• xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> University of Sydney Library Newsletter No.36

University of Sydney Library Newsletter

Issue N¬ļ 36 - May 1999

ISSN 1326-2785
Newsletter archive

In this Issue


Library in transition

As the University approaches its Sesquicentenary, there is an increased tendency to look back and review the past. One of the earliest actions taken by the fledgling University was to establish a library. In the intervening years, the collection has grown to be the largest university library in Australia. Many sections of the collection are of international standing and the Library is well-regarded for its application of information technology.

While these laurels are noteworthy, they are not sufficient to sustain us into the future. For many prospective students and staff, the quality of library services is an important indicator of a university's standing. With the University of Sydney in increasing competition with other universities both in Australia and internationally, it is important that the Library play a part in assisting the University to fulfil its objectives.

Providing the facilities necessary to support the work of students and academic staff is not easy as demand is always well in excess of resources. Choices have to be made and priorities set to ensure that available resources are used to maximum effect.

A restructure of library services is in progress to ensure a better use of resources and to provide services which are more closely related to the needs of students and staff. The process has been underway for almost twelve months and will continue as the University evolves.

The process has included a review of activities associated with ordering, cataloguing and processing information resources. This review indicated that there were opportunities for reducing costs including staffing. In order to provide some flexibility in staffing, all staff with ongoing appointments have been offered an opportunity to take Early Voluntary Retirement and temporary arrangements have been made to fill vacancies.

By October, new teams will be established for ordering and processing materials and the libraries will be grouped into two divisions. These divisions will reflect the academic organisation of the University ¬Ė Sciences, Technology and Health, and Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. The new structure will enable the Library to tailor services more closely to the needs of its user groups.

The restructure is part of a general re¬Ėappraisal of the way in which the Library operates. It is in response to changes in the environment which include the emergence of new forms of publishing, the growth and diversification of the University and a decline in purchasing power.

By undertaking strategic changes, the Library can continue to provide a range of services which meet the needs of students and staff of the University. The restructuring will enable better use to be made of available resources while meeting the challenges demanded by a more flexible approach to education.

The challenges facing the University Library are being encountered by libraries throughout the world. Costs are rising faster than growth in budgets. Electronic publications are requiring greater investment in technology. Changing patterns in the way in which scholars create, access and utilise information are also affecting library services.

The major Australian research libraries recently sponsored a forum to discuss these issues. The forum was attended by representatives from across the academic community and resulted in a consultative paper ¬Ė Investment in Information and Knowledge Infrastructure :strategic framework for Australia's research enterprise. The paper outlines many of the strategic actions which need to be taken if Australian scholars are to continue to have access to the information resources necessary for their work.

To take advantage of national and international developments, the University Library needs to be able to respond quickly and effectively to change. It also needs to be clear about the type of services it provides and to be innovative in the way in which it operates. The restructuring process aims to provide these conditions.


Web Coordinator appointed

The Library's Web site is used extensively by members of the University, and by users around the world, to access information on Library services, utilise interactive services and conduct research using a large range of electronic products, including the library catalogues and other information databases. The Library recently appointed the first full-time Web Co-ordinator, Susan , to manage the operation of the web service and, with other staff, to develop and promote it as a major library service.

Susan's previous position was manager of the State Library of New South Wales-owned Internet business, ILANET, which provides database access and Internet services to over 600 libraries around Australia. During five years with ILANET, she also provided IT consulting services to New South Wales and local government departments, including co-ordination of over 20 web sites. Prior to her involvement with ILANET, Susan was the CD-Rom Librarian at the State Library and was responsible for planning and installing the Library's CD-Rom network. She brings to the new position of Web Co-ordinator strong electronic services management skills as well as professional library experience. Susan will work closely with the large number of library staff who support and contribute to the Web service, and liaise with other Web managers and groups at the University to ensure optimum integration of the Library Web with other University services.


Email Reminders : Introducing a New Library Service

In relation to equity of access to library material, the task of persuading borrowers to return items on time has been an age-old problem. Using some of the new Release 12 features of Innopac, January 1999 saw the introduction of Email Reminder Notices designed to inform borrowers of impending due dates for their loans.

Such a service has been desired by our academic staff and students for quite some time and it is pleasing to be able to relay just a little of the positive feedback that this new service has created.

"Yes! This is a good service. But, is it spoon-feeding? Should we not be made of sterner stuff? But, we are not. So if there is a diffulty of loanees thoughtlessly (or otherwise) depriving worthy prospective loanees, because the former have no administrative ability, then full steam ahead!" Academic Staff Member

"I think it is an *ab fab* idea, especially for those of us with premature senile dementia! Keep up the good work." Continuing Education Student

"I wish to comment on this new service. I find it excellent and very helpful. As a new borrower, I am also very impressed." New Academic Staff Member

Borrowers who have elected to receive their library notices by email are now sent a complete list of their current loans usually two days before an item is due. This is not only beneficial as a last minute reminder for borrowers with a hectic schedule, but also helps alleviate potential confusion between:

  • regular loan periods
  • due dates for items borrowed from short-term loan collections
  • new due dates for recalled items.

The acceptance and popularity of email among university staff and the new offer of free email to all of our university students allows a virtually immediate method of notification that is both efficient and easily accessible. The immediacy of electronic communication makes sending reminder notices much more feasible than would any attempt to send hundreds of notices by regular mail for thousands of items concurrently on loan.

The introduction of any new service does require vigilant re-appraisal. During our initial three months of the service, we have received some very valuable constructive criticism. For example, there were complaints about the format of the notices (such as illogical list ordering) and the frequency of notices received by external libraries (items lent on Interlibrary Loan are not readily retrievable, nor are they renewable). After some extensive testing of Innopac's sorting mechanisms, we now send Email Reminder Notices to all patrons except external libraries. Notices can now display loans listed in date due order, and items with the same due date are then listed alphabetically by author. Of course we will continue to make adjustments in our attempts to further improve the service as much as possible.

Thanks to all the staff members and students who contributed with their considered and constructive criticism of this new service, and all those whose positive feedback suggests the service generally meets with approval. With the feedback received by email, the latest score for the new service is: 265 in favour, 3 not in favour.

"I think it is a jolly good idea and will save me a few bucks." Academic Staff Member

Document Delivery services for University academic staff and postgraduate students are changing. Automation of all processes in interlibrary loans started on 15 February 1999

In 1999 we decided to revolutionise interlibrary loans and document delivery for patrons and ILL staff by implementing the Innopac ILL Module. Release 12 of Innopac finally enabled us to use the ILL Module, which has been available, with limited functionality, since Release 10. (1996). The Library implemented the new automated system (Innopac) in 1994, however interlibrary loans was the only service provided by the library which was not yet automated.

The main issue was to be able to use the Innopac ILL Module from multiple locations (22 locations) and for more than one staff member to use ILL files simultaneously. With Release 12 this has become possible.

Testing was held on the first six sites in January and many hours were spent on discussions, meetings and training. On the 15 February we started using the ILL Module officially.

The Innopac ILL Module is accessible via the library web and telnet catalogues and library web page. There are several changes to our old practices. The module introduced new concepts such as home library and virtual record. (The home library field decides where a patron's request "lands& ; the virtual record is only visible in the patron record and ILL Module.)

Many of our "dreams" have been fulfilled, no paper requests anymore (we hope), circulation via an automated system ¬Ė instead of a manual operation, patrons blocked from applying for ILL if they have outstanding fines and requests sent via e-mail to the suppliers. These are the major advantages.

There are limitations and the Innopac ILL Module does not meet all our needs, one of which was that honors students could place ILL request too (we currently have to input requests on their behalf), we cannot search across the file, we cannot link requests with databases, exporting of references from databases needs to be looked at.

Last year the University of Sydney Library installed the Ariel system for document delivery in the Fisher, Medical, and Badham and Engineering libraries. This is a system for the fast and efficient transfer of documents via email or ftp. The use of ARIEL has added a new dimension to our service to your workstations. Soon we would like to introduce it in all libraries and this, we hope, will speed delivery.

Let us know what you think, any comments: good or bad. We are working to provide the best possible ILL service and to do so is a continuous process of improvement.

For information, comments, please contact the Interlibrary Loans Librarian in your library or in Fisher Library: library.illfish@sydney.edu.au


ABN changeover to Kinetica

In February of this year, the National Library of Australia replaced ABN with a new service called Kinetica. ABN was the Australian Bibliographic Network which contained records for books, journals, reports and other forms of materials held by over 700 Australian libraries. ABN was made available to the public through the telnet interface known as SOFI.

Kinetica contains over nine million bibliographic records with holdings from Australian libraries as well as additional records from:

  • Blackwells publishers
  • OCLC (Online Computer Library Center)
  • RLIN (Research Libraries Information Network)
  • Singapore National Bibliography
  • Library of Congress since 1999
  • CIP records

The CJK (Chinese Japanese and Korean) and the RLIN databases can also be accessed through Kinetica.

As the SOFI interface no longer exists and Kinetica is not yet available to the public, please contact library staff if you wish to access Kinetica or require more information. Information about Kinetica can also be found at the National Library's website at: http://www.nla.gov.au/kinetica/


The First 100 Australian Electronic Texts

The Australian Literature Database being created in the Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service (SETIS) has completed its first one hundred texts. Text number 100 is George Gordon McCrae's work "Mamba, the Bright Eyed: An Aboriginal Reminiscence" published in 1867. McCrae (1833-1927) was born in Scotland and came to Australia in 1841, settling in 1843 on the Mornington Peninsular. For forty years from 1854 he was in the public service in Melbourne, and became an important member of the literary culture of that city as one of the founding participants of the Yorick Club in the 1860's with Marcus Clarke, Henry Kendall and Adam Lindsay Gordon. "Mamba", with McCrae's other work "The Story of Balladeadro", is among the earliest Australian poems on Aboriginal themes. Highly regarded by Henry Kendall, these poems present a romanticised rendering of aboriginal legends, and were subsequently considered unrealistic in their treatment of the aborigines.

The original printed edition of "Mamba" is available in the library's Rare Book collection at RB1567.20. Other recent additions to the Australian Literature electronic text collection include Thomas Watling's "Letters from an exile at Botany Bay", Louis Becke's "Of Reef and Palm", Catherine Spence's "Mr Hogarth's Will", Christopher Brennan's "A Chant Of Doom" and Le Gay Brereton's "Burning Marl". The collection is available at http://setis.library.usyd.edu.au/ozlit and comments and suggestions are welcome.

Why an electronic collection of Australian texts from the 18th century to the early 20th century? What is the value of such a collection in electronic form? There are three main advantages.

  • Improved Access: Most of these texts are available only in the main research libraries of the nation. Most are out of print, and those that do achieve limited print runs are not available for long at any one time. This presents a problem for courses in Australian studies. Already the collection has been useful in supplying study material for courses at Australian universities requiring access to nineteenth century texts such as William Lane's "Workingman's Paradise". Together with the difficult-to-obtain works, the collection includes the main popular works of authors such as Steele Rudd, Henry Lawson and A.B. Paterson and provides a means of creating customised anthologies for study and teaching.
  • Search Facility: The electronic collection provides an alternative way of studying the texts: in brief, the student or researcher is able to put questions to the texts. That is, he or she can search for keywords and phrases within the texts. The texts have been encoded to allow these searches to be conducted across all the texts, or limited to texts by male or female authors, time periods, literary type, author's name, spoken dialogue and so forth. This functionality will become increasingly significant, of course, as the collection grows.
  • The Corpus Effect: There are advantages arising from simply having these texts available in a common format at the one site. Electronic publication provides a new resource ¬Ė these texts have never been placed together in this way before. Not only does this allow greater access to individual texts, but the user gains a sense of the collection as a significant body of texts, a chronicle of European immigration to and settlement of a new land. The database brings together the household names of Australian literature with the little-known authors; literary works of fiction and verse side by side with explorers' journals and travel diaries.

In addition to the current 100 texts, we are hopeful of receiving government funding to digitise a further 150 works for the period 1788 to 1938. This list has been compiled from the Oxford publication Annals of Australian Literature, in consultation with Professor Elizabeth Webby and academic advisers at other Australian universities. If funding is secured for this project, it is not unreasonable to expect the collection to grow to around 300 texts within the next two years.

For more information on this and other projects at SETIS, contact the Coordinator, Dr. Creagh Cole, at 9351-7408, or email to creagh.cole@sydney.edu.au


Special Reserve Happenings

During the Christmas - January period, Special Reserve staff conducted their annual review of the Undergraduate collection. As the Undergraduate collection is designed to be an up-to-date student collection for currently studied courses, an annual stocktake is required.

We invited Dr Vrasidas Karalis from the Modern Greek Literature Department to help us select books that were not being studied now, or in the near future, in that subject area. Approximately half the Greek collection was able to be relocated. Some books that were useful, but not currently studied, went to the Greek Departmental Library. Others will be included in the Chancellor's Book Fair for 1999. Ancient History was also investigated with help from the lecturers who teach the relevant topics.

Overcrowding in the area of English was also becoming a major problem for shelving staff, with many new books being purchased and few being removed to accommodate the new titles. In co-operation and consultation with the Department of English we removed 5,729 English books, some which hadn't been borrowed in 20 years! We have kept at least one copy, generally two, of each title in the Undergraduate collection.

This stocktake has enabled us to make room for all the new titles being purchased throughout the year and have a useful well-used collection.


Making the most of the available space in Badham Library

Major collection review

While the concept of a combined Science Library continues to be discussed, the University Library has been working on shorter-term solutions to the accommodation problems currently experienced at Badham Library and the ongoing development of the collection to ensure it's relevance to the clients of the Library.

During 1998 a project to relocate little used material from the serial and book collections to the Darlington Repository Library was completed. Relocated items are still available on request.

Book material published more than ten years ago and not borrowed for the last five years has been relocated in most subject areas with the exception of some botanical material and selected areas of horticulture and zoology. Material containing statistical information applicable to the current research areas especially in the agricultural subjects has also been retained.

The Badham Quarto (larger sized) collection has been interfiled with the main book collection to improve access to this material.

Renovated Reference Room area

The room housing the Reference Collection has been upgraded to create a more pleasant and usable space. The tall gray shelving that dominated this area has been replaced with more accessible purpose built shelving. Specials shelving to display new materials and tables for browsing and reading the Land newspaper have also been installed.

The Librarians, with advice from Faculty, have completed a comprehensive review of the reference collection to ensure that it contains high quality and relevant resources. A great deal of new material has been purchased by the Library for the Badham Reference collection.

We appreciate the patience and support of clients of the Library during the last few months. Please visit and enjoy the results!