University of Sydney Library Newsletter

Issue Nº 38 - November 1999

ISSN 1326-2785
Newsletter archive

Expired URLs removed

In this Issue

Highlights of the Year

Despite the vicissitudes visited upon Australian higher education libraries during the year, the University Library managed to negotiate the rapids with reasonable success. The cost of information resources again rose at rates greater than national inflation but they were not a great as the previous year. The Australian dollar continued to languish relative to the currencies used to purchase the majority of books and journals. This affected our purchasing power and contributed to the need to cancel journal subscriptions.

Continued support from the academic community facilitated the implementation of the change process aimed at maintaining and strengthening the role of the Library as a partner in the teaching, learning and research activities of the University. The Library Committee of Academic Board and the various faculty library committees were especially supportive. They provided both forums for debate and valuable liaison with the academic community.

Very tangible support was provided by the maintenance of the Library's allocation from the General Operating Grant. This recognised the importance of library services to the University especially at a time when there are significant changes occurring in scholarly communication and in teaching and learning.

The major focus during the year was on the organisational restructure of the Library. Objectives included the reduction of salary expenditure, greater efficiency in the processing of items for the collection, provision of improved off-campus access to information and the transfer of resources to direct services to Library users.

Voluntary early retirement was offered to all members of staff and thirty nine took advantage of the opportunity. Financial support for the scheme was provided in part from the Vice-Chancellor's Strategic Development Fund. The majority of the costs, however, will be met by future savings on Library costs. This need not result in reduced services as there are opportunities for reducing some operating costs. The same processes are often performed without taking sufficient advantage of mechanisms which would allow greater efficiency.

A fundamental part of the restructure is the reorganisation of the way in which the twenty one libraries are grouped and managed. The current arrangement is essentially one division comprising the Fisher Library and another consisting of the remaining libraries. The new structure is based on a division catering for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, with a second division for the College of Sciences and Technology and the College of Health Sciences.

As part of the restructure, new teams will be established for the processing of publications. These teams will mirror the academic college structure and will provide a closer relationship between academic units and the Library. The processing teams will work closely with staff in the various libraries to provide more integrated services to all Library users.

Part of this strategy involves the amalgamation of libraries into service groups and the appointment of a coordinator for each group. The first groups will be established before the end of the year. Julie Olston has been appointed to coordinate the Physical Sciences libraries Biochemistry, Chemistry, Geosciences, Mathematics and Physics.

The coordinator positions for Medical Sciences (Burkitt-Ford, Medical, Dentistry and Pharmacy libraries) and Life Sciences (Badham, Camden, Orange and Narrabri libraries) have been established. Appointments will be made to these positions by the end of November.

Further stages in the restructure will involve the grouping of the Law, Music, Alexander Mackie Curriculum Resources and the Sydney College of the Arts Libraries with the Fisher Library. There will also be some rearrangement of functions within the Fisher Library which may include the physical relocation of some activities and collections.

Changes will also occur in the way in which some cross-Library services are managed. This will not have immediate relevance to most users but is intended to improve operating efficiency. A reduction in operating costs is necessary to offset other costs including the provision of equipment necessary to access information resources.

For some time there has been a gradual shift in scholarly communication toward the use of the Internet and electronic publishing. The trend was slow to commence but has gathered pace as the technology matured and as more publishers adopted electronic publishing as a means of improving their processes. It is now increasingly evident that the majority of refereed research journals will be available only in electronic format within a few years.

The benefits of the new format include access at times when the Library is closed, access from remote locations and the opportunity to develop innovative links with other teaching and learning materials. There are disadvantages particularly the dependence on communication links and computer equipment. These dependencies are, however, very much a factor of many aspects of life and there is an unfortunate inevitability about them.

Just as inevitable has been the annual increase in the cost of journals. In order to keep within budget, an 11% reduction in journal subscriptions was necessary. This was in addition to a 20% reduction in 1998. Negotiations were conducted with a number of publishers to obtain more advantageous terms. While the direct savings were not great, it was found that there were significant benefits to be had from purchasing electronic rather than the print editions. The benefits included access to a wider range of titles and the ability to make them more widely available.

Some of the arrangements with publishers have been negotiated in conjunction with other university libraries. This has enabled the Library to take advantage of bulk purchasing. Other attempts to have a joint approach have been unsuccessful largely due to reticence on the part of publishers to consider different ways of selling their products.

After consultation with the academic community, the Library Committee resolved that electronic editions should be acquired in preference to print where appropriate. Implementation of this policy will be a major step toward extending library services so that they can be accessed at any time and from any point on the Internet. This type of service is increasingly the norm at major research universities in North America and Britain.

The move to electronic formats will require the Library to adjust the way in which it uses some of its resources. By the end of 1999, the Library will have installed thin-client technology to provide access to the catalogue and other databases. The provision of additional terminals will be made as resources become available and in line with demand. There will also be space implications as many of the libraries are already overcrowded.

Space is a particularly difficult issue. In addition to the Fisher Library, there are thirteen libraries on the combined Camperdown/Darlington campus. Many of these are former departmental libraries staffed by one person. Although there have been some amalgamations, further rationalisation of the libraries is dependent on the provision of consolidated space in a Science Library building. Greater use of electronic formats may be expected to relieve some of the difficulties associated with a multitude of dispersed libraries but print publications will continue to be used for many years.

Establishment of a library accompanied the foundation of the University. Over the past hundred and fifty years, the University Library has grown to become the largest academic library in Australia with an internationally recognised research collection. Future development of the Library will include greater emphasis on the role of the Library as a gateway to information, as a partner in the publication process (particularly for University publications), and as a contributor to the teaching of information literacy skills.

A trial commenced late in 1999 of mechanisms to facilitate access to articles in journals for which the Library does not have subscriptions. By allowing researchers to place requests directly with document suppliers, and providing email delivery of articles, minimal impediments are placed on scholarship. Extension of the service is likely in 2000.

It will be accompanied by an improved use of the web to provide more coherent access to information resources irrespective of their format or location. A revision of the Library web pages has commenced and more attention is being given to presenting subject-related pages. The Library will continue its collaboration with other universities to improve access to publications and to make the best use of available resources. This will include investigation of the feasibility of a national store for little-used research publications.

For some years, the Library has hosted the Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service. SETIS has become a leader in the digitisation of text and has worked in partnership with other organisations on a number of projects. It has now digitised more than one hundred Australian novels and other publications which are available over the Internet. The skills and knowledge developed by the staff of SETIS are available to any member of the University who wishes to publish electronically. The Library will also continue its involvement in the electronic publication of theses.

Possession of the skills necessary to locate, evaluate and use information effectively has become vital with the development of the Internet as a significant repository of knowledge. The Library has conducted very successful Internet training and information skills programs but there is a limit to what can be achieved with available resources. From 2000, more collaboration with other parts of the University will be sought with an emphasis on including information skills as part of the curriculum.

The challenges for the Library in 2000 will be as great as they have ever been in the history of the University. There will a constant tension between maintaining print-based services and the development of new services which utilise electronic publication and the Internet. They are the same challenges faced by university libraries throughout the world and there are no easy solutions. Universities have different needs and expectations and will ultimately adopt courses of action which best balance their own requirements and their ability to resource them.

The challenge for the University of Sydney Library will be to maintain its current position as a leading research collection while developing new services which meet the evolving needs of the University.

Exam Papers on the Web

Examination papers supplied to the library are now available in electronic form at the Library's web site. In the past, the University's Examinations section provided copies of those papers which were not confidential and these were bound and made available to students. Complete sets were held in the Fisher Library and Faculty sets in the Branch libraries. The papers supplied to the Library for 1997 and 1998 have been scanned as images and can be viewed and printed from the web site. Access is by Faculty, and where necessary, by Department.

The listing is available here or by using the link for Exams on the Library home page. The papers are published in PDF format so it is necessary to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them. A link at the Exams page loads to the Adobe Web site where instructions for downloading the free Reader software are provided.

The Internet workstations are not sufficiently powerful to access all Web sites, some of which cause the workstations to stall or crash. The old workstations will all be replaced soon.

DIRECT: a new service for academics and postgraduate students

To complement the University of Sydney Library's current document delivery services and the availability of electronic journals and full-text databases, we are trialing a new service in unmediated document delivery called DIRECT. This trial is being offered to University of Sydney academic staff and postgraduate students for approximately 6 months from October 1999.

DIRECT is partially funded by a special grant from the Vice-Chancellor and is part of the Library's strategic shift from ownership to access of journal material.

What is Unmediated Document Delivery?

Unmediated document delivery is electronically ordering an article from a supplier. The document supplier will email, fax or mail articles directly to you - without library intervention.

Why have a trial of Unmediated Document Delivery?

The University of Sydney Library is exploring different methods of funding access to journal material. We need your assistance to evaluate the usefulness of unmediated document delivery. We need to know, for example:

  • how much you will use this service and how much it will cost us
  • whether unmediated document delivery assists your research and teaching
  • whether you are satisfied with the delivery options open to you
  • whether the library has provided you with enough support to use this service
  • whether this service complements library document delivery services, local serial availability, and access to full-text databases, texts and ejournals

If you are academic staff or postgraduate students of the University of Sydney we would like to encourage you to register for the trial, use it for your research and teaching needs, and give us your feedback and comments as you become familiar with the service. You may also wish to complete our questionnaire or discuss the trial with staff at your home library.

How do you register for DIRECT?

If you are an academic staff member or postgraduate student of the University of Sydney, please fill in a:

  • registration form
  • ILL/DD Registration Form (if you have not already done so)

You will be issued with several login names and passwords to access the available databases.

What is available for document supply through DIRECT?

Journal articles which are not available in the University of Sydney Library's collection may be requested through DIRECT. Please always check for local holdings before placing an order.

If you know an article's details (Author, Title, Journal Title, Date) you can check any of the document supplier databases:

  • Uncover
  • British Library Inside
  • OVID Databases (delivery via Infotrieve)

Our database overviews will help you choose the correct supplier for your article request. You can also do subject searches within the OVID databases, and then request an article.

What delivery options are available?

Articles requested will be delivered by email, fax or post, depending on which supplier you choose, and your own equipment and/or software.

We recommend that Mac users do not use the email supply options and request articles via fax or mail as there are problems with tiff viewers on some Macs.

What charges will you incur?

There are costs associated with this service; however these will be borne by the University Library, together with a special grant provided by the Vice-Chancellor.

The success of this trial depends on your wise use of university funds. For the British Library Inside service the Library will impose a limit of &#pound;100 per user. You will need to contact your home library if you have spent your allocated amount and wish to increase this limit.

What equipment and software do you need to participate in DIRECT?

The basic requirements are access to an IBM or Apple Mac computer and the Internet. In addition:

For mail delivery:

  • Nothing else if you want home delivery via the post.

For fax delivery:

  • You must have a fax number which operates 24 hours a day , i.e. is available and left on around the clock.

For e-mail delivery:

  • Windows compatible email program.

Machines pre 1995 will need to download and install a TIFF VIEWER. However users in our pilot study reported difficulties with this. Check our web site for the latest information for Mac users.

Will DIRECT replace the current document delivery services offered by the Library?

No, DIRECT is a trial which complements our current document delivery services.

What material cannot be requested via DIRECT?

Books are not available via this service. You will need to order books via the Interlibrary Loans Service as you have done in the past.

Articles and papers in journals and conference proceedings already held by the University of Sydney Library may not be requested.

Is DIRECT the only source for journal material not held by the University of Sydney Library?

No. A browse through the Library's Ejournal page may provide you with full-text access to the particular journal article you are seeking. Or accessing SIAL will tell you which journals are available locally in Sydney. Also consult the Information Desk or Interlibrary Loans/Document Supply section of your home library if you are having problems locating or obtaining material.

Who do you contact for more information?

For further information feel free to contact us via:

your Branch Library
DIRECT Hotline: (02) 9351 4762 Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 4:00pm

For further information contact the convenor of the Unmediated Document Delivery Group, Mr. Edward Quinn, on 9351 4266.

Ask a Librarian

The University of Sydney Library has over 25 reference desks where you can ask a question. Library staff answer hundreds of questions a day, from "how do I find this journal?" to "how do I start my assignment on developments in biological electron microscopy?"

Now you can also ask these questions over the Web. Ask A Librarian is the same professional service offered via new technology. Fill in the web form with your name and contact details, and your question. Identify the subject area of your question and it will be forwarded to the Library subject specialist for that field.

Ask a Librarian is available on the Library web site at: (URL updated 16/6/04)

Whats the Password?

The passwords to some of the Library's databases have been changed. If you use :

  • Anthropological Literature (ANL)
  • Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals (AVE)
  • Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA)
  • History of Science and Technology (HST)

To obtain the new login and password information, please contact:
Caroline Regan, the Co-ordinator, Access to Networked Information Resources, Fisher Library.
Phone: x13416

Please remember that database access is available to all current University of Sydney staff and students.

SciFinder Trial

The University of Sydney Library invites registered staff and students to trial the new SciFinder Scholar interface to Chemical Abstracts, the major database for chemistry and related disciplines. The trial is for 30 days from 11th October until 10th November, 1999.

SciFinder Scholar offers direct end-user access to Chemical Abstracts, with a web-based interface that needs little knowledge of command language or database intricacies.

With Scholar you can choose to search by topic, author, substructure, molecular formula or substance name - the system will search more than 14 million titles and abstracts of journal articles and patents as well as information on 18 million chemical substances within the Chemical Abstracts database, covering from 1967 onwards.

This trial will be of great interest to academics and students in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Pharmacy, Pharmacology, Chemical Engineering, Agricultural Chemistry, Food Science and Medicine.

For download instructions, login and password for SciFinder Scholar you need to register with Claire Regan.

Web Site Developments

The Library Web site is being redeveloped to improve access to services and information. If you would like to follow its progress, connect to:
or contact Susan , the Web Services Development Manager:
phone: x13804