University of Sydney Library Newsletter

Issue Nº 25 - November 1995

ISSN 1326-2785
Newsletter archive

In this Issue

Establishing the Scholarly Elecronic Text and Image Service (SETIS)

What are electronic texts?

"Electronic versions of printed texts are an increasingly useful pedagogic and scholarly resource. Scholars have used computerised bibliographies and card catalogues for some time, and now we are moving towards the regular use of on-line archives of full-texts. These electronic documents have several obvious benefits -- they can be searched quickly for phrases, words, and combinations of words, allowing one to try out notions and hypotheses with great speed; they encourage large-scale searches over oeuvres, genres, and centuries, which are difficult and time-consuming with printed texts alone; and they allow such work to be done from one's home or office.

Electronic texts are not books as we generally conceive of them, and rarely do they function as replacements for the printed version; rather, they offer new convenience of access and new methods for exploring texts. Few people will sit and read an entire novel or play page by page on a computer screen, but to study a printed text alongside an electronic version (and with access to the appropriate textual analysis software) is to have an extraordinarily flexible tool that permits one to ask questions of the text -- and to trace connections between texts -- in ways hitherto impossible or impossibly time-consuming."
- David Seaman, Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia.

The University Librarian has announced the establishment of the Library's Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service (SETIS). The Service, modelled on similar Electronic Text Centres in the US and UK, will be the first of its kind in Australia to support and facilitate textual studies. Infrastructure funding for SETIS is being provided through the University's Information Technology Committee. Initially SETIS will focus on research and study in the humanities.

SETIS is closely related to the Library's strategic direction, to provide quality support for the University's teaching and research activities through extensive use of information technology. The Library has been pursuing a number of initiatives in this area of electronic information delivery and the provision of full-text electronic resources to members of the University community is seen as an important part of this program.

The development of SETIS builds on the Library's traditional collection and service expertise in the humanities, and the University's national strength and position in the humanities. SETIS will focus the discipline skills and IT expertise of various Library staff with our considerable electronic resources in the area to provide an infrastructure to facilitate textual studies and support academic research and teaching.

An electronic text and image service or centre represents a new kind of academic resource bringing together the benefits of electronic archives, electronic libraries and computing, especially in the humanities. Most e-text centres build online collections of electronic texts, provide accommodation and equipment to access these texts, and expert assistance with text analysis software. Training in the use of text preparation and analysis tools may also be provided.

The establishment of such a service was suggested by Kate Sexton, the Associate Librarian, following a visit to the Information Arcade at the University of Iowa in 1994. A model for the service was developed by the Library's E-text Centre Working Party, and a proposal made following extensive discussions with academic staff from a number of faculties. The proposal formed the basis of the successful submission to the Information Technology Committee.

The initiative received a boost in September with the visit of David Seaman, Director of the Electronic Text Centre at the University of Virginia, who was retained as a consultant. David ran a number of information sessions for Library and academic staff and provided invaluable advice to members of the Working Party on the establishment, management and operation of such a centre.

The outcomes of the Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service will be:

  • enhanced and extended access to a collection of electronic texts and images held on local servers or accessible via the Internet;
  • an appropriate systems environment and applications software to facilitate electronic textual research and teaching at the University;
  • instructional support in the use of electronic texts and associated software;
  • encoding software, scanning and printing equipment to assist in the creation of electronic texts at the University;
  • an institutional focus to support and encourage the introduction of electronic text resources in humanities at the University;
  • collaboration with similar services overseas to ensure access to current developments in electronic text research.

It is envisaged that SETIS will be operational in 1996.

For further information about SETIS contact either Kate Sexton, Associate Librarian, (ph.351 2991, e-mail: or Ross Coleman, Collection Management Librarian (ph.351 3352, e-mail:

Impact of new courses

As the Library's mission is to support and enhance the teaching and research of the University, major changes to the teaching program may require the adjustment of Library services. Following a recommendation of the Library review, the Academic Board has approved procedures for the approval of new courses and major changes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level which include provision for a formal assessment of the impact of the proposal on Library services. This development requires formal consultation between the Faculties and Colleges and the Library on proposed major changes and should ensure Library resources are adequate, or will be adequate, for teaching purposes. The Library has established procedures to ensure prompt consideration of proposals for major changes. Since the new procedures commenced in the middle of the year, many proposals have been considered. Although some have proved, on close examination not to require a change in Library service, others have led to useful negotiations on collection development. For example, the introduction of the new Master of Teaching has required selection and ordering of a wide range of resources. Changes in the Social Work curriculum have also required new Library resources.

A list of Library staff who should be contacted about proposals is available on the Library World Wide Web homepage (URL

The Academic Board will review the operation of its approval procedures in 1996 and the Library will review its procedures for assessing the impact of new courses and major changes in conjunction with this review. Further information is available from Ross Coleman, phone 351 3352, e-mail:, or John Rodwell, phone 351 2888, e-mail:

Electronic resources in earth sciences

The following CD-ROM databases are available in the Geography Library:

Comprises Geographical Abstracts, Geological Abstracts, Ecological Abstracts, International Developmentand Oceanographic Literature Review from 1990 onwards. A single search retrieves relevant citations and abstracts from the five titles included. The database is updated quarterly and is searched using the Silverplatter software.
World Climate Disc
Contains climatic data from the 1600s to the present day, including temperature, precipitation, surface air pressure (Northern Hemisphere only) and height data. By setting reference and analysis periods, maps, tables or graphs can be created showing climatic change.

Other electronic resources available soon will include: Digital Map of the World, Australia's Coastal Resources (full-text reports of and submissions to the Resources Assesment Commission Enquiry) and the Commission's CD Natural Resource Assessment.

Contact: Paul Harvey, Geography Librarian, ph: 12803 or email

Electronic resources in physics

Two very different titles on CD-ROM are now available in the Physics Library.

CD-Physics for Windows
Is a single multi-media disk based on the text Fundamentals of Physics, 4th edition by David Halliday, Robert Resnick and Jearl Walker. In addition to the text, there are 50 animated physics concepts, tutorials and 200 interactive problems which allow students to design their own study system.
The Digitized Sky Survey
Is a set of 101 CDs which enables astronomers to search the entire night sky. The compressed data are digitised plates from several observatories which can be searched using specialised software on another disk. Input of the relevant celestial co-ordinates results in a prompt for the corresponding CD-ROM. When this is loaded, the software turns the PC into a virtual telescope, allowing the user to create synthetic images of 25 million objects in the Guide Star Catalog in 256 colours, to superimpose the positions and motions of the planets and the moon and to display digitised images of 2,000 of the most spectacular celestial objects.

Publication in physics is moving into electronic format. The Physics Library holds several titles on CD-ROM, e.g. Astrophysics on Disc, a compilation of tabular data from various serial titles issued by the American Astronomical Society.

Contact: Vicki Moore, Physics Librarian, ph: 12550 or email:

Rare book exhibitions

Three new exhibitions of materials from the Rare Books and Special Collections Library have recently gone on display in the Fisher Library.

William Morris - A Remarkable Career
Features some fine examples of the work of the Kelmscott Press, founded by William Morris in 1891. The books published by the Kelmscott Press are widely admired for their beautiful initials and border designs, and for the quality of the typography. William Morris aimed to publish books comparable to the masterpieces of the fifteenth century printers, whose work he greatly admired. Many believe that Morris achieved this with the Kelmscott Press. Also on display are William Morris' walking stick, and an example of fabric designed and embroidered by Morris.
The Friends of the University of Sydney Library - Recent Purchases
Displays work of Australian private presses, acquired through the generosity of the Friends of the Library. Included in the current group of materials are reprintings of the journals of early settlers in Van Diemen's Land and of the letters of Henry Dumaresq, as well as several books illustrated with handpainted woodblock prints. The Friends of the University of Sydney Library have assisted the Library with the purchase of rare books, manuscripts and limited editions since 1961.
Witches, Witchcraft and Demonology
Includes some of the important works published during the European witchcraft persecutions of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Featured are books by such inquisitors and supporters of the witchcraft trials such as Martin Del Rio, Nicholas Bodin and Matthew Hale, as well as more enlightened texts by John Webster and Francis Bragge. Witchcraft at this time was not regarded as mere sorcery but as a dangerous and subversive heresy. The works featured show what it meant to those men and women accused as witches and to the judges who condemned them.

Partnership in electronic publishing - positioning the Library

The Library, in partnership with the Medical Journal of Australia, has received DEET funding to investigate a model of electronic publication. The project was one of seven recently funded by the AVCC Electronic Publishing Working Group to investigate and encourage innovations in electronic publication of scholarly Australian research material.

The USL/MJA initiative will combine the technical expertise of Library staff with the editorial skills of the staff of the leading Australian publisher of medical research to develop a new model of peer review through the electronic pre-publication of research articles submitted to the Medical Journal of Australia. The development and testing of this model will provide an important understanding of the impact of electronic publication on authors, reviewers and established publishers as well as how it may benefit researchers in the field.

An Internet World Wide Web site will be created for the eMJA (electronic Medical Journal of Australia). Research articles will be mounted through the site prior to formal print publication. During the period of pre-publication the articles will be open for review and comment, and selected commentary and author's response may also be published through the site. Outcomes of the project to be evaluated include access and use, costs, and the quality of the open review process, as well as issues such as technical standards. The project will make key Australian medical research available faster than through traditional publication, and aims to improve the quality of the final published article.

Other objectives of the project include the development of protocols for an "orderly extension" of scholarly publishing from print to electronic media, and, importantly, to develop publishing skills and expertise within the Library in order to position the Library as a key resource centre for future academically oriented electronic publishing ventures.

The twelve month project will be overseen by a joint Project Management Group, and managed on a day-to-day basis by Medical Librarian Pamela Leuzinger and Craig Bingham of the MJA.

Award to library technician

Senior Library Technician Jean Bailey, was recently awarded Australian Library and Information Association's (ALIA) Dunn & Wilson Scholarship at the 8th Library Technicians' Conference held in Darwin. The scholarship aims to provide library technicians with the opportunity to carry out research which will increase his/her professional and occupational experience.

Jean Bailey's research will examine the career progression and practice of library technicians who operate at Higher Education Worker Level 6 or above in academic libraries. She will also examine the role of those library technicians, particularly with reference to the industry competency standards which form the basis of the development of a national curriculum for library technicians. The results will be published as a journal article and presented at the next Conference in September 1997.

This is the second national award that Jean Bailey has received. In 1989 she gained the inaugural ALIA Library Technician of the Year Award for her work in the Shelving Section of Fisher Library and for her promotion of the role of library technicians both within the University of Sydney Library and within the Australian library and information industry.

Live date imminent for new Library computer system

The scheduled live date for the Library's new computer system is Monday 11th December, 1995.


The implementation of the new computer system has had an "official" gestation period of more than two years. Two important documents, Directions and Strategies of the University's Information Technology Planning Committee, and the Review of the University Library (Recommendation 28) both identified the need for the Library to upgrade its computer system as a matter of priority.

The Library appointed the consultants RMG/CAVAL in December 1993, to assist in the selection and implementation of a new automated system. Task Forces were formed, comprising a wide range of Library staff, who participated in developing a Request for Proposal for distribution to vendors of automated library systems. Five vendor firms responded with tenders, which were evaluated, and the top two proposals were identified in August 1994.

The top two vendors visited the Library to demonstrate their systems, and both Library staff and clients participated in the final selection process. Following the identification of the successful vendor, the University Librarian appointed a four member System Steering Committee, and a three person System Project Team. These groups then conducted exhaustive negotiations with the successful vendor, Innovative Interfaces Inc (III). The contract between III and the University was signed on 31 March, 1995.

The implementation of the new system was selected as the first major project in the Library's Continuous Improvement Program, with focus on the client, the use of participative teams, and the goal of continuous service improvement.

In May 1995, Library staff elected representatives to five small Module Teams, which undertook a coordinating and consultative role. Each Module Team appointed various Task Teams (formed by expressions of expertise from Library staff), to complete particular implementation tasks.

During August and September, Library staff and clients were involved in comprehensive trialing of Testpac, prior to final acceptance of the new system. Testpac was a small sample of the Library's own catalogue data loaded into the new system. Some members of the academic staff and student body participated in viewing and experimenting with Testpac, and were able to give valuable feedback regarding options, screen wording, etc. Loading of the Library's complete database, and training of Library staff by III then proceeded.

Features of the new system

It is envisaged that users at workstations (both at Library locations and via remote access) with a graphical browser (such as Netscape, Mosaic, Internet Explorer, etc.) will enter the system via the Library's World Wide Web Home Page. For users of workstations without a graphical browser, access to a text view of the Home Page will be via LYNX. The OPAC would then be a menu choice from the Home Page.

At the moment the Library is investigating the system's potential to provide access links to other electronic databases and information networks. More details will be provided in early 1996.

Features of the new OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue)

Catalogue searching capabilities:

  • Ability to limit searches by the following criteria:
          location of an item (e.g. a particular branch library)
          nature of contents (e.g. dictionaries, encyclopaedias, handbooks, indexes)
          physical format
          additional search words
  • Boolean searching
  • Enhanced subject and keyword searching
  • Ability to export search results to an email address


  • Separate search function for serial titles only
  • Ability to view information about current serial issues received. Note: The loading of this information will take place progressively.
  • Access via OPAC to three commercially provided reference databases : Applied Science and Technology Abstracts, Biological and Agricultural Index and Expanded Academic Index. When a journal article of interest is found, the system has the capability of displaying, on the same screen, this Library's holdings of the selected journal. Note: This display feature will not be available prior to the loading onto the System of the serials holdings information.

Special Reserve items:

  • Ability to view Reserve records in OPAC
  • Ability to view Reserve course and lecturer information in OPAC


  • Ability to view own borrower's record for items borrowed, overdues, number of renewals, number of holds placed
  • Ability to place your own holds
  • Ability to renew items yourself

Other features of interest:

  • Ability to make suggestions regarding the Library, and to submit requests for items not held in the Library
  • Ability to connect to other selected libraries catalogues (list of libraries not yet finalized)

Amalgamating Colleges' Collections

The implementation of the new system will facilitate the loading of catalogue records for amalgamating colleges, in keeping with several of the recommendations of the Review of the University Library. The records for the collection of the Cumberland College of Health Sciences will be the first of these, and will be loaded in 1996. Other amalgamating colleges will follow at dates to be announced.

Technical information

The Library has acquired a DEC Alpha computer which runs the III system.

In addition a Silicon Graphics Web Server has been acquired, together with Netscape's Communication Server (WEB server software) and SGI's WebMagic (authoring software).


Training in the features offered by the new system will be offered early in Semester 1, 1996, and will be publicized in Fisher and Branch Libraries.