University of Sydney Library Newsletter

Issue Nº 32 - November 1997

ISSN 1326-2785
Newsletter archive

Expired URLs removed

In this issue:

After three months as University Librarian, I feel as though I have always been here. Coming to grips with the complexity and tradition of the University has been a very rewarding experience. I have visited all sections of the Library and have tried to meet with as many staff members as possible.

Much of my time has been devoted to considering the future of the Library. The development of a discussion paper is well underway and will be made public in late October. It is important that the Library have a clear sense of future direction which takes into account the strategic vision of the University as well as accommodating changes in scholarly communication.

Regrettably, the Library faces a difficult financial future. This has been caused in part by circumstances beyond its control. Reductions in government funding, rising cost of publications and salary increases have combined to complicate the fiscal situation.

The Library has been fortunate in the past as it has had considerable reserves. This has permitted services to be maintain somewhat independent of declining recurrent resources. Continued reliance on reserves is not a viable financial strategy. An important aspect of future planning will include the implementation of a strategy which aligns recurrent income with recurrent activities.

This will involve reviewing all services to determine their viability, importance, cost and priority. It is clear, however, that significant reductions will need to be made in salary and collections expenditure. These changes will require careful planning and the involvement of those affected.

Ideally, the consultation process would be extensive but budget imperatives may curtail discussion on particular issues. In some instances, action may need to occur quickly to take advantage of unforseen circumstances. Generally, however, the future direction of the Library will be discussed in all appropriate forums.

My reaction so far is that there is considerable interest in, and commitment to, the future of the Library. There has been some loss of opportunity due to past slowness in addressing issues and implementing strategies. Despite this slowness, the Library has grappled with the myriad of issues which affect its operation and future.

The ultimate intent of the Library is to participate as a partner in the research, teaching and learning programs of the University. Within the University and externally, the Library will seek to be regarded as "simply the best" in the provision of collections and services which facilitate scholarship.

New Australia: The Journal of the New Australia Co-operative Settlement Association

Digital images of the newspaper "New Australia" held in the Rare Books Library are now available at the library web site at

This was the newspaper of the utopian socialist movement led by William Lane which left Queensland in 1894 to establish a settlement in Paraguay. Descendants of these settlers still live in the area settled. The New Australia collection consists of nineteen issues published between November 1892 and July 1894, providing information about the plans for settlement and reports from the first settlers themselves.

The newspapers are in a delicate physical state, with yellowing, crumbling paper. The text itself is often faint and occasionally obscured by supporting tape, or torn edges. It was decided that this may be a good test project for digitising library material for the purposes of both preservation and greater availability. As digital images, access to this material could be assured without the original pages suffering further damage.

In a collaborative initiative, the Fisher Library collection was ultimately supplemented by the collection held at the Mitchell Library, so the digital collection is, in fact, more comprehensive than the original collection of papers.

The problems involved in such a project concern primarily the trade off between the amount of information achieved in the initial scan on the one hand, and the problem of file size and disc space on the other. Colour scans at moderately high resolution (300 d.p.i.) of pages of this size (28cm x 36cm) can easily result in files of 30MB. It was decided to scan the pages at 300 d.p.i. as grayscale images and convert these to duotone images. File sizes in this case went from around 6-7MB to 2-3MB. Finally, the TIFF files created were compressed as TIFF Fax 4 Compression files and the resulting file sizes came down to between 300 and 400KB.

At the moment, the files are kept as compressed TIFF files so to view the images the web browser software program (such as Netscape) will need to be able to locate on the user's computer an image viewing program capable of handling such file types. The web browser itself is unable to display these images. Shareware programs such as Graphic Converter (Macintosh), or DocView (Windows) can be obtained to view or print the images to specified page size.

Contact Creagh Cole, the SETIS Coordinator, for more information on the project, or help with appropriate viewing software.
Phone: 9351 7408 Email:

Australian Novels from the 19th Century: electronic editions of original works held in the Mitchell Library collection, now available from the University of Sydney Library web site

The Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service has been engaged in encoding a number of Nineteenth Century Australian novels in order to make them available at the library web site for searching and browsing. Our aim has been to provide national, and, indeed, world-wide access to editions of these novels in electronic form.

The electronic editions will closely represent the original printed works, and in addition to searchable text files of each novel, will include digital images of each page. The primary benefit of this project will be the provision of wide access to these works. A further benefit, however, and one which will become more significant as the collection grows, is the ability to search within the novels for keywords or phrases.

This will allow scholars to trace the occurrence and emergence of terms and phrases over time in the development of Australian literature. The novels were identified in the ARC-funded Australian Cooperative Digitisation Project 1840-45. They are:

  • Love Story by a Bushman (by W.H. Christie, 1841)
  • Tales for the Bush (by M.T. Vidal, 1845)
  • Tales of the Colonies (C. Rowcroft 1843)
  • Arabin; or Adventures of a Colonist (T.McCombie 1845)

The Significance of the Novels

The 1840s witnessed the real beginnings of the publication of Australian fiction (only two novels had appeared earlier). The novels published from 1840-45 were largely inspired by the changed circumstances of Australian life, beginning the concentration on the description of bush life which was to be so dominant in later fiction. While access to these texts, none of which has been reprinted this century, will be particularly important for literary scholars, cultural and social historians will also find much of value in them.

Australian Cooperative Digitisation Project 1840-45

The Australian Cooperative Digitisation Project 1840-45 is an Australian Research Council funded collaboration between the University of Sydney Library (project leader), the State Library of New South Wales, the National Library of Australia and Monash University Library. The project will digitise the journals and fiction published in the period 1840-45, a seminal period in the emergence of an Australian colonial identity. This material, which is both scarce and fragile, will be freely accessible throughout Australia and the world via the Internet. In the process the project will establish technical specifications and benchmarks for future projects of this type.

Availability of the Novels

Most of the novels are now available at the SETIS web site, although as work proceeds on the remaining novels, changes are also made to the whole collection. To browse, read or search the novels currently available, the URL is

The collection will continue to grow, hopefully with further funding to extend the original digitisation project from the initial period 1840-45. In the meantime, other material held at the library may be added to the collection to form the basis for a significant database of publicly accessible texts in Australian literature.

For further information on the novels contact Creagh Cole, the SETIS Coordinator (ext.17408,, or Ross Coleman, the Collection Management Librarian and coordinator of the Australian Cooperative Digitisation Project (ext. 13351;

Internet Training for Undergraduate Students

Fisher Library has been conducting Internet training sessions for undergraduates from mid Semester 1, 1997. The training is presented in two modules, "Introduction to the Internet" and "Searching the Internet". The two 1½ hour modules are loaded on the Web and have been designed to provide students with a basic overview of the Internet, the World Wide Web and Netscape and to provide a guide to searching the Internet using search engines, search directories and specialised search engines. Tips on creating a search strategy and in citing and evaluating Internet resources are also covered and hands-on experience and exercises are included in each module.

The modules were prepared by Philippa Crosbie and Gail Higgins from the Internet Training Team in consultation with the subject librarians in Information Services. The modules are self paced and interactive, allowing students to not only participate during the training sessions but to re-access the modules as required in their own time.

In recognition of the increasing demand from prospective employers for graduates to be conversant with the Internet and its applications and uses in their areas of expertise, all students are issued with a certificate of completion. Response to this has been positive as students welcome the opportunity to include the certificates in their resumes.

To date a total number of 38 classes have been run, which a total of 340 students have attended. Comments from participants have been appreciative, with the majority requesting longer sessions if they can be arranged.

The East Asian Collection - Recent Developments

The East Asian Collection (EAC) is an invaluable special research collection belonging to the University of Sydney. Holding over 110,000 volumes in the Chinese, Japanese and Korean vernacular, it is located on Level 7 of Fisher Library. The EAC is the third largest oriental collection in Australia, after the East Asian collections of the National Library of Australia and the Australian National University. The Library is taking advantage of technology developments to complement the print holdings in Chinese, Japanese and Korean and improve access to the books and serials.

Online Catalogue with Vernacular Chinese, Japanese and Korean Scripts

MASS (Multilingual Application Support Service) software was installed on EAC terminals to interface with the Library's new INNOPAC computer system. Library users coming to the EAC are now able to search the Library's Online Public Access Catalogue in Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) scripts and can also view the display of records in those scripts. This is a major improvement over the previous Romanised records system. Library users who search the catalogue for Chinese, Japanese or Korean materials without the special CJK software installed are limited to viewing records in Romanised scripts only.

Library users are now also offered improved access to CJK resources internationally. Workstations in the EAC can now access the Australian National Chinese, Japanese and Korean Service (ANCJKS); the world's first national union online database with CJK vernacular scripts. The ANCJKS went live in June 1996 and was a cooperative project of seven university libraries, including the University of Sydney, together with the National Library of Australia. The ANCJKS database now contains more than 750,000 bibliographic records and continues to grow with monthly updates of 12,000 records. The sources of the database include libraries from North America (Library of Congress and leading academic libraries with Chinese, Japanese and Korean collections) and Japan (the National Diet Library) in addition to Australian libraries.

Japan Foundation - Library Support Program

Under this program, the EAC was fortunate to receive a donation of a five CD-Rom set valued at approximately A$9,500. This CD-Rom set is:

  • CD-ASAX 50 Years (Index to the Asahi Shinbun over the last 50 years, 1945-1995)

The Asahi Shinbun, as the leading daily newspaper in Japan, is an important source for Japanese studies and research and will greatly facilitate research in Japanese Studies at the University.

Chinese & Japanese CD-Roms

The East Asian Collection aims to build up its electronic reference database resources to complement the still important traditional reference tools in print. In addition to the CD-ASAX 50 Years, several other electronic databases which index articles in journals and newspapers are available in the East Asian Collection. These include:

  • the NDL CD-ROM Line (the CD-ROM version of "Zasshi kiji sakuin" which indexes the major Japanese journals and newspapers)
  • Jen min jih pao so yin 1946-1995 (The Index of People's Daily 1946-1995)
  • Pao k'an tzu liao so yin 1978-1995 (The Index to Chinese newspapers and periodicals in social sciences 1978-95)

Display of Chinese Materials Held by the East Asian Collection

The China Education Centre, Faculty of Education is planning an end-of-year celebration to commemorate the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Australia and China. The Library will participate with a display of Chinese materials, held by the EAC, in the showcases of the Rare Books area of the Fisher Library. The official opening will be at 6 pm, 2 December 1997 at the Rare Books display area, followed by the Anniversary Dinner at the Holme Building at 7 pm. Other displays in Fisher Library will include Paintings of Ceremonies, mounted by Ms Pamela Bell, the University Art Curator.

Fire and Safety Upgrade in Fisher Library

A major program to upgrade the levels of fire safety will begin in Fisher Library in December 1997. This will involve the installation of sprinklers in both the Undergraduate and Research Library buildings, the replacement of ceiling tiles in the Undergraduate Library and the extension of some existing fire stairs. These measures are necessary to bring the building to compliance with the latest fire and safety standards.

The program will take months to complete and will unfortunately involve some disruption to normal services. Every effort is being made to minimise this disruption and to carry out noisy activities after hours. During the period December 1997 to mid-February 1988 there will be some relocation of services and activities. Detailed information will be made available as the work progresses.

For more information contact Libby Carey on ext. 12423 or e-mail or Kate Sexton on ext. 12991 or e-mail

Pharmacy Library

During the mid-year break the Pharmacy Library was closed for renovations. The library reopened in second semester with a new service desk, improved layout, new furniture for computer access and new individual study carrels. Out of date books were withdrawn and the entire collection was reshelved into Dewey order. Although space is still tight, a small area for quiet study has been created. The project was largely funded by the Office of Facilities Planning as part of the upgrade of the Pharmacy building, with additional financial support by the Department from Alumni funds and the University Library.