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64th IFLA Conference Logo

   64th IFLA General Conference
   August 16 - August 21, 1998


Code Number: 001-98-E
Division Number: V.
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 98
Simultaneous Interpretation:   Yes

Digital library projects in the Netherlands : new options for cooperative collection development

Trix Bakker
Coordinator Collection development, Koninklijke Bibliotheek,
National Library of the Netherlands
Koninklijke Bibliotheek,
P.O.Box 90407, 2509 LK
The Hague, The Netherlands


The Internet has completely changed the world of information over the last five years. This has led to many innovative digital library projects in research libraries in the Netherlands. The expanding network infrastructure of SURFnet, a national policy framework, and adequate funding are preconditions for the progress that is made between 1995 and 1998. The paper gives a short overview of the most recent national and local digital library projects. The relationship with vendors and publishers play a role in projects concerning licensing and copyright. Consortia are essential to take a joint stance in negotiations with publishers. If successful, electronic journals offer better options for coordinated collection development than the traditional approach.


  1. Collaborative strategies for constructing digital libraries
  2. Constructing a digital national library requires a national policy framework as much as national computing and networking architecture. In 1987 the SURF Foundation was established to coordinate the promotion and use of information technology (IT) in universities, schools for higher vocational education and research institutes in the Netherlands1. In the course of its activities SURF has become a nation-wide supplier of services, primarily through SURFnet and SURFdiensten. SURFnet manages the national computer network of the same name, while SURFdiensten deals with licensing agreements in the fields of software, hardware and information services. The national policy framework is provided by significant reports from 1991 onwards, compiled by the Scientific Technical Council (WTR), the main advisory board of SURF Foundation, on IT-trends in research and higher education. The reports include recommendations for investing in the knowledge infrastructure and for cooperation between academic computer centers and university libraries. To stimulate innovative developments in the information field, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB) and the University of Amsterdam took the initiative in 1993 to set up a steering committee for Innovation in Scientific Information Provision (IWI), which became a committee of the SURF Foundation2. The committee is elected from board members of the universities, the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the KB. IWI is jointly funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and by the participating institutions. It has an annual budget of four million Dutch guilders. The first IWI-study in 1995 explored the future (till the year 2000) for joint national efforts to develop a virtual Dutch scientific library, and locally to develop digital libraries. IWI's strategic plan for 1996-1998, titled `Action with policy' was an important impetus to promote the innovation of scientific information supply and has led to many national and local digital library projects. In addition to projects supported by IWI, some Dutch academic libraries also participate in digital library projects funded by the European Union and the European Commission's Telematics for Libraries3.

  3. National digital library projects
  4. Local digital library projects
  5. Conclusion
  6. Thanks to cooperation between the libraries - and between libraries and computer centers - a national Virtual Research Library is gradually becoming a reality. For the end-user this means he can access a lot of information from his workplace, although we cannot yet speak of one-stop shopping for all kinds of information, that can be accessed in a reliable and cost effective way, and with a maximum of transparency. For the libraries the virtual library concept opens new perspectives on cooperative collection building, especially for electronic journals. A consortial approach to licensing for digital access is essential, and can result in considerable savings in access costs to expensive electronic products. The digital era seems to offer possibilities to break the `serials crisis'. In contradistinction to traditional cooperative collection development shared approaches to licensing tend to focus on high-use high-demand databases which the members of the consortium wish to make available. Besides, the libraries are also cooperating in the selection and acquisition of all kinds of relevant content, including retrospective digitization of paper collections, in the development of production facilities for authors, and in the development of advanced search facilities and training modules. Yet there is much work to be done to develop and incorporate intelligence into the systems.


  1. SURF: http://www.surfbureau.nl/

  2. IWI: http://www.surfbureau.nl/iwi/

  3. Recent EC projects - BIBLINK, COBRA+, DECOMATE II, EXPLOIT, and NEDBIB: http://www2.echo.lu/libraries/en/projects.html

  4. WebDOC: http://www.pica.nl/frames/en/overpica/projecten/webdoc/index.shtml

  5. DutchESS: http://www.konbib.nl/dutchess/

  6. DESIRE: http://www.nic.surfnet.nl/surfnet/projects/desire/desire.html

  7. Licensing principles: http://cwis.kub.nl/~dbi/cwis/licprinc.htm

  8. Statement ICOLC: http://www.library.yale.edu/consortia/statement.html