University of Sydney Library Newsletter

Issue Nº 37 - August 1999

ISSN 1326-2785
Newsletter archive

Expired URLs removed

In this Issue

Digital Theses Project

The University Library through its Rare Book and Special Collections Library and the Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service, is participating in a pilot project to create a database of digital versions of postgraduate theses. The participating institutions are Curtin University of Technology, Griffith University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney, Australian National University and the University of Queensland. The lead institution coordinating the project and distributing software and scripts for depositing theses is the University of New South Wales Library.

Postgraduate students and graduates are encouraged to deposit their theses, following completion and awarding of their degree, by completing the form at:

This form ensures that all relevant information is supplied relating to the thesis and enables the user to upload files to the library thesis site. A consolidated search program will eventually link the resources of all participating institutions. In the short term, all theses received will be converted to pdf format for delivery on the World Wide Web. Authors may opt to restrict access to their theses for a specified period.

For more information about the project visit the web site at:

or contact Creagh Coleor Neil Boness.

Towards Electronic Access to Journals: Report on the Trial of "Journals@Ovid"


Over 300 Medical and Health Sciences journals available electronically in full-text on the Ovid system were accessed on a trial basis between 10 May and 11 June, 1999 through the University of Sydney Library network.

The University of Sydney Library has already been using about 90 of these journals, which are grouped in six collections and are loaded on the local server. The main advantage is that there is a link to the full text databases such as Medline, CINAHL and PsycInfo.

During the trial, an additional 210 journals were tested from a remote location on the Ovid server in Utah, US. The number of simultaneous user licences was set at 10. In the five weeks of the trial Journals@ovid had a total usage of 2,310 hours, an equivalent of 70 hours of use per day.

Objectives of the Trial

These were as follows:

  1. To test the viability of the electronic access of journals located on a remote server.
  2. To test the reliability and the response time of the service.
  3. To test how recent were the journals offered via the remote server. The OVID site is updated daily and this would be an advantage over the current arrangements where the OVID Collections are loaded on the library server.
  4. To test the reliability of the links between Medline, PsycInfo and CINAHL to the full text articles.
  5. To test the response time when downloading images and tables.

The Trial

The response to the trial was immediate and beyond any expectation. In general, all objectives were positively met.

Within only minutes after the announcement had been made, calls and messages were pouring in on the Medical Librarian's phone and email.

We are most grateful to all those who took the time to send their comments and appreciation of the service throughout the trial.

Some examples of the feedback are:

  1. The delay for a full text article is acceptable.
  2. Fantastic service - can it be expanded?
  3. For those of us in Departments that are not on campus, this service is a god-send. To be able to access journals at the desk will help us in both research as well as in clinical practice. At present I am using the trial to access three current articles which I will use for our journal club on Thursday. The availability of the most current editions means that these articles can be presented in a more timely manner than previously and the quality of the printout is sufficient for my purposes, which means that a copy from the hard copy of the journal is not necessary.

Some concern about the response time was indicated. However this might have been due to the search strategy used and the additional processing time this needed. A few people expressed their preference for articles in pdf format rather than the html format used by Ovid. Specific information was circulated in this regard. More information on this can be requested from the Medical Librarian, Monica Davis, email:

The Outcome

Following the successful trial, the Library has made the necessary arrangements to improve the service so that:

  • Medline is now updated weekly, and
  • In the next few weeks all Ovid collections will be accessed from the Ovid server in Utah. Medline and the links to full text articles will then be as up-to-date as they can possibly be.

Notable Additions to the Rare Book Library

Over the course of the last six months there have been a number of highly significant items acquired for the Rare Book & Special Collections Library. Among these is a 1659 edition of the works of Roger Bacon, two medieval manuscripts, a 1597 music text by the noted composer and writer Thomas Morley, and the full facsimile of the famous Celtic manuscript, The Book of Kells, which was produced in a limited edition of only 1,480 copies in Luzern in 1990. All of these items were acquired by using a combination of endowment funds and monies provided through the Friends of the University of Sydney Library.

The two rarest items in numerical terms are undoubtedly the medieval manuscripts. These comprise a nearly complete, fifteenth century text of Italian origin, in a semi-cursive script, of De Bello Judaico by Flavius Josephus, and a Spanish Antiphonal, or Choir book, containing settings for the Mass and the Offices of Christmas, and dating to the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. Both of these manuscripts are valuable additions to the existing group of materials of this type kept in the Rare Book Library and, like the existing items, will be extensively used in the teaching programs of the University. These are the first medieval manuscripts to be acquired by the University Library since 1964.

The work by Thomas Morley, A Plaine and easie introduction to practical music, was acquired by private sale. Since no other copy of this work is known to be held in any Australian library, and only thirty-one copies are known to exist at all, it was thought to be of great importance that an attempt be made to keep this particular volume in the country. Thomas Morley (1577-1602), alongside William Byrd and John Dowland, was one of the preeminent composers of vocal music in the last years of the reign of Elizabeth I, and its leading historian and theorist. This book is perhaps the most important contemporary piece written on music theory in Elizabethan times and is still held in high regard today. Written in dialogue form the work contains not only eight original compositions by Morley but also much valuable information about the compositional techniques of the period, and about contemporary musicians and performance practices.

The volume of the Book of Kells is a copy of the first and only complete facsimile ever to be produced of this famous work, widely regarded as the most precious illuminated manuscript of the early Middle Ages and one of the greatest and best known art treasures of the world. This facsimile is regarded as being virtually indistinguishable from the original, duplicating the colours, the shape of the pages and even the worm holes and binder's cuts. The manuscript, which contains a Latin version of the gospels on 340 vellum leaves (680 pages) was produced some time in the eighth century in an Irish monastic scriptorium, either at Kells, Iona or Northumbria.

Richly decorated, the work has no contemporary rival for artistic design or calligraphy and only two of the 680 pages do not contain illustrations of some kind. These include human figures, abstract designs and animals. In many cases these are manipulated and stylized to form letters. It is anticipated that the volume will be widely used and consulted and will be placed on display later in the year.

All of these items are now available for research and study and may be consulted in the Rare Book Reading Room, 9.00am - 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday.

Hidden Gems

Many valuable research tools sit quietly in the Fisher Library Audiovisual collection - often unnoticed and under-utilised. One of the treasures of this collection is the Eighteenth Century microform series. Containing a massive 9,870 microfilm reels and still going strong, the collection is based on the Eighteenth century short title catalogue (ESTC). It aims to reproduce "... every notable item printed in any language in Great Britain and its colonies, and printed in English anywhere in the world between 1701-1800."

Such is the size of this undertaking that the Library began purchasing this collection jointly with the State Library of NSW and the University of NSW in 1983. Each library acquired particular sections of the series:

  • University of Sydney: religion, philosophy, literature and language.
  • State Library of NSW: history, geography, fine art, general, reference & miscellaneous.
  • University of NSW: social science and law

The University of NSW has since retired from the field, with the University of Sydney now purchasing the units on social science and law.

The Eighteenth Century collection is in Fisher Library Audiovisual at Call Number 820.8 275.

New Electronic Databases

All of the following new databases are available to current University of Sydney staff and students:

A & H Search

Relevant for archaeology, architecture, art, classics, dance, film & television, folklore, history, language and linguistics, literature, music, philosophy, religious studies and theatre. As well as performing regular subject searches, this database may be used to perform citation searches to establish how many times articles have been cited by other authors.

Please contact Rena McGrogan: Phone: 9351 5859; Email:;
OR Peter McNiece: Phone: 9351 3207; Email: information and passwords.

America: History and Life

References to articles on the United States and Canadian history from prehistoric times to the present, current affairs, area studies, ethnic studies, folklore, historiography and methodology, international relations, oral history, pre-history, government and political science, popular culture, urban affairs, teaching of history.

Please contact Rena McGrogan: Phone: 9351 5859; Email:

Australian Standards Online

Allows you to access the complete collection of current Australian Standards, Draft Standards, and handbooks (excluding Standards and handbooks with joint copyright). Special software must be loaded, and a login and password is required.

Please contact Caroline Regan: Phone: 9351 3416; Email:

EVA: Environmental Abstracts

For journal literature on air pollution and quality, environmental protection and management, hazardous wastes, recycling, waste management and disposal, water pollution, environmental assessment, pollution control, town planning, urban design. Especially relevant for Australia.

Please contact Philippa Stevens: Phone: 9351 7477; Email:

Historical Abstracts

Provides summaries for articles on world history (1450 to the present), including cultural diplomacy, economics, international relations and politics.

Please contact Rena McGrogan: Phone: 9351 5859; Email:

Did you know that information about the library's databases and new products being trialed can be emailed directly to you if you join the email discussion list called DATABASE-L?. Details on how to join are on our Web site at: (no longer active)

A New Service: Lists of New Books Added to the Collection

The Library is pleased to offer a new service to the University community with the provision of monthly lists of new titles added to the collection. These lists display on the Library's web site at:

Click on the heading Library catalogues and then on New Books, or you can go directly to: http//

You will find lists of new titles added to Library collections in the preceding month. There is a separate list for each Library site.

The lists are created monthly and consist of newly catalogued material from the preceding calendar month. All new books/items in all formats and newly catalogued serial titles (print and electronic) are included in the lists, with records being displayed in alphabetical order by title. In some cases, because of repair or binding, there may be a delay before the item is actually available on the shelves in the home library. As the lists are based on the cataloguing date, they will sometimes include older material that has recently been converted to or upgraded on the database.

You may view the lists of new material, export/email a selection of records you are interested in (click on Export on the menu bar), and place a "hold" on certain items (click on Request on the menu bar).

Some members of academic staff have shown interest in receiving the monthly lists by electronic mail. For a trial period to the end of 1999, the Library will email listings of new books to members of academic staff who wish to participate. The trial includes the following categories of new materials added to the Fisher collection:

001-299 Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
300-349 Social Sciences: Sociology, Politics, Economics, Law
350-399 Social Sciences: Social Work, Public Administration, Education
400s & 800s Language, Literature
500-699 Sciences and Technology
700s & 900s The Arts, History, Geography

The email listings will include the basic bibliographic details of each new item: author, title, place, publisher, year and call number. If you wish to receive email listings, please send details of your name, faculty, email address and list(s) you wish to receive to:

If you have any questions about this new service, please contact:
Ray Penn
Convenor, Online Catalogue Group (OCG)
University of Sydney Library NSW 2006
Phone: (02)9351 5679, Fax: (02)9351 7290

We welcome your comments on this new service. Please send a message to

ScienceDirect Trial

As part of the Library's consideration of a strategic shift to adopt a preference for full-text networked electronic journals, we are pleased to announce that from the last week in July until the end of September access will be available to the ScienceDirect database, which includes the full text of 473 electronic journals published by Elsevier to which the Library holds a print subscription. Please read the Library's discussion paper on Electronic Access to Journals:

ScienceDirect is a Web database for scientific research in the life, physical, medical, technical, and social sciences available through the Internet. To provide a starting point for the research process, and to expand the literature coverage beyond Elsevier Science journals, ScienceDirect also contains abstracts from core journals in the major scientific disciplines.

To access ScienceDirect you need to have a World Wide browser loaded on your computer, either Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer (3.0 or better for both), and Adobe Acrobat Reader to view PDF articles. The Adobe reader is available for free download from the Adobe site.

Access points to ScienceDirect have been made via the Library Catalogue under the individual journal titles, and also through the EJournal Home Page.

You may also connect directly with the address: (using the group login option - no password is required because access is automatically recognised by your IP address).

We welcome any feedback you want to give us regarding the service, particularly in the context of the Library's proposed shift to networked access to journals. We would greatly appreciate your taking the time to fill out the survey form.

European Microform Collections Project

The National Library of Australia and a group of Australian university libraries are participating in the European Microform Project in order to improve access to European microform collections held in Australian libraries. Bibliographic records for the individual items in the microform collections have been added to the National Bibliographic Database. Australian libraries have added their holdings information to the records. The records can be retrieved in Kinetica, the new national bibliographic system. Further information on this project can be viewed at: Gateways Issue 39

So far records and holdings for the individual titles in the collections listed below have been added to Kinetica:

  • British and continental rhetoric and elocution
  • Bibliotek der Deutschen literatur
  • Early English books 1475-1640 (Pollard and Redgrave)
  • Early English books (1641-1700) (Wing) (Units 63-64)
  • French revolutionary pamphlets
  • German baroque literature. Yale collection
  • Goldsmiths-Kress library of economic literature. (Segments 1 and 2)
  • History of science: Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America
  • Spanish Civil War collection
  • Special studies, Europe and NATO 1970-1980
  • Special studies, Soviet Union 1970-1980
  • Thomason tracts 1641-1661
  • Three centuries of drama. American and English 1500-1800

The University of Sydney Library holds complete sets of three of these microform collections and the records for the individual items in these collections have been added to the Library's online catalogue:

  • Spanish Civil War (2,253 records) at 946.081/201 in the Fisher Library AV collection.
  • Three Centuries of Drama: English plays (3,707 records) at XTA6 on Fl.2 of the Undergraduate Library in Fisher.
  • Three Centuries of Drama: American plays (399 records) at XTA6 on Fl.2 of the Undergraduate Library in Fisher.

Access to these collections will be greatly improved by the inclusion of these records in the catalogue, particularly access by subject searches.

Please note that as our holdings of the sets Early English Books 1475-1640 (Pollard and Redgrave) and Early English Books (1641-1700) (Wing) (Units 63-64) are not complete, due to technical difficulties it was not possible to add our holdings to the individual records for these items on Kinetica nor to add them to the local online catalogue.

An example of a record for an item in the Spanish Civil War collection can be found by searching for the author Iramuno, Xavier d' in the online catalogue.