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On-Demand Publishing in the Humanities

Project web site

Programme area
On-demand Publishing

Contact details
Phil Sykes
The Aldham Robarts Learning Resource Centre Liverpool John Moores University Mount Pleasant Liverpool L3 5UZ
Phone: 0151 2313147 Fax: 0151 707 1307

Dr Peter Childs
School Of Media, Critical and Creative Arts Liverpool John Moores University
Phone: 0151 231 5021 Fax: 0151 321 5049

Project description

as of June 3rd 1997


Meeting the demand for multiple copies of set texts is a major problem for academic libraries. This project set out to examine the benefits and the potential difficulties of using on-demand publishing by developing a "cheap and cheerful", WWW-based, model for making electronic texts available to specific student groups over a university network.


"Electronic course booklets" were created for three modules offered by Liverpool JMU's School of Media, Critical and Creative Arts, consisting of copyright material supplied by publishers and material supplied by course lecturers. These were made available, free, to students registered for the modules simply by using Netscape, with no underlying database software.

The project aimed for maximum transferability: the intention behind the project is to create a model for networking texts and monitoring their use which other institutions can copy easily and cheaply, without investing in expensive, project- specific, software and equipment.

Key Achievements

A model has been developed which is easy for other institutions to copy, and for which the set-up costs are extremely modest (under 2000 pounds for hardware and software provided the institution has a web server and a PC is available). Adequate levels of document security were built into the model, despite the constraints of the "cheap and cheerful" approach. Users' responses to the materials was thoroughly investigated, and are fully documented in the project web pages. The interface to the materials is effective and easy to use, and embodies a number of features which "add value" to the printed original.


Electronic booklets for three modules were prepared. The first was made available in the Spring Semester of 1996; the second and third were launched at the beginning of the Autumn Semester of 1996; the first module was then re-run, with modifications, in the Spring Semester of 1997.

Dissemination Activities

Workshops are being held to disseminate the project finding during the Spring and Summer of 1997. A final project report will be made available on the eLib web pages in Summer 1997. As well as containing a "how to" description of the model developed, the report will analyse the costs, benefits and problems of introducing on demand publishing in a large, teaching-led, university and evaluate the experience of each of the major groups affected by the project.

Materials Available Online

The project web pages are accessible through the eLib web pages, or directly from the on-demand web site. Guests may access the basic interface to the JMU "Postmodernism and Fiction" module available to students, though copyright materials are security protected.

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The Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
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