University of Sydney Library Newsletter

Issue Nº 34 - August 1998

ISSN 1326-2785
Newsletter archive

Expired URLs removed

In this issue:

Geography and Geology Libraries

On 24 July, Professor Don Napper, Pro-Vice Chancellor (College of Sciences and Technology) officially opened the new Geosciences Library on Level 4 of the Madsen Building. The library was formed by merging the former Geography and Geology Libraries as part of the Madsen Refurbishment Project. The collections have been integrated, including the current holdings of the Geographical Society of NSW which were previously housed in a separate sequence in the Geography Library. Due to space pressures, older little-used material has been relegated to the Darlington Repository Library and the combined Geosciences collection numbers over 50,000 volumes.

The Geosciences Library provides photocopying facilities, seating for 60 users, as well as 8 computer workstations for access to the Library's online catalogue and electronic resources. Ports for the use of personal laptop computers are also available. Five artworks from the University's collection are on display. Access to relevant electronic databases is also available in the new library, including Geobase, World Climate Disc, Georef and Geoname.

The Librarian in charge is Tim Cotsford. Contact details for the library are:
Phone ext.16456
Fax ext.16459

Opening hours during semester are:
Monday, Friday 9am to 5pm
Tuesday, Wednesday 9am to 6pm
Thursday 9am to 8pm

Further information is available from the University Library website or the Geosciences Library homepage at

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Profesor Don Napper, PVC (Sciences and technology);Tim Cotsford Geosciences Librarian; John Shipp, University Librarian

SETIS Projects in 1998

SETIS, the Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service, has initiated a number of digital text projects this year, building on the work in establishing the service in the period 1996-7. With the structure now in place for making texts and images available from our web site there is simply no end of ideas for publication. The problem is in establishing our priorities which will depend in part on continuing past successes, and also on seeking independent funding for the continuation of many of our projects.

  1. Australian Literature. Our most ambitious project is the Australian Literature Database. Late in 1997, SETIS began collecting any electronic files of Australian literature that could be found on the web. These were to complement the four ACDP novels that we had already encoded from the period 1840-5. (This project was reported in the Library Newsletter, Issue 186, 32, Nov 1997.) In the process it became apparent that the area of Australian literature was in need of consistent and thorough attention. Many sites maintained the occasional html or ascii file of Lawson or Paterson short stories and poems. However, there was no consistent attempt to supply a collection of texts in common format, fully searchable and linked to page images in the way that SETIS had managed with the ACDP novels. The SETIS site now has nearly 30 texts and is already the largest publicly accessible collection of Australian literature in electronic form. In addition to these we have received nearly 40 text files from the Macquarie Dictionary ozcorp database and when these are checked and encoded our collection will be well on the way (and having achieved a certain mass, we will, hopefully, continue to attract material and support.)

    The Scholarly Editions Centre at ADFA has also promised to send us files of their work, recognising that this project is best placed to fill a major gap in Australian literary culture in its aim to provide electronic access to a broad range of Australian text. The library has made a submission for ARC infrastructure funding in collaboration with the University of Western Australia's Scholar's Centre. This submission involved negotiating with academic staff for the establishment of an advisory board to select texts and advise upon matters relating to the encoding of significant textual features. In addition to locking other Australian institutions into the project, the library also negotiated with the publisher Chadwyck Healey (publisher of the English Poetry Full Text Database and other commercial electronic databases) who expressed interest in linking their literature web site to our developing collection. They will contribute to the project in exchange for commercial rights to publish the material outside Australia.

    Texts will include not only literary works but also explorers' journals and other "non-fiction" works. The project is ambitious and potentially could incorporate thousands of textual works (involving an exhaustive coverage of the standard bibliographies). The submission seeks funding to digitise and encode between 200 and 300 works spanning a period of around 150 years following the beginning of European settlement. If we achieve nothing more than this, we will have established a significant database of enduring value to scholarly researchers, students at all levels of education, dictionary editors and general interest users alike. This is an exciting project and the University of Sydney Library is well-placed to attempt it, not only because of our electronic resources and skills base. One of the standard bibliographies of Australian literature was written by a former University of Sydney Librarian, H.M. Green, and our Rare Books collection is a rich source of print editions for the period. The collection is available at and the library welcomes any comments concerning gaps, peculiarities in display and so forth. A small group of students and staff from the Arts faculty is now working on some of the recently received Macquarie Dictionary files, in the process extending our knowledge about encoding and publishing texts electronically.

  2. Manuscripts. A potential extension of this project will be the publication of manuscript material. Rare Books Library staff are in the process of scanning our Henry Lawson manuscripts. Discussions with Mitchell Library staff have encouraged us to further our collaboration on the digitisation of the New Australia newspaper last year and create a joint database of our collections of Lawson material. This will be discussed further in the second half of this year. The images themselves will link effectively with the text material in the Australian Literature collection.
  3. John Anderson Papers. We have entered more than half of the series of lecture notes by Professor John Anderson held in the University Archives, although many of the pages may need to be scanned again to achieve an appropriate high standard. This project could develop into an impressive University web page devoted to the writings and social impact of one of the university's most prominent scholars. For the lecture notes themselves, there could be no better way of publication than in this linking each searchable text file to corresponding image files created from scanning the handwritten pages in the archives. This would be prohibitively expensive in print publication. Our Anderson web site is at
  4. Labour History. Continuing our work on the New Australia newspaper of the 1890's, we have begun a project suggested by Associate Professor Terry Irving. This is to digitise the first edition of Vere Gordon Childe's How Labour Governs, along with around twenty review articles of the time (1920's). The library has recently received permission from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London to publish Childe's work and the text is now available at

    Associate Professor Irving is writing an introductory piece on Childe to accompany the text, and has copies of the review articles to complete this stage of the site. Childe, better known as a prehistorian for his work at Oxford (Man Makes Himself, What Happened in History and other works) was a historian of the early Australian labour movement, and in fact, an advisor to one of the first Labor governments in N.S.W. in the 1920's. The book How Labour Governs was probably the first full length account in the world of the labour movement's attempts to achieve parliamentary representation and, eventually, government, and makes good reading in the light of the recent maritime workers dispute. Returning to Australia in the late 1950's, Childe took his own life at Blackheath, and there are committed "Childeans" in Labour History as well as many other scholars and students who will be interested in this reproduction of the first edition of Childe's examination of "labour in power". The site will be broadly advertised and reviewed in the September issue of the Labour History Research Group's journal Labour History

  5. EAD Finding Aids. Paul Scifleet from the State Library is continuing his work on our joint collection of New Australia newspaper images, in developing an sgml-encoded finding aid to the collection. This will involve further digitisation of the Cosme joumals, held jointly by the Mitchell Library and our Rare Books collection, and a number of issues at the Sydney City Library. (Once these images are created we will have a true "virtual collection" from these different collections.) This should take place in the second half of 1998. At the same time, Paul is working with some Rare Books Library manuscript indexes in a project to attempt to establish a template for converting existing finding aids to sgml. This involves adhering to standards established by the Encoding Archival Descriptions project in the United States and could have significant implications for the archives community in this country. Paul will present his work at a conference using the SETIS databases as illustration. The files so far are at
  6. Other Academic Projects. In the first months of 1998 SETIS worked on some Italian medieval plays produced by Associate Professor Nerida Newbigin of Italian Studies and a scholarly edition prepared by Dr. Judith Barbour of the manuscript of Mary Shelley's biography of her father, William Godwin. About twenty one-act plays will be prepared to create a database of Italian medieval drama. Dr. Barbour and the English Department are currently seeking funding to complete the Shelley biography.
  7. Oxford English Dictionary. Dr. Christopher Manning from the Linguistics Department expressed interest in working on the scripts for making the Oxford English Dictionary available on the web. Our scripts were initially prepared for making the English Poetry database available and have not been altered significantly for use on the OED. Dr. Manning and his students worked last year to achieve a different set of scripts for searching the dictionary and displaying the results. He hopes to present the results of this work at a conference on electronic dictionaries. Meanwhile, work is continuing on the web interface for the OED and this may have benefits for our other web databases. The new OED site will be available later in the year.

For further information on any of these projects, on SETIS itself, or concerning future projects, contact the SETIS Coordinator, Creagh Cole (Phone: 9351-7408. Email:

Library Services to Students with Disabilities

On Friday 12 June, Mitzi Jane Raaphorst and Marrette Louise Corby graduated in Social Work at the Great Hall. Their graduation was greeted with much applause by the audience as both Mitzi and Marrette are severely visually impaired, making their achievement something very special. In accordance with the University's EEO/AA guidelines, the University Library aims to assist students with disabilities by helping them locate library materials from the shelves, photocopying and enlarging that material when required , offering extended loans and inter-library loans, sending material to the Royal Blind Society for taping and conducting searches of our databases and online services. Students are referred to the Library from the University's Disabilities Services (with whom they are required to register in the first instance) and their individual needs assessed.

As well as the services offered by the Library, there is a Special Needs Room located on Floor 3 (entrance level) in the Research Library accessed with a swipe card issued by the Disabilities Services Officer. Here students can use computer and adaptive technology including a closed circuit television (CCTV) Zoomtext, scanners and a voice synthesizer. Staff at the Library also liaise with academic staff to ensure that students with disabilities are not disadvantaged in their studies and are able to achieve their full potential.

For further information please contact Krysia Pilgrim , Fisher Library Information Services ext 12645, e-mail:

Make a Suggestion

The Library welcomes any suggestions about our services and facilities. With recent improvements to the web version of the Online Catalogue, all functions, including making suggestions, can now be carried out on the web catalogue. In the past, these suggestions have been made via the telnet (non-graphics) version of the catalogue.

To make a suggestion, connect to the Online Catalogue at: and follow the link "Suggestions about Library services and facilities"

Replies to suggestions are made by the department head responsible for the service being commented upon. Replies can be accessed from that same Web page but will not appear on the telnet version of the catalogue. This change greatly streamlines the whole process and makes replies to user's questions more readily available, as they are now arranged in date order or can be found using the search facility.

The other suggestion option is for suggesting items the Library should purchase. This does not replace the usual ordering procedure for academics. It is for other University of Sydney borrowers, and the final selection of material will depend on relevance to the University's research and teaching programmes and availability of funds. Suggestions from academic staff for research material should be directed to their appropriate Departmental Library Liaison Officer for ordering.

Improved access to Library Electronic Databases

In January of this year, the Library introduced Web access to a large number of databases on its Electronic Reference Library (ERL)server. Due to problems users were experiencing in achieving access and a stable connection to the ERL server, the Library has recently transferred several of these databases to the OVID interface.

The following databases have now been moved to the OVID platform: ABI/Inform, CAB, Life Sciences, EconLIT, ERIC, INSPEC, MLA, PAIS, Sociofile and Sports Discus.

The method of access will remain the same, that is via connections on the Library's Web page URL: All University of Sydney staff and students are eligible for remote access. If you connect to any of these databases from a campus of the University of Sydney or via the University's Internet Service Provider (Extro account), you will not need a password. If you connect using a non-University Internet Service Provider (eg, Ozemail, Bigpond, etc,) you will need a password. Any passwords already issued for ERL should still be valid for the OVID interface.

If you have used databases such as Current Contents, PsycINFO or Medline the interface will be familiar to you.
For more information, please contact the Co-ordinator of Access to Networked Information Resources, Sten Christensen. Email :, Phone: 9351 3560

Keeping up-to-date with the Library's Databases

If you would like information about the library's databases emailed directly to you, you may wish to join the email discussion list called DATABASE-L. This listserv is designed to foster communication between the Library and its users about electronic databases. It is used to distribute information about new databases and help solve problems that arise in the use of these databases. It also allows users to communicate and assist each other in the use of these databases.

To join DATABASE-L, send an email message to Leave the 'subject line' of the email message blank, turn off your signature and send the following command in the body of the message:
subscribe database-l your first name your last name
eg, subscribe database-l jane doe

Your name will be automatically added to the DATABASE-L mailing list and you will receive a welcome message explaining the purpose of the group and a description of how the group operates (eg how to send a message to the group, how to unsubscribe, etc). It is important to keep this message for future reference.
For general enquiries and comments about this service, please contact the Co-ordinator of Access to Networked Information Resources, Sten Christensen. Email :, phone: 9351 3560

Launch of a new book on Chinese Australian history

East Asian Collection librarian, Magdalen Lee, was a guest speaker at a launch held at Sydney Town hall in the presence of the Lord Mayor, prominent member of the Chinese community and other guests. The book, entitled Red Tape, Gold Scissors: the story of Sydney's Chinese, describes the lives of the first Chinese in Sydney and their contributions to the city. It was written by the City Historian, Dr Shirley Fitzgerald, as part of the ongoing City of Sydney History Publications series.

Red Tape, Gold Scissors has been recently translated into Chinese by Dr Zhang Wei. To celebrate the occasion, copies were donated to secondary, municipal and university libraries. Ms Lee responded to the gift on behalf of the University libraries. The English edition of Red Tape, Gold Scissors is in the Fisher Research Library at 305.8951094 16, while the Chinese edition is in the East Asian Collection at EA 4809.95, on level 7 of Fisher Library.