Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Editorial Introduction to Issue 48: Extended Family Net Works

Richard Waller introduces Ariadne 48.

While the number of delegates at the Institutional Web Management Workshop did not quite match that of ECDL 2004 [1] when it too was hosted at the University of Bath, it would be fair to say the Workshop gave UKOLN almost as much to do. Inevitably the bulk of the workload fell upon the Workshop's new Chair Marieke Guy and also Natasha Bishop, UKOLN Events and Marketing Manager. There is little doubt there were many opportunities for networking within a workshop in which it was evident very many delegates were known to each other. It was quite apparent to UKOLN colleagues attending, as it was to others present, that this event had a distinct buzz about it. Kate Forbes-Pitt of the LSE, whose presentation aroused much interest, remarked that she knew of no other event this side of the Atlantic which evoked such a sense of common cause. A frequent comment was that after ten years IWMW came close to a family gathering; there is undoubtedly a depth of shared history. I will leave the report of the Workshop in the capable hands of Adrian Stephenson who has put together IWMW 2006: Quality Matters for us; but for two comments. Firstly, UKOLN colleagues were delighted by the depth of delegates' appreciation, not only for Brian Kelly's years of unstinting effort for IWMW but also for the hard work and prodigious calm of their new Chairperson. Secondly I would mention the heartening evidence of so many experienced practitioners who, while taking proper account of the opportunities offered by emerging collaborative technologies at the Workshop, nonetheless repeatedly reported back in the final plenary on the value their discussion groups placed on face-to-face meetings and closer contact with colleagues - as at IWMW 2006.

Robin Murray and I were both beaten by the common enemy, Time, in our efforts to publish Library Systems: Synthesise, Specialise, Mobilise in the last issue, although Robin's examination of the changing landscape in which library systems operate has lost nothing of its currency. He describes how the integrated library system is no longer as firmly anchored to its service model as it once was and examines its emerging role in relation to Web-based services. The area from which he draws an example to illustrate his arguments is very much in the public eye [2].

The role of the library catalogue in a changing landscape has been exercising Lorcan Dempsey somewhat and he has contributed The Library Catalogue in the New Discovery Environment: Some Thoughts on the matter. Lorcan also points to changes affecting the traditional model of catalogue usage, changes that are being driven by alterations in the pattern of users' demands, and places these developments in the wider context of the emerging network environment.

In their persistent search for new developments in the field of library systems and services, Daniel Chudnov, Peter Binkley, Jeremy Frumkin, Michael J. Giarlo, Mike Rylander, Ross Singer and Ed Summers have come up with what they term 'a tiny HTTP API for serving information objects in next-generation Web applications'. Introducing unAPI, they point to the persistence of barriers to flexible reuse of library resources across new Web services. While the capacity to copy and paste is a function that all IT users take for granted in their desktop applications, the authors appear to have hit upon a potentially invaluable extension of the concept to permit us to copy complex digital objects from Web applcations.

I am indebted to Caroline Williams for taking up the baton from Debra Hiom [3] and for completing the two-part series we have arranged on the development and future of the Resource Discovery Network in her article on Intute: The New Best of the Web. Caroline also points to the changing environment in which Intute now works and the efforts made to address such change. Whatever those changes, she makes it clear that as the Internet continues to expand, issues of quality and trust will only grow in their importance to education and research and that she sees engagement with Intute's community as central to its future practice.

I am particularly delighted to be able to offer a further addition to the material Ariadne has offered hitherto on developments in access management technology [4]. This is thanks to Martin Moyle who as Project Manager of SHERPA-LEAP at University College London has been in the van of work on Shibboleth. In Seven Libraries and a LEAP of Faith Martin describes for us the ShibboLEAP Project which involved six University of London institutions in the implementation of Shibboleth. Martin provides us with background to the project as well as a summary of its aims and core findings and introduces case studies of Shibboleth Identity Provider implementation. His hope that the project's work will be of service to new adopters of this new technology is not, I think, a vain one.

Having looked rather more broadly at the search engine industry in recent issues, Phil Bradley has decided this time around to turn his attention to a specific search engine again and in Super-Charged Super Target Searching he has chosen the European version of Accoona and draws our attention to its range of search options which, for all Accoona' imperfections, do merit the attention of our readers who like to keep up with developments in this area.

It seems to be a time of marking tens of years and tenth in a series, since Alastair Dunning now describes The Tasks of the AHDS: Ten Years On. UKOLN has collaborated with the Arts and Humanities Data Service in a number of ways over that decade and colleagues will wish to join me in congratulating AHDS on its decade of activity. In his article Alastair reviews some of the statements made in respect of the AHDS in previous Ariadne articles and examines them in the light of current and likely developments.

In UK Digital Preservation Needs Assessment: Where We Go From Here Najla Semple and Maggie Jones describe the programme of work undertaken by the Digital Preservation Coalition in the gathering of facts and figures to support informed planning for a national digital preservation infrastructure. They point out that the UK Needs Assessment was designed however not only to provide statistics but to exercise an awareness-raising role towards an ever-expanding audience of practitioners who are discovering that digital preservation is now entering their remit. Its report provides considerable food for thought, not least urging upon its readers that digital preservation begins not in the declining years of a resource but at its creation. Meanwhile in the same neck of the woods Miguel Ferreira, Ana Alice Baptista and José Carlos Ramalho seek to propose A Foundation for Automatic Digital Preservation to support digital cultural heritage institutions in their preservation goals. Central to their approach is a Service-Oriented Architecture populated with elements which would serve to support preservation operations such as identification and migration.

As usual, we offer our At the Event section, as well as reviews on practical advice for tutors and staff developers in online and blended learning; guidelines for information managers attempting to effect change within their organisation; evaluating your library; and the 2nd edition of The Librarian's Internet Survival Guide. In addition of course we provide our section of news and events.

I hope you will enjoy Issue 48.


  1. Ariadne also covered ECDL 2004 thanks to these contributions:
    Jessie Hey, ECDL 2004: A Digital Librarian's Report, October 2004, Ariadne Issue 41
    Michael Day, The 4th International Web Archiving Workshop, October 2004, Ariadne Issue 41
  2. NHS provider looking critical, The Register, 2 August 2006
  3. Debra Hiom, Retrospective on the RDN, April 2006, Ariadne Iissue 47
  4. James Sankar and Mariam Garibyan, Shibboleth Installation Workshop, January 2005, Ariadne Issue 42
    Simon McLeish, Installing Shibboleth, April 2005, Ariadne Issue 43

Author Details

Richard Waller
Ariadne Editor

Email: ariadne@ukoln.ac.uk
Web site: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/

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