New on the Net

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 August 2004



Blake, M. (2004), "New on the Net", The Electronic Library, Vol. 22 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

New on the Net

Compiled by Monica Blake


A content management system from Oxford ArchDigital has enabled the Bodleian Library to publish online the digitised version of a celebrated Sanskrit manuscript, the Shikshapatri, employing a range of multimedia tools to help people of all backgrounds to better understand its significance.

The project was funded by the New Opportunities Fund under partners: The Indian Institute Library, The Refugee Studies Centre and The Oxford Centre for Vaishnava and Hindu Studies. The Digital Shikshapatri Web site is provided by the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Dr Gillian Evison of the Bodleian Library’s Indian Institute said:

  • We are pleased with what we have been able to achieve with the Digital Shikshapatri site. It is a scholarly resource for those who want to study the text but it also contains plenty of accessible material, including audio and video, for those whose interest is more general.

The Shikshapatri manuscript was originally gifted to the Indian Institute Library from whence it came into the possession of the Bodleian Library. Written by Shree Swaminarayan, founder of Swaminarayan Hinduism, it outlines moral and spiritual codes for everyday life and is venerated by its followers both as a holy relic and for its writings. The demand for this fragile Sanskrit manuscript presented the Bodleian with an unusual challenge as the 900 or so annual visitors needed more access to the manuscript than the library, which is organised around the requirements of small numbers of specialist academics, could readily provide. Its delicate condition precludes it being handled except under highly controlled conditions.

Part of the solution, based on Oxford Archdigital’s ToadHMS Heritage Management System, was to provide online access to a digitised version of the text - The Digital Shikshapatri. The site provides a wide variety of online resources that set the Shikshapatri in its historical, cultural and religious context. To aid those studying the text, the English translation and Sanskrit have been marked up in XML and are delivered in tandem with each folio. Users can choose from a number of different translations depending on their focus. The system employs OAD’s sophisticated image annotation feature which allows translations and notes to be tied directly to a specific part of the manuscript image: for the Digital Shikshapatri, the relevant Sanskrit verse is highlighted when users view the English translation.

Patent focus

The 2004 Thomson Patent Focus Report is now available. Written by freelance journalist Joff Wild, the report summarises legislative and infrastructure changes at the trilateral patent authorities of the Japanese Patent Office (JPO), the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) during 2003. The report includes expert commentary from Ron Marchant, chief executive of the UK Patent Office, and Bruce Lehman, president and chief executive officer of the International Intellectual Property Institute.

Rob Willows, vice president, Patent Office Relationships, Thomson Scientific, said:

  • Patents are now recognised as pivotal business assets of major economic importance, and patent policy and issues are debated at the highest level. With summaries of recent legislation, and expert commentary on broad reaching issues such as the European Community patent and the USPTO strategic plan, the Patent Focus Report provides an authoritative summary for those who need to stay on top of key patenting issues.

In addition to the most recently-available statistics for patent filings worldwide, the review focuses on legislative and infrastructure developments in the European, Japanese and US patent authorities. EPO coverage includes extensive discussion of the community patent plus a focus on, software patenting and stem cell patenting legislation. The JPO section looks at revisions to the official fees schedule for patents and the overhaul of Japan’s utility model system. The USPTO review includes revisions to the strategic plan, plus discussion on the inauguration of the nanotechnology customer partnership, and the Federal Trade Commission report on patent quality and quantity.

German network of expertise in digital

The German network of expertise in digital preservation now has an English language Web site. The project’s objective is to create a network of expertise in digital preservation for Germany. As the perspective of current and future archive users is central to the project, the emphasis is put on long-term accessibility of digital resources and not that much on pure preservation aspects.

Features of the project included:

  • a Web-based information forum with information on different aspects of long-term archiving and long-term accessibility of digital resources in Germany;

  • a platform for information and communication;

  • criteria for trusted digital repositories;

  • recommendations for certification procedures of digital repositories;

  • recommendations for collecting guidelines and selection criteria of digital resources to be archived;

  • guidelines and policies for the long-term preservation of digital resources;

  • the concept for a permanent organisation form of the “network of expertise in digital preservation” and its information forum in Germany; and

  • a detailed plan laying out the distributed responsibilities and the workflow between the network’s participating institutions.

The long-term goal is a permanent distributed infrastructure for long-term preservation and long-term accessibility of digital resources in Germany comparable, for example, to the Digital Preservation Coalition in the UK.

Unesco launches new Web site to celebrate World Press Freedom Day

To mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, Unesco launched a new Web site providing background information on the events that are organised worldwide to celebrate the day. The site includes details of the main event, which is entitled “Support to media in violent conflict and in countries in transition” and took place in Belgrade, Serbia Montenegro.


The Electronic Resource Preservation and Access Network (ERPANET) and the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) have released the final report for the ERPANET/CODATA seminar on the selection, appraisal and retention of digital scientific data.

Rapid advances in technology are having an impact on the way scientists work, allowing greater amounts of digital data to be produced in the majority of scientific disciplines. These technological advances are also changing the way scientists interact, creating opportunities for collaborations across disciplines, institutions, and countries. The ever-increasing data that are generated through these advances require active curation to ensure their longevity. The international EPRANET/CODATA seminar examined the current state of practice of the selection, appraisal and retention among diverse scientific communities and discussed how archival concepts can best be applied to the management and long-term preservation of digital data.

The seminar, held on 15-17 December 2003 at the Biblioteca Nacional in Lisbon, brought together more than 65 researchers, data managers, information specialists, archivists and librarians from 13 countries to discuss the issues involved in making critical decisions regarding the long-term preservation of the scientific record. One of the major aims of the seminar was to provide an international forum to exchange information about data archiving policies and practices across different scientific, institutional and national contexts. The seminar proved to be successful in enabling discussions between scientific and archival communities. It also highlighted some conceptual hurdles to overcome before effective collaboration between the diverse communities could take place.

This seminar was an important first step in the journey towards openness and collaboration between scientific disciplines, archivists and other information specialists in the area of data curation and preservation. The seminar illustrated areas where each can learn from the others in establishing common frameworks and guidelines that will enable the effective selection, appraisal and long-term retention of digital scientific data.

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