Monday, 31 August 2009

Where to for the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre?

What is the value of the work we have complete so far? What are our goals for the next five years? How can we best contribute to the University's strategic goals? What is our role in the wider community of digital content providers? These are the questions that we're asking as part of a review of the NZETC's strategic direction and I'm interested in views from colleagues around the country. I encourage you to send me your thoughts or comment here.

(apologies for the long post)

Digitisation? Publication of born-digital academic journals and research? Digital humanities or eResearch projects? What’s the right balance? What would help us meet the goals set out in the University's strategic plan? And what is feasible given practical concerns like budget?

Specifically the review asks

  • What is the current operational model for the NZETC?
  • How does the work of NZETC relate currently to other areas of the Library and University?
  • What factors will influence the future of NZETC business (e.g. technology)?
  • What is the future strategic direction (and related business model) of the NZETC especially in relation to the Library and University?
  • What resources are required to support this strategy?
  • Is the funding model affordable and sustainable?
All the information gathered as part of the review will be assessed by the University Librarian, a second member of the Library Executive and a senior academic,and used to make a recommendation on the future direction of the Centre to the DVC Academic. If the recommendation requires a substantial changes to the operation of the Centre then we will move to a full Change Proposal with further opportunities for consultation.

As a starting point for the review we are looking at how other eText Centres and collections have evolved over the years. See below for information on the University of Virginia eText Centre, the University of Sydney Electronic Text and Image Collection (SETIS), the University of New Brunswick Electronic Text Centre and the University of Auckland Early New Zealand Book project.


The Virginia Etext Centre was established in 1992. It’s a useful comparison because the NZETC was established by a Fulbright Scholar from the University of Virginia who came to New Zealand to set up a Centre based on the Virginia EText Centre model. Like the NZETC, the Virginia Etext Centre undertook a large amount of digitisation work and created a open online collection of texts to support the teaching and research of the University. Like the NZETC, the Virginia Etext Centre was part of the University Library. Like the NZETC, the Virginia Etext Centre worked with academics, mainly in the humanities, to publish new work and provide support for research using information technology to explore texts in new ways.

In 2007 the University of Virginia Library extended its commitment to digital research and scholarship by establishing department of the same name. The various activates of the Etext Centre were separated into distinct units and in some cases combined with other existing Library units. The University of Virginia Library Digital Research and Scholarship department contains:

Scholars Lab: Unifies methods of text creation and analysis established by the EText Center with other important modes of critical inquiry such as GIS, statistical analysis, and custom programming. Provides expertise and assistance to staff and advanced students in digital research, electronic text encoding and qualitative analysis, digitization of texts and images.

Digital Collections: The texts from the Etext Centre along with a large image collection -

Digital Curation Services: Provides services in digitization, digital publishing, creation of digital collections, and repository implementation and support.

Digital Media Lab: Provides consultation on digital imaging, audiovisual production and post-production, physical interactivity, and 2D/3D animation.

In addition to all this within the Library, the University of Virginia also supports a research unit to explore and develop information technology as a tool for scholarly humanities research. The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities is described as unique collaboration between humanities and computer science research faculty, computer professionals, student assistants and project managers, and library faculty and staff.


SETIS (Sydney Electronic Text and Image Service) was established by the University of Sydney Library in 2002. Today is is part of the much larger Library eScholarship initiative that integrates the management of digital content with new forms of access and scholarly publication. Launched in 2006 it has two overlappying streams of work - digital library (including SETIS, the IR, research and teaching around digital content) and publishing (Sydney University Press). The unit employs a Digital Project Analyst who does things like journal digitisation, implementation of XTF for image collections, and a survey of research data management needs, XSLT rendering of botanic taxonomic keys, and relational-to-XML data translation. The Library is also a partner in the University Digital Innovation Unit which promotes escholarship in the humanities, arts and social sciences by providing a platform for information sharing, research support and technical innovation, and enabling new approaches to the use of digital methods in research. The DIU’s partners are the Archaeological Computing Laboratory, PARADISEC and the Library’s Sydney eScholarship. The Unit is funded by the Faculty of Arts and the University Library

New Brunswick

Since its formation in 1996, the Electronic Text Centre at UNB Libraries has taken a leadership role in electronic scholarly communication, humanities computing, and digital libraries. The Centre advances and supports research and education, promotes the role of standards, and collaborates with faculty in these areas. The Centre is a vital part of the University of New Brunswick Libraries’ commitment to enriching scholarly communication through advanced technologies and to preserving our digital heritage.”


The Early New Zealand Books project is one of a number of digital collection for which the University of Auckland Library Digital Services group is responsible for developing and managing. The collections represent a range of resources, including poetry, architectural drawings, digitised books, theses, and photographic images. The collections provide teaching and research resources for both staff and students, and communities outside the University. The Digital Services Group also has the primary responsibility the ongoing development and maintenance of the Library’s electronic resources network. This consists of networked databases, Internet-based and locally created created content, the Web OPAC - Voyager, selected Internet resources, and electronic services, such as ‘Ask a Librarian’. Auckland also has the Center for eResearch which has responsibility for research data management.