Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Editorial Introduction to Issue 26: New Landscapes

Philip Hunter introduces Ariadne issue 26 with remarks about the new Director of the UKOLN, the eLib Programme, and the DNER.

Welcome to Ariadne issue 26. In this issue Ariadne welcomes the new Director of UKOLN, Dr Elizabeth Lyon. Previously, Liz Lyon was Head of Research & Learning Support Systems in Information Services at the University of Surrey, where she was founding Director of the Centre for Learning Developments (CLD) and was also responsible for Library IT systems, audio-visual services and administration. CLD comprised four Units promoting and supporting new Learning Technologies, Skills Developments and Applied Research & Development. She has led the piloting and implementation of a virtual learning environment at Surrey, the completion of a campus-wide skills development project and has directed research projects in diverse areas such as multimedia digital libraries (PATRON Performing Arts Teaching Resources ONline), digital watermarking of multimedia objects (PatronMark), devolved budgeting, smart cards, and distance learning support (DiLIS).

photo of Elizabeth Lyon

One of her personal interests is human resources and staff development in particular, and a comprehensive Human Resource Framework was successfully introduced and developed within Information Services over the last three years.

Although Dr Lyon has worked in various University libraries in the UK, her background was originally in Biological Sciences and she has a doctorate in cellular biochemistry.

Ray Lester, Chair of the UKOLN Management Committee, comments: 'We are especially pleased to have attracted Liz to UKOLN at a time of yet greater focus within the communities we serve on the learning paradigm. That, coupled with Liz's particular interest in adding an extra catalyst to the learning process within UKOLN will ensure that the organisation continues to build upon the excellent foundation forged by Lorcan Dempsey in his period as Director.'

The UK JISC funded Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) is now five years old. Chris Rusbridge, currently head of information services at the University of Glasgow, and the Director of the eLib Programme as a whole from its inception in 1995, has been kind enough to contribute a retrospective overview of the entire eLib programme in the article 'After eLib'. In addition, marking the winding down of the programme, this issue features articles on the three of the five Hybrid Library projects: Malibu, Builder, and Agora. These represent explorations of the integration of existing library services and resources into the digital library environment, while exploring new services made possible by the take up of Hybrid Library technology. Kate Robinson, head of reader services at the University of Bath Library gives a personal view of the 'Future is Hybrid' one day conference held at the British Library in London on the 1st of November 2000. There is also an article summarizing the CLUMPs projects. Rounding off this issue's extensive coverage of eLib, Brian Kelly looks at the eLib project sites in his WebWatch column. Readers interested in third party service providers might be interested in looking closely at the large table appended to this article, and particularly at the link popularity figures. The disparity between the popularity figures for the same sites from different service providers is striking. Of course data which is prepared elsewhere and prepared beyond both the researcher's close control and inspection is not really research data at all. Better than nothing, but it is information which is (and which has to be) largely taken on trust. Since third party service providers clearly have a future of sorts, it is as well to be aware of the limitations of what they provide.

There are successor programmes to the eLib Programme, such as the RSLP (Research Support Library Programme), and the DNER (the Distributed National Electronic Resource). Ariadne hopes to feature articles on both programmes throughout 2001. In this issue we have an article on the DNER in general and its relationship to the Hybrid Libraries projects in particular, jointly authored by Lorcan Dempsey (Director of the DNER) and Stephen Pinfield (currently co-ordinating the wind-down of the eLib programme). This article outlines current thinking about the structure and deliverables of the DNER. This may be the only article about the DNER to appear in Ariadne which uses this non-euphonious name, since it is likely that the DNER will be rebranded shortly. The new name will (hopefully) be both easy on the tongue and ear, and cease reminding UK residents of a certain railway company. The name which is finally chosen should be capable of becoming as well-known as (say) Amazon or Tucows, neither of which names actually means anything relevant to the service being provided. The services are none the worse for that. Ariadne has thought of a number of possible candidates for the new name, and will be submitting the best of them for consideration. 'Dempsey' has of course been ruled out, though it would be easy to remember, and easy to spell :-)

We have two articles relating to e-commerce technology in the Higher Education context - one by Andrew Aird from Goldsmiths College in London: 'e-Commerce in Higher Education: can we afford to do nothing?' The article argues that doing nothing in the short term might not seem to make much difference, but that institutions which are not starting to think about this area now may find it much harder to get going later. Brett Burridge looks at SiteServer 3.0 Commerce edition in an article which unravels some of the complexity of Microsoft's bundling of components, as well as describing the various extras which allow SiteServer to be used as a tool for the kind of e-commerce applications likely to be used by universities ('A brief overview of Site Server 3.0 Commerce edition').

Early on in Ariadne's life we ran a questionnaire on how users use Ariadne (issue 5), and ran a similar questionnaire in issue 16. Ten issues further on we are including another (from the 12th of January 2001), which reflects the changes which have taken place in Ariadne's structure and contents over those ten issues. Please take the time (if you have it to spare) to fill in the questionnaire. The results will be fed in to our discussions at Ariadne about the future lines of the magazine's development.

UK news: from the 1st of December the major supplier of UK phone networks, British Telecom (BT) began to offer a service similar to that provided by cable service providers and others over the past year: unmetered access to the Internet after 6pm and all day Saturday and Sunday, for a standard surcharge on top of the line rental cost. This is a major step forward for UK domestic access to the Internet, and the phone bills of a substantial part of the population will fall dramatically. However BT appears to be resisting intense pressure from the UK Government to further open up access to the Internet so that users can have, as in the US, 24 unmetered access to the Internet in return for a standard monthly surcharge (probably somewhere in the region of £10-15 on top of the monthly line rental). The reason for this appears to be the fear that the UK phone system may not survive the resulting tidal wave of usage without falling over and interfering with the efficiency of voice calls. However there are signs that BT is about to bow to the inevitable: it is now looking to its Cellnet operation as its principal source of profits, rather than the hardwired networks. The Government wants the changes in order to facilitate the development of e-commerce in the UK, and to create a level playing field for business enterprise. The date suggested for the change is March 2001: this is a tall order, but that it was made at such short notice is evidence of how much is perceived to be riding on e-commerce and a wished-for universal accessibility to the Internet.

Finally, The H.W. Wilson company has expressed the wish to include the text of the entire back run of Ariadne (five years altogether) in a database which is distributed to academic institutions worldwide. Ariadne welcomes this opportunity to make its contents additionally available in this way. Since the copyright in Ariadne's contents is shared between the publication and its authors, we are taking this opportunity to inform Ariadne's authors past and present about the proposed arrangement. If you are an Ariadne author and have any queries about the implications of this development, please contact the Ariadne office at the contact address below.

Suggestions for articles for issues 27 to 29 are now being considered. Article proposals should be sent to: ariadne@ukoln.ac.uk. Books for review should be sent to:

The Editor
The Library,
University of Bath
Claverton Down
Bath BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

Enjoy the issue.

Philip Hunter
Ariadne Editor

Email: p.j.hunter@ukoln.ac.uk
Web site: http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/