University of Sydney Library Newsletter

Issue Nº 44 - May 2002

ISSN 1326-2785
Previous issues - August 2001, and archives

Expired URLs removed

In this Issue

Introducing the Course Online Readings Service

The Library recently launched the Course Online Readings Service which is now the University's official repository for all digitised text-based copyright materials required for student course work.

The Service provides a centralised facility for the submission, processing, production and copyright management of all readings from books and journals, to be made available online. Submitted materials will be scanned and made available via the Library's Online Catalogue and Reserve Collection. The readings can also be accessed from a course web site. The service will source materials from the Library collection on request and provide advice on the use of existing electronic resources from full-text databases and electronic journal collections.

The Course Online Readings Service will play a major role in ensuring that the University complies with the recent changes to the Copyright Act. These amendments allow the University, subject to some restrictions, to digitise course readings and make them available to students via a network. However, there is a significant restriction on the amount of material from a book, serial or electronic document that can be made available online at the same time.

Only 10%, or one chapter from a book, can be made available online in the University at any single time. This means that if a lecturer in one course has copied a chapter of Patrick White's work Voss and made it available online, no other staff member can make another part of the same work available online until the first part has been taken down. Similar restrictions apply to journals

The University has decided that from 4 March 2002, digitised copyright material may be located only on the Course Online Readings Service server. Digitised copyright material currently on departmental, faculty or other servers must be transferred immediately. Details of the procedures for transferring existing electronic copyright material or lodging new items on the Course Online Readings Server are available at: Course Online Readings Policy

The Service includes materials such as chapters from books, articles from serials, and other copyright works. It does not include lecture notes, essay questions, solutions to assignments and exercises and other administrative materials relating to your course. This material can continue to be housed on course web sites on departmental and faculty servers.

Further details of the Course Online Readings Service, including Library staff contacts and details of the limits on the amount of material, which can be copied and communicated, can be found at: Course Online Readings Policy

One Hundred and Fifty Not Out

The omens for 2002 suggest that it will be an exciting and challenging innings for the Library. The highlight will be the Library's one hundred and fiftieth anniversary and the acquisition of the five millionth item for the collection. Both events will be celebrated at a function in MacLaurin Hall on 17 October.

Throughout the past century and a half, the Library has faced many challenges some of which have recurred with monotonous regularity. The most cyclical have been issues relating to funding and space. The newest challenge has been the remarkable changes occurring in publishing and the way in which information is accessed.

For well over a decade, the cost of books and journals has increased at rates greater than other commodities. This has been accompanied by a continual expansion in the number of titles published. The challenge for libraries has been complicated further by devaluation of the Australian dollar. More than eighty percent of the information resources purchased by the Library are imported and are paid in a foreign currency. Around fifty percent of these transactions are in United States dollars. This means that even small movements in the currency exchange rates have significant effects on the Library budget.

Between January 2000 and January 2002, the Australian dollar devalued by 20.43% against the United States dollar. Similar movement was experienced against the British pound, the German mark and the Dutch guilder. The overall effect of price rises and currency changes was a reduction in Library purchasing power of more than one million dollars between 2000 and 2001. This was met in 2001 by the use of accumulated reserves and a slight reduction in the purchase of monographs. Significant assistance was also received from the Vice-Chancellor's Strategic Development Fund and from the three academic colleges.

Although currency devaluation is likely to remain a challenge in 2002, there are some bright spots on the horizon. The rosiest is a decision by the University to increase the Library budget by an additional $500,000 in recognition of lost purchasing power due to price rises.

Another star in the dark sky is the provision of a contingency by the University for currency devaluation. This buffer will enable the Library to maintain current journal subscriptions provided the dollar does not drop below the US$0.52 level.

Glimmering at the horizon is another faintly hopeful star. Since the beginning of April, the exchange rate for the Australian dollar has been improving slightly. If this trend continues, the currency challenge will be slightly less daunting than it currently appears.

The Library is not without other challenges as space will continue to demand attention. Since the Library Review in 1992, there has been a concerted effort to reduce the number of small libraries on the Camperdown and Darlington campuses. Particular emphasis has been given to combining the small science libraries.

It has not been possible to find a location for a combined library but some progress has been achieved. The Geography and Geology libraries were relocated in 1998 to form the Geosciences Library. By the end of 2002 it is expected that the Chemistry Library will be closed.

Part of the Chemistry collection will be relocated to the Geosciences Library. This change has been made possible as a result of the extensive use by chemists of online information resources. As part of the relocation, the Library will be providing extensive online access to backsets of journals formerly held in print.

Location changes are afoot elsewhere in the system. The Pharmacy collection was relocated to the Medical Library at the end of 2001. The former Pharmacy Library is now a student computer access laboratory which also provides access to online library resources.

Negotiations are underway to transfer the Curriculum Library from the Old Teachers' College building. The move is necessary to accommodate staff displaced by the renovation of the Mungo MacCallum, Christopher Brennan and Griffith Taylor buildings. From July, the collection will be housed on level one of the undergraduate wing of the Fisher Library. The area will be completely refurbished and improved facilities such as group study rooms will be provided.

The need to relocate the Curriculum collection came as something of a surprise. Fortunately, it is consistent with long term plans for bringing together in the Fisher Library collections relating to the humanities and social sciences. The move will also assist with plans to renovate the Fisher Library which is now almost thirty years old. We have been gradually replacing worn fittings and this year finished the renovation of toilets in the undergraduate wing. A project team has been formed to look at the future use of space in the building.

Since the building was opened there have been significant changes in the services provided in the library. Staff and students in science, medical and technology disciplines now primarily use other libraries on campus. Any reduction in use has been offset by a rapidly growing demand for computing facilities to access online information resources.

To meet these changing demands, consideration is being given to the installation of an information commons on level 3 of the Library. The commons will provide up to two hundred computer workstations with a help desk whose staff will have library and information technology skills. The area will comprise a mix of open access carrels, classrooms and small group study rooms.

Another development under consideration is a library café to replace the coffee cart at the front of the Fisher Library. Hopefully, the café will be provided as part of work to upgrade the library forecourt.

Building works will commence in Badham Library, later in the year. The improvements will provide a better study environment and include a library skills training room. The work will be funded partly from the University's capital development programme and partly from Library funds.

Change is not limited to the city campuses. Part of the Camden Library is being remodelled to accommodate a computing laboratory. This development recognizes the growing dependence on online information resources. The library at Camden supports staff and students involved in agriculture, veterinary science and plant breeding.

The Orange campus is undergoing a metamorphosis which will see it evolve into a regional education centre. In addition to an expansion of university courses, technical and further education will also be offered. Plans for the provision of secondary education are also under development. Relocation of the Orange campus library is likely in order to develop pharmacy laboratory facilities. The library will move into temporary accommodation until a new central building is erected.

In addition to the building works, senior library staff have identified more than twenty other projects which need to be addressed over the next twelve months. These projects are aimed at improving the services provided by the Library.

In August, a survey will be undertaken to identify the needs of library users. The results of the survey will be used to address deficiencies and to plan new services and facilities.

Work is already underway to revise borrowing conditions so that they are more relevant to changes in the way the collections are used. During 2002, a trial is being conducted to allow selected secondary school students to borrow from the Library. These students are undertaking advanced courses and require information resources not usually provided by their school libraries.

Other projects include the introduction of a centralized digitisation service to facilitate the online provision of teaching materials. Development of this service has been necessary to ensure that the University meets is obligations under copyright legislation.

A virtual reference service is also being tested. This service enables queries to be sent to the library online and for Library staff to interact with the questioner. The new service is particularly useful for students who are unable to visit the library. The service complements initiatives taken by the Library to provide as much information online as possible.

The nature of the library has changed considerably since 1852 when the Senate voted five hundred pounds for the purchase of the first books. Our purpose, however, remains the same - to provide the best possible support for teaching, learning and research.

John Shipp University Librarian

Library Sesquicentenary

While the Library may not yet have reached Methuselah's 969 years, it is well on the way. Our one hundred and fiftieth anniversary occurs this year.

A celebration of the Library past, present and future will occur on 17 October 2002 from 6.30pm. Appropriately enough, the celebration will be held in MacLaurin Hall. From 1909 to 1963, MacLaurin Hall was home to the Fisher Library and with the medical and law libraries comprised the University Library.

Details of the celebration have yet to be finalised, but keep the date free.

If you are interested in attending, please contact John Shipp on 9351 2990 or

National Information Infrastructure Committee

The Minister for Education, Science and Training, The Hon. Brendan Nelson, has established a committee to advise him on the information infrastructure required to support research in the higher education sector. The committee will investigate present and emerging needs as well as identify priorities for funding for Systemic Infrastructure Initiative funding.

In January 2001, the Federal Government introduced a Systemic Infrastructure Initiative. This initiative came as a response to a report by the Chief Scientist: Backing Australia's Ability - an innovation plan for the future.

The report found that Australian investment in scientific research lagged behind its international competitors. To improve research infrastructure and research training, $246 million has been earmarked for allocation over a five year period.

This funding will be used to improve facilities essential for high quality research such as libraries, computing centres, animal houses, herbaria, and experimental farms. The scheme emphasises programmes which will provide benefits for the entire higher education system rather than for individual institutions or small groups of institutions.

University of Sydney Librarian, John Shipp, has been invited by the Minister to chair the information infrastructure advisory committee. Other members of the committee will include representatives of:

  • Australian Academy of the Humanities
  • Australian Research Council
  • Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee
  • Council of Australian University IT Directors
  • Council of Australian University Librarians
  • Department of Education, Science and Training
  • Instructional Management Systems Australia
  • National Library of Australia

A small secretariat will be established at the University of Sydney to support the committee and undertake minor research. The secretariat will assist in the broad consultation process which the committee will undertake.

Lending Rights Committee

University Librarian, John Shipp, has been reappointed as chair of the Public Lending Rights Committee. Originally appointed in March 2000 for a two year term, John will serve as chair until March 2005. The Committee advises the Minister for the Arts on the operation of the public lending and educational lending rights schemes. Membership of the committee includes author and publisher representatives. The Public Lending Rights scheme has been in operation since 1974. The scheme provides payments to Australian publishers, authors, illustrators and other creators to recompense them for income lost by the use of their books in public libraries. Eligibility for payment is determined through surveys of libraries and other criteria. In 2000, an Educational Lending Rights scheme was introduced. Australian creators and publishers are eligible to receive payments if their books are held in educational lending libraries and if they satisfy the requirements of the scheme. Although fifteen other countries have public lending right schemes, Australia is the only country to have a separate education lending right. In 2002, around $13 million will be distributed under the two schemes.

The Veterinary Education and Information Network (VEIN)

The Veterinary Education and Information Network (VEIN) was launched by the Vice Chancellor in May 2001. VEIN aims to meet the information needs of veterinary and animal scientists in practice, industry and education. Services are provided on, and off, the Web.

VEIN is a cooperative venture between four partners at the University of Sydney: the University Library, the Faculty of Veterinary Science, the Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science and the Veterinary Science Foundation.

The service provides two tailored 'portals' for its major client groups: 'VEIN Uni' is for staff and students of the University of Sydney and 'VEIN Community' serves veterinary and animal science professionals in the community.

VEIN University

VEIN Uni facilitates staff and students' use of information services in an easily accessible and tailored way. Access to the Library's research databases, online catalogue, document delivery services and information professionals are available via the VEIN Website.

A special feature of VEIN is the 'Links' pages, which function like an electronic reading list of recommended resources. Each of the links pages is supported by one or more academic staff members from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, who supply recommended sites and other resources in their specialist areas to the Library staff. The Life Sciences Libraries Team manage and maintain the VEIN site. Popular pages include:

  • Foot and Mouth Disease
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Neurology and Neurosciences
  • Creating Webpages
  • Image and Sound Collections

Some excellent student work is available on VEIN, such as the Animal Welfare Essays. The students are also participating in the construction of a new part of the site, 'Vetting the Net', which will offer links to which practitioners can refer their clients. The focus will be on high quality, plain language materials of interest to the pet owner. The students will use skills learned in information literacy training sessions to select and annotate the sites.

VEIN Community

VEIN Community is funded by the Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science to support the lifelong learning of its members. Community members are eligible to borrow from the University of Sydney Library and are able to request articles and books, which are delivered to them for a small fee. Passworded access to CAB Abstracts and Medline for Post Graduate Foundation of Veterinary Science members, and a variety of free databases for all comers, is available via the Website. An information specialist is also available to discuss research pathways, and provide assistance with searching for and retrieving high quality information.

Information literacy

Through its programs, VEIN strongly promotes information literacy: the ability to identify and express a need for, locate, filter, evaluate, manage and use information. In the current knowledge economy there is more information available, of diverse quality, than ever before. As a result, information literacy has become a fundamental generic skill for all lifelong learners. Information skills sessions, taught by Library staff are part of the core curriculum in the Faculty of Veterinary Science. Courses will be conducted for VEIN Community members in many parts of Australia in the coming months. Staff also attend conferences and contribute to professional journals to raise awareness of information and information literacy issues.

Virtual Reference Service

The Humanities and Social Sciences Libraries are conducting a trial in 2002 of a new innovative online reference service called LiveChat.

LiveChat allows a student, researcher or an academic to chat with a library staff member online. It is a service designed to assist patrons with help when and where they need it. It could be assistance with research problems, online databases and web searching. Patrons can get help with library services or using the online catalogue, and even participate in library classes or instruction from remote locations, online and in real time.

LiveChat is interactive, the patron and library staff member can work together in a virtual environment. Because it is virtual the patron can log in anywhere they have a computer terminal and Internet access. The software is sophisticated enough to allow web pages to be sent and displayed on the client's computer, patrons can be escorted online through a search and documents and files can be transferred to the client's desktop. Meetings and classes, with library staff, can be held with participants located anywhere - on campus or further afield.

The pilot service is currently available to staff and students of the Faculties of Arts, Economics & Business, Education, Law, the School of Psychology and the Sydney College of the Arts. While LiveChat is currently only available for limited hours on three days of the week, these hours will be expanded as the Library identifies the optimum times to meet patrons' needs for this type of assistance.

The LiveChat service is available from the Library's home page - just click on the LiveChat icon on the top right of the page. Or its direct address is:

If you would like any further information please contact Linden Fairbairn, Reference Services Librarian, at Fisher Library (x15721).

So if you have a question log on to LiveChat!

The Bury Bible

The Rare Book Library has recently been the recipient of a generous donation of a copy of the new facsimile of The Bury Bible, published by the English firm of Boydell & Brewer in October 2001. This work made available to the Library by a retired member of the University staff, Mr. Graham Holland.

The original bible, also known as Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 2, is one of the most famous and splendid English Bibles of the twelfth century, and one of the treasures of Romanesque art. Produced at the abbey of Bury St Edmunds in about 1135, its importance was such that the abbey chronicler recorded its commissioning: 'Hervey, the sacrist, commissioned a large Bible for his brother the Prior and had it beautifully illuminated by Master Hugh'. Parchment was specially brought from Scotland for the illuminations. The book belongs to that small group of English twelfth-century Bibles of outstanding quality, which includes the Lambeth and Winchester Bibles. It is arguable that Master Hugh was the greatest artist of all those who worked on these books, working in a tradition developed at St Albans abbey, and yet a great innovator, bringing a more naturalistic approach to his illuminations.

Originally there were two volumes, of which only the Old Testament survives today. This remaining book is comprised of some 357 leaves, each 514 x 355mm, and contains six full page miniatures, three historiated initials and thirty nine decorated initials, making it is an imposing volume.

The facsimile, while not attempting to present the complete text, contains the Bible's six large illuminations and 42 initials in colour and gold along with samples of script and comparative material, affording the users the opportunity to appreciate one of the masterpieces of English Romanesque painting. It also contains notes and commentary by Professor Rodney Thomson.

Professor Thomson provides a full discussion of the manuscript's production and its place among English manuscripts and art, together with photographs of comparable material. The text sets the Bible's manufacture in the context of book making at Bury abbey, and the developing cult of its patron, Saint Edmund. Other works attributed to Master Hugh are studied, leading to the conclusion that he was a professional artist of cosmopolitan experience as the Bible's miniatures reflect a wide range of stylistic and iconographical influences. In particular, it is suggested that Hugh must have come into direct contact with contemporary Byzantine painting and mosaic. Finally, there is a review of his profound influence on English and continental illumination after his time.

The book will form a valuable addition to the Library's collections together with other manuscripts held there, both in original and facsimile form.