UKOLN UKOLN Newsletter

Issue 8 March 1999 ISSN 0963-7354


UKOLN welcomes Interoperability Focus

As reported in the previous Newsletter, UKOLN now hosts the new post of Interoperability Focus, jointly funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the British Library's Research and Innovation Centre (BLRIC).

This post is funded for three years initially, and addresses a number of the issues identified in Towards a National Agency for Resource Discovery: Scoping study, published in 1997 as BLRIC report 58. Given the scale of funding, it is impossible to address all of the issues identified in this report immediately, and guidance is being sought from the broader community in order to prioritise the tasks which might most usefully be tackled initially.

Like 'metadata', the term 'interoperability' is increasingly being used in the language of librarians and other information professionals. Both terms, however, are widely used (and misused!) to cover a plethora of related activities, making it difficult for speaker/writer and listener/reader alike to be entirely sure of what is being discussed, and what implications there might be for them.
In the context of this post, interoperability is seen to cover a number of linked concepts which are listed below and will be outlined in more detail on the Interoperability Focus web site, namely:

International interoperability allowing work on the previous four topics to be linked in a truly distributed, international resource base.
Interoperability Focus will routinely gather and disseminate information related to facilitating a more interoperable environment for UK information communities, and will participate in efforts relevant to this, including library-specific activities, cross-sectoral initiatives such as the Dublin Core, and initiatives from related sectors such as the museum community's Consortium for the Computer Interchange of Museum Information (CIMI) and the United Kingdom's National Geospatial Data Framework (NGDF) For further information, or to contribute to the evolution of this new post, e-mail Paul Miller, Interoperability Focus, at or visit the Interoperability Focus web site.


This Newsletter is available free of charge. To be added to the mailing list please send your name (job title) and address to the editor, Sally Criddle.

As well as reporting on our ongoing projects, in this issue we introduce the Interoperability Focus (above) and the Resource Discovery Network Centre (RDNC), two initiatives both new to UKOLN this year. At the same time as introducing three new members of staff we are saying goodbye to Ian Peacock who has moved to new challenges and Hazel Gott, who will be retiring at the end of April.

Changes to the British Library Research and Innovation Centre, who along with JISC are the major funders of our work, have recently been announced, as Adrienne Muir, Research Analyst at the BLRIC explains below.

Elsewhere in the Newsletter we report on the special UKOLN edition of the Journal of Documentation that was produced in January and recent changes to our Management Committee. Finally, don't forget to check the list of current UKOLN publications for details of the forthcoming publication of our conference last June, Networking and the future of libraries 3: information landscapes for a learning society.

Returning to our previous Newsletter, we received many comments about the front page picture showing the tense, final moments of the National Team's attempts to remain in the World Cup. We would like to thank our Bath colleague Nigel Lodge, CHEST Director, for capturing this moment.

Funding News

News from the BLRIC

Adrienne Muir (Research Analyst, BLRIC)

In December 1998, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that the research funding function currently carried out by the British Library through its Research and Innovation Centre will be transferred to the Library and Information Commission on 1 April 1999.

The staff currently associated with research funding will move out of BLRIC to the Commission's new offices in London as soon as possible after that date.
The DCMS also intends to create a new national body for libraries, museums and archives on 1 April 2000. This new body will incorporate the Library and Information Commission and the Museums & Galleries Commission. It will be called the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. The new body will also incorporate the current Advisory Council on Libraries. The DCMS has set up an implementation group to work with the sectors to consider the remit and functions of the new body and practical issues associated with its establishment.

Management Committee

Sally Criddle (Resource Co-ordinator)

Over the past few months we have sought to broaden the input provided by the Management Committee and are pleased to report that three new members have now joined. Frances Hendrix, is the Director of LASER (London and South Eastern Library Region) and has an extensive public library background. Ray Lester manages information technology, library, archive and publishing operations at the Natural History Museum. Peter Brophy is Professor of Information Management and Director of the Centre for Research in Library and Information Management (CERLIM) at Manchester Metropolitan University. The Committee is chaired by Richard Heseltine (of the University of Hull). Existing members are: Dave Cook (JISC), John Dolan (Birmingham Central Library), George Lunt (University of Bath), Adrienne Muir (British Library) and Howard Nicholson (University of Bath).

Resource Discovery Network

Lorcan Dempsey (Director)

UKOLN is pleased to be helping move forward the Resource Discovery Network, a significant new initiative which is creating international interest.

One of the success stories of the Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) of JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher Education Funding Councils) has been the subject gateways. These services include SOSIG (social science), OMNI (medicine), EEVL (engineering), ADAM (art and design, architecture and media), History and Biz/Ed (business). Although they have different emphases, they share some characteristics. They provide databases of Internet resource descriptions. Selection and quality criteria are in place which filter the resources which are added. The descriptions are manually created by "cataloguers". This means that they provide quality controlled access to disciplinary resources, unlike, for example, the large search engines. Similar services are now being developed elsewhere - in the Nordic countries, in Australia, and in the US, where Project ISAAC is coordinating some activity.

As eLib comes to a close, the JISC decided to continue to support the subject gateways. It is setting up the Resource Discovery Network as a framework within which the gateways will be developed. To achieve its aims, the RDN will work as a network organisation comprising a Network Centre and a set of hubs. Hubs are faculty-level organisations which help achieve scale economies across related subject areas, and are the focus for collection development activity. Hubs will provide gateways to collections in related sets of subject areas. Hubs will be constructed with a particular eye to the potential for external partnerships and the RDN's sustainability over the longer term. Hubs will be created initially in the following areas: social science; business and law; engineering, computing and maths; biomedical sciences; cultural arts and industries; humanities and physical sciences. Others may follow. A primary objective will be to attract additional sources of funding: it will not be possible to fund a full range of comprehensive services from within the JISC resource. Partnership with common purpose organisations and commercial ventures will be important to broaden the funding base and this will be a major focus of RDNC activity in early stages, and on a continuing basis.

Following competition, King's College London (Arts and Humanities Data Centre) and the University of Bath (UKOLN) have been asked to supply the Network Centre (RDNC), with support from the University of Hull. The Centre will be directed by Lorcan Dempsey (Director, UKOLN), Daniel Greenstein (Director, Arts and Humanities Data Service), and Richard Heseltine (Director, Academic Services, University of Hull). The RDNC came into being in January and much work is currently underway to put in place the structures to take things forward. The transition of gateway activity to the RDN will take place on 1st August 1999.

To achieve its ambitions, the RDN must be organised in such a way that encourages local initiative within a framework that adds value. How this will be achieved is an exciting challenge. At the time of writing, RDNC staff are being recruited, and the next issue of the newsletter will carry a fuller report.

Journal of Documentation

Sally Criddle (Resource Co-ordinator)

The January issue of the Journal of Documentation is a special edition, edited by Lorcan Dempsey, devoted to the work of UKOLN. The issue, although not covering the full range of UKOLN work, focuses on the digital libraries and web technologies area.

An article by Ann Chapman on the availability of bibliographic records for the UK imprint represents a continuation into a wider sphere of our original bibliographic management focus. The review of the BIBLINK project, by Michael Day, Rachel Heery and Andy Powell, shows how we have pursued these concerns into a digital environment whilst the article by Lorcan Dempsey, Rosemary Russell and Robin Murray (of Fretwell Downing Informatics) develops issues associated with managing access to distributed, heterogeneous information services. Brian Kelly outlines the evolution of protocols of the World Wide Web (now the de facto user space) and reviews web technologies that have a social impact on our society. Finally, Brian Kelly and Ian Peacock describe how aspects of this user space can be analysed in the context of the WebWatch project.

Public Library Networking

Sarah Ormes (Research Officer)

Building the New Library

Earlier this year the Library and Information Commission was charged with providing recommendations to the New Opportunities Lottery Fund on how £70 million of lottery money put aside for public libraries (£50 million to be spent on content creation and £20 million for staff training) should be distributed. The Commission was also asked to identify how the infrastructure required for a national networked public library service could be put in place. In November the Commission published these recommendations as the report Building the New Library - in many respects a follow-up report to New Library: the People's Network. Sarah Ormes was a member of the 'content' taskgroup which explored how the £50 million of money for digital content creation should be made available.

Networked Services Policy Taskgroup

The Networked Services Policy Taskgroup is a partnership between UKOLN, the Library Association and EARL. It aims to assist public library authorities to shape and develop their own public access strategies and establish clearly defined roles for library services at the heart of public network developments.

The group is chaired by Ian Everall (Public Library Services Manager at Walsall) and has been extremely active. The main effort of the taskgroup has been focusing on the production of a series of issue papers about relevant networked services policy topics. The aim of these papers is to provide public library managers with impartial information on a networked services policy issue is that they can make a well informed policy decision themselves. The first paper in the series was published in November 1998 and discussed the issue of filtering and was written by Sarah Ormes. Further issue papers are due to published during this year and will look at charging, security issues and network approaches. The production of the issue papers is being project managed by Sarah Ormes.

The taskgroup's web site and full text of the filtering paper is available.

Subject gateway

UKOLN has been working with the West Midlands Regional Library Service to develop Litgate, a subject gateway for literature. This is a pilot project and we are initially concentrating on imaginative literature from the African Caribbean, Urdu, Hindu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Bengali and Chinese communities. Litgate is based on existing gateway models in the HE community, e.g. SOSIG and ADAM and has been developed from the ROADS software. We are hoping to recruit Internet resource cataloguers from the public library service who can provide cataloguing experience and subject knowledge in this area.

Further details of Litgate will be available as the service is developed.

Content Creation

UKOLN has been working with EARL in providing a series of content creation workshops. These workshops are aimed at encouraging participants to begin to identify the kind of content led services which they could start to provide in the age of the New Library. UKOLN's contribution is a session exploring how public libraries could use their web sites to promote and develop their literature services. This presentation was originally given as a one off at an Arts Council event but has subsequently been repeated four times (by popular demand!) The workshop uses break-out groups, examples, discussion and question and answer sessions to encourage attendees to begin to view their web sites not as static information pages but as the gateway to a 24 hour library. Although initially attendees are asked to focus on literature services the ideas developed and issues raised are soon applied to other service areas as well. A series of four more of these workshops is now planned for early in 1999 in different parts of the country.


Stories from the Web is poised to launch its web site early in 1999. Over the last few month the project co-ordinator, Lydia Matheson, has been working with authors and illustrators to develop a literature focused web site for children aged eight to eleven. The web site promises to be both entertaining and educational and will explore how the web can be a new tool for children's librarians to use in their everyday services.

{Stories from the Web web site}

Figure 1: A 'taster' of the Stories from the Web web site

CIRCE is another BLRIC funded project which has been exploring how separate community information services can be linked together to begin to provide the start of a national community information service. The project is due to finish in Spring 1999 and is currently working with a technical consultant in identifying a suitable technical architecture which will allow simple cross-searching of the heterogeneous databases that currently are used to provide community information services.

People Flows is yet another BLRIC funded project which UKOLN has been a partner in. This project was exploring the how's and why's of the cross-use of different libraries by the public in Birmingham and Sheffield. The project then explored at a conceptual level how this cross-use could be made more efficient or effective through the use of networking. The project was led by the University of Central England and has now come to a close. The final report is due to be published imminently.

Distributed Library Systems

Rosemary Russell (Research Officer)


The eighth MODELS workshop was held at the end of January, addressing the integration of learning and information environments. This represented a completely new area for MODELS and involved a wider range of participants, from both information and learning backgrounds; academic and public libraries were represented. The aims included identifying points of contact and comparison between emerging network information environments and network learning environments, as well as identifying shared architectural and systems concerns, and areas where interoperability is important.
The programme reviewed UK national learning initiatives such as the National Grid for Learning, in addition to initiatives in academic institutions which are building links between library and learning environments. The IMS (Instructional Management Systems) Project and the MODELS Information Architecture provided a focus for discussion throughout the workshop, in exploring ways in which the two worlds can interoperate within a common infrastructure. The overall goal of IMS is to enable an open architecture for online learning; this includes the development of open specifications for locating and using educational content, tracking user progress and exchanging student records. Since it emerged that most communities are not yet aware of the potential of IMS, the UK IMS Centre will be producing a non-technical briefing document to meet this need. UKOLN will also be working with the UK IMS Centre to investigate further how MIA and IMS components might interface. Other joint outcomes will include an eLib concertation meeting on IMS. At a policy level, appropriate issues will be raised with JTAP, CEI, UCISA and SCONUL.
For further information about the workshop and outcomes, see the MODELS 8 web pages.

A further two MODELS workshops will be held during 1999. In addition, JISC has awarded UKOLN funding to organise a workshop to explore in more depth how information landscapes might be constructed, together with the creation and management of collection level descriptions; this workshop was recommended by MODELS 6.

Directory of Z39.50 targets in the UK

UKOLN set up a directory service last summer to provide a comprehensive information resource about UK Z39.50 targets. It includes facilities to record connection parameters and supported search attributes. Organisations with operational targets are being encouraged to register their own services. The numbers registered are gradually building up, although some of the entries do not yet provide detailed information. The directory has been set up in response to regular requests for this information and is particularly helpful to eLib phase 3 projects. There are also links to services which provide information about Z39.50 targets internationally. Further information is available.

eLib Supporting Studies

The final version of the report, The impact of electronic journals on local network computing and printing by Instant Library was submitted in December. Electronic versions are available on the UKOLN web server, while as before, LITC is publishing hard copies on behalf of eLib.

The final two supporting studies managed by UKOLN on behalf of eLib have recently been commissioned. The Department of Information and Library Studies at the University of Loughborough will be investigating economic models of the digital library. The aim of this study will be to investigate economic models for the future funding of the digital library business as there is a need to understand how digital libraries can be supported in the long term, since it is recognised that libraries cannot receive experimental research funding forever. This study will include a comparison of existing economic models and identification of stakeholders in the electronic academic information delivery chain.

The second study focuses on the management of organisational change in the hybrid library. It was awarded to the Department of Information and Library Management at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle and will build on and be informed by the eLib funded IMPEL and Hylife projects. The study will include a one day colloquium of 12-15 invited key experts.

Both reports are due to be delivered in early summer and will be made available on the web.

Details of all UKOLN-managed eLib studies are available.


The Agora prototype hybrid library management system (HLMS) was delivered by Fretwell-Downing in the summer. It includes a range of social science resources, including abstract and indexing services, library catalogues, archive databases and subject gateways. The prototype demonstrates two scenarios: cross-domain searching for mixed media with authentication; and search through to delivery for monographs and serials. A series of demonstrations have been organised for the five Agora library associates and service providers. Their feedback has fed into the Agora 'requirements catalogue', which indicates the priority of each element. A later version of the full functional specification document will be shared with the eLib community, although the requirements catalogue will continue to be updated during the lifetime of the project.

UKOLN has written several news articles about Agora and given presentations at a large number of professional events over the last six months. Articles have appeared in D-Lib magazine and the New Review of Academic Librarianship; events have included a regional hybrid libraries workshop in Leeds, an Aslib workshop, a National Electronic Library for Health symposium, and the eLib phase 3 conference in December

Metadata Group


{DESIRE II logo}

Rachel Heery (Research Group Co-ordinator)

Andy Powell (Systems and Technical Development Co-ordinator)

DESIRE II, an EC Telematics for Research project, kicked off in August 1998. This project follows on from the successful DESIRE I project, and has the advantages of a more focused list of deliverables and a smaller number of participants. This is a two year project in which UKOLN will participate in a number of activities some of which involve development of demonstrators, others relate to promotion of good practice.

The original DESIRE project provided two categories of demonstrator:

DESIRE II will enhance these services and work towards a technical and organisational framework in which they can operate more effectively. It will deliver software tools for the development of search services; demonstrate integrated services for locating a variety of resource types accessed by different retrieval protocols including LDAP-based directories, FTP archives, and newsgroups as well as HTML documents on the web; provide facilities for support of caches of frequently used material; and offer a programme of workshops to encourage the development of these services.

As the technologies that underpin such activity continue to develop, the DESIRE II partners will take part in the relevant standards making processes. These include membership of the World Wide Web Consortium, RDF working groups, participation in the Dublin Core Technical Advisory Committee and other Dublin Core working groups, and involvement with initiation of the IETF Web Replication and Caching (WREC) Group.

UKOLN together with ILRT at the University of Bristol, have produced the first deliverable of the project, which takes the form of recommendations on the implementation of quality ratings in an RDF (Resource Description Framework) environment. This work builds on the Quality Guidelines produced by DESIRE I, and explores the application of machine readable quality vocabularies to various quality aspects of information management. Instances of such applications might include collaborative ratings services, the ranking of search service results, or displaying quality information for resources linked to displayed web pages. PICS (Platform for Internet Content Selection) technology originally provided the basic infrastructure for rating and filtering Internet content, now RDF provides a means to create richer rating metadata and broadens the application areas which might be developed.

Taking into account the design issues raised in this report, UKOLN and ILRT are now starting work on a further DESIRE deliverable which will develop one or more prototype quality rating services. UKOLN intend to work on two prototypes. Firstly a collaborative rating service which will allow end users to rate resources using a browser mechanism. Secondly an extension of existing subject gateway searching (probably based on ROADS software) to allow ranking of results based on quality criteria, criteria which might be user defined.

Other work planned for 1999 includes development of a metadata registry infrastructure, contribution to the 'Information Gateways Handbook', and investigation of the use of RDF on metadata management.

{BIBLINK logo}

The aim of the BIBLINK project is to provide the means for metadata describing electronic publications to flow between publishers and national bibliographic agencies. Workspaces will be established by the participating national libraries, this will be accessible to publishers and other third parties (for example resource identification agencies) as well as the national bibliographic agencies themselves. The BIBLINK Workspace has now been fully specified and the project has entered the development phase. UKOLN are leading the testing and verification work package, which involves managing the alpha and beta testing, and agreeing acceptance of the final release. We hope that the demonstrator phase will start in early 1999 at which point the software will be installed by a number of national libraries.

UKOLN hope to run the demonstrator in the UK, with input from a number of electronic publishers. The British Library will verify use of the system by a prototype incorporation of the workspace in their existing processes. Several publishers have expressed interest in participating and we hope to add to the number of publishers once the demonstrator phase has started. The project hopes to run a publishers workshop in the Spring to disseminate information about use of the BIBLINK Workspace, and to gain feedback.

The annual project review in November gave a favourable report of the project and suggested an extension period would assist the effectiveness of the demonstrator phase. An application will be made to the European Commission shortly.

The project is the subject of an article in the recent special UKOLN edition of the Journal of Documentation. This article considers the role of national bibliographic agencies as regards bibliographic control of electronic publications is and gives some wider context to the project. It also outlines the background studies undertaken in the first phase of the project and gives some background to the design of the BIBLINK Workspace.


DC-dot, UKOLN's web-based Dublin Core (DC) generator and editor, continues to be developed. There is a growing need for readily available software tools for metadata management. DC-dot is intended to provide the means for individuals and organisations to create their own metadata. Its availability on UKOLN's web site also offers the un-initiated an opportunity to become familiar with the process of embedding metadata in web pages, as well as a chance to investigate a number of metadata formats. DC-dot has proved a successful means of introducing audiences to metadata at workshops and lectures.

DC-dot has recently been enhanced to:

It is now also possible to add a DC-dot 'button' to your web browser so that you can easily generate metadata for the page you are currently viewing. This is further described in the Information Services section of this Newsletter.

The development of DC-dot has been partially funded under the ROADS project. Further development of DC-dot is planned as part of DESIRE II, primarily to provide support for repeated elements, 'qualified' DC and other metadata schemas.

A simple set of DC-dot exercises, intended both as an introduction to the functionality of DC-dot and to the Dublin Core in general, is available from the DC-dot home page.

{ROADS logo}

The number of downloads of the latest release of the ROADS software has been very encouraging, totalling over 900 since its release in September 1998. Version 2 of ROADS offers several improvements that ROADS users had requested and also enables the subject services to offer more effective cross searching using query routing capabilities. To date the new release has been implemented by a number of the eLib subject services and there are now additional ROADS users amongst other higher education institutions in the UK, Scandinavia, Australia and the US. Many others have installed the software on an experimental basis.

At UKOLN our recent involvement in the ROADS project has focused on demonstrating the capabilities of the software and on developing guidelines which will assist services to interoperate. We have set up demonstrations of the cross searching facilities offered by the Whois++ and CIP (Common Indexing Protocol) support in ROADS version 2. There are currently three demonstrators available:

Further information is available.

UKOLN has been closely involved in the Dublin Core (DC) activity, with UKOLN membership of the Policy and Technical Advisory committees. A growing interest in the compatibility of ROADS and Dublin Core led us to investigate use of Dublin Core within ROADS. This has resulted in agreement on a draft version of the ROADS Dublin Core template which can be viewed in the ROADS registry on the UKOLN web site. The Dublin Core template has been put to use in a sample ROADS database of descriptions of Ariadne articles using this template. DC elements can be used to search this database and results are displayed using the DC metadata set. To use this search facility see <URL:>.

ROADS can be put to use on organisational web sites to assist with metadata management. An increasing number of web site administrators and individual authors are interested in creating metadata for their web pages. A flexible and effective method for embedding DC metadata into web documents is to use a server-side include script. UKOLN are demonstrating this method of generating metadata on their web site where a ROADS database of Dublin Core templates is being used as the basis for embedding DC metadata into the eLib documents that can be retrieved from the eLib pages.

UKOLN is in the process of producing an overview of interoperability issues with specific reference to ROADS. We have produced a preliminary report for the ROADS Evaluation of Cataloguing in Connection to Interoperability (RECCI) study. This is based on a detailed review of ROADS templates extracted from four ROADS-based services (ADAM, History, OMNI and SOSIG). The report highlights issues relating to the variations in use of attributes and application of content rules amongst the subject services.

A new version of the ROADS Cataloguing Guidelines has been produced. This takes account of comments made by subject services and the findings of the RECCI study. This is available at


Collection Description

In September a group of representatives from various eLib phase 3 projects, library automation software suppliers and other interested parties attended a meeting, initiated by UKOLN to discuss the issues associated with collection level description. One of the outcomes of the meeting was the formation of a small working group tasked with developing a proposal for a core set of collection description attributes.

The group has proposed a 'working version' of an attribute set appropriate for collections. It has also developed an enumerated list of collection types. The intention is that the attribute set will be available for use in software and services developed by the Hybrid Libraries and Large Scale Resource Discovery (Clumps) projects. A note on work in progress including several examples of the use of the proposed attributes is available at:


{CEDARS logo

Michael Day (Research Officer)

As part of the eLib phase 3 Cedars (CURL Exemplars in Digital Archives) project, UKOLN has carried out a review of metadata formats and initiatives in the specific area of digital preservation. Preservation metadata is a specialised form of administrative metadata that can be used as a means of storing the technical information that supports the preservation of digital objects. In addition, metadata can be used to record migration and emulation strategies, to help ensure the authenticity of documents and to support rights management and collection management activities. An initial report, Metadata for preservation, was published in August 1998. This outlined some of the relevant issues and described a number of existing projects and initiatives and will be updated periodically. The report is available.

A paper based on this work was given at Guidelines for Digital Imaging, a Joint Research Libraries Group and National Preservation Office Conference held at the University of Warwick on the 28-30 September 1998. The next stage of the Cedars metadata work will be to create a preliminary list of preservation metadata elements for use by the project and its demonstrators. This work is currently in progress.

Bibliographic Management

Ann Chapman (Research Officer)

CIG/UKOLN seminar

Ann Chapman Ann Chapman and Michael Day were the speakers at a joint seminar On Target and In Time, organised by the Catalogue and Index Group of the Library Association and UKOLN. This event, held on 7th December 1998, was held at OCLC Europe in Birmingham and was well attended. The first two sessions concentrated on the bibliographic management work at UKOLN. Session 1 focused on the BNB and Multi-Source currency surveys and the proposed LISU/UKOLN study. Session 2 reviewed a number of studies undertaken by UKOLN during the 1990's on the quality of records. The third session was an overview of metadata, giving a basic introduction to the types of metadata and their uses and the various projects in this area that UKOLN is working on.

Future Currency Survey work

UKOLN and LISU (the Library and Information Statistics Unit at Loughborough University) have prepared a research proposal to carry out additional analysis on the Currency Surveys database. This study would analyse acquisitions patterns in the UK under the following strands:

The study is expected to take place between January and June 1999.

Multi-source Currency Survey

A report on the first year of this survey was published earlier in 1998 and copies of this report are still available. See Current UKOLN Publications elsewhere in this Newsletter.

Making the Most of Our Libraries

Recent studies on retrospective catalogue conversion, including Philip Bryant's surveys of the HE and non-HE sectors

have identified the likely extent of the problem of unrecorded items and items for which no machine readable records are available. A way is now needed to address the problem.

The British Library, the Library and Information Commission and Library and Information Co-operation Council (LINC) have therefore commissioned a study to draw up a methodology for a national strategy for retrospective catalogue conversion in the library and information and archives fields. The study is being carried out by Ann Chapman and Lorcan Dempsey of UKOLN with support from other UKOLN staff and Nicholas Kingsley of Birmingham Libraries representing the National Council on Archives.

The study will review developments and new projects initiated since the Bryant surveys, outline a methodology for a national strategy, identify a co-ordinating body and possible sources of funding, and disseminate its findings and recommendations.

As part of the study an email discussion list, named retro, has been opened to inform the library and information and archives communities about the study and to generate discussion on relevant topics. To subscribe to the list send the message [join retro firstname lastname] to <> leaving the subject line blank.
For more details contact Ann Chapman at UKOLN.

Information Services Group

Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus)

Web Service Developments

The activities of UKOLN's research groups are closely monitored by the Information Services Group, and, if appropriate, use is made of the appropriate research activities, either to provide demonstrator services or to assist with the quality of the service. As an example, the eLib web pages now make use of metadata, in RDF format. As shown in figure 2, access to the metadata can be obtained by clicking the 'DC metadata' link in the page footer of an eLib page.

A number of tools have been developed which will extract metadata from file formats such as Microsoft Word into a format suitable for populating the ROADS database. The metadata is used in a ROADS database which provides a useful testbed for the ROADS software. Use of RDF for storing the metadata enables experience to be gained in the use of tools to manage and make use of this important new metadata format.

As the various pre-Phase 3 eLib projects come to a close, the UKOLN eLib pages will increasingly become the first port of call for information about completed and current projects. We intend to continue to host the eLib pages, and to provide new information, including details of Phase 3 projects and information related to eLib events, such as the eLib conference held at York in December 1998 (mentioned elsewhere in the Newsletter).

{eLib web page with embedded metadata}

Figure 2: Example of an eLib web page with embedded metadata.

Exploit Interactive Web Magazine

Exploit Interactive is an accompanying measure of the DGXIII funded Exploit project. It is designed to promote the results of EU library projects and to facilitate their take-up by the market of library and information systems. Exploit deliverables will include analysis and clustering of project results; development of presentation modules; producing an electronic journal (on the Web) with a priority on inviting contributions from EU funded library (and related) projects; setting up a database of national and international library (and related) projects; a series of Exploitation Workshops to be held in conjunction with major European events in the libraries and related sectors in EU countries (e.g. the Frankfurt Book Fair); and the facilitation of additional presentations at national events.

The Exploit Interactive magazine will have a pan-European focus, and will seek to involve members of the library and information networking community within the European Union and the Central Eastern European Countries. It will serve as a vehicle for dissemination of the 100+ projects within the EU Telematics for Libraries Programme, and will also cover general areas of interest (news, technology, organisational profiles, etc.). Articles are being commissioned for the magazine through project coordinators, National Focal Points (NFPs) and commercial companies involved in the European library and information networking community.

The first issue will be available early in 1999, though a precise date of publication has not yet been confirmed.Further details about Exploit are available.


Ariadne magazine, now three years old, is one of the original eLib projects, funded under the 'training and awareness' part of the eLib programme. Its initial JISC funding, originally for two years and extended for a further year, has come to an end with Issue 19, of 24 pages (twice its regular size). It seems likely therefore that the print edition will cease to be published, at least in the short term. It is hoped that the magazine will continue to exist on the web however, as a valuable dissemination tool for the UK information technology community.

UK Web Focus

UK Web Focus is the JISC-funded post for monitoring web developments and keeping the UK Higher Education community informed of the key developments and their implications.

The main UK Web Focus event during 1998 was the national Institutional Web Management workshop. This workshop was held at the University of Newcastle on 15-17th September 1998. It attracted about 100 participants, the majority of whom were actively involved in the provision and management of institutional web services. A report of the workshop has been published in the web version of Ariadne (issue 17).

Other dissemination activities since the publication of the last UKOLN newsletter include talks on Deploying New WebTechnologies given at the JANET User Support Workshop at the University of Sheffield on 17th September 1998, Web Developments for the HyLiFe Project at a HyLiFe seminar held at the University of Newcastle on 8th October 1998, Web Developments for CLUMPS Projects at a CLUMPS meeting held at the University of Central England on 12th October 1998 and participation at a panel session on Enabling the User in the Quest for Quality at the Online Information 1998 conference held at Olympia, London on 9th December 1998. Further details about Web Focus activities, including recent presentations are available from the web site.


The BLRIC funded WebWatch project has now formally ended and the final report completed.

Recent activities include the third crawl of UK academic institutions and a report on trends using data from the three academic web site crawls (included as part of the final report).

WebWatch analyses have been amongst the first to attempt characterisation of UK web communities such as public libraries and UK academic institutions. Hopefully the findings have laid foundations for further work in this area as well as providing useful information for relevant communities.

The WebWatch site contains most of the WebWatch material including all reports and articles. The site also includes a services section, which readers may find useful for analysing their own web pages.

A series a posters illustrating some of our work have been produced including one on the WebWatch project shown in figure 3.

{WebWatch promotional poster}

Figure 3: WebWatch promotional poster


The autumn of '98 was a busy one, first with co-ordinating the joint NPO/RLG preservation conference in September, then the eLib conference in December.

Guidelines for Digital Imaging: Joint NPO/RLG Preservation Conference

The National Preservation Office and the Research Libraries Group joined forces, with UKOLN in the organisational role, in 1997 to plan this 3-day residential conference, which focused on creating an international consensus in the development of guidelines for digital imaging and digital preservation. The conference objectives were:

Over 90 people from more than a dozen countries attended the conference, including fifteen speakers from the US, the UK, Canada and Australia who addressed the plenary sessions. Delegates and speakers came together in small group discussion sessions to exchange opinions and make recommendations on Guidelines for selection, Guidelines for preparation and Guidelines for image capture.

In addition to the formal sessions, participants took advantage of the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences in a less formal manner throughout the three days. A full report of the conference is available.

Information Ecologies: the impact of new information 'species', an eLib conference

This 3-day residential conference - with delegates and speakers numbering almost 180 - was held in early December in the centre of York.

The very full programme began with a keynote address which explored the metaphor of information ecology. Later presentations looked at the practicalities of current funding possibilities. Most of the conference featured parallel sessions, which provided a forum for some very lively debate in the discussion periods.

The programme included a retrospective of projects in phases 1 and 2 of the eLib programme, particularly those relating to electronic publishing. Other sessions looked forward to phase 3 of the programme, most specifically hybrid libraries, clumps and preservation projects.

An aim of the conference was to set the work of the eLib programme in an international context, with presentations from the US, Canada and Australia. One of the highlights was the closing plenary keynote address by Paul Kobulnicky, of the University of Connecticut and a Member of the SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition) Steering Committee. He explained how the international academic community could use the actual economics of serials publishing to reduce the annual costs incurred by libraries by introducing real competition into academic publishing. The presentation proved so inspirational that one UK academic librarian declared an intention to sign up immediately!

{Presentation by Paul Kobulnicky at Information Ecologies}

Figure 4: Presentation by Paul Kobulnicky at Information Ecologies

Looking forward…

The first event I organised, after joining UKOLN in 1995, was a joint JISC/BLRIC conference on long-term preservation of electronic materials. In accordance with the report of that conference, a follow-up will take place in March. It seems quite fitting that this will be my last event for UKOLN, as I am retiring at the end of April. This feels quite sad in some ways as I will miss my colleagues and the many people I have come to know through the events. However, my husband and I have lots of exciting travel plans so who knows, I may 'bump into' some of you on our journeys.

Staff News

Sally Criddle (Resource Co-ordinator)

In this edition of the Newsletter we welcome four new members of staff and say goodbye to two of our colleagues.

Tracy Gardner has now joined us on a full time basis. Tracy has spent the last three years as a postgraduate researcher within the Computing Group of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Bath. Her research background is in the area of object oriented systems and she supplemented her PhD grant with web development work including a brief stint working part-time for UKOLN before accepting a full-time post. Tracy is currently working on a number of projects mainly within the areas of metadata (DESIRE II) and digital library systems (Agora and MODELS).

Manjula Patel joined UKOLN having been at the University of Bath for approximately 10 years, originally coming here as a PhD student. She obtained her first degree from the University of Leeds in Computational Science and Economics, a Masters degree in Systems Design from the University of Manchester and a doctorate in computer graphics at the University of Bath.

Manjula spent a year lecturing in C and computer graphics in the Department of Mathematics. Following this she took up a post as a post-doctoral research officer in computer generated facial animation. She then took over as Computer Manager in the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

Paul Miller joins us as Interoperability Focus. Paul was previously Collections Manager at the Archaeology Data Service where he was responsible for ADS Catalogue and metadata developments for the ADS and other AHDS services. Paul's background is in archaeology. His Ph.D. from York examined the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to the modelling of archaeological deposits beneath cities. He has also spent a year working in the Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge and two years in the Computing Service at the University of Newcastle, supporting Graphics & GIS.

Lou Daly has very recently joined us as Ian Peacock's replacement. Lou will be working on a number of projects and will also provide some systems support.

Hazel Gott will be leaving us in April after four years of events organising. Hazel developed events management services at UKOLN to a new level, and has made many friends for herself and UKOLN across the world. We have organised events for the JISC, the BL and to support our own work, and many colleagues have wished Hazel well in her retirement while regretting that she is stepping down. Her professional skills and personal touch will be widely missed. Hazel says her goodbyes elsewhere in this Newsletter.

We also say goodbye to Ian Peacock who has left UKOLN to pursue his career in web development with a networking consultancy based in Bath. The company is well known world-wide for its web server survey, a service similar to the BLRIC funded WebWatch project that Ian was originally employed to work on.

We wish Ian and Hazel well in their new ventures.

Current UKOLN publication

Bibliographic Record Provision in the UK: measuring availability against demand, ISBN 0-9516856-5-1, is now available. Copies priced £12 (+ p&p) may be obtained from UKOLN at the address below.

The proceedings of the 1998 UKOLN Conference will be published by Library Association Publishing in the Spring.

Also available from the Library Association is: The Internet, Networking and the Public Library, edited by Sarah Ormes and Lorcan Dempsey; ISBN 1-85604-202-2; £29.9

UKOLN staff:


Resources and Administration Group

Research Group:

Bibliographic Management

Distribulted Library Systems

Public Library Networking

Information Services Group


Systems and Technical Development

UKOLN is funded by the British Library Research and Innovation Centre, the Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher Education Funding Councils, as well as by project funding from the JISC's Electronic Libraries Programme and the European Union. UKOLN also receives support from the University of Bath where it is based