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Associations and InstitutionsAnnual 

64th IFLA Conference Logo

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


Code Number: 193-109-E
Division Number: VI.
Professional Group: Information Technology
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 109.
Simultaneous Interpretation:   No

Global- Info: The German Digital Libraries Project

Diann Rusch-Feja
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Berlin, Germany


Hans Jürgen Becker

State and University Library of Lower Saxony
Goettingen, Germany



The concept for the German Digital Libraries Program is imbedded in the Information Infrastructure Program of the German Federal Government for the years 1996-2000 which has been explicated in the Program Paper entitled "Information as Raw Material for Innovation " published 1996 by the Federal Ministry for Education, Research, and Technology. The actual grants program "Global-Info" was ini-tiated by the Information and Communication Commission of the Joint Learned Societies to further tech-nological advancement in enabling all researchers in Germany direct access to literature, research results and other relevant information. This Commission was founded by four of the learned societies in 1995 and has sponsored a series of workshops to increase awareness of leading edge technology and in-no-vations in accessing electronic information sources. Now, nine of the leading research-level learned so-ci-eties - often those with umbrella responsibilities for other learned societies in their field - are mem-bers of the Information and Communication Commission and represent the mathematicians, physicists, computer scientists, chemists, educational researchers, sociologists, psychologists, biologists and infor-mation technologists in the German Association of Engineers. (The German professional librarian socie-ties are not members as such of this Commission, but are represented through delegates from libraries in the learned societies and in the future hopefully also by the German Association of Documentalists or through the cooperation between the documentalist and librarian professional societies.)

The Federal Ministry earmarked 60 Million German Marks for projects within the framework of the German Digital Libraries Program in two phases over the next 6 years. The scope for the German Digital Libraries Program was announced in a press release in April of 1997 and the first call for pre-liminary projects and expressions of interest in participation ended in July 1997. The Consortium mem-bers were suggested by the Information and Communication Commission of the Learned Societies (IuK Kommission), by key scientific research funding agencies in the German government, and by the publi-shers themselves. The first official meeting of the participants took place on December 1, 1997, at the Deutsche Bibliothek, located in the reknowned center of German book trade, Frankfurt, thus documen-ting the active role and participation of libraries and publishers.

In contrast to the Digital Libraries Project of the National Science Foundation in the United States, the German Digital Libraries project is based on furthering cooperation with universities, scientific publi-shing houses (including various international publishers), book dealers, special subject information cen-ters, as well as academic and research libraries. The goals of the German Digital Libraries Project are to achieve 1) efficient access to world wide information 2) directly from the scientist's desktop and 3) providing the organization for stimulating fundamental structural changes in the information and com-munication process of the scientific community.

The Organization and Structure of Global Info - The German Digital Libraries Project

The German Digital Libraries Project is based on a Consortium with representatives from each of the following groups: the Producers (representing authors, publishers, etc.), the Distributors (such as pub-lishers, booksellers, information centers and libraries), and Consumers (readers, students, scientists especially represented by the learned societies, by university departments, professional organizations and also libraries). The actual representation is divided with 4 persons representing the publishers' group, 4 representatives from the learned societies, one representative from libraries and one repre-sen-tative from information centers, with additional learned societies, publishers and indirectly libraries being further represented by the chairman, the stand-in representatives, etc.

The German Digital Libraries Project consists of five focal points, each chaired by a pair of Consortial members representing each the publishers' group and the learned socieities' group, with two exceptions in Focal Points III and IV where the second representative is the information centers respresentative or the libraries' representative. These five Focal Points were originally assigned the following aspects as parameters for helping define project proposals in the following round of tender:

I Expansion and Processing Content (later developed into: )Electronic Document Types, Proce-dures for electronic publishing from author to internal publisher editorial procedure to better manage electronic publication, Authoring tools, Conversion aspects, Indexing, etc.

II Networking of Instructional Materials and Multimedia

III Formal Description, Identification and Retrieval (later modified to: ) Description, Identification, Metadata, and Retrieval in heterogenic data environments and subject areas

IV Content usage (later modified to: ) Development, Structuring, and Conversion of scientific in-for-mation systems

V Business models, Billing and Invoicing (later expanded to: ) Business models and Admini-strative procedures in electronic publishing

In the following, the original content intended to be treated in each of these five focal points will be expanded to give an idea of their comprehensiveness:

Focal Point I
- This Focal Point which is intended to facilitate more efficient publishing procedures by exploiting electronic means focusses on authoring systems, format converstion, new forms of publica-tion, editing systems, interfaces within the procedural phases which can be used for management of the publication process, as well as version management, issues of means to establish authenticity and gua-rantees of originality, and archiving problems.

Focal Point II
- This Focal Point - as opposed to any of the other Focal Points - emphasizes the utiliza-tion of electronic technology to advance teaching and learning possibilities and resources. Since the Ger-man Digital Libraries Project is to produce prototypes which can be put into effect within the academic community, this focal point was geared to providing tools and gaining expertise in the area of instruc-tional use and development of such resources. This includes development of interactive courses, educa-tional software, multimedia with self-updating mechanisms, tools for developing multimedial teaching materials, didactic aspects of educational software for use at all levels of education, and user training.

Focal Point III
- This Focal Point is directed to improving the content organization, retrieval and in-de-xing through metadata, establishment of standards for identification and indexing, building concor-dan-ces betwen classificaiton systems, thesauri, contributing and maintaining internationality, building ade-quate database structures and retrieval instruments to respond to the needs of the scientific community, and maintain dynamic management of linking and reference structures. The Information and Communi-cation Commission Task Force on Metadata and Classification has had considerable input into this fo-cal group and their recommendation to Global Info to utilize and support development of the Dublin Core Metadata within any relevant projects in this focal point has been generally accepted and reflected in the project proposals.

Focal Point IV
- This Focal Point concentrates on the aspects of retrieval and content usage which are facilitated through user interface design (GUI), alerting and profile services, integration of local and subject-oriented systems, issues in classification and indexing, conceptual analysis, forms of integrating larger digital libraries with heterogenic databases, fact databases, etc., and building up structures for distributed information systems.

Focal Point V
- This Focal Point addresses the issues connected with all aspects of ownership, authen-ticity, pricing structures and billing which include costs and feasibility of electronic publishing, business models, licensing and legal issues, payment models including author payment and user invoicing. How-ever, it also includes studies to determine user acceptance, behavior and statistics in using electronic re-sources, marketing and structuring electronic resources offerings (for example by publishers, by libra-ries and by information centers).

The Involvement of Libraries and Information Centers in Global-Info

Libraries and information centers are both represented by one person officially in the major recommen-da-tion body of the German Digital Libraries Consortium, athough one further member has a dual role by virtue of delegation through the learned societies and professional status as librarian. Fur-thermore, the learned societies support the involvement of libraries and information centers as they, of course, are key players in the process of establishing collections of electronic resources, negotiating optimal access conditions for the academic and scientific community, providing indexing and content analysis, alerting services and developing other use conditions. Thus, the learned societies have encou-raged participation of libraries and information centers, and the Global Info structure has also been expanded to include li-braries, information centers and computer centers as the third important partner group in all of the pro-jects.

Just to give an overview on the involvement of libraries and information centers, the following libraries and information centers are currently involved in the preparation of project proposals: Die Deutsche Bibliothek, the Bavarian State Library, the State and University Library of Lower Saxony Göttingen, the univer-sity libraries in Regensburg, Dortmund, Osnabrück, Oldenburg, Kaiserslautern, Humbold-University of Berlin, etc., and the subject-oriented information centers FIZ Karlsruhe (technology, phy-sics, natural sciences, etc.), FIZ Chemie (chemical information), FIS Bildung (education and pe-dago-gics), IZ Sozial-wissenschaften (SSIC - Social Sciences Information Center), ZIB (the super-com-puting center and cen-ter for mathematics) and the GFZ (Center for geophysical research).

How are these libraries and information centers participating in the German Digital Libraries Project?

Working packages have been developed in various consortia and project groups to work on standar-diza-tion and implementation of metadata, work on classification and thesauri concordances, investigate all administrative and presentation aspects of offering electronic journals including cataloging (both title le-vel and article level), creating and evaluating various access systems, metadata for resource discovery and rights management, evaluating licensing models, collection management, user training, archiving, alerting profiles and linking databases. Where existing databases exist and where electronic documents such as dissertations, inhouse publications and databsese are being produced, techniques and procedures to establish the linking structure including references as well as databases using context links and fac-tu-al data-bases are to be explored. Various learned societies and libraries have created authoring tools for meta--data creation and uploading, A further aspect in several proposals is the development of search en-gines and Harvester implementations which will process the new forms of metadata including the fu-ture form in the proposed Resource Description Framework (RDF), etc. In addition, libraries and infor-ma-tion centers are participating in projects creating broadscale integrative learning programs and access to electronic course materials, as well as in defining and prototyping other electronic information ser-vices.

Project Requirements

As mentioned above, the primary requirement for any project proposal including working packages is that project partners must come from each of the three major sectors - producers, distributors and con-sumers. This can be better specified in the terms scientists, publishers, libraries, information centers, com-puting centers and endusers. Connected to this is the requirement that for each funded project each of these three groups, at least two of the official Global Info participants must be represented.

A second requirement is that the proposed project or working package build on current state of the art technology.

Third, the proposed projects and working packages must be interdisciplinary in their reflection of sub-ject content. No one project may be focussed on one subject area and thereby only reflect the needs of one subject group or professional area.

Ideally, the working packages and sub-projects must all fit together to form one "rounded-out" project proposal for the final funding application. There must be a formal proposal structure (a model applica-tion form has been developed and is on the Global Info server), and the proposal must name the parti-ci-pants, and give a catalog of the project intentions, its needs, its schedule and its deliverables. Reflection of the knowledge of state of the art technology must be documented and the project's overall placement within this area must be indicated.

The last requirement is that all project proposals must reflect cooperative development of pre-competi-tive, prototypical methods, procedures, tools, and service structures. If proven successful and feasible, the contiditions for continued use of these methods, procedures, tools and services after conclusion of the projects should be delineated. Project applications approved for funding will receive 50 % matching funds with the other 50 % of the funds being provided by the institutions involved in the project. The financial plan and distribution of the work load must be delineated in the proposal.

Current Status of Project Proposals in the "First Round"

July 31, 1998, was the first deadline for submission of the project proposals for preliminary screening and evaluation through the Global-Info Consortium. This procedure will glean out any overlap between the project proposals submitted by the individual Focal Points and require revision, possibly combining or reducing the current project proposals or working packages, etc. Selected project proposals will under-go revision and be subject to all aspects of a formal funding application for final evaluation by the Global-Info Consortium. Those project applications deemed worthy of funding by the Consortium will be submitted to external reviewers and thereafter to the Federal Ministry for final evaluation and appro-val decision. The starting point for most of the projects will then be January 1, 1999, or April 1, 1999. An organizational meeting of all project participants will be in October 1998.

At this point, the steering committee of the individual Focal Points will have evaluated these project pro-posals for their relevance to the Focal Point, their concentration on the Global-Info goals, and their fea-si-bility. Because of their current status of undergoing evaluation, only a content overview of the pro-posed projects will be given here (Information status: 15 August 1998).

Project Proposals in Focal Point I

Document Types, Procedures, and Tools for Electronic Publishing - This project involves establishing the necessary metadata categories for various document types and procedures to be reflected in autho-ring and editing tools to be implemented in electronic publishing.

CML-Based, Interactive, Dynamic Documents - Partners include database producers, 2 publishers (dele-gating their part to software firms), 4 universities in three subject areas (computer science, physical chemistry, analytic chemistry, and biometrics). One of the major focusses in this project is the creation of tools to enable interactive image processing, molecular modelling, computational chemistry, etc., in these various fields in context of authoring and editing tools to be used in producing an interactive elec-tronic journal which implements multimedia.

Project Proposals in Focal Point II

Know-How Pool for Developing Multimedia Instructional Materials - Due to the lack of experience to draw on in producing quality multimedia instructional materials, establishment of this pool will benefit all disciplines and partners when embarking on creation of multimedia materials. for educational pur-poses.

Adaptable, Networked Multimedia Teaching and Learning Systems - Partners include 5 universities, 3 research institutes, 2 libraries, 2 publishers, 2 booksellers, and 1 information center. Subject concentra-tion will be on establising tools for creating, presenting, indexing, structuring and presenting instructio-nal materials in the biological sciences, mathematics, and education.

Project Proposal in Focal Point III

Content Analysis, Retrieval and Metadata: Effective Networking (CARMEN) - Partners include 5 li-braries, 3 database producers, 5 publishers, and 7 universities with a concentration on mathematics, phy-sics, and the social sciences including education. This project proposal is comprised of 16 working packages some of which focus on document identification, metadata creation tools, tools for automatic indexing and automatic metadata extraction / creation, retrieval components which will process meta-data, integration of existing databases with added service and content aspects, authentication of docu-ments, etc.

Project Proposals in Focal Point IV

Building Libraries Unifying Enhanced Retrieval-Oriented User Services (BLUE ROSE) - Partners include 9 universities, 2 information centers, 3 publishers. This project proposes creation of a unifed user interface for networked heterogenous documents, integration of various techniques for query and retrieval functionality, searching in local and adaptable segments of a larger integrated but distributed resource collection, user services including alerting.

User-Oriented Mediation and Presentation of Scientific Multimedia Information - Partners include 5 uni-versities, 3 publishers, and 2 information centers. The project focusses on the heterogeneity of do-cu-ments, sources, and systesm involved in the "digital library". Components to be developed and tested include domain agents to support specific disciplines (for sociology, psychology and computer science), structures for an active reference library, an "adaptive meta search engine" which will allow greater spe-cificity, query adaption, and structuring of result sets combined from different resources and re-source types, and, lastly, a "brokerage facility" to enable location, selection, mediation and combination of the most appropriate services and agents for a particular query within the digital library infra-struc-ture including payment or security services, policy management or even speed criteria.

Effective Online Services (EOS) - Partners include 3 libraries, 3 publishers, and 4 universities. This project proposal focusses on the presentation, indexing, content evaluation and delivery of electronic journals, as well as linking across relevant databases for searching and horizontal integration. In parti-cular, this project proposes investigation on how German-language material will be integrated into international information networks, i.e., linking German to English sources and vice versa, as well as utilising thesauri development to be carried out in the above CARMEN project.

Project Proposal in Focal Point V

Testing Electronic Offerings, Billing and Payment Models for the Electronic Library - Partners include 6 publishers, 1 library, 2 information centers, 2 universities. This project will build on the experiences in the former MeDoc project which has been continued as InterDoc and is being evaluated for its feasi-bility in other subject areas within the Global-Info initiative. More comprehensive licensing and billing models will be incorporated, as will an electronic payment system. The revision and integration of va-rious components of the InterDoc project will be tested for their broadscale usefulness in the electronic library. The InterDoc contents can also serve as a testbed for other projects' tools and procedures.

Authentication, Authorizing and Accounting Services - this project proposal was still being formulated at the time of preparation of this paper.

"Cash and Carry" - This project focusses on developing payment structures for anonymous one-time users of electronic resources. At the time of preparation of this paper, however,. this project proposal was also still being formulated and further details concerning the partners were not available.

Project Proposal in overlapping areas of Focal Points IV and V

Usage of Science Information And Communication And its Global Embedding (USIACAGE) - Partners include 6 universities, 3 libraries, 3 publishers, 1 information center, 1 research institute and additional consultants. The partners represent fields in the natural sciences and the social sciences. This project pro--poses a series of analyses of existing online information systems, e-journal access systems, informa-tion retrieval and visualization techniques and tools, natural language access, etc., for the development of a knowledge management concept, development of user training and help desk functionality, as well as usage analysis of scientific information to establish the type and requirements of new services, opti-mal worksharing strategies and organization among research groups, libraries and providers.

After Evaluation, Acceptance and Project Onset - The Next Six Years

The projects currently under evaluation will be carried out between 1999 and 2001 with most of the projects being planned for a two-year period. An additional third year will only be considered if appro-priate and may require an additional application procedure. The second phase for project proposals is planned for 2001-2002 with the second project phase approximately from 2002-2004, although project proposals will be reviewed continually as funding allows. After project completion, prototypes will be tested for expanded use in a broader context, for their feasibility in other subject areas and certainly for their marketable value.

Thus, the final goal of the German Digital Libraries Project can be characterized as striving towards successful pre-competitive cooperation between the three partner groups without any of these groups being at a disadvantage, while providing deliverables in the form of tested, workable prototypes to be implemented in the German national information infrastructure, and in the course of this cooperation, the technological achievements, and the progress in establishing standards and effective procedural prac-tices, the German Digital Libraries Project can make a meaningful contribution to digital libraries worldwide and to the global scientific community.

URL for the German Digital Libraries Project: http://www.global-info.org

Contact addresses of the authors:

Diann Rusch-Feja
Library and Research Documentation
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Lentzeallee 94, D-14195 Berlin
Tel. +49 30-824 06 230
FAX +49 30-824 99 39
Email: ruschfeja@mpib-berlin.mpg.de

Hans Jürgen Becker

State and University Library of Lower Saxony Göttingen
Platz der Göttingener Sieben 1
D-37073 Göttingen
Tel. +49 551-39 52 30
FAX +49 551-39-3199
Email: becker@mail.sub.uni-goettingen.de