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Digital publications and electronic libraries

The libraries sector has been involved in major projects to create, catalogue, preserve, and disseminate digital resources. Many libraries around the world now have digitization policies and digital collections - too many to list in this section. Libraries are collaborating with other cultural heritage institutions - archives, museums - and information technologists, to deliver virtual and hybrid libraries. Standards and guidelines are in place, and being refined, to cover accession and collection policies, cataloguing and resource description; preservation issues; resource discovery and user needs; copyright and IPR; authorisation and charging for access; interoperability. Each of the projects listed in this section has documents and tools to support some or all of these issues. They are arranged under the following headings:

See also the other El.pub page on Digital Libraries.

Electronic Libraries Programmes

Telematics for Libraries (DG XIII/E-4) and Information Society Technologies (FP5)

The EC funded many projects to promote wider access to library holdings through its Telematics for Libraries programme. These projects are now complete, and details are available through CORDIS (Community Research and Development Information Service). The Fifth Framework Programme does not have a particular area for libraries, though some projects under the Information Society Technologies (IST) programme include a libraries element.

Exploit Interactive and Cultivate Interactive are online magazines promoting the EC libraries programmes funded under FP4 and FP5.

Digital Libraries Initiative (phase 2) (DLI)

The DLI's focus is to dramatically advance the means to collect, store, and organize information in digital forms, and make it available for searching, retrieval, and processing via communication networks. Most of the projects are based in the USA, though there is some international collaboration. The first phase of research focused on computer and information sciences applications, and was completed in 1998. The second phase covers a broader range of issues relating to digital libraries, and the projects were announced in August 1999, with end-dates between spring 2002 and autumn 2004. Some are a continuation of DLI1 projects. The larger projects include:

Research Libraries Group (RLG)

The RLG is an international alliance of more than 160 universities, national libraries, archives, museums, historical societies and other institutions. The RLG promotes access to research collections by supporting international research into software development and the creation of bibliographic and other databases, and markets the resulting collections.

The April 2001 edition of RLG's DigiNews contains two articles on archiving the Web, by William Arms and colleagues at the Library of Congress and Cornell University on the Minerva Project, and Juha Hakala of the National Library of Finland on the NEDLIB Web harvester.

A report (March 2001) on the Future of Digital Preservation Metadata, from the RLG and OCLC, is also available online.

UK Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib)

The HEFCE-funded Electronic Libraries Programme is researching innovative uses of technology to help Higher Education libraries better fulfil their role as information-providers. The eLib programme has been running since 1995, and funded more than 60 projects exploring important topics on electronic publishing and access: document delivery, digitization, electronic journals, copyright, pre-print and grey literature, on-demand publishing, training and awareness, quality assurance, and access to networked resources. The most recent projects (phase 3 of eLib funding) sought to bring together many of these topics, and most were completed at the end of 2000:

Issue 26 of Ariadne has a retrospective on eLib by Chris Rusbridge - 'After eLib' (10/01/2001). A longer paper by Stephen Pinfield is available from the eLib site - Beyond eLib: Lessons from Phase 3 of the Electronic Libraries Programme (23/01/2001).

DNER - Distributed National Electronic Resource

The DNER is funded by the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee. It will provide links to learning and teaching resources for all levels of UK education, and support collaboration and interoperability with the numerous UK digital library initiatives. In August 2000, the JISC announced 40 new projects to enhance the DNER, allocating a total of £13 million. Some are listed below:

The full list of all projects associated with the DNER is available.

In addition, the JISC is working with other institutions and services in the UK to establish a Digital Preservation Coalition. Documents and other information are available from the JISC Web site.

Virtual and digital libraries

Australian Libraries Gateway

The National Library of Australia maintains an index of completed and ongoing digitization projects in Australian libraries, archives and museums. Other information, including standards and guidelines promoted by the National Library, are available from this site.

Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, Universidad de Alicante

This project started in 1998, and is funded by the University of Alicante, the Banco Santander Central Hispano, and the Fundación Marcelino Botín. It is a growing collection of digital editions of Spanish language texts, the majority in Castilian. The library is collaborating with other institutions in and beyond Spain to increase its holdings.

Canadian Initiative on Digital Libraries, National Library of Canada

CIDL, founded in autumn 1997, has members from more than 50 public, academic and specialist libraries in Canada. The alliance focuses on developing and promoting standards in cataloguing, preservation and copyright, and publicises digital projects based in Canada.

Digital Library, National Library of Scotland

The library has a growing set of digitized special collections, covering the history and literature of Scotland and the activities of Scots throughout the world.

Duke University Special Collections Library

A large online resource, giving 'virtual access' to various historical documentation exhibits. Collections includes the Duke Papyrus Archive which provides electronic access to texts and images of 1,373 papyri from ancient Egypt. Interesting for the account of the full process of getting the papyri online, including their acquisition, cataloguing, and imaging. Associated with the Library is the Digital Scriptorium whose goal it is "to support the Special Collections Library's mission of providing access to historical documentation through use of innovative technology and collaborative development projects".


The Engineering Electronic Library, Sweden (EELS), is an information system for quality assessed Internet resources in the technical sciences.

The Library of Congress: American Memory

The American Memory project (completed in spring 2000) was part of the Library of Congress' National Digital Library Program. major undertaking to digitize and provide access to multimedia resources on American history. It includes electronic editions of books, photographs, prints, drawings, manuscripts, maps, sound recordings, and moving images. Users can access the collection through multiple routes, and run searches across all or parts of the collection. Reports outlining the technical and management issues are available.

NeLH - National electronic Library for Health

The UK's National Health Service has launched a digital library for health care professionals and the general public.

SCRAN - Scottish Cultural Resource Access Network

SCRAN is funded by the UK's Millennium Commission to collect and disseminate multimedia resources of Scotland's material culture and history. SCRAN collaborates with museums, archives, libraries and galleries in Scotland and beyond to obtain records for its collection. The project is aimed at primary and secondary education, though work is underway to extend the collections for the further and higher education sectors.

National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education (SMETE) Digital Library

The SMETE library will be funded by the National Science Foundation (USA). Deadlines for formal proposals fall in early summer 2001. The NSF funds many digital library and learning environment projects. Zia, L.L. (2001). Growing a National Learning Environments and Resources Network for Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education. D-Lib Magazine 7 (3).

Electronic journals

DIEPER (Digitised European Periodicals)

DIEPER is a collaboration between 10 European countries to build a virtual library of periodicals, similar to JSTOR (funded by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation). It is building a central catalogue of electronic periodical holdings, and building on this to support full-text searching across all contents pages of periodicals held in the catalogue, and full-text searching for across a subset. The collection is mostly based on existing digitized texts, though new items are being created to ensure that the library has good regional and subject coverage.

Project Muse, Johns Hopkins University Press

Project Muse provides worldwide, networked, subscription access to the full text of the Johns Hopkins University Press's over 100 scholarly journals in the arts and humanities, social sciences, and mathematics.

Digital archives

AHDS - Arts and Humanities Data Service

The AHDS supports creation and preservation of digital datasets arising from UK-based research projects in the humanities. The AHDS is a consortium of five service providers covering a range of subject areas: the Archaeology Data Service, the History Data Service, the Oxford Text Archive, the Performing Arts Data Service, and the Visual Arts Data Service. Each of the service providers maintains an archive of digital resources. The AHDS is funded by the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee and other national funding bodies.

OAI - Open Archives Initiative

The OAI supports sharing of information and access to research data by developing and promoting standards for interoperability. Version 1.0 of its Protocol for Metadata Harvesting is available online. OAI is funded by the Digital Library Federation, the Coalition for Networked Information, and other national bodies.


Telematics for Libraries (DG XIII/E-4)

Many resources and tools are now available from the completed Fourth and Fifth Framework Programmes (FP4 and FP5). These can be found through CORDIS (Community Research and Development Information Service), along with details of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), launched during December 2002.

IBM DB2 Digital Library

Over the past few years, IBM has been involved in a number of large-scale digital library projects for which they were developing applications for handling digital libraries and large collections of images (including watermarking software). DB2 Digital Library is a digital asset management system, and is incorporated into IBM's Content Manager to support a range of media. IBM is working with the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, to manage its digital collection (based on the museum's extensive collections). DB2 Digital Library supports a variety of search mechanisms, including query by image content.

Further reading

CITS, CSTB, CPSMA, NRC (2000). LC21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress. Washington, USA, National Academy Press.Available online and in print, this publication sets out strategies for creating, maintaining, cataloguing and accessing digital collections for the Library of Congress.

Ariadne: A Web and print magazine of Internet issues for librarians and information specialists. This newsletter, published every two months, is aimed at an audience of subject librarians and others working within academic libraries. Its aims are described as twofold: 1) to describe and evaluate sources and services available on the Internet of potential use to librarians and information professionals; 2) to report to the library community at large on progress and developments within the Electronic Libraries Programme of FIGIT and ISSC information services, keeping the busy practitioner abreast of current developments.

D-Lib: the magazine of Digital Library Research. D-Lib is coordinated by the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (Reston, Virginia) for the NSF/DARPA/NASA Digital Libraries Initiative. It lists its objectives as 1) the stimulation of the development of a common infrastructure for digital libraries and to coordinate research in those aspects that require consensus; 2) the provision of information exchange about all research and advanced development in digital libraries, particularly federally funded research within the High Performance Computing and Communications program; 3) the encouraging and assisting of the transfer of these research efforts into the creation of the national digital library system. It is mirrored in Europe by the UK Office for Library and Information Networking (UKOLN).

CLIR Issues. The Council on Library and Information Resources is a USA organisation. Their journal covers a range of issues regarding collections management and preservation of traditional and digital collections.

Cultivate Interactive is an online magazine disseminating information about research and tools for the libraries and heritage sectors within Europe. It is funded under the European Commission's DIGICULT programme (5th Framework Programme). The first issue was published in July 2000.

LTWorld. This is published by the Library Information Technology Centre, based at South Bank University, UK. It is the online version of Library Technology. The journal covers recent developments in library automation.

RLG Focus and RLG DigiNews. The Research Libraries Group publish a couple of journals online. RLG Focus provides information about the RLG's computer-based services, including its bibliographic and citation databases. RLG DigiNews reports on digitization and preservation issues, and has a calendar of events for around the world.

Please note that this page was authored during April 2001, and apart from a few minor amendments since that date has remained as it was. Therefore some of the links may have changed or no longer link to the resources indicated. Please contact the webmasters@elpub.org concerning broken links and he will attempt to direct you to a suitable alternative link. (January 2003)

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