UKOLN Interoperability Focus: Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Thursday 18 November 1999


Ray Lester (Chair), Mary Auckland, David Bradbury, Margaret Croucher (for Sue Howley), David Dawson, Richard Heseltine, Paul Miller, Michelle Morris (for John Brown), Jane Ryder, Dick Sargent, Louise Smith, David Thomas, Ben Toth.


Alice Colban, Lorcan Dempsey, Sonya Finnigan, Nicholas Kingsley, Carrol Lunau, Neil McLean, Pat Manson, Bill Moen, Judith Pearce, John Perkins, Mary Rowlatt, Bruce Royan, Chris Rusbridge, Rosemary Russell, Peter Smith, Richard Wellings, Alicia Wise.

1. Welcome and Introductions

David Dawson of the Museums and Galleries Commission was thanked for making facilities available for this meeting.

2. Minutes of Last Meeting

The minutes of the meeting of 14 July 1999 were accepted.

3. Progress to date

Monthly reports for July–October were discussed, highlighting the wide range of activities currently undertaken.

Mary Auckland commented on the value of these summaries, and the work of the Focus, stating that "Interoperability is central to JISC's vision of delivering the DNER". She also highlighted the importance of maintaining an international perspective on the work being done here in the UK.

Speaking for the public library sector, Margaret Croucher queried the relationship between work being done by the Focus and the work of both public libraries and the emerging People's Network. It is important to ensure effective dissemination of results in both directions.

David Dawson highlighted the important role played by Interoperability Focus as a liaison between the "bits of joined-upness" across memory institutions such as the Cultural Heritage, archives and libraries.

For the archival sector, Dick Sargent suggested that the Focus had currently had little impact. Work is underway to resolve this deficiency, with a meeting scheduled for early 2000 at the Historic Manuscripts Commission.

Ben Toth described the increasing importance of interoperability within the Health Service, including such concepts as the Electronic Health Record which will track a patient from birth to death, moving from institution to institution as they come into contact with different parts of the NHS throughout their life. The National Electronic Library for Health also has a requirement for enabling interoperability between a variety of information sources, as it envisages creating sources of local health information along the lines of SEAMLESS and CIRCE.

Michelle Morris expressed a problem faced by many large services, namely the fact that the National Grid for Learning and others will rarely create their own data, but rather will aim to aggregate data from a variety of sources beyond their direct control. Clearly understood and agreed guidelines for interoperability are therefore essential if the aggregated result presented back to the user is to prove meaningful.

It was agreed that whilst technical developments such as ongoing work on the Bath Profile were important, these could not take place in isolation. Rather, they needed to be informed by — and inform — strategic, social, and policy initiatives across the sectors involved. It was, however, recognised as valuable for the Focus to continue its current role in the development of technical initiatives such as the Bath Profile.

Discussion identified a significant problem in disseminating information about creating, using, and locating resources outwards to the vast majority of users. In Higher Education, lecturing staff might be expected to inform students, but how do we inform the lecturers? In the National Grid for Learning, how is information disseminated to teachers, and in the National Electronic Library for Health, how are local General Practitioners effectively kept informed and supported?

4. UKOLN/mda Terminology Workshop — MODELS 11

The programme and invitation list for MODELS 11 were tabled and discussed. This workshop is being jointly organized by UKOLN and mda to address the important issues relating to creation and use of terminological resources such as word lists and thesauri.

This event demonstrates valuable co-operation between the Focus and other organizations working in similar areas. It also serves to build further bridges between a range of communities tackling a common set of problems, with invitees from Higher Education as well as national and local libraries, the cultural heritage sector, Government, and national initiatives such as the National Grid for Learning.

5. Continued work on the Bath Profile

Work on the Bath Profile continues, with the editorial team currently reviewing and incorporating comments from the consultation process.

UKOLN organized a Concertation Day in the UK, to which representatives were invited from Higher Education, the library sector, and the system vendors. Over 30 people attended the meeting on 26 November, with a number of valuable suggestions discussed. A report from this meeting is being prepared for release on the web site.

The editors aim to finalise revisions to the Profile by the New Year, with an open meeting planned for 20 January in San Antonio, Texas. Following this meeting, we hope to have the Profile ratified by the Z39.50 Implementors Group, prior to submission to ISO.

6. Interoperability at the Coal Face event

There was some discussion of organizing an event (or events) at which some of the work being done by the Focus could be disseminated more widely, and ideally placed in context for various audiences. Suggestions of events and venues at which this might occur are welcomed [ACTION: ALL], either as an occasion in its own right, or as part of existing events. It was suggested, for example, that awareness days organized by the Area Museum Councils might be useful events at which to give presentations.

7. Date and Location of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be on Tuesday 14 March 2000, beginning at 12pm. A buffet lunch will be served during the meeting.

The venue is the London Institute in London. Many thanks to Mary Auckland for making these facilities available to us.

Items are invited for this meeting's agenda [ACTION: ALL].