The Southern Alberta Information Resources (SAIR) Project

Article excerpt

Abstract

The Southern Alberta Information Resources (SAIR) Project is a collaborative online bibliography of published resources significant to southern Alberta. This paper introduces the partners, briefly summarizes the purpose of the project, describes the progress and challenges encountered thus far, and discusses the intended project outcomes and impacts.

Introduction

The Southern Alberta Information Resources (SAIR) Project is a collaborative online bibliography of published resources significant to southern Alberta. The word collaborative is to mean jointly and multi-dimensionally supportive. Partnerships have been formed between the University of Lethbridge (host and software developer) and NextLibrary Inc. (service provider and software developer). In the future, partnerships will be formed between community groups, such as the friends of libraries, historical and genealogical societies. Partnerships need to be formed between librarians and non-librarians.

SAIR is innovative in several ways. It is successfully forming working relationships among diverse groups. It will produce a bibliography that will be freely accessible on the Internet. Finally, it has produced needed software, such as a modified batch record loader and a cross-platform collector/editor.

The goal of the online bibliography project in the initial phase is to examine and evaluate techniques and procedures through a small, representative sample. Significant information about the process has been gathered. Once the pilot database has been exposed to the public for a period of time, outside interest through usage will also be gauged. A collaborative effort from participants to furnish an abundance of information resources emerging from all parts of southern Alberta is the sine qua non of the project.

SAIR Project Scope

The impetus for creating an online bibliography was a grant from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation (AHRF) Heritage Preservation Partnership Program. The purpose of the grant was to update bibliographic works compiled on southern Alberta: A Bibliography of Information Resources and Material Relating to Southern Alberta to 1970 and Bibliography of Materials Relating to Southern Alberta 1971 to 1990. Both bibliographies were compiled using current technology that existed at the time. This meant visiting each institution with holdings on southern Alberta; writing by hand or typing on a catalogue card, bibliographic, authorities, and holdings information; photocopying the card; and entering the data into a word processor. Our intent was to create an online bibliography using modern technology, open source software and international standards. SAIR will be among the new wave of collaborative bibliographies.

The development of networked information services, made possible by the WWW infrastructure, has enabled very large numbers of people to discover, organize, and publish information, including bibliographies. This publishing activity is fundamentally important because it structures information locally, creating a patchy network of secondary access points. In turn, these access points enable information discovery, the formation and development of communities of interest. In sum, this activity and the enabling technical infra structure, invites bibliographies to take on a new interactive possibility. (Hendry et al. 805)

SAIR bibliography will contain:

* A listing of significant information resources: books, selected periodical articles, dissertations, theses, government documents and major research reports about southern Alberta published between 1991 and the present, plus hidden collections;

* Resources pertaining to the geographic area south of the 51st parallel (between the boundaries of British Columbia and Saskatchewan) and the 49th parallel;

* Electronic and fixed formats: databases, multimedia, video, audio, and print materials;

* Bibliographic information on the region and its communities. …