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31 December 2011














Cross Currents No 34 December 2011 

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 collections | Australian performing arts collections | concert programs | Obituaries Australia | Performing arts | Tivoli Theatre

DIGITAL DEVELOPMENTS Born digital content | Candiana | NZ digital archive | Personal digital archiving | The Semantic Web | Special collections | Technology developments



Australia music collections
Robyn Holmes, in Music at the National Library of Australia (Fontes Artis Musicae vol 58 no 2, July-September 2011) writes on the development of the largest research collection of music, manuscripts and music information in Australia and comments on a number of related issues including legal deposit, digital collecting and archiving, the Australian ISMN Agency at the National Library, collection management, and national collaboration. IAML website:


Australian performing arts collections
At its annual conference of the Museums Australia’s Performing Arts Special Interest Group (PASIG) in Melbourne on 27-29 September 2010, presentations included Peter Johnson (Theatre Architecture and Melbourne’s Historic Theatres), Jenny Fewster (Sensationalism Run Mad – Cowboys and Indians on Stage at the Alexandra), Frank Van Straten (Back in the Spotlight: Rediscovering Florence Young), Julian Ashton, Paul Bray and Carolyn Laffan (Timelines and Tightropes: Creating Online Resources for Schools), Richard Stone (Having a Hectic Good Time: Research and Archiving the Ballet Russes in Australia Project and Balletomaniacs Day Out: the Ballet Russes at the University of Melbourne), Cheryl Hoskins and Jenny Fewster (Digital Representation of Performing Arts Resources Using the Case Examples of the Wilkie and Denton Papers from the University of Adelaide Library), Janine Barrand (The Circus Diaries and Other Stories) and the conference was held at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, and the Grainger Museum. Further details on PASIG:

Concert programs
Rupert Ridgewell, in The Concert Programmes Project: History, Progress and Future Directions (Fontes Artis Musicae January-March 2010), describes a British project that begin in 2003 and its future directions, which included the expansion of existing collection data sets to include item-level records. Web: http:/

Obituaries Australia
The National Centre of Biography has launched the website Obituaries Australia, as a digital repository of obituaries published in newspapers, journals, magazines and bulletins. The repository builds upon the Australian Dictionary of Australia Biographical Register, maintained by the Centre since 1954. While the ADB focuses on the lives of notable Australians, Obituaries Australia offers a sample of the Australian experience by reproducing, in a convenient online format, published obituaries relevant to the history of Australia. The Centre is seeking assistance the help of the public to expand the resource and has life summary forms to enable contributions. Obituaries will also be linked to the National Library of Australia’s Trove search facility to reveal any items about/by the subjects held in the nation’s libraries and in the Australian newspapers that have so far been digitised. Web:

Performing arts
The Library of Congress Music Division’s Performing Arts Encyclopedia is an online guide to performing arts resources at the Library of Congress, It provides information about the Library's collections of scores, sheet music, audio recordings, films, photographs, and other materials and access to digitised items, special presentations on topics and collections, articles and biographical essays, finding aids to collections, information on concerts at the library, a special Performing Arts Resource Guide which contains entries for hundreds of Library collections, websites, databases and exhibits, and databases for performing arts resources. It’s Showtime! Sheet Music from Stage and Screen, for example, lists more than 67,000 songs from over 18,000 shows and productions dating from the 1690s to the present. Web:

Tivoli Theatre
James Cockington, in Tivoli is Just the Ticket (Sydney Morning Herald Money Section 19 Jan 2011), gives a short history of the Tivoli Circuit in Australia and the value of Tivoli memorabilia as collectible items. The article includes an interview with Frank Van Straten, author of the book, Tivoli.



Born-digital content
Ricky Erway, in Defining 'Born Digital' (Dublin, OH: OCLC Online Computer Library Center November 2010), a 4-page PDF introduction to the topic, identifies the diversity of born digital materials and related issues such as deterioration and obsolescence, rights and access. Web:

Matthew G Kirschenbaum, Richard Ovenden and Gabriela Redwine, in Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections (Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2010), examine key issues on the topic and provide recommendations for further progress on the use of “the Janus-faced” digital forensic techniques by cultural heritage workers. “More important than specific technical skills or a large budget is a willingness to figure out what knowledge and tools are necessary to get the job done, and how to go about acquiring them.” Their recommendations for further action: (1) development of policy frameworks and best-practice agreements for donor relations, liability, workflows, and researcher access; (2) development of regional networks for collaboration; (3) defining requirements for and developing new tools; (4) helping to articulate a scholarly research agenda; (5) collecting more stories and case studies; (6) facilitating training; (7) encouraging cross-publication of research literature and cross-promotion of professional events’ and (8) pursue terminology mapping. Web:

Canadiana has launched a beta version of a discovery portal about Canadian history in various archive collections including libraries, museums, universities and government agencies. Canadiana is a membership alliance governed by a volunteer Board of Directors made up of distinguished scholars and representatives of major memory institutions from across Canada. Web:

NZ Digital archive
The New Zealand Government’s 4-year $12.6 million digital archive program being implemented by Archives New Zealand and the National Library involves large-scale transfers of government agency digital records such as email messages, videos, databases and electronic documents, preservation activities and provision of access. The program utilises Archives New Zealand’s existing infrastructure and builds on functions developed for the National Library’s National Digital Heritage Archive. Archives New Zealand’s online search engine Archway will be extended to manage the necessary digital record metadata and the department will develop new tools around transfer and security in consultation with agencies. Web:

Personal digital archiving
Jeremy L John, Ian Rowlands, Peter Williams, and others, in Digital Lives: Personal Digital Archives for the 21st century >> an Initial Synthesis (London: British Library, 2010) report on findings of the Digital Lives Project, coordinated by the British Library. Among other topics, it covers organising, storing and finding personal information, legal and ethical issues, technologies and computer forensics, information media, networks and manipulation, and strategic imperatives. Personal digital archives offer an unprecedented opportunity, it says, for advancing humanity. There are new challenges as the power of digital technology increases. Successful curation “depends on advocacy, research and pragmatic demonstration of their exponentially increasing usefulness for society, for research institutions and for individuals.” Web:

The 2012 Personal Digital Archiving Conference will be held at the Internet Archive, San Francisco on 23-24 February 2012. Topics include family photographs and home movies; personal health and financial data; interface design for archives; scrap booking; social network data; institutional practices; genealogy; email, blogs and other correspondence; and funding models. Details: Presentations at the 2011 Personal Digital Archiving Conference are available at

The Semantic Web
The Pew Internet and American Life Project’s The Fate of the Semantic Web (2010), reports on a survey of 895 experts who were asked to predict the likelihood of a Semantic Web. 47% agreed with the statement: “By 2020, the semantic web envisioned by Tim Berners‐Lee will not be as fully effective as its creators hoped and average users will not have noticed much of a difference.” 41% agreed with the opposite statement, which posited: “By 2020, the semantic web envisioned by Tim Berners‐Lee and his allies will have been achieved to a significant degree and have clearly made a difference to average internet users.” While experts were divided on whether the original vision would be realised, there was broad agreement that “progress will continue to be made in making the web more useful and information retrieval and assessment more meaningful. There was no consensus on the technical mechanisms and human actions that might lead to the next wave of improvements – nor how extensive the changes might be. Many think Berners‐Lee’s vision will take much longer to unfold than the 2020 timeline. Critics noted that human uses of language are often “illogical, playfully misleading, false or nefarious, [and] human semantics can never be made comprehensible to machines. 12% of those who responded to the survey did not venture a guess about the future of the semantic web – itself a sign that there is still a good deal of uncertainty and confusion about the topic even among those who are quite connected to the tech world. Web:

In a complementary piece Kirk L Kroeker, in Engineering the Web's Third Decade (Communications of the ACM March 2010) speculates that Web 3.0 development will be "more evolutionary than revolutionary." Web 3.0 technologies may help filter the "wisdom of the crowd" so that it doesn't become the "madness of the mob." From a technology standpoint, researchers suggest a key aspect of Web 3.0 technology is moving beyond Web 2.0's popular Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) model to one more infused with semantic technologies that facilitate interlinked data and customisable, portable applications that are device-neutral or system-neutral. Despite promising developments, challenges in this area remain. Web:

Special collections
Anne Kenney, in The Collaborative Imperative: Special Collections in the Digital Age (Association of Research Libraries’ Research Library Issues, December 2009) proposes nine principles to guide large-scale digitisation of special collections: (1) distinct collections demand extra vigilance in digitisation; (2) libraries must respect any donor-imposed restrictions on the digitisation and use of materials; (3) libraries should seek the broadest possible user access to digitised content. (4) libraries should receive copies of all digital files generated from their collections, with the option for complete local access to the files (to the extent that copyright law allows); (5) any enhancements or improvements to the digitised content should be shared on a regular basis with the supplying library; (6) restrictions on external access to copies of works digitised from a library's holding should be of limited duration; (7) libraries should refrain from signing nondisclosure agreements as part of digitisation negotiations; (8) libraries should ensure that the confidentiality of users is protected in the vendor's products; (9) libraries should refrain from charging fees or royalties for access to or non-commercial use of public domain materials held in their collections." Web:

Technology developments
The Australian Communications and Media Authority, in Technology Developments in the Digital Economy (August 2010), looks at recent developments in the three key communications/information technology areas: infrastructure (optical fibre networks and technologies, wireless technologies, home network technologies, and digital identity management); smart technology (smart devices and systems, ICT energy and efficiency); and digital community (payment and mobile coupon technologies, location-aware community, Web applications and developments in social media. “In a networked society,” it says, “content creation and distribution channels are available to anyone with broadband internet connectivity. It has become so integrated in the media value-chain that the distinctions between social media and media are difficult to make.” 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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