: ShelfLife]

Technology in educational environments
The EDUCAUSE Evolving Technologies Committee, in Surveying the Digital Landscape (Educause Review vol 39, no 6 Nov/Dec 2004: 78-92), explores the impacts of evolving technologies on the higher education sector in six areas: (1) spam management; (2) legal P2Ps; (3) learning objects; (4) convergence of libraries, digital repositories and web content management (5) nomadicity and (6).regional networks. On spam management, they conclude that most higher education organisations should be developing and implementing interim strategies to reduce spam, while technology companies and government agencies must address the problem from technical, legislative and enforcement perspectives. Legal P2Ps (such as MP3 downloads) have arrived and are unlikely to go away: higher education institutions need to be aware of the options. On learning objects, they conclude that institutions must become involved collaboratively to shape the future of how the medium can help faculties and students can achieve their educational goals: it is a mistake to ignore them. On convergence it concludes that, regardless of an institution’s budgetary climate, it must garner support for integrating IT and library services: local convergence projects can serve as springboards for an educational campaign highlighting the value of convergence in terms of improved system interoperability, improved user experience, and improved communication across organisational lines. “A little convergence could go a long way toward solving the problem of duplication in university digital asset management, course management, student information, library management and content management systems”. Nomadicity is likely to have a profound impact on services because nomads are likely to be more advanced users of new technologies and open source information. New funding and help-desk may be required. Management of educational interests has been proved to work through regional networks. Regional networks will enable colleges and universities to bring some of the brightest talents together to teach, to learn and to work. 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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