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University of Sydney Library Newsletter

Issue Nº 28 - September 1996

ISSN 1326-2785
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In this Issue






Life in the Age of the Fountain

A century ago Melvil Dewey, who could always be relied on to catch a new trend, wrote about the changing nature of the library

"The original library was a reservoir, getting in and keeping safely, a storehouse for posterity. Then, after many centuries, came another library epoch, The cistern was made a fountain; giving out was seen to be more important than getting in. The library is no longer merely a passive receptacle we live now not in the age of the reservoir, but in the age of the fountain."

Aiming off for the Victorian rhetoric, Dewey's 1897 description of a library is not far away from one we would use today. We no longer emphasise the accumulation of collections in case posterity needs them, we emphasise the flow of information from or through the library to those who need it. Dewey could not have foreseen electronic forms of information but the principle applies even more strongly to them.

So the modern library has to be active, not passive, embracing all forms of information and all means of delivering information to those who need it. It has been a privilege to be associated with the University of Sydney Library for the last 23 years, a period during which, in many ways, it has been a leader in Australian university library development.

I am the eighth person to be designated the University's Librarian. The first was Frederick Forshall, who appointed in 1852 but resigned after only fifteen months. The position of Librarian then lapsed for forty years during which the Library was under the general supervision of the Registrar aided by an "Assistant Librarian". In 1893 the Registrar, Henry Barff, was retitled "Registrar and Librarian"; it is said that this was done in order to justify increasing his salary! (I will probably always regret not having taken the initiative to seek to have my title changed to "Librarian and Registrar" for the same reason.) The Library assumed its present place of leadership in the Australian library community during the brief (1959-62) but dramatic tenure of Andrew Osborn, an Australian who had spent most of his career in the United States. Osborn had a single-minded determination to bring the Library into world class and was prepared to fight hard to achieve this goal. Unfortunately one of those with whom he fought hard was the Vice-Chancellor, an error of judgement which eventually led to his resignation, but he succeeded in more than doubling the Library's collections in less than four years. In 1963 Osborn was succeeded by Harrison Bryan, under whose leadership the Library's continued growth and national stature was assured. Bryan became Director-General of the National Library of Australia in 1980 and I was appointed to succeed him. I intend to retire from the position on 13 December and will take accrued leave from 6 September.

As I look back over the last sixteen years it is astonishing to reflect on the scale of the changes which we have witnessed. We take the present so much for granted that we don't always remember the journey which got us here. In 1980 the University Library's collections totalled 2.7 million volumes; today they are 4.5 million. Annual expenditures on increasing and improving the collections have grown nearly five-fold, from $1.6 million to $7.5 million, an impressive increase but one which has barley kept pace with increases in the costs of books and journals.

By far the most astonishing and far-reaching change I have witnessed is the emergence of information in electronic form. It began as a light drizzle in the late 1970s, a few small drops here and there of one database or another bravely mounted on a distant computer and sometimes accessible by slow trans-Pacific lines. The drizzle became a gentle rain, then a downpour, and now a torrent, surging forward, carrying the Library and its users with it. I doubt that the book will ever be completely submerged by the force of the electronic deluge, but there can be no doubt that old ideas of access to information have been totally turned around in the last decade or less. The future will be increasingly electronic and it is not an original thought to say that the pace of change will surely accelerate.

These are difficult times for university libraries - indeed for research libraries generally - and the last sixteen years have not always been as easy or as problem-free as we might have liked or hoped. The amazing developments in electronic access to information, which carry a significant cost, have appeared just at the time when increased costs are most difficult to manage. Yet exploiting these new ways of serving our users cannot be postponed. Nor can we abandon the traditional print collections, which have their own significant costs and problems.

What will be the new University Librarian's most pressing challenge? I suggest it will be the same as my most pressing challenge - obtaining adequate resources to enable the Library staff to provide the very best library and information service for the University community. Academic libraries are sometimes spoken of as "the heart of the university" and are proudly shown off to visitors. When the great strengths of this University are being enumerated you can be sure that the Library will be somewhere in the list. But when it comes time to make hard choices most members of the academic community support first the particular disciplines or research programs in which they are engaged. The Library is everyone's second choice when budget priorities are being debated. It is the University Librarian's job to convince the Vice-Chancellor and administration that the Library deserves a balanced share of the assets and resources of the institution. I have served under three Vice-Chancellors (not counting Professor Brown who has only just taken up his appointment) and all three of them, in different ways, did their very best to protect the Library from adverse budget trends and to direct to it the maximum funds possible. The Library has been very well served by recent Vice-Chancellors; long may that continue. I think it has been well served because it has had their confidence, and also the confidence of the academic community generally. The Library had had credibility as a wise manager of resources and as a valued provider of essential services to the university community. In short, it has been seen as giving "value for money", however that might have been measured. Neither the University nor its Library can survive as credible institutions without the other. There cannot be a strong university without strength and vitality in its library, and there cannot be a strong library without a commitment of support on the part of its university.

The Library must expect to rely increasingly on funding from outside the University's general recurrent budget if the strength of its collections and services is to be maintained. An important source of such supplementary funding will be income from endowments, and of all the achievements of my time as University Librarian it is probably the increase in the Library's endowments which gives me the greatest satisfaction. Every dollar we get from an endowed fund gives us that little extra bit of freedom to direct our budget towards our changing priorities. That sort of budgetary freedom and flexibility is one of the characteristics which distinguishes a first rate library from others. I am proud to be leaving to my successor a library which is on a firmer financial base that it was sixteen years ago, but compared to many academic research libraries in North America our endowments are modes. Attracting gift and bequest funds must remain a high priority.

One could construct a long list of changes and improvements and achievements since 1980, but it must be emphasised that none of them would have been possible without the extraordinary dedication and hard work of the Library's staff. There have been, and are, some greatly talented and dedicated people on the Library staff; I have no doubt at all that the University receives much more than full value for the money it invests in the Library's staffing budget.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have served the University of Sydney as its Librarian. I will watch the Library's continuing growth and development with great interest and some pride.

Neil Radford
University Librarian

New Subject Classes for Electronic Databases

With the beginning of 2nd semester 1996, Fisher Library is changing the way it is presenting the classes for electronic databases.

The general introductory class will continue to be offered on Tuesdays at 5:10 pm - 6:00 pm. This class will cover the basic principles of database searching.

In addition to the general class there will be a range of subject speciality classes available. These classes will build on what is learnt in the introductory class, and will include discussion of the specific databases available in each subject, as well as the methodology of database searching.

The subject classes are:

  • Economic, Business and Government - every Thursday 11:00 am - 12:00 noon (contact Linden Fairbairn or Ray Penn on ext 15679).
  • History, Philosophy and Religious Studies - every Thursday 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm (contact person: Ute Foster on ext 15856).
  • Language, Literature and Linguistics - every Wednesday 11:00 am - 12:00 noon (contact person: Mary Rothe on ext 15856).
  • Psychology - every Thursday 10:00 am - 11:00 am (contact person Rena McGrogan on ext 13560).
  • Social Sciences - every Friday 10:00 am - 11:00 am (contact person Sten Christensen on ext 15721).
  • Sciences - every 2nd week on Tuesday 2:00 - 3:00 pm (contact person Irene Rossendell on ext 13257).

People can sign up these classes on booking sheets which are on a noticeboard near the Information Desk, Fisher Library Level 3. There is a limit of 15 people per class. No telephone bookings can be taken.

If any member of academic staff is interested in attending, please feel free to sign up. We would also appreciate you letting all your students know about these classes.

The National Chinese, Japanese and Korean System (NCJK System)

The NCJK System went live in Australia on Monday, 3 June 1996.

The NCJK System Database

The NCJK System provides a database of bibliographic records for Chinese, Japanese and Korean material with full support for vernacular scripts. The database initially contains half a million bibliographic records (520,000 bibliographic records and 220,000 holding records), from sources including Australia, North America (Library of Congress, OCLC, RLIN) and Japan (the National Diet Library). The database will grow with monthly updates from the Library of Congress and the National Diet Library, in additional to updates from Australian libraries. A new feature of the NCJK System is the MASS (Multilingual Application Support Service) software interface which allows users to search the database in Chinese, Japanese and Korean scripts in addition to the use of romanisations. MASS, which is window-based, was developed by the Institute of Systems Service at the National University of Singapore.

Background of the NCJK System

The NCJK Project, initially funded by the Australian Research Council, is a cooperative effort involving the National Library of Australia and seven university libraries to establish an online national union catalogue for Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) materials which will allow CJK scripts to be used in searches and displays and will provide copy cataloguing containing CJK scripts. The eight founding member libraries are ANU, Griffith University, Monash University, Murdoch University, University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, University of Sydney and the National Library of Australia. The National CJK Steering Committee and the National CJK Technical Committee were established in May 1993 consisting of a representative of each library participating in the Project. John Rodwell, the Information Services Librarian, represents the University of Sydney Library in the NCJK Steering Committee and Magdalen Lee, the East Asian Collection Librarian, in the NCJK Technical Committee.

New Members

Once the System is operational, it is expected that more Australian and New Zealand libraries with CJK collections will join. A recent highlight has been the receipt of new applications for full service membership from Macquarie University and Hurstville City Library. ABN users will be able to connect to the NCJK System either directly, if they have Internet access, or via the ABN Internet gateway. Gateway users will be limited to a romanised-only view of the database. No special hardware or software is required to be able to search the database in romanised form and to add holdings. Further information is available from: Linda Groom, National CJK Project Manager, National Library of Australia, ACT 2600. Phone: (06) 262 2346, Fax: (06) 262 4327, e-mail: lgroom@nla.gov.au.

Implementation of the NCJK System at the University of Sydney Library

The Library is currently working on the interface of the NCJK System and the Library's local system, Innopac. The interface will be implemented in the second half of 1996. When the interface is ready, the East Asian Collection staff will cease using the Australian Bibliographic Network (ABN) for Chinese, Japanese and Korean language cataloguing and will commence cataloguing on the new NCJK System.

Library users coming to the East Asian Collection, where MASS software is installed, will be able to search the Library's Online Catalogue (OPAC) in CJK vernacular scripts and can also view the display of records in vernacular scripts. Library users who search for Chinese, Japanese and Korean materials via OPAC without special CJK software installed can still view records in romanisations only. The first formal demonstration of the NCJK System is arranged for the academic staff, postgraduate students of the Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies and Korean Studies in the School of Asian Studies. More demonstrations will be scheduled for postgraduates, library staff and others interested in the System.

A Nineteenth Century Australian Jewish Newspaper

Recently, the State Library of New South Wales presented the Archive of Australian Judaica with their duplicate copy of The Australian Israelite (30 June 1871 - 26 June 1874). While this is not a complete run of all issues of this journal, it actually ran for almost another year, ceasing in May 1875 due to financial difficulties, it is nevertheless represents a significant acquisition for the collection. Short runs of this type were often typical of nineteenth century Australian journals.

The Australian Israelite was published weekly, in Melbourne, and contained news items about different activities of Jewish community as well as different items of interest such as thoughts on the education, the book trade, or religious issues.

Correspondence was also quite a strong feature of the journal, as were biblical commentaries and items of interest from around the world. Local news included cricket results, elections and news of the Melbourne Jewish Literary and Debating Society. The work has also been microfilmed for preservation purposes and either this, or the original copy, may be consulted in the Archive of Australian Judaica.

 

Research Skills and the Internet for Undergraduates

The Library is conducting free one hour seminars for Undergraduate Students. The seminars will explain how to create a search strategy, how to use the Internet to find useful information and how to evaluate what you have found.

This class is intended for students interested in improving their library research skills and use of the Internet.

Classes will be held in the Fisher and Engineering Libraries. Bookings can be made at Fisher Library near the Information Desk, Level 3. There is a maximum of 10 per seminar. The seminar is also available online via the Library Web Site at the following URL: http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/Research/index.html.

The seminar was the collaborative development of the Internet Training Team. Steve Ryan and Philippa Crosbie are responsible for the design, creation and ongoing maintenance of the online material. Sten Christensen is responsible for the co-ordination and presentation of the seminars. In addition volunteer presenters have come from the various University of Sydney Libraries both on and off campus.

This is the latest in a long list of successful courses developed and presented this year by the Internet Training Team (Steve Ryan, Gail Higgins and Philippa Crosbie). They include Introduction to the World Wide Web and Netscape for postgraduates; Searching the Internet for postgraduates and academic staff (URL http://systems7.fisher.su.oz.au/Search/searchclasst.html); Email Discussion Groups and Usenet News for academic staff and postgraduates (URL http://systems7.fisher.su.oz.au/Search/discussion2.html); Citing Electronic Resources for academic and postgraduate staff; undergraduate course related classes for Semitic Studies; and collaborative workshops with the Centre for Teaching and Learning in the use of the web as a teaching tool.

Since the end of March this year there have been 31 classes with 272 participants for the Searching the Internet, Citing Electronic Resources, Email Discussion Groups, Semitic Studies classes, along. Another 22 classes are planned for August and September.

The Internet Training Team welcomes feedback from staff and students so that it can improve its service to the University community. If you are interested in attending any of the courses we offer or have a specific training need not covered here, please contact Steve Ryan, s.ryan@library.usyd.edu.au or ext 15030, orPhilippa Crosbie, e-mail philippa.crosbie@sydney.edu.au, or ext16940

Cosme Colony - The Australians in Paraguay

(New Exhibition in the Rare Books and Special Collections Library)

In July 1893 two hundred and twenty Australians set sail from Sydney with journalist and utopian, William Lane, to found a socialist colony in Paraguay. Many of the colonists were escaping the catastrophic results of the Queensland Shearers' Strike of 1892-3 which left shearers and pastoral workers unemployed or blacklisted, while others believed the recession and drought Australian was experiencing in the early 1890s promised a bleak future. Paraguay, on the other hand, was keen to attract new settlers after being involved in a debilitating war with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay from 1865-70 which killed 80% of the male population and was offering fertile land to those who were willing to farm it.

Less than twelve months after "New Australia" was founded it was divided by acrimony and bitterness. William Lane and his followers formed a breakaway colony, called "Cosme Colony", 75 km south of "New Australia" and started again from scratch, clearing land, planting crops and building houses. In the beginning, when stores were low, they were frequently forced to eat monkey stew.

In spite of their dreams to create a new Australia based on the principles of equality and mateship, the experiment failed. Although between 600 and 650 people joined the two colonies, people left in a steady stream over the years, either because they could not live under communal principles or because of disagreements with other members. "New Australia" was dissolved in 1897 and "Cosme" om 1909, both reverting to private title.

The Rare Books and Special Collections Library is currently displaying a selection of letters, photographs, artefacts and Cosme Colony publications from a collection originally belonging to the family of John Lane, William Lane's brother and chairman of the colony after William's departure. Also on display is the manuscript of "A Peculiar People", an account of the Australians in Paraguay written by Sydney journalist and author Gavin Souter, which Mr Souter generously donated to the Library with his research notes after the book's publication. "Cosme Colony ' The Australians in Paraguay" is on display on Level 2 of Fisher Library until December 1996. Enquiries may be directed to Sara Hilder, Rare Books and Special Collections Library, ext 12992, or e-mail rarebook.library@sydney.edu.au.

 

Expanded Access to Electronic Databases

The Library is continuing to provide improved and expanded access to its large selection of electronic databases. University of Sydney staff and students can access the following databases from their computers at work or home as well as from workstations within the Library network:

  • AUSTROM: the Australian Social Science, law and educational series of databases
  • Acquatic Science & Fisheries
  • ABI/Inform Business and management and related areas
  • BIOSIS
  • Business Australia on Disc, a series of databases on topics of interest to Australian business
  • CAB Abstracts
  • EconLit: Economics including economic theory, production, trade, social indicators, etc)
  • ERIC: Educational Resources Information Centre
  • GeoRef
  • Heritage and Environment
  • Life Sciences Collection
  • MLA Modern Languages Association International bibliography
  • PAIS Public Affairs Information Service
  • SIAL Serials in Australian libraries
  • Social Sciences Index
  • Social Work Abstracts
  • Sociofile
  • Sport Discuss

To access these databases you will need a userid, password and the appropriate software. The userid and password is the same as that used for accessing CAUL Current Contents. If you do not already have this userid and password, please contact your faculty of departmental computer administrator. Their names are listed on the Library's World Wide Web site at: http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/Databases/erl.html

Instructions on how to download and install the software (MacSPIRS for Macintosh users and WinSPRIS for windows users) are also given on this webpage. The Library also operates an email discussion group - DATABASE-L- which will keep you informed about new developments in the area of electronic databases. Full details about this group and how to join are also available from the Library's Web site.

For further information contact Gail Higgins, ext 13560, email: g.higgins@library.usyd.edu.au.