ERCIM News No.45 - April 2001 [contents]

SCHOLNET and CYCLADES: Two New Digital Library Projects

by Donatella Castelli

The intensive activity of the ERCIM Digital Library Working Group (1996 – 2000), coordinated by IEI-CNR, has contributed greatly to the growing presence of DL projects and applications within the Fifth Framework Programme of the European Commission. In addition to the DELOS Network of Excellence for Digital Libraries, the ERCIM Working Group has also provided the framework for the setting up of two innovative IST 5FP funded DL projects: SCHOLNET and CYCLADES.

SCHOLNET and CYCLADES, both coordinated scientifically by IEI-CNR, Pisa, were presented at the EU-DL All Projects Concertation meeting held in Luxembourg in February (see following article). Both projects are directed towards satisfying the needs of scholars and scholarly communities. However, they view this issue from different perspectives: the goal of SCHOLNET is to develop a digital library testbed providing a set of specialised services to meet the requirements of networked scholarly communities, while CYCLADES is focussed on the need to develop a service environment on top of large heterogenous and multidisciplinary interoperable archives.

The aim of SCHOLNET is to build a test-bed able to provide not only the traditional digital library services but also support for nonextual data types, hypermedia annotation, cross-language search and retrieval, and personalised information dissemination. The testbed will enable the immediate dissemination and accessibility of technical documentation (and the underlying ideas) within a globally distributed multilingual community. It will also contribute to the creation and diffusion of a new model for scholarly production and use by providing functionality to permit annotation on digital objects in any format by authorised users, to support personalised information dissemination, and to access federated repositories of related material. The enhanced digital library infrastructure should produce significant benefits for a scholarly community, providing it with additional credibility and visibility and encouraging its expansion.

From the architectural point of view, the project will build on and extend the functionality provided by an existing digital library for grey literature: the ERCIM Technical Reference Digital Library (ETRDL) ( This digital library has been developed by ERCIM Institutions to provide their scientists and librarians with on-line facilities to manage their technical documentation and make it electronically accessible worldwide. SCHOLNET will augment the ETRDL test-bed functionality by adding the following services:

An extensive experimentation activity will be conducted in order to assess the degree to which SCHOLNET meets the requirements of a large scholarly community. In particular, this activity will involve the ERCIM Working Groups communities. However, the SCHOLNET infrastructure has been designed for use by scholarly communities working in any domain.

The main objective of CYCLADES is to support scholars both individually and as members of networked communities when interacting with large interdisciplinary electronic (e-print) archives. Such archives are important vehicles for the dissemination of preliminary results and non-peer reviewed ‘grey literature’. Most focus on information dissemination within disciplinary or institutional communities. However, scientific research is now oriented towards an interdisciplinary approach. Scientists thus need to easily retrieve information from diverse sources, and to communicate and collaborate across traditional community boundaries. CYCLADES aims at supporting the transition of e-print systems into genuine building blocks of a transformed scholarly communication model by developing a set of leading edge technologies providing innovative methods for information access, dissemination, sharing and collaborative work.

CYCLADES will thus build an open archives environment consisting of two main architectural components: the archives and the services. The former will be developed by the Open Archives Initiative ( This US initiative aims at guaranteeing interoperability among e-print archives. It has established a set of relatively simple but potentially powerful interoperability specifications that facilitate the development of services implemented by third parties.

The CYCLADES consortium has established a co-operation agreement with the Open Archives Initiative. This agreement guarantees technical co-operation between the two initiatives and permits the adoption of the Open Archives Initiative environment as the CYCLADES archive environment.

CYCLADES will develop a leading service environment compliant with the Open Archives Initiative specifications. In particular, a core set of cross-archive value-added services will be developed to constitute a federation of independent but interoperable services. The main CYCLADES services will be:

Both projects had their kick-off meetings at the beginning of this year and both are scheduled to last for 30 months. It will be interesting to compare their activities and results as they progress.


Please contact:
Donatella Castelli
Tel: +39 050 3152902