UKOLN UKOLN Newsletter - Issue 2 - September 1994

Networking and the Future of Libraries 2

International Conference 1995

Following the outstanding success of the national conference organised by UKOLN at Bath University in April 1992 a decision was made that the 1995 event should be international in the same way as the Bibliographic Access in Europe conference held at Bath in 1989. As in 1992 this conference will focus on strategy and policy issues and its central theme is "managing the intellectual record". How will the library service interact with a growing range of producers of the intellectual record? How will it provide access to diverse and complex resources in many media, and subject to different conditions of access? How will it preserve access to the record for future generations?

Libraries can become important stakeholders in the information systems of the future; however, they need to act decisively and with vision. How they should react is the subject of this major conference to be held 19-21 April at the University of Bath.

Further programme details will be available by September. The charges for attendance are 370 including all meals and accommodation with en-suite facilities; 325 for superior student accommodation without en-suite facilities and 280 non-residential.

This conference will mark Philip Bryant's retirement as Director of UKOLN and it is hoped that many of Philip's colleagues, friends and partners will attend.

Monitoring the "priorities"

When the strategic statement of key issues relating to information networking in the UK was launched in January 1993 it was proposed that progress in the key areas should be monitored. A LIBS Briefing "Networks Libraries and Information: progress on priorities for the UK 1992-1994" is due for publication in October 1994 edited by Philip Bryant and Ian Mowat with contributions from Peter Brophy and Ann Irving, Bill Tuck, Ann Matheson, Charles Oppenheim, Lorcan Dempsey and Tom Wilson as well as from Philip and Ian. This publication is the first of a two stage process in an audit the objectives of which are:
  1. To list specific activities which have occurred since the publication of the original statement and which demonstrate or give a sense of progress.
  2. To identify topics within the ten key issues where progress has not been made, to establish possible reasons for this and to recommend action as appropriate.
It is hoped that the LIBS Briefing will provide a good basis for proceeding to the second stage.

Philip Bryant retires as Director of UKOLN

Philip retired on 31 August 1994 as Director of UKOLN. UKOLN: The Office for Library and Information Networking was formed in November 1992 by merging the Centre for Bibliographic Management with the UK Office for Library Networking with funding from the British Library Research and Development Department and the Joint Information Systems Committee. Philip had directed CBM (previously the Centre for Catalogue Research) since 1977 and before that he had been Project Leader of the Bath University Comparative Catalogue Study (1973-75).

Philip writes: "I feel sad at retiring as director of a unit with which I have been so intimately involved from the beginning. However, a number of health problems over the past couple of years persuaded me that, both for the good of UKOLN and for myself, now was the time to make way for someone who could bring fresh expertise and zest to the job and lead the unit during a very exciting new period in its development. It has been a great privilege to work with such a good staff who are also such nice people! In addition I have appreciated the outstanding support of the CBM and UKOLN Committee members - not least those who have chaired them: David Bagley, Derek Law, Ian Mowat and Peter Stone. Last but not least I must record my best thanks to all the staff of the British Library R & D Department and to its Director Brian Perry"

Philip will, however, continue to contribute to the work of UKOLN by taking on the new position of part-time Senior Research Fellow in Bibliographic Management. One of his first committments in this post will be the study recommended by the Follett Libraries Review Group on theustification and implications of a national retrospective catalogue conversion programme for UK higher education libraries. Working with Philip on the project will be library consultant Russell Sweeney, and Ann Chapman and Steve Prowse of the UKOLN team. A project monitoring group has been set up chaired by Bernard Naylor.

The UKOLN server

In June 1992 Sun Microsystems Ltd. presented a SPARCserver to UKOLN that is now being used to:

In April 1994 UKOLN appointed Chris Brown as Network Systems Officer to manage the SPARCserver and provide technical support for UKOLN activities. We are grateful to Bath University Computing Services (particularly Andy Powell) for technical support during the transition, and to the British Library Research and Development Department for a small grant to make it possible. Chris plans to modify the UKOLN gopher and WWW services to include more information on UKOLN activities and its staff by publishing an on-line version of the UKOLN Newsletter and encouraging staff to produce commentaries on their roles at UKOLN. In addition it is possible that he will also provide server resources to support:

Arrangements are being made to host electronic versions of a series of library related journals published by Library Information Technology Centre and Aslib; this service will be available via UKOLN's World Wide Web server in early 1995.

UKOLN reviewed by the JISC and the BLRDD

On 31 May UKOLN's role, work programme and staffing needs were reviewed by a panel chaired by Lynne Brindley, Librarian and Director of Information Services at the London School of Economics. The result of this review was very satisfactory although it did raise a number of important issues which will need to be addressed during the new period of a 3-year rolling grant. Project heads

Howard Nicholson has been Project Head since he was appointed as University Librarian at Bath two years ago. Prior to this Keith Jones had fulfilled this role during his period as Acting University Librarian following the retirement of John Lamble. Warm appreciation must be expressed for the loyal support received.

UKOLN abroad


Philip Bryant was invited by the Cataloguers Section of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) to deliver the opening 'keynote' paper at the 10th National Cataloguing Conference 'Subject to change: subject access and the role of the cataloguer' held at Fremantle, 4-6 November 1993. Following the conference Philip and Annelise Mark Pejtersen (of the Riso National Laboratory, Roskilde, Denmark) the second 'keynote' speaker spoke at Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane at the invitation of the State Branches of the Cataloguers Section. Visits were also made to Colin Steele and Tony Barry at the Australian National University and, in Singapore to the National Library and the British Council. The international airfare was paid by the British Council in Australia to whom a report has been submitted.

The Libraries Programme of the European Union

Lorcan Dempsey has participated as an evaluator of proposals for the first, second and third calls of the Libraries Programme within the Third Framework Programme of the of the Commission. He has also recently undertaken further consultancy work for the libraries section of DG XIII of the commission, assisting in the preparation of the libraries draft Work Programme within the Fourth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.


As part of a wider project of the British Library R&D Department, Lorcan Dempsey has prepared a paper entitled 'Network resource discovery: a European library perspective'. This paper will be appearing in a report entitled Libraries, networks and Europe: a European networking study.This is being published in September 1994 by the British Library R&D Department. (ISBN: 0712332952)


John Smith spoke on Network Publishing and the Developing World at the UAP Workshop in Cairo, 12-14 January 1993. The Workshop, on Universal Availability of Publications for Arab Speaking Countries, was organised by ESTINET and the IFLA Programme for Universal Availability of Publications.


At the 21st Century Information Systems Symposium funded by the British Council and MedCampus95 (an EEC funded project) held at the University of Yarmouk, 28-30 June 1993, John gave a presentation on Electronic Libraries - some implications for the developing world. The Jordanian Library Association also invited John to speak to the Association at the Shoman Scientific Centre, Amman, Jordan on 4 July 1993. The theme of his talk was Network Publishing - implications for libraries.


Lorcan Dempsey visited Sweden in September 1993 to address a meeting on networked information organised by NordInfo. He also gave a presentation to the Danish research libraries group in Copenhagen, and used this opportunity to make a small study trip to library organisations in Sweden, Norway and Denmark in connection with a paper on resource discovery and libraries being prepared for the British Library. He returned to Sweden in April 1994 to address a meeting organised by the Swedish Library Association on document delivery, when he also addressed the Libris steering committee.

North Carolina, USA

Lorcan visited the Centre for Network Information Discovery and Retrieval in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina in early 1994, to attend a meeting which was discussing the setting up of the taskforce on the Multinational Information Framework.

UKOLN in print

Libraries and IT: Working Papers of the Information Technology Sub committee of the HEFCs' Libraries Review. Bath: UKOLN, 1993. ISBN 0951685627 (20 inc P&P Europe; 25 inc P&P all other areas)
UKOLN published these papers on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Councils of England, Scotland, and Wales, and the Department of Education for Northern Ireland. The Libraries Review, chaired by Sir Brian Follett, was guided by a range of issues of concern to universities and to the Funding Councils. These issues had emerged in the context of a rapidly expanding sector, putting pressure on space and accommodation, as well as highlighting uneven library provision across institutions and opportunities for resource sharing. The IT Sub-committee was given a brief to support the teaching and research related objectives of the Review and focused particularly on how developments in IT might be harnessed to underpin change across the whole academic library sector. The Sub-committee sought for most of its meetings a range of working papers and contributions on particular topics of interest, or assessments of developments in particular areas of concern. Those papers were prepared for publication by Lorcan Dempsey, and are available from UKOLN.
Lorcan Dempsey also wrote Libraries and networking for the Library and Information Briefings series published by the Library Information Technology Centre. This was a special double issue (37/38) and appeared in December 1992. Individual copies may be ordered from LITC (Fax: +44 71 2611865).

UKOLN projects

BLCMP Project

The BNBMARC Currency Survey has been solely concerned with the 'timeliness' of the records created and/or supplied by the British Library National Bibliographic Service. An opportunity arose to investigate other aspects of the quality of a bibliographic record (accuracy, consistency and functionality) in collaboration with BLCMP who wished to evaluate the quality of records on its database. The study, which took place in 1992, had three main areas of interest:
(i) what percentage of records are edited,
(ii) to make a statistical analysis of the fields being edited and the types of changes being made, and
(iii) to investigate cataloguers' perceived reasons for particular edits. BLCMP staff collaborating with Ann Chapman in the project were Terry Willan and Celia Burton. A report was produced in 1993.
Chapman, Ann. Quality of records in a shared cataloguing database. Bath, UKOLN, 1993. (British Library R&D Report No.6120)

On-line access to subject-enriched bibliographic records project A British Library funded project to design, create and evaluate an experimental online catalogue of subject-enhanced records commenced in late 1989 and ended in June 1992. The project was undertaken by Lorcan Dempsey, Steven Prowse and Jane Shaw of UKOLN and Stephen Walker from City University.

The catalogue employed the Okapi experimental retrieval software that was originally developed at the Polytechnic of Central London by Stephen Walker and others. The catalogue data was derived from MARC records from Bath University Library's online Urica catalogue. This data was supplemented with additional subject information kindly supplied by Book Data Ltd.

An interim Project Report was submitted to the British Library Research and Development Department early in 1994; a final report is in preparation and will be submitted in the autumn. SuperJANET Project on Information Resources (SPIRS). SPIRS was a study funded by the SuperJANET project to investigate potential library and information uses of SuperJANET, the UK high-speed academic network. The project director was Michael Breaks, Librarian of Heriot-Watt University. A working group, of which Lorcan Dempsey is a member, submitted a report outlining areas where the SuperJANET technology could be profitably exploited by the library and information community. As part of his SPIRS responsibilities, Lorcan Dempsey convened a group of publishers who have subsequently gone on to develop a demonstrator electronic journal project on SuperJANET. The report, submitted to the JNT in February 1993, was published in an edited version in Libraries and IT.

BNBMARC Currency Survey

Monitoring the currency of BNB records for cataloguing purposes has been carried out continuously since 1980 at Bath. Monitoring BNB records for ordering purposes began in 1988. Results at the cataloguing stage. Between 1981 and 1987 the hit-rate was in the 61% to 65% range. With the implementation by the British Library of cataloguing to AACR2 Level 1 for around 50% of BNBMARC records and the omitting of LC subject data, the hit-rate rose to 74% in 1989. A hit-rate of 80% was first reached at the end of 1991 and reached 85% in May 1994. Results at the ordering stage. Between 1989 and 1992 the hit-rate remained between 74% and 76%. A small but steady increase since has brought the hit-rate up to 80%.

The British Library National Bibliographic Service (BLNBS) considers this survey to be of considerable value and started meeting all the costs from 1 April 1994; previously the survey had been jointly funded by BLNBS and the British Library R & D Department. Neither body is responsible for the details, results and opinions appearing in the results of the BNBMARC Currency Survey. International Serials Data System (ISDS) user survey

This survey of ISDS products and services was undertaken by Russell Sweeney (Consultant), Philip Bryant and Steven Prowse with the collaboration of Suzanna Santiago (Director, ISDS). The survey covered a range of questions, including current and future products needed in the market place; how ISDS products and services are used; how the ISDS database was used; how and for what purposes are ISSN's used, and what future uses for the ISSN might be seen.

Two separate surveys were necessary: Survey 1 covered current and former subscribers to ISDS publications and Survey 2 potential subscribers and users of ISSN's. A report was submitted to ISDS in Feb. 1993.

Use and understanding of the catalogues in Cambridge University Library

This survey, undertaken by Philip Bryant, Ann Chapman and Steven Prowse with the collaboration of CUL staff, looked at both use and understanding of CUL catalogues.
The survey aimed to ascertain for all users beyond undergraduate level (i) how well the catalogue data provided are understood, (ii) do users require additional/less information in catalogue entries, and (iii) does the age of the item looked for make any marked difference to the answers given in (ii). The survey also considered: how aware are users of the variety of catalogues provided; are the 'guides' to the catalogue read and understood; what is the level of 'known' item searching; what is the user's next action after failure at the catalogue? A report was produced in 1993.
Philip Bryant Use and understanding of the library catalogues in Cambridge University Library. Bath, UKOLN, 1993. (British Library R&D Report No. 6124)

Internet Access in the UK and Eire

John Smith has been working on this guide, the purpose of which is to give a brief introduction to the various options available to anyone (person or organisation) wanting to connect to the Internet and to then list those companies in the UK able to provide some form of Internet access. It is hoped that the guide will be published later in 1994.

UKOLN at meetings

Information Networking '93

This conference, held in London, 18-20 May 1993, was organised by John Smith for Meckler Ltd. Around 300 people attended, and the two most successful sessions were those on Document Delivery and Networked Information. A feature of the conference was that a full connection to the Internet was made available to exhibitors and speakers.

Importance of Standards

A joint UKOLN/JUGL Seminar on The Importance of Standards was held in London on 23rd November 1993. As the important role of national and international networking for the support of many library activities is increasingly recognised, it is crucial that library systems implement the group of emerging International Standards which are the key to development in this area.

Follett Lectures

UKOLN is helping JISC in the organisation of the Follett Lecture Series, which has been set up to complement the activities proposed as the result of the recent report of the Libraries Review Group of the HEFC's and DENI ( the Follett Report). The purpose of the Lecture Series is to raise awareness among librarians of how information technology and network use can help to meet the needs of library users and library management for the next decade. Although the Follett programme is concerned mainly with academic libraries, many of the topics to be covered will be of interest to practitioners in all areas of library work.

There will be four lectures per year for the duration of the programme with invited speakers from around the world. Attendance will be free at all lectures but prior registration will be required. The first lecture, given by Paul Evan Peters (Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information, USA) is entitled 'The Life of the Mind on the Information Highway' is on 20th September 1994, at 6.30pm at the Cavendish Conference Centre, London. To register for this lecture and for details of further lectures in the series, please contact the Secretary, UKOLN.

Newsletter content by Ann Chapman. Web conversion by John Kirriemuir

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