The State Library of Victoria has dedicated itself to becoming a Library of the Future. It has embraced the possibilities that Multimedia has to offer and is working towards developing an on- line collection of digitised materials for the world to access. The establishment of the Multimedia Source Project is evidence of this and reflects the main role of the State Library which is to preserve the cultural heritage of the State of Victoria. Our mission reflects this and the notion of providing access to these materials.
The next stage in the history of Pictoria was to enable the State Library to provide these images online via the World Wide Web. Pressed by the rapid development in the Internet in Victoria, due to organisations like VICNET  , the State Library of Victoria looked for further funding to add value to the Pictoria Project. Victoria has set a precedent by appointing the first Minister of Multimedia in the world  and a funding body - Multimedia Victoria  dedicated to ensuring that projects like Pictoria are possible. Multimedia Victoria granted the State Library the funding to digitise Pictoria and the Multimedia Source Project is the result.
Part of the customisation of WebPAC required adjusting the display of the MARC Record's 856 tag in the long view so that URL's would display the thumbnail images as active hyperlinks within the record. The 856 tag is the tag in the MARC record that contains information needed to locate an electronic resource. Records with images now provide this hyperlinked, thumbnail size display of the image in the long view of the record. With records containing multiple images, the first image is provided as a thumbnail and subsequent images are provided as text hyperlinks lower down in the record. A decision was made not to display more than one thumbnail per record to facilitate speed of access to bibliographic information. The thumbnail images and the multiple image hyperlinks, are linked to large versions of the image displayed in a separate web page via the 856 tag. Both the thumbnail and web page image are in jpeg format at screen resolution.
Figure 1: A record from the database
The large image web pages provides information about the title, artist, subject, library record number (Dynix Bibliographic Number) and links to copyright and reproduction conditions. This strategy whilst effectively duplicating some of the data held in the Dynix record, provides additional access and usage options over the World Wide Web medium. Each of the web image pages stands alone as a unique entity that can be linked to by other sites. In addition the Web page includes data consisting of title, artist, subject and format in the hidden title field providing the potential for indexing by web search engines, broadening the scope of access to the Library's resources. This data in the title field is currently in the process of being transferred into official metadata tags to comply more fully with HTML standards.
The Multimedia Source Catalogue went "live" at the end of October 1996 in Phase 1 release. The release of the Catalogue has not as yet been publicised by the Library as there still some constraints in its functionality.
During the initial public access phase the Library became aware of a number of data integrity issues impacting on searching, causing WebPAC errors. One problem it was later discovered resulted from hidden null characters within the bibliographic data which, though they had no ill effect within the Dynix standard catalogue, cause error message and problems displaying brief records sets in WebPAC. Currently we are running a regular program over our data to remove such problem characters.
It was also discovered that some Dynix records had been generated with two leaders in the MARC records, one with data, the other without. Again this issue had never caused problems in Dynix standard. In WebPAC however, while this problem was not sufficient to always cause an error we found it was probable that in cases where a double leader existed, a non-display problem would occur. Recently all empty leader fields have been removed and this has considerably reduced error issues in the WebPAC catalogue.
More recently "invalid access" error messages have been reported by a small number of users when attempting to search the WebPAC catalogue. Users are able to access search pages, and enter search requests but receive invalid access errors as a response. Currently we have been unable to resolve this problem however we believe that it may be occurring to users who are accessing the Library's catalogue via a Proxy server.
One essential component of the WWW catalogue is ensuring that hyperlinks remain valid in the WebPAC catalogue. The Library is currently in the process of implementing a link checking program to resolve these problems. This program will confirm the validity of all hyperlinks, both those we add to our own database and those which may be downloaded via ABN when we update bibliographic records.
While many of the problems we have experienced are data or server related we have also experienced some issues that require input from Ameritech. Amongst these are the inability to display the subject field in the short view of the record, something which could be deemed as unnecessary in a bibliographic catalogue, but a significant feature in a database of images. This we are hoping will be resolved with the next release WebPAC. Another issue is in the brief view of the record, WebPAC translates the MARC coding for the presence of an image as "Film" whereas the correct translation should be to "Visual Material'. This has a detrimental effect on the validity of our presentation of the material. Apart from giving the impression that the user will be able to retrieve a moving image, it also makes it appear that the Library has been less than rigorous in its cataloguing of its content.
Despite some of our initial teething problems with ensuring data integrity the WebPAC interface has proven to be a valuable tool in making our image resources accessible to the world community. While the initial Pictoria Project only provided access to images to patrons who had to physically visit the Library, WebPAC has disolved the physical boundaries of the State Library taking us a step closer to the "virtual library" concept. The Library is in the process of fine tuning the WebPAC catalogue and future plans, hopefully with the next release of WebPAC, will include customising the brief view record display and adding automated request forms to allow online ordering of material via the catalogue.
Digitising of images still continued despite the change of management. Working in collaboration with the Co-ordinator and Assistant are a team of 5 Imaging Assistants who manage the imaging of items using 2 UMAX scanners. For the purpose of image capture, the Multimedia Source Project purchased two Umax Powerlook 2000 flatbed scanners for reflective and transmissive scanning of photographs, negatives and transparencies of no greater than A4 size. Specific training requirements in using this equipment were met in-house and through a one day training session using a consultant.
Recently, a new Co-ordinator was appointed and an Imaging Steering Committee has been created which consists of the Deputy State Librarian, the Head of Technology Services, the Head of Preservation and Storage, the Head of the Network Services Division, the La Trobe Librarian (Australiana) and the Multimedia Co-ordinator. From the outset it was evident that the Committee could be called nothing else but the Digitising Steering Committee as types of media other than pictures will be digitised in the future. In correlation with this the Imaging team also has had a name change to Multimedia Access Team. The upgrading and training of the Multimedia Access Team will improve their opportunities for employment and make them specialists in their field.
The future of the project will see the incorporation of VRML files and small animations show- casing areas such as the new Information Centre at the State Library of Victoria. Admittedly this is a form of advertising of the newly designed and fitted out space however, the State Library of Victoria has recently undergone a major redevelopment both physically and technologically and multimedia provides the opportunity to show these changes to the world in an innovative and creative way.
The Multimedia Project's brief is not just to create an online catalogue but also to add value to existing resources through the use of multimedia. A perfect opportunity for this exists in the creation of online exhibitions providing a virtual tour of some of the Library's unique collections. The State Library is employer to some extremely talented reference librarians who have specialised, in-depth knowledge about their collections. There have been several "real world" exhibitions that could be quite easily transformed into virtual exhibitions combining short animations as well as audio. The catalogue essays that accompany the exhibitions are concise, informative introductions to more specialised material that the State Library of Victoria houses.
The main access point to the Multimedia Source Project is the State Library's website and a close working relationship with the Web Administrator has been established. There is no one particular area on the web site that will be exclusively multimedia orientated. All areas of the State Library's collection and all information will be enhanced by multimedia techniques where deemed appropriate.
The Multimedia Source Project will be investing in a Real Audio Server to enable access to audio recordings of artists such as Dame Nellie Melba. The State Library of Victoria also has a large collection of oral history tapes that will benefit from being digitised so that a larger audience will be able to enjoy them. These files will be incorporated into the WebPAC catalogue as well as possibly being included in virtual exhibitions about the artists.
There is a great deal of work still to be done over the next twelve months and it is hoped that when the funding runs out further funding from Multimedia Victoria or a commitment by the State Library of Victoria will mean the creation of a Multimedia Unit within the State Library to continue to enhance the Library's future as a Digital Library!