Below Lorcan shares his thoughts on his years at what came to be known as UKOLN.
"I first came to Bath over thirteen years ago just as the Centre for Bibliographic Management had been established. This took up the work of the Centre for Catalogue Research and its antecedent projects, which was inaugurated at the University over twenty years ago by Philip Bryant and Maurice Line. UKOLN was established some years later, owing much, as did much else at this time, to the intercession of Derek Law. UKOLN, first a cuckoo, grew to occupy and extend the nest. The change over that period has been significant, its scope indicated, as I suggested recently in the special UKOLN issue of the Journal of Documentation, by its conference titles. These developed from the first Online access to library files through to the recent, international, Information landscapes for a learning society. This progression shows the development from initial local 'mechanisation' of data processing tasks, initiated by those early experiments with the bibliographic 'file', towards a current environment in which a fabric of information flows permeates business, social and cultural activity. UKOLN's interests have developed in parallel, from early stages of library automation to current cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary debates about information management in a network society. This work is set against the background of a foundational rearticulation of the institutions of learning and research, of civic engagement and public information, and of scholarly communication.
This has made it an interesting time to work in UKOLN, which is a good vantage point from which to see some of this change, and has been, I hope, an effective actor in its own areas of interest. Looking back over my period there, some random thoughts come to mind. The first involves the setting up of UKOLN, and the interestingly circular debates that occurred at the time among those charged with establishing scope and programmes of work. From my partial perspective, it was interesting as it was perhaps formed at that transitional moment when the network emerged as sharable infrastructure, rather than as a support for a particular service or application. As in any transition, perspectives varied. In this particular case, there was some misalignment between those who recognised the potential for such emerging infrastructure, and those who saw developments through the lens of the existing 'bibliographic networks', union catalogue and interlending organisations who pioneered the use of networking in the library community.
The second involves that short window of time following the emergence of a range of Internet tools for resource access, discovery and retrieval (radar), and before the pervasive adoption of the Web following the development of Mosaic. These tools included preeminently Wais, Gopher, Archie, Harvest and the Web, but also others. It was a very creative period which has since faded from view. With hindsight, it is interesting to observe the discussion about an information space partitioned by protocol, of which http was only one, and the presumptive claims to priority for one approach over another. We were privileged to be involved, albeit marginally, in some of this discussion. We carried a library interest, but also in other ways. Andy Powell, for example, then working for the University Computing Service, maintained the UK Gopher entry point on our behalf for a while. At Dennis Nicholson's invitation, Tim Berners-Lee himself installed a Web server on a UKOLN machine - a very early UK presence. (UKOLN for a while hosted BUBL, giving us the regrettably lost bubl.bath.ac.uk address.)
The third involves some consideration of programmatic responses to change. We have been closely involved with various EU programmes, notably with the initial 'libraries programme' and its successors, with the Electronic Libraries Programme of the JISC, and with New Library, or latterly, the People's Network. Each is very different in emphasis and scope, but also, critically, in the dynamics of people and politics. It is difficult to gain a sufficiently distant point from which to judge their impact or importance.
Reflecting the changes reported above, Chris Batt replaces Sue Howley on the Management Committee as the Resource representative. Chris is the Director of the Learning & Information Society Team at Resource. Professor James Calderhead, as the Dean of the Division of Access and Continuing Studies within the University of Bath, also joins the Committee. We wish to extend a warm welcome to our new members and to thank Sue Howley for her contributions and support for UKOLN during her time on the Management Committee.
You will find references to the Distributed National Electronic Resource or DNER cropping up with increasing regularity throughout this, and no doubt subsequent editions of the Newsletter. So what is the DNER? Put simply, it is a JISC initiative that supports the creation of a managed framework for Internet-based resources that can be used by teachers, learners and researchers within and beyond the UK higher and further education communities. Bringing together material from a variety of sources and in a variety of formats, the DNER will include journals, monographs, textbooks, abstracts, manuscripts, maps, music scores, still images, geospatial images and other numeric data, as well as moving picture and sound collections. The aim is to provide an electronic resource which appears seamless to the user (unlike current electronic services where different services require different search techniques, for example). Available through the JANET HE and FE network, staff and students will be able to access resources effectively and efficiently through intuitive and customised interfaces.
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International work on the Bath Profile has continued unabated, with the Profile submitted to the International Standards Organisation for endorsement as an Internationally Recognised Profile earlier in the year. Following a review period, this endorsement has been given, and version 1.1 of the Profile is now available for use.
As part of the process around formalising this Profile, a Maintenance Agency has been formed at the National Library of Canada. The Maintenance Agency will be responsible for co-ordinating promotion and development of the Profile, and is already in discussion with a number of library system suppliers over their incorporation of the Profile within their products.
In conjunction with the other higher education funding councils, HEFCE is currently devoting funding to the development of a new concept known as the e-University. The e-University is intended to enable the delivery of high quality education from UK universities to an ever-expanding market of distance learners who will make use of new technology to access a range of learning resources.
Over the summer, HEFCE is funding a series of evaluations that will serve to shape the direction in which this important initiative moves. Interoperability Focus co-ordinated a successful bid for one of these studies, and Michael Day and Paul Miller are working on this project with colleagues in DACS and the Academic Services Learning Development at the University of Hull.
The study is examining the availability of electronic learning resources such as those provided from the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme or available within the DNER. It is expected that the report from this study will be available from the HEFCE Web site later in the summer.
A large number of bodies within the UK are currently aiming to describe educational content online. In the public sector alone, bodies include the Department for Education and Employment, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) responsible for content on the National Grid for Learning, the University for Industry, the Scottish Executive, the JISC and more.
Standards in this arena abound, making it difficult for the learner - who often needs to access resources provided by more than one of these agencies - to find and work with what they want in any integrated fashion.
Under the auspices of Interoperability Focus, a meeting of key stakeholders was held in London at the start of June, and agreement was reached to work together towards common solutions where appropriate. UKOLN is hosting a set of Web pages for this initiative, and is actively seeking to progress the agenda of this group across all educational levels within the UK.
CIMI is an international membership organisation that aims to raise awareness of and develop solutions to technology-related issues within the cultural heritage sector.
This work has traditionally been undertaken within a series of working groups, and has resulted in a number of important deliverables including the CIMI Profile for Z39.50 and a set of guidelines for deploying Dublin Core within the museum community.
Together with the Arts and Humanities Data Service, UKOLN has been involved with CIMI for some time through Interoperability Focus.
From this year, the JISC's Committee on Electronic Information (JCEI) has agreed to fund Interoperability Focus for continued participation in the work of CIMI. Thanks to the new JCEI funding, the JISC now has a place on the Executive Committee of CIMI alongside organisations such as the Coalition for Networked Information, the Research Libraries Group and the J. Paul Getty Trust.
The New Opportunities Fund (NOF) is the body responsible for distributing grants of National Lottery money to projects relating to health, education and the environment. Under their digitisation programme, NOF are allocating £50 million to projects in libraries and museums and elsewhere; money that will result in a significant resource for lifelong learners. Working together with staff from the People's Network Team at Resource, UKOLN have prepared a set of technical guidelines for projects funded under this programme. The guidelines recommend agreed approaches to how the resources are created and made available to end users, and include a set of requirements with which participating projects must comply. The guidelines will be backed up by a support service that NOF are funding at UKOLN.
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This year's national Institutional Web Management Workshop will be held at the University of Bath from 6-8 September. The theme will be The Joined-Up Web and talks, demonstrations and discussion groups will address the integration of Web services within institutions and with outside bodies. Technical, policy and resourcing issues will also be addressed. The workshop is open to members of the HE and FE communities who are responsible for managing institutional Web services. This will include managers, policy makers, technical staff, etc. A number of places will also be available to public sector organisations. Further details about the workshop are available on the UKOLN Web site or by contacting Brian Kelly (B.Kelly@ukoln.ac.uk) or Joy Fraser (J.V.Fraser@ukoln.ac.uk).
Brian Kelly attended the Ninth International World Wide Web conference in Amsterdam during May. In addition to technical papers from the Web research community and keynote presentations from commercial vendors, the conference also provides an opportunity for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to report on developments to the Web architecture.
A fuller report on the W3C conference is available in the latest issue of Ariadne
The main theme of this year's conference was the 'mobile Web'. The recent release of WAP-enabled mobile phones and networking developments to PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants, such as the Psion) together with developments in the area of digital television appear to herald the advent of a much more 'wired society'. Sceptics, however, are warning of dangers, including the costs and resource implications of providing information for Web users and mobile phone users.
One of the highlights of the W3C Track was the momentum behind XHTML and the potential of XSLT for transforming XML documents. XHTML is simply a reformulation of HTML as an XML application. A small number of simple modifications to HTML documents (elements must be in lower case, attribute values must be in quotes, etc.) will enable documents to be expressed in XHTML. This will enable the documents to benefit from various XML facilities, while still allowing them to be viewed by existing Web browsers.
XSLT provides a transformation language for XML documents. As an example XSLT will enable XHTML documents to be transformed into WML format, allowing them to be accessed by mobile phones. This technique will help to address the resourcing implications of providing information for Web and mobile phone users.
Web Focus presented a poster at the conference, Approaches to indexing in the UK higher education community, which reviewed the indexing tools used to index institutional Web services in the UK HE community, described the limitations of a Web-centric approach, and concluded by mentioning developments within eLib and the DNER.
Web Focus is a member of the Steering Group for Hero (Higher Education and Research Opportunities) - a portal to UK Universities. Hero, initially known as the HE Mall, will provide a high-profile interface to the teaching and research activities of the UK Higher Education Community. A Hero Technical Advisory Group, recently set up by Brian Kelly, has been active in generating discussion on the hemall-discussion Mailbase list on the information architecture for Hero.
Presentations given by Web Focus can be viewed at on the Web site.
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After a reasonably lengthy gestation period The public librarian's guide to the Internet is due to be published by Library Association Publishing this summer. Co-authored by Sally Criddle and Sarah Ormes with Ian Winship (Northumbria University) and Alison McNab (Loughborough University) the book provides a practical introduction to the Internet for public librarians. The book covers what the Internet is and how it works, provides a guide to useful Internet resources for the public librarian and also explores how libraries can integrate the Internet into their day-to-day services. This is the first Internet book specifically aimed at public librarians to be published in the UK.
UKOLN's online directory for UK public library staff now has over 350 people registered. As well as being available on the Web, the directory can also be integrated with many e-mail programs, allowing fast and efficient access to the contact details of public librarians.
As reported in the Interoperability Focus column, UKOLN has been working with NOF and Resource to develop technical standards for the nof-digitise programme. UKOLN has also been working with local cultural institutions in Bath to develop a proposal for the nof-digitise programme. This proposal, called Life of Bath, is led by Bath and NE Somerset Library Services. It aims to develop a digital cultural resource-bank covering life in Bath today and during key periods in the city's history. The partners should hear during July whether the proposal has been selected for the second stage of the application process.
Stories from the Web continues to be a successful literature service provided to children by UKOLN, Birmingham, Bristol City and Leeds Library Services. This online literacy and reader development project was originally funded by the Library and Information Commission to run for two years. This funding has now ended and Stories from the Web now hopes to identify more funding to allow it to continue in the short term before developing a self-sustaining funding model. Use of the Web site remains high with an increasing number of schools integrating it into their literacy hour lessons.
Figure 1: The recently redesigned Stories from the Web homepage.
Stop Press Stories from the Web has been awarded funding for a further 12 months from the DCMS/Wolfson programme. This funding will allow Stories from the Web to expand to include more library authorities in its clubs programme, to re-develop the Web site and expand its target audience to include teenagers.
Sarah Ormes is project managing the development of a series of issue papers about major networking policy issues that public libraries are currently facing. Five issue papers have now been published (Filtering, Charging for Networked Services, Collecting Internet Resources, Range of Services and most recently, Copyright in the Networked Environment). Papers to be published in the coming months include Equality and Networked Services by Lorna Brown (Independent Consultant), Partnerships by Guy Daines (Library Association), Resource Sharing by David Potts (Resource) and Web Site Standards by Brian Kelly (UKOLN).
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In 1999, the Library and Information Commission funded a project to develop and maintain the National Union Catalogue of Alternative Formats (NUCAF).
UKOLN was commissioned to explore how NUCAF could best be developed, defining the aims and objectives of a union catalogue in this field and creating a technical specification of the metadata requirements for NUCAF. The resulting report concluded that some form of union catalogue was vital to bring together the resources of more than 230 specialist producers in this field, but that such a database needed to be more widely accessible. During the review, it also became clear that NUCAF requires a 'clean up' of the data currently held, as there are some missing titles, where producers have not notified the union catalogue, and other entries still present when the item has been withdrawn.
Recommendations made included relaunching an enhanced database on a Web-based platform, supported by CD-ROM products. In addition the resource should also record titles in the process of being transcribed into an accessible format, provide collections descriptions for the various lending agencies and support interlibrary lending of these materials. Ideally the resource would also provide an integrated method of requesting and recording copyright permissions to produce these materials; at present, unlike some other countries, there is no exemption in copyright legislation for materials produced for visually impaired people. The commissioning group accepted the recommendations and named the new database Reveal.
The recommendations made in the review report were strategic and needed to be expanded in order to create a functioning database. Funding has been obtained from the British Library Co-operation and Partnership Programme to undertake a feasibility study. This study will develop a detailed implementation plan for Reveal. Work began on the study in May and is expected to last for four months. Ann Chapman has contributed a chapter on NUCAF and Reveal to the Best Practice Manual for improving library and information services to visually impaired people, which will be published later this summer.
A study was carried out in 1999 by UKOLN and LISU (the Library and Information Statistics Unit at Loughborough University) on acquisitions trends in UK libraries.
A report on the results of the study is now available. A number of trends emerged from the analysis, which are discussed in the report, and possible reasons for these suggested. While there are too many findings to list here, they cover a whole range of issues in the field of acquisitions and stock selection and maintenance. For instance, the current public interest in 'family, home and practical interests' is reflected in public library acquisitions. However the high rate of acquisition of biography may not be supported by statistics of use. Academic library acquisitions is dominated by titles in the social sciences, but a larger proportion of these titles are bought than the proportion of students on these courses within the total student population. The study findings will be of interest not only to libraries, but also to publishers, booksellers and library suppliers.
The British Library will this summer be consulting the UK library community on further harmonisation of the UKMARC and MARC21 formats. A report on the issues has been produced for the consultation process by the Book Industry Communication Bibliographic Standards Technical Sub-group, of which Ann Chapman is a member. To complement the consultation, a series of meetings are being planned over the summer and early autumn.
A report on the first year of this survey was published in 1998 and copies of this report are still available. See UKOLN In Print for details.
Further information about bibliographic management activities is available on the Web site.
UKOLN is contributing to several of the work-packages in Renardus. In particular we are leading the development of an architectural model that will support the functional requirements of this broker system, and we are also evaluating sustainable business models for such a European wide collaborative system. A number of project deliverables are already available on the Renardus Web site . Michael Day has co-ordinated and edited contributions from various partners for one of UKOLN's early deliverables: an evaluation report of existing broker models in related projects. The report reviews 18 broker architectures that have been developed for existing services and projects such as EULER, TF-CHIC, Aquarelle and Universe. The MODELS Information Architecture (MIA) is used as a tool for analysing these systems, and particular functionality has been mapped onto the generic MIA. There is also an account of the range of protocols and software in use.
Architecture for digital library services involves more than a technical approach. In conjunction with consideration of protocols, standards and network design we have been developing use cases in order to inform design. UKOLN are collaborating with the Human Computer Interface (HCI) research group within the University of Bath Computing Department to explore ways in which our network information research approach can be enriched and connected within the HCI literature.
The IMesh Toolkit project is funded under the NSF/JISC International Digital Libraries Initiative to provide an architectural framework and toolkit for subject gateways. Our partners are the ILRT, at the University of Bristol, and the Internet Scout Project, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After initial delays with recruitment the project is now up to full staffing on both sides of the Atlantic. The initial reviews of subject gateway requirements and technical options are now underway. In the interim period during the recruitment process, Martin Hamilton of Loughborough University has been working with UKOLN on a broker review while undertaking continuing development work on ROADS breaking out the code into an OpenSource platform.
Within UKOLN we will be concentrating on the design of common components for subject gateways. We will work on identifying existing components, and where they do not exist will develop reference implementations. Other partners will concentrate on metadata management and interoperability components. We are keen to collaborate with others who are working in this area to move towards an interoperating framework which will enable tools to work together.
IMesh Toolkit partners participated in the recent DLI2 meeting in Stratford where all DLI2 projects from the US and UK had an opportunity to exchange information and review progress. Many contacts were formed and renewed, in particular we hope to follow up collaboration with Cheshire in the context of their work on the DLI2 project - Cross-Domain Resource Discovery: Integrated Discovery and use of Textual, Numeric and Spatial Data.
As the DESIRE project draws to an end, we have been concentrating on the enhancement of the DESIRE metadata registry, and on dissemination of the lessons we have learnt from development of the registry. Further content has been added to the registry, for example schema for collection description, and a Web-based administrative interface has been developed. The registry has proved a useful prototype with which to introduce schema implementors to the possible functionality of a metadata registry. We have introduced the registry at the DESIRE Web indexing workshop in Delft, the Meta-Lib workshop in Göttingen, and at the first SCHEMAS workshop here in Bath.
One of the most significant outputs from the DESIRE registry work was the emergence of the concept of the 'application profile' to encapsulate the way individual implementations introduce local usages to 'standard' schema, and typically take elements from more than one schema. We are pleased that we can continue our work in this area within SCHEMAS, and that Rachel Heery can contribute to related efforts in her role as chair of the Dublin Core Registry Working Group.
The SCHEMAS project is a two-year accompanying measure to the EC Fifth Framework Programme. The project's main aim is to provide information regarding the status and use of new and emerging metadata standards, and to promote good practice guidelines for adapting metadata standards for local use in customised, implementation specific schemas.
The project Web site maintained by UKOLN, already contains several useful documents. The one which will be of greatest interest to anyone concerned with developments in the metadata arena is the first Metadata Watch report.
In March UKOLN held a metadata registries meeting which brought together several people active in this area. This was a very intensive and fruitful meeting, which served to highlight issues that will impact on the development of a registry for the SCHEMAS project and the future development of a Dublin Core Registry.
The first SCHEMAS workshop, which was concerned with gathering requirements from metadata schema implementors, was organised and hosted by UKOLN in May. Future workshops are planned over the next two years. The SCHEMAS workshop programme and presentations are available on the Web site.
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The BIBLINK project that ended in February has been valuable in several respects. Research during the project has highlighted many issues that need to be resolved both internally in libraries and between the library and publishing communities. Work under-taken during the project has contributed to the debate within libraries relating to electronic publications. Discussions with publishers have indicated that they too are engaged in parallel internal debates, seeking solutions to the ramifications of electronic publishing in a market place offering great opportunity, but still in a state of flux with regard to standards and procedures. Indeed it has been remarked by participating publishers that in the areas of identifiers and metadata requirements, involvement in BIBLINK has provided a timely learning opportunity.
The BIBLINK project has also resulted in software that can be used by individual organisations to fulfil a valuable role in record creation and alerting functions. The modular design of the system caters for customisation and will allow the component parts to be further developed as procedures and work-flows are revised to meet new processing needs for electronic publications.
An overview of the entire project was presented at the Internet Librarian 2000 Conference by Manjula Patel (UKOLN) and Robina Clayphan (British Library) in March and the PowerPoint slides of the presentation are available.
The final project report will be available on the BIBLINK Web site at in due course.
The Agora project is now entering its final six months with Release 1 of the Agora hybrid library management system (HLMS) being installed at the library associate sites during the summer.
Release 1 provides cross-domain searching and integrated delivery of information either electronically or by way of institutional interlibrary lending and will provide the platform upon which each of the associates will conduct case studies during the summer months. These case studies will constitute the major work of the project in its last year.
The university libraries of East Anglia, Hull, Heriot-Watt and Bath Spa are participating in the user case study programme. Bath University will also be participating with a joint study involving The Division of Access and Continuing Studies and UKOLN, with support from the University Library.
The University of Edinburgh Library will join the library associates in time for Release 2 of the Agora software. Their case study will be hosted by the SELLIC project (the Science and Engineering Library, Learning and Information Centre) and will be based in the faculty of Science and Engineering.
The studies will address three major areas: functionality, needs of different user groups and requirements for training/management tools.
The functionality will be tested under three components:
The user groups that are participating will include; academic, research and faculty staff, university-based and distance learning postgraduates, undergraduates and professional and non-professional library staff.
One study will focus specifically on the training requirements of library staff, and it is envisaged that all of the Associates will contribute to the documentation, reflecting their experiences and the ongoing evaluation within the context of the case studies.
Finally, one of the major objectives of the project is the provision of 'change management tools'. Again it is hoped that the case study experiences will assist the information community in assessing and potentially integrating hybrid library management systems, and that the whole Agora experience will contribute to the larger debate and development of the hybrid library concept.
Interest in Agora continues to grow with demonstrations at various events over the last six months including the eLib Collection Level Description concertation day and Libtech 2000
Demonstrations to the service provider associates are continuing, culminating in the organisation of a service provider update meeting later in the year. These and a range of other events will be scheduled to tie in with Release 2 of the Agora HLMS and the completion of the case study reports.
The Cedars project aims to investigate issues and develop practical exemplars relating to the long-term preservation of digital materials. One recent major development was the release of the public consultation draft of the project document Metadata for digital preservation: the Cedars project outline specification.
This document first describes how the project has attempted to develop a digital preservation system based on the Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) and then defines a number of high-level metadata elements arranged according to that model's Taxonomy of Archival Information Object Classes.
A Cedars 'structured walk-through' meeting was held at the University of Birmingham in April in order to look at some specific digital objects and take them through the process of ingest into a digital archive - including the assignation of preservation metadata. A final version of the outline specification is due shortly and this should include some examples based on the outcomes of the walk-through meeting. The current version of the outline specification is available from the Cedars Web site.
Presentations on preservation metadata and the Cedars project have been given at a workshop hosted by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris) in February, and also at the Meta-Lib Workshop, held in Göttingen in May.
The RSLP Collection Description project continues with the collection description schema now in a final comment phase. Recent changes to the schema have been based on the outcomes of an RSLP Collection Description concertation day held in February. A subsequent meeting also took account of the requirements of the archival community and, in particular, the relationship between RSLP collection descriptions, the UK HE Archives Hub and the existing ISAD(G) and EAD archival standards.
A Web-based tool has been developed that allows RSLP collection descriptions to be created. The Web tool incorporates a number of example collection descriptions, contributed by other RSLP projects, and a detailed set of Data Entry Guidelines. There has also been some work on implementing the schema using a Microsoft Access database and using the ROADS suite of tools, though this should be considered as preparatory work at this stage.
As the RSLP programme develops, the intention is to gather in collection descriptions created by all the projects, enabling them to be searched from a central database. A prototype of such a search service, containing a small set of example descriptions, is also available for comment.
In order to provide RSLP projects and other interested parties with information about the RSLP Collection Description Project and to discuss issues related to the adoption and implementation of the project's collection description schema and tools, a mailing list email@example.com has been set up. The list is also an appropriate forum for the discussion of more general collection description issues, particularly as they relate to RSLP projects.
A presentation of the RSLP project was given at an eLib Collection Descriptions concertation day in February.
More information about the project is available from the Web site.
The EC funded PRIDE project is nearing completion. Following a successful review by the Commission we can expect to see project partners exploiting the software developed during PRIDE in various ways.
UKOLN will continue to offer the Public Library People directory in the future, hopefully expanding it into a more general UK galleries, libraries, archives and museums people directory. In collaboration with the JISC's DNER Programme Team, we also hope to investigate whether the use of LDAP for holding collection level descriptions, as done in PRIDE, can be exploited in the context of the DNER as part of the infrastructure for building DNER portals.
UKOLN also intend to re-use the software developed as part of the PRIDE RDF Harvester within the RSLP Collection Description and other projects.
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Ariadne continues to follow digital library community developments closely; particularly those associated with the e-University concept, distance learning and access initiatives, and also content services. The latest issue (Issue 24) features The Theory and Practice of the Virtual University, which reports on the actual use of new technologies by UK universities; and another article on the interoperability question. Issue 23, published in March, contained a follow up article on the technical background to the launch of the Oxford English Dictionary Online, which was covered with two articles in this issue; one of which was a highly popular user review. Other user services available via a Web interface are scheduled for review in future issues, including both the Bartleby and the Perseus projects.
The continuing development of the hub and portal concepts is also being watched closely, particularly since the UK Higher Education conception of the portal has different implications to those in the US commercial model. We also continue to follow what is happening with W3C, and Brian Kelly reports on this year's conference in his Web Focus column in Issue 24.
Ariadne is gearing up to cover the development of the new Distributed National Electronic Resource (DNER) and its services. A number of the JISC eLib programme projects are now winding down, but there is still substantial scope for coverage of these until at least the end of the year, and a little more thereafter. Those projects which have made a successful transition from demonstrator project to service will of course continue to be a focus of interest. Ariadne reviewed the CLUMPs one day conferences in issues 23 and 24, and also featured the Agora project in issue 24 (all Z39.50 projects).
We have also covered the vast increase in streaming video now available - with articles in Issues 22 and 23 - the second covering broadband television broadcasting on the Web (cable-modem speed upwards). Streaming speeds are now approaching those necessary for the delivery of terrestrial broadcast quality sound and vision, and MPEG 4 compression is on the horizon. A number of Web-based resources, particularly in the US, now embed on-demand streaming video components in their educational materials. Easier domestic broadband connection in the UK in the near future means streaming multimedia is likely to play a large role in the electronic delivery of educational materials.
Visits to Ariadne continue to increase, with user sessions this year averaging more than 1,000 per day.
An evaluation study of phases one and two of the eLib programme has recently been mounted on the UKOLN hosted site. The site is still growing, and will continue to do so at least until the programme formally closes. The JISC/NPO study, The Digital Culture: Maximising the Nation's Investment, a synthesis of JISC/NPO studies on the preservation of digital materials, was mounted in April. Other recent additions to the site can be found via the home page of the eLib site .
UKOLN have now produced six issues of Exploit Interactive, the Web magazine funded by the European Commission as part of the EXPLOIT project, an Accompanying Measure for the Fourth Framework's Telematics for Libraries programme.
To date the magazine has contained articles on almost 30 of the projects and continues to be a crucial way for the projects to disseminate information. Issue 5 included an article on the development of a 'presentation toolkit' for the EXPLOIT project that dealt with the main phases of the Accompanying Measure which includes the web magazine.
Recent feature articles from the broader community have included a look at NORDGUIDE, discussion on whether technology should lead communication or vice versa and an introduction to the CULTIVATE project. The regular columns section now consist of Behind the Web Site and Web Technologies. The Java crossword is also back for issue 6.
Exploit Interactive continues to be a useful testbed for UKOLN's research interests. New technologies applied include links to Babel Fish's translation package, the new HyperNews Forum, the ability to search the entire Exploit Interactive site, e-mail notification of new issues and for printing purposes, the option to view the entire contents in one large file.
Figure 2: The new Hyper-News Forum developed for Exploit Interactive
A poster session about the use of Dublin Core and the enhanced search facility was given at the WWW9 conference in Amsterdam. Further details are given in the Web Focus section of this newsletter.
Cultivate Interactive is a new pan-European Web magazine for the Digital Heritage and Cultural Content communities within the Fifth Framework. It forms part of the CULTIVATE project which builds on the work of EXPLOIT and strengthens networking. Cultivate Interactive is funded by the Digital Heritage and Cultural Content (DIGICULT) area of the EC Information Society Technologies Programme.
The Cultivate Interactive Web magazine will have a similar role to Exploit Interactive mentioned above, but with a broader remit. It will cover the museum and archive communities in addition to the library community.
Cultivate Interactive will contain feature articles on DIGICULT projects which address the challenges facing the project team and allow the reader to provide feedback or participate in discussions on related issues. The regular columns will include Behind the Web site, News from the National Nodes and Webwatch.
The first issue of Cultivate Interactive was launched in July.
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Development of the Resource Discovery Network (RDN) continues at a pace. The RDN was launched last November to provide the UK learning and research community with effective access to high quality Internet resources.
Staff based at UKOLN and King's College, London, work closely with the JISC DNER Programme Team to co-ordinate the development of the RDN. The service is currently covering areas as diverse as social science and law, engineering and medicine, and work is underway on the creation of new subject gateways in the areas of mathematics, life sciences, physical sciences and the humanities. The RDN hopes to expand its subject coverage further to include environmental science, geography, hospitality, leisure & tourism and education.
Figure 3: Part of the RDN home page.
While RDN Internet Resource Catalogues maintain their own character and identity, the RDN promotes shared working practice through The RDN Interoperability and Standards Framework. This document draws together a number of internationally recognised standards to create a framework within which RDN Internet Resource Catalogues may interoperate. Together with the RDN Cataloguing Guidelines, the Framework also provides a blueprint for interoperability beyond the RDN. Staff at UKOLN have been active in developing both Framework and Guidelines.
Because of this approach the RDN can offer a centralised view across all the Internet Resource Catalogues, opening the RDN to multidisciplinary research and one-stop resource discovery. By utilising international standards the RDN is also capable of offering its data to other services, for example, through the RDN's involvement in the Renardus Project.
Development of the RDN Web site continues, and FindIt was recently added. This service is a general reference tool to help users access the best sites for the latest national news, football scores, travel information and much more. This service will expand to encompass a number of other reference resources in the future.
RDN staff at UKOLN are also developing a tool that allows other organisations to integrate the ResourceFinder and, optionally, the RDN subject headings into their Web sites. RDN-include (RDN-i) means that Web managers, librarians, and anyone else who maintains an information resource on a local intranet, or for universal use via the Internet, will be able to benefit by offering a first class resource discovery tool to their users, without the headache of maintenance.
The RDN will shortly release the Virtual Training Suite (VTS). Developed by and based at ILRT, at the University of Bristol, the VTS will provide access to a number of free subject-based Internet tutorials. These tutorials will help both Web novices and experienced users to discover the best Internet information resources related to their subject. Tutorial titles include Internet Aviator, The Internet for English, Internet Medic, Internet Business Manager and The Internet for Lawyers.
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The first half of the year has seen UKOLN involved in six events.
In January the eleventh and final workshop in the MODELS series was held in Bath. The workshop, jointly hosted with mda - the cultural information management organisation - addressed issues surrounding the use of controlled terminology. The first of the two eLib Clumps projects events was held in March at Goldsmiths College, London. Chris Batt from Resource delivered the keynote address to 125 delegates, and the four projects - Riding, M25 Link, CAIRNS and Music Libraries Online - all reported back on their years work. An extended lunch break allowed time for delegates to try hands-on searches on the network provided by Goldsmiths. After a presentation from Netskills the day was wound up with a closing speech from Peter Stubley, the Riding Project Director. The second event, held at the University of Glasgow in April, was almost a repeat of the London workshop. Eighty delegates attended and heard Ian Mowat, Librarian from the University of Edinburgh give the keynote speech with the closing speech being given by Richard Heseltine, Director of Academic Services and Librarian at the University of Hull.
The first SCHEMAS workshop, funded by the EC, was held at the University of Bath in May. Thirty-nine delegates attended from all over Europe plus two from North America. Three further workshops are planned over the next 18 months.
In June two conferences were held consecutively in Stratford upon Avon. The first was hosted by the JISC for the National Science Foundation of America. Over 160 delegates from projects involved in the Digital Libraries Initiative (DLI2) were reporting back at their second meeting. Most delegates were from the US with six projects represented from the UK. There were also visitors from Japan, Korea, Brazil, Russia, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg. The JISC joined forces with the Coalition for Networked Information in the US for the second conference. A hundred and ninety delegates heard speakers from both countries on a wide variety of topics and were especially pleased to hear Lynne Brindley, the new Chief Executive of the British Library, as she outlined her vision for her new job.
Events planned for the rest of the year include the fourth Institutional Web Managers Workshop, being held in Bath from 6-8 September, the second Public Library Web Managers Workshop, also being held in Bath later in the year and the second SCHEMAS workshop which will be held in Bonn in November. A Cedars conference is being planned for York from 7-8 December, and will be preceded on 6 December by a metadata workshop hosted by the Research Libraries Group.
Figure 4: Bath University - venue for the Institutional Web Managers Workshop
UKOLN officially said good-bye to Lorcan at the end of May and, over the last few months, has welcomed Marieke Napier, Richard Waller, Monica Bonett and Leona Carpenter.
Marieke joins UKOLN as an information officer and has taken on the editorial roles for the Exploit Interactive and Cultivate Interactive Web magazines. Prior to joining UKOLN Marieke worked as a corporate desktop support officer and Webmaster for the Building Design Partnership, a multidiscipline architectural design company. She was responsible for the co-ordination of all central office automation and the implementation and maintenance of the company intranet. She obtained an MSc in Information Management from Manchester Metropolitan University in 1998.
Richard Waller and Monica Bonett have joined UKOLN to work on the IMesh Toolkit project. Richard completed a Masters in Computer Science last year. Before that he had been in secondary education for 22 years as a modern linguist, latterly managing a teaching faculty. His work computerising various management systems encouraged him to change careers and learn more about computer science.
Monica graduated in Pharmacy from the University of Malta in 1996. After working in hospital and community pharmacies in Malta for two years she studied for an MSc in Information Processing at the University of York. As well as working on the IMesh Toolkit project, Monica will also spend time on technical developments to support core activities, such as the Public Library People Directory.
Leona joins UKOLN from the London School of Economics and Political Science where she worked on the M25 Link Project, funded by the eLib programme to establish a virtual union catalogue of the library catalogues of six members of the M25 Consortium of Higher Education Libraries. Leona has expertise in user interface design and an interest in HCI research. She has also worked for the British Library as a consultant on end-user access and metadata requirements for digital collections.
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Criddle, S., McNab, A., Ormes, S. and Winship, I. The public librarian's
guide to the Internet. London: Library Association Publishing, 2000, ISBN
The first Internet book specifically aimed at public librarians to be published in the UK.
Russell, R. (ed.) Making sense of standards and technologies for serials
management. London: Library Association Publishing, 2000, ISBN 185604338X.
An edited collection of studies by well-known strategic and technical players, covering key enabling standards and technologies for serials management and access.
Chapman, A. Bibliographic record provision in the UK: measuring
availability against demand. Bath: UKOLN, 1999, ISBN 0951685651.
Report available from UKOLN, priced £12 plus £3 p+p.
Chapman, A. and Spiller, D. Trend analysis of monograph acquisitions in
public and university libraries in the UK. Loughborough: LISU and UKOLN,
1999, ISBN 1901786293.
Report available from LISU, at Loughborough University priced £17.50.
Criddle, S., Dempsey, L. and Heseltine, R. (eds.) Information landscapes
for a learning society: networking and the future of libraries 3. London:
Library Association Publishing, 1999, ISBN 185604310X.
Proceedings of the most recent UKOLN conference.
University of Bath
Tel.: +44 (0)1225 826580
Fax: +44 (0)1225 826838
If you have any comments on the newsletter please contact Sally Criddle, Newsletter Editor, at the above address or by e-mail.
UKOLN is funded by Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, the Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher and Further Education Funding Councils, as well as by project funding from the JISC and the European Union. UKOLN also receives support from the University of Bath where it is based.
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Web page by
Criddle of UKOLN.
Last updated on 30-Jun-2000
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