On April 16th the Government issued its response to New Library: The People’s Network. Accompanied by statements by Tony Blair and Margaret Beckett, the statement was generally welcomed by the LIC and the LA. “New Library: The People’s Network” the Government’s Response identified the potential library service contribution to some major policy objectives. These included education, public access to information, social inclusion and the modernisation of public services.
To these ends the thrust of the document is to help libraries to develop a national IT network based on a partnership of the private sector, local authorities and government. This partnership will embrace some existing initiatives such as the IT for ALL programme and The University for Industry. The LIC will continue to play a major role in developments. As a declaration of intent based on the LIC proposals for a public library network, the objective of connecting all public libraries to the National Grid for Learning by the year 2002 has been set. This will include the training of public library staff. The LIC proposal for a development agency has not been accepted in the first instance. In its place there will be an Implementation Committee set up by the LIC. This will discharge an all-embracing remit for the network. A total of £50 Million Lottery funding will be provided to create digitised content. This material will focus on lifelong learning and education in its broadest sense. Training in new technology for library staff will be funded to the level of £20Million for all 27000 public library staff. Co-ordinated by the LIC, the DfEE, TTA and BECTA will take forward the training of librarians in IT. In creating the infrastructure, the government has suggested the development of a partnership between the public and private sectors, and offered as an option the possibility of linking the public library network with the National Grid for Learning in schools. As a pump-priming exercise, the DCMS-Wolfson Public Libraries Challenge Fund will support the vital infrastructure developments to the level of £6Million up to the year 2000. This is for England; funding for the Celtic nations is to be considered separately. There is also an intention to negotiate terms with the telecommunications providors and Oftel in order to reduce costs. It is hoped that this level of funding will attract investment from private sector partners, and also “encourage local authorities to commit their existing resources to the development and delivery of services to a wider cross-section of the population.”
The government’s response can be found on the DCMS website at http://www.culture.gov.uk/new-library .htm and the UKOLN website has the LIC response at http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/services/lic/newlibrary/full.html
Although the stories in the newspapers have dried up, the case of the West Midlands police, the University of Central England and a possible obscene publication, namely the Mapplethorpe book, is still rumbling on.
UCE, led by the Vice Chancellor, are taking a determined stand against the suggestion that the book is obscene and should be destroyed rather than remain on the Library’s shelves. Refusal to destroy the book could ultimately led to the imprisonment of the Vice Chancellor under the Obscene Publications Act. In an emergency meeting of Senate on 20th March, Senate resolved that they supported the Vice Chancellor in
- his defence of freedom of inquiry as essential to higher education and
- his refusal to allow the destruction of University property The latest news is that after the emergency meeting of Senate, the University has written to Secretaries of State for Education and Employment and for Culture, Media and Sport and to the local Member of Parliament, Jeff Rooker, MP. Rooker in turn has written to Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, expressing his support for UCE’s stance.
UCE have a rather impressive set of web pages which gives a day by day account of the whole affair and links into the University’s official media releases, letters of support and comments and related sites for background information. The site is at http://www.uce.ac.uk/.
Whether the West Midlands Police will continue to press their case has yet to be seen, but given the press coverage and the letters of support received by UCE, opposition to their case will still remain strong.
A consortium of universities, including Stirling and South Bank, along with Blackwell Retail and Blackwell Information Sources, have been awarded more than £45,000 in funding for the Higher Education Resources On Demand (Heron) project. The project’s aim is to develop a national database and resource of electronic texts to be used by lectureers and students in Higher education. It will carry forward the work of the Scope (Scottish On-Demand Publishing Enterprise) elib project and is set to begin in August.
The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the Higher Education Funding Councils has appointed a consortium of Swets & Zeitlinger and Manchester Computing at the University of Manchester as Managing Agent for the UK National Electronic Site Licence Initiative (NESLI), subject to the completion of formal contracts.
NESLI is an initiative to deliver a national electronic journal service to the UK higher education and research community and is a successor programme to the Pilot Site Licence Initiative (PSLI). The Managing Agent will undertake negotiations with publishers, manage delivery of the electronic material, and oversee the day-to-day operation of the programme to ensure that it provides value for money through cost effective operation.
The contract took effect from May 1st 1998 and journal delivery will commence from January 1999 for a three year period. The Consortium’s NESLI Web site will be launched in late June and will provide full information on the programme and services.
The two partners have different, but complimentary backgrounds:
Manchester Computing is part of the University of Manchester, providing local computing services and specialist dataset services via MIDAS to the UK HE community. MC also hosts the COPAC (Consortium of University Research Libraries OPAC) project and the eLib SuperJournal Project. Further details can be found on the web at http://www.midas.ac.uk/
The Consortium’s NESLI Web site will be launched in late June and will provide full information on the programme and services. In the meantime, for further information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The IN-TELE conference is a European conference on educational uses of the internet and European indentity construction to be held in Strasbourg, France on 24-26 September 1998.
The conference is being organised by the Louis Pasteur University, Strasbourg, France, the Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany, the University of Essex, Colchester, United Kingdom the Information Technology Development Unit, Umea University, Umea, Sweden and the Institute of Applied Software Technology, Munich, Germany.
All five institutions are projects leaders for IN-TELE (Internet-based teaching and learning), a pan-European project supported by the Educational Multi-Media Force Initiative of the European Commission. The main purpose of IN-TELE is the development of new solutions for Internet teaching and learning. As such, the conference has been designed to offer the opportunity to present and discuss educational and scientific research, and to bring together IT-vendors (Information Technology vendors), educational local structures, and education authorities.
Main topic areas for the conference are:
- Educational uses of the Internet (advantages and disadvantages)
- Internet-based construction of social identity
- Representations of the Internet: expectations and fears
- National experiences and differences
- User differences on Internet-based teaching and learning versus traditional lectures
- Learning with Hypermedia
- Lifelong learning
- Partnerships between educational structures
- Educational projects with multimedia industries, editors and users
- Exchanges and partnerships resulting from the dynamic created by the European Community
The languages of the conference will be English, German, and French with some simultaneous translations available. The conference web site is http://in-tele.u-strasbg.fr/
The 27th Annual Conference of the NATFHE Library Section (open to both members and non-members)will be held on Friday 6th - Monday 9th November 1998. The conference aims to consider the different ways in which learning is affected by the range of vested interests and to identify possible ways forward to meet the conflicting demands which each of these vested interests makes on Library services.
Conference inputs will cover government initiatives, institutional perceptions, the wider social implications, collaboration and co-operation, learning and teaching. The programme balances both formal inputs with practical, idea generating sessions focusing on implications for learning resources provision. There will also be seminar sessions on items of current interest, outside the main conference theme, and an exhibition of current products and services.
For further information contact:
Learning Centre, Sheffield Hallam University,
Collegiate Crescent Campus, Sheffield S10 2BP,
The Declaration on Academic Writers and Academic Rights was launched by the Higher Education and Academic Libraries Project of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) on 7th April in London.
It is a statement of issues and an agenda for action on behalf of the academic writing community. The Declaration was initially drafted last November by delegates at the first National Consultation for academic writers and it is proposed to hold a second National Consultation early next year to review the progress of initiatives resulting from the Declaration and to propose further actions.
The full text of the declaration can be read at http://www.alcs.co.uk/DECLARATION.html