At the end of three years of regular appearances of Ariadne, we publish our final issue. The funding provided by JISC via elib for an initial two years, which was extended to a third, finally came to an end this year. Despite the efforts of the Ariadne Project Board to secure further JISC funding, it was decided that Ariadne was too expensive, and funding must cease.
Despite this, we feel that Ariadne has been successful. The feedback which we received suggested that there was a clear demand for a publication which concentrated on issues of networked information in HE and beyond. Our summative evaluation, recently published by the University of Wales Aberystwyth, reaches many positive conclusions about the Project. One which gives me particular satisfaction is "Ariadne articles are generally considered excellent, informative, well written, current, at the right level and not too technical". From the outset, we strove to produce an awareness magazine which attracted and did not burden the reader, which was enjoyable to read and could be depended upon to appear regularly. This we believe we achieved over the three years, and we are grateful for the three years of JISC funding which made it possible, because it was not cheap to produce. High quality magazine publishing is an expensive business to be in, even at only 12 pages every two months. Production costs are high and there is a real cost in seeking out and scheduling the delivery of content, and further costs in its quality control and typesetting. Had the funding been available we would have liked to move Ariadne fully into the library and information professional magazine market. We wanted to see a much fuller print issue (rather like the one you are reading now), with more content and a closer relationship between the print and Web forms. We wanted to generate income through advertising and subscriptions, but accepted that a self-financing Ariadne was certainly not achievable in the short term.
Looking across the Atlantic to the US for inspiration, we would still wish to see a publication emerge which can assist in uniting the information and IT-using communities in HE. For those of us who admire magazines such as Educom Review and CAUSE/EFFECT, we must hope that a means is found to produce a publication which links these communities and draws in the activities of suppliers, the technical developments and standards work, and the guiding voices of those key professionals in our universities who are steering and shaping the information strategies so important to our HE system in the digital age.
It is not completely the end, however. UKOLN will continue to produce Ariadne: the Web Version as it has done so admirably over the lifetime of the parallel publication. And there are some stirrings of interest in keeping the print version alive, although as yet these amount to little. But it is appropriate for me here to thank all of those whose efforts have made Ariadne the successful publication which I hoped for. Alison Kilgour and John Kirriemuir - the first Production and Web Editors (both of whom are welcomed back into print in this final issue). Isobel Stark, Philip Hunter, Bernadette Daly and Brian Kelly, all of whom have been active and efficient at the UKOLN end of the operation, and their equivalents at Abertay Dundee - Terry Burns and Alison Ure. Thanks to all those who have worked for the Editorial Board over the years, and to my colleagues on the Project Board who provided such strong support and good advice - Lorcan Dempsey, David Cook, Terry Hanson, Chris Pinder and the Chair, Sheila Corrall, who has also written for this issue. Thanks finally to Lyndon Pugh, who has coped admirably with taking over the Managing Editorship from me last year, and whose commitment and enthusiasm deserve more than this abrupt conclusion.
Perhaps we chose the wrong name. In Greek myth, Ariadne was of course abandoned on the island of Naxos (though as Graham Whitaker informed us in issue 1, she was later rescued). But it has been very enjoyable, and well worth doing.