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To Bangkok Conference programme

65th IFLA Council and General

Bangkok, Thailand,
August 20 - August 28, 1999

Code Number: 120-153(WS)-E
Division Number: I
Professional Group: National Libraries: Workshop
Joint Meeting with: Bibliography
Meeting Number: 153
Simultaneous Interpretation:   No

Net Publications and Bibliographic Control - Seen from Denmark with a view to Sweden

Randi Diget Hansen
Bibliographic Department
Danish Library Centre
Copenhagen, Denmark


At the International Conference on National Bibliographic Services held in Copenhagen, November 1998, the UNESCO recommendations on National Bibliographies were changed.

Concerning Coverage of the National Bibliography it now says

  • National bibliographies should include the current national output, and where practicable they should also provide retrospective coverage.When necessary, selection criteria should be defined and published by the national bibliographic agency.

Going back to 1977 the recommendations describe the national imprint - monographs and first issues and title changes of serials, including official publications - and other categories of materials.

In 1982 a working group issued reccomendations concerning levels of coverage of documents - and the vocabulary was changed from "imprint" to "document". In 1998 the vocabulary changes again to "output" and there is no attempt to describe the physical forms of the national output.

The development in publishing

The development through the last few years in the field of publishing must necessarily have a great influence on the production of the National Bibliography and bibliographic control on the whole.

When we no longer back than 1994 talked about bibliographic control we felt confident of the future. We were dealing with documents having a physical and final form, books, videos, discs, cd-roms etc. and we had precise definitions of monographs and periodicals. We also had an idea of the amount of information produced in a country and the publications did not have a tendency to change or disappear without a trace.

Indoreg and the development in Denmark since 1996.

To be at the forefront of the development in the publishing field the Danish Library Centre in 1996 decided to launch a project to find out whether net publications could and should be subject to bibliographic control in the same way as printed and electronic publications in fixed physical form. The reason for this was that we felt the existing search engines on the net suffered from the general problem of searching in unqualified data and generally replying with excessive amounts of data. We also felt that the information contained in net publications not necessarily differed from the information in publications in fixed physical form, if net-borne publications are excluded from bibliographic control, there is a risk that many people will find it difficult to gain access to an increasing amount of the information citizens need.

In order to obtain a model for a national bibliographic registration that includes net publications the project focused on the following areas in particular

Inclusion criteria

  • they operate with the concepts of static and dynamic publications - with homepages as an independent category under dynamic publications.

These principles reflect the criteria that exist for publications in fixed physical form, since there are formal requirements with regard to both size and (to a certain extent) content. For instance, it is proposed that publications of a commercial, internal, highly local og private nature should not be included.

Registration method

The proposed registration method inside the new Danish Cataloguing rules seeks to cover the special needs of net publications in terms of description and format. The problems of describing static and dynamic publications vary. Self-registration by authors/publishers using metadata was regarded as a necessary supplement if very large amounts of information are to be registered.

Tracing and maintenance

A PURL server was established to ensure the constant validity of addresses. It was also concluded that if an international number system like the ISBN system should be adopted, it should of course be used.

Storage in DanBib

Finally we decided that the registrations of the net publications should be stored in DanBib (the joint Superstructure-system for the complete Danish Library System) alongside the national bibliography and the total list of publications at Danish libraries.

The project ended up in a proposal to the Danish State saying that

  • National bibliographic registration should be started according to the principles and rules developed during the project.
  • The understanding of all national bibliography functions should be modernized to cope with net publications, and in particular that emphasis should be placed on satisfying current national information requirements and less on the industrial dimension.

Finally we concluded to the question whether it is worth registering publications that may disappear again, that it is important to focus on the "quality" of the document registered and that we feel convinced that net publications will tend to become more permanent.

The Project Report was handed to the Danish National Library Authority in July 1997. A new law on legal deposit took effect 1st January 1998. This new law, which took effect 1st January 1998, contains all information carrying media including publications of digital works in databases. It is described in the appurtenant announcement what legal depository digital works include:

    "A database is defined as a digital network, hereunder especially the Internet, wherefrom a user - with or without charge or special agreement - can purchase a piece of a work….. As works are considered limited amounts of information, which constitute finished and independent units. An ongoing updated (dynamic) unit; e.g. a homepage on the Internet is therefore not legal depository as a whole, but finished (static) and independent works, which can be purchased, hereunder from a homepage, are legal depository".

And since then we have also had a Danish National Bibliography in the area. The amounts have been limited. Until 1st April 1999 there have been 5-600 notifications to the legal deposit form on www.pligtaflevering.dk - and about 2/3 of them have been included in the National Bibliography according to the inclusion criterias. In April 1999 the Royal Library has made a new campaign towards the producers, and it has resulted in about 50 notifications a week most of them with qualified metadata.

In Denmark the interested parties have also agreed on a Danish recommended use of Dublin Core and a publication from the Danish Library Authority called "Metadata in Danish Net publications" has been published in the beginning of 1999.

Included in the Supplementary Agreement to the National Bibliography Agreement of 22nd December 1998 is another project on net publications, which concentrates on 3 areas:

Selection of dynamic net publications, extension of Danish Article Index with articles from Internet periodicals and an evaluation of what the individual registrations will cost.

In connection with this project we have examined, how large an amount of the till now registered publications that have disappeared without a trace, this counts for more than 2%. Furthermore, we have examined the Danish part of the Nordic Web Index; a harvester which automatically is searching the net for metadata - Here we were concentrating on 3.000 links, which indicated having Dublin Core Metadata. 1% could meet the inclusion criteria for the National Bibliography.

The Development in Sweden

Svesök - the libraries' Swedish web-guide opened in October 1998. The combined harvester and catalogue functions as National Bibliography on Swedish net publications. Svesök consists of two databases, one with robot-collected links and the other with a catalogue of selected catalogued links.

The dimension in number between the harvested links and the selection of quality marked and catalogued links are, that the last mentioned will present almost a thousand of all Swedish material, which can be found on the net. The whole, however, can be presented for the citizen and be searched at the same time.


The work with arranging the Internet constantly demands for development work. It is unrealistic to believe that we during a period of 4-5 years should be able to find the definitive models for handling of net publication, not least in respect for the constant development in the publishing area.

I think, however, the experiences in this area since 1997 can be used in the future work with bibliographic control.

  • It it still relevant that the National Bibliography results in the citizen in a country getting access to qualified information on the Internet, even though various combinations and solution models may appear.
  • Self-registration by authors/publishers using standardized metadata is still regarded as a necessary supplement.
  • The amount of qualified documents on the Internet, which can meet the inclusion criteria of the National Bibliography, is not larger, yet, than the task is practicable, if it is combined with a co-operation with the producers.
  • The assumption on the disappearing of the documents does not apply in particular, when talking about qualified publications. This is also supported by another Danish project, which has been working with foreign libraries' catalogues.

When you look at the number of works, which are qualified for actual bibliographic description compared to the number of harvested resources you could get the opinion, that the net will not be able to provide us with that many more works, but instead has enriched us with enormous amounts of "pamphlets".

The utmost important fact is that the bibliographic environment with expertise in giving qualified access for the citizens to qualified information also developes to including the publication forms of the 21st century.

I will end with a quotation, which I think, we shall take as the challenge it is to our work. The quotation comes from the Norwegian author of crime novels Kim Småge and is taken from the book "The Container Woman" of 1997. The novel is about the principal character a female detective inspector: "She herself can spend hours on the net, the Internet, searching for some information, the librarian is able to provide her with in few minutes". "Probably because she is not able to ask the Great Net the real questions, she has not been trained in the accurate question-formulation on the net. And her patience is too short, regarding experimenting her way forward".


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