ERCIM News No.26 - July 1996 - GMD

Paris Workshop looks at Digital Library Activities

by Tom Baker

A ERCIM-sponsored workshop on the Networked Computer Science Technical Reports Library (NCSTRL) at the Fifth International World-Wide Web Conference in Paris on 6 May brought together 22 researchers to discuss European-American collaboration in building digital libraries.

Carl Lagoze of Cornell University and Jim Davis of Xerox PARC, designers of the Dienst system for distributed repositories, described NCSTRL as a Web-based collection of technical reports, an open architecture for testing digital library standards and technology, and an organizational context for developing digital library policy. Dienst presents distributed servers as single collection over which users can perform uniform searches and which supports access to works in multiple formats. While current versions run on HTTP, future implementations will be based on an open and extensible distributed-object model.

NCSTRL works closely with the NSF/ARPA/NASA Digital Library Initiative, with Harvest, and with ERCIM, which participates in its steering committee. In the long run, NCSTRL aims at broadening the scope of its collection, both scientifically and internationally, and at achieving self-sustainability.

Jacques Ducloy of INRIA-Lorraine reported on progress made in setting up an ERCIM network of Dienst-based servers in Europe. ERCIM researchers are adapting advanced retrieval engines and designing multilingual interfaces for searching the federated collections. ERCIM will also provide mirror sites for NCSTRL in Budapest, Nancy, and Heraklion.

Jakka Sairamesh of FORTH presented research on a pricing and charging mechanism over Dienst that charges users according to quality of service requested. In a demonstration of its prototype, the FORTH team showed how users can adapt their choice of retrieval site and document format based both on cost of object and current cost of access, calculated from server load conditions.

Stuart Weibel of the Online Computer Library Center described the consensus achieved at a recent workshop hosted by the UK Digital Libraries Programme, with ERCIM endorsement and participation, on the design of a general container framework for metadata (see 'Warwick Framework' in this issue).

Mahfoud Galloul of the Faculty of Law, University of Lyon 3, described the evolving legal framework for such distributed collections within the European Union. While the Anglo-Saxon concept of copyright entails the cession of rights to publishers, the continental European Droit d'Auteur could allow one to limit the time during which a publisher can assume these rights if an author were previously to sign an agreement with an academic host.

Now that European law is moving towards copyright, less favorable to the redistribution of published works on the Web, the concept of Droit d'Auteur should be creatively applied to the academic networks.

Please contact:
Tom Baker - GMD
Tel: +49 2241 14 2171

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