ERCIM News No.36 - January 1999

DELOS Workshop on Emerging Technologies in the Digital Libraries Domain

by Carol Peters

The objective of the DELOS Working Group, funded by the ESPRIT Long Term Research Programme, is to promote research into the further development of digital library technologies. Since 1996, DELOS has organised Workshops on DL-related research topics (see this number for a report on the 8th DELOS Workshop on User Interfaces), has been responsible for initiating a series of European Conferences on Digital Library Research and Advanced Technology (ECDL’99 will be held next September in Paris) and has partially financed the setting up of the ERCIM Technical Reference Digital Library (ETRDL). In addition, DELOS has sponsored five European-US collaborative working groups.

A digital library is the integration of multiple components which do not initially fit together in a seamless fashion for a number of reasons. Firstly, the necessary components come from a background of different communities and, secondly, they should enable new functions which were not under consideration when the individual single components were first designed and implemented. This means that the realisation of large-scale globally distributed digital libraries depends as much on collaborative effort as it does on the development of new technologies in order to develop systems which truly integrate their components. A high level of collaboration is required both across disciplines and across geographical boundaries. For this reason, DELOS in collaboration with the US National Research Foundation decided to set up a group of EU-US working groups with the mandate to jointly explore technical, social and economic issues and plan common research agendas with respect to a set of key DL research areas in which international cooperation was considered to be of particular importance. The Working Groups addressed the following DL-related research areas:

Each group studied the state-of-the-art and current trends in their area and produced a set of recommendations and priorities for future R&D activities.

The results of these studies were presented at a Workshop, held in Brussels on 12 October, 1998, and sponsored by DELOS and by ERCIM as part of the ERCIM Digital Library Initiative. During the morning session the European and US Coordinators of the Working Groups (Costantino Thanos, IEI-CNR, and Dan Atkins, University of Michigan) described the objectives of the EU-NSF collaboration and their vision for the future of Digital Libraries to an invited audience composed mainly of European research coordinators, funding officials and heads of national research programmes, plus some representatives from leading industries interested in aspects of Digital Library research and applications. European and US leaders of the working groups (Christos Nikolaou, University of Crete; Carl Lagoze, Cornell University; Hans-Jörg Schek, ETH-Zurich; Thomas Baker, GMD, Bonn; Judith Klavans, Columbia University, US) then outlined the main proposals for each area of activity. The session ended with a summary of the global recommendations of the groups for the efficient and effective development of the next generation of digital library systems presented by Peter Schäuble, ETH-Zurich and Alan Smeaton, City University, Dublin.

In the afternoon, a panel discussion, chaired by Dennis Tsichritzis, GMD and former president of ERCIM, gave Programme Officers of the European Commission and the US National Science Foundation and a representative of the Japanese DL community the opportunity to present their own opinions and the views of their agencies with respect to developments in the digital library area and discuss future scenarios for cooperative actions.

The first results of the joint EU-NSF Working Groups, summarised as ‘An International Research Agenda for Digital Libraries’, have been published by ERCIM. Final reports by the five Groups will be available early 1999. For an on-line version of the summary report and for further information on the activities of the DELOS Working Group, see

Please contact:

Costantino Thanos - IEI-CNR
DELOS Coordinator
Tel: +39 050 593 492

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