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IUCr 1999 Triennial Report - International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI)

With the utmost sadness we have to report that the IUCr representative to ICSTI since 1993, E.N. (Ted) Maslen, died suddenly on the 2 February l997. H.D. Flack, as Chair of the Committee on Electronic Publishing, Dissemination and Storage of Information, assumed ad interim responsibility until appointment, following his resignation as the IUCr's representative to CODATA, in mid-July 1997. This sequence of events has unfortunately had the consequence that the IUCr's interaction with ICSTI has been slow in getting under way and partially undocumented during the first part of the triennium. The web site http://www.icsti.org gives public information on ICSTI's activities, including the quarterly newsletter Forum.

ICSTI held Annual General Meetings in Pretoria, South Africa, in May 1996 (E.N. Maslen present), in Philadelphia, USA, in June 1997 (no IUCr representative present) and on the banks of Loch Lomond, UK, in May 1998 (H.D. Flack present). Winter committee and discussion meetings have been held yearly over a weekend in Paris or London but the IUCr representatives did not attend these. Themes presented and discussed in these meetings pertinent to the interests of the IUCr include: (i) recent developments in copyright law in the European Union and in the USA, (ii) the electronic publications archive, (iii) the EBLIDA/ECUP/STM (European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations/the European Copyright User Platform/International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers) interim joint statement on guidelines for incidental digitisation and permanent storage of scientific, technical and medical journal articles, (iv) electronic libraries — relationship between suppliers and customers, (v) restructuring/rationalisation in the information industry, and (vi) the DOI (Digital Object Identifier).

Current activities include: (i) a networking survey of user needs, (ii) an international classification scheme for physics and (iii) the addition of information on A&I services to the ISSN register. A group is active in the area of legal issues, which surveys developments in copyright, database and patent law throughout the world. The Information Policy Committee has given considerable attention to the problem of the electronic archive and this subject will form the theme of ICSTI's contribution Sharing Scientific Knowledge to the World Science Conference in collaboration with ICSU Press and CODATA.

New projects include collaboration in an IUPAC/CODATA project on standardisation of physico-chemical property electronic data files (IUCOSPED). The goal of this project is to develop standards for the publication, dissemination and storage of numerical data files in electronic form and thereby avoid the proliferation of incompatible formats as journals move to dissemination on the Internet.

ICSTI has undertaken a drive to improve its finances by reducing staff at the secretariat, by switching from print to electronic distribution for its quarterly newsletter and by charging a registration fee for its Annual General Meeting and opening the discussion sessions to non-members. A considerable effort has also been undertaken to increase the membership. It is intended that some future meetings will be joint efforts with associated organisations. ICSTI's membership is drawn from diverse sectors of learned societies, the commercial publishing industry, national and academic libraries, patent offices, intellectual property consultants, secondary services, etc. Over the years, ICSTI's links with ICSU have weakened and within its membership the user community is now poorly represented. Only those scientific unions directly involved in the publishing field are members.

During this triennium ICSTI has reoriented its mission away from the consideration of purely technical issues so prevalent with the onset of the era of electronic publishing into that of the strategy of the scientific and technical information industry as a whole. ICSTI is a most useful source of information and contacts for the IUCr with regard to its considerable involvement in publication for the crystallographic community.

H.D. Flack, IUCr Representative

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Updated 6th June 1999

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