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A Brief History of the University of Sydney Library

V The Electronic Age

The Scholarly Electronic Text and Image Service (SETIS) was established in 1996 to provide a platform for full-text databases and to facilitate textual studies at the university. SETIS was the first service of its kind in Australia and has developed as a national platform for innovative electronic publishing and digital library conversion projects. SETIS is a key participant and host in collaborative projects such as the AustLit database, the Australian Federation Full Text Database and the Australian Digital Theses Program.

Neil Radford retired in 1996. He was followed in 1997 by John Shipp, who had been Librarian at the University of Wollongong and a member of the 1993 library review team. Two college libraries were added in 1998, raising staff numbers to over 300, a peak unlikely to be reached again. A restructuring process was begun, driven by a funding shortfall and the need to meet a changing environment.

In 1999 the Library instituted a policy of acquiring networked electronic resources in preference to print when equivalent versions were available. By the turn of the century the Library's web site had become the primary access to library resources and services. In 2002 the Library purchased its 5 millionth acquisition, Early English Books Online (EEBO).

EEBO provides images of 125,000 titles published between 1473 and 1700 and comprises 22.5 million pages.

The Library's role in electronic publishing was further developed in 2002. SETIS created electronic editions of three titles from the Sydney University Press backlist, in addition to 8 titles from the Colonial Imprints series for the AustLit database. The number of electronic texts created and hosted at SETIS now exceeds 200. The Library joined the international Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership and will participate through SETIS in the production of this important digitisation project.

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