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ERCIM News No.50, July 2002

EU/NSF Digital Library All Projects Workshop

by Costantino Thanos

A concertation meeting among the digital library projects funded by the European Union and the National Science Foundation, also including invited projects of other relevant digital library initiatives in Europe, took place on 25-26 March 2002 in Rome, Italy.

The meeting was organized by the DELOS Network of Excellence, in cooperation with the Cultural Heritage Applications Unit of the EC Information Society Technologies programme, and the US National Science Foundation. More than 130 participants attended the meeting.

The main idea behind this workshop was to bring together researchers from projects funded by the Information Society Technologies Research Programme of the EC and the Digital Library Initiative (Phase 2) of the NSF. Both are supporting substantial research concerned with digital libraries and expect to develop the enabling technologies as well as basic principles for DL design, implementation and operation, and to better understand the social and organizational contexts in which DLs will operate. By and large, scientists involved in the EC and NSF projects have not had the opportunity to meet regularly. A coordination effort in the DL field can help avoid duplication of effort, prevent the development of fragmented digital systems, and encourage productive interchange of scientific knowledge and scholarly data around the world.

Given this premise, DELOS has identified the ‘DL All projects workshop’ as the most appropriate event allowing representatives of these projects and other interested parties to meet regularly. Unlike a conference, researchers engaged in projects meet with their colleagues for the purpose of:

  • presenting on-going research
  • exchanging working experiences and information
  • identifying areas of synergy
  • identifying themes and topics which need further investigation
  • establishing collaborative links between on-going projects.

The meeting was opened by Costantino Thanos, Director of DELOS, who welcomed the participants and briefly outlined the aim of the meeting. William Bainbridge (National Science Foundation) and Patricia Manson (European Commission) welcomed the participants on behalf of the NSF and the European Commission respectively. The meeting then broke up into various parallel sessions (18 in all), grouped into the following broad categories:

  • Architecture
  • Preservation
  • Basic DL technologies
  • DL services
  • DL applications
  • National Initiatives.

By grouping projects with the same topics of interest together, the meeting provided a focus for the various projects to map across, thereby highlighting the commonality of interests between the projects. Each project presentation emphasized the results thus far achieved, allowing participating researchers to benefit from the experiences gained within similar projects to their own. The parallel sessions lasted one and one half days. In all, 52 presentations were given: 22 EU projects, 10 European National Initiative projects from the UK, Germany, Denmark and Finland, and 20 US NSF projects.

On the afternoon of the second day, a plenary session was held, chaired by Erich Neuhold (FhG-IPSI), dedicated to the presentation and discussion of a DELOS report on ‘Future Directions for a European Research Programme on Digital Libraries’. The session began with a presentation by Patricia Manson on the new concepts and instruments of the 6th Framework Programme, with particular emphasis on the priority thematic area of ‘Information Society Technologies’. William Bainbridge then illustrated the NSF research policy in the field of digital libraries. The session continued with a presentation by Yannis Ioannidis (University of Athens) of the DELOS report, followed by a discussion by all participants. This report is the result of a DELOS brainstorming meeting, held in June 2001 and attended by 15 EU and 5 US high-level researchers, whose objective was to contribute to the definition of a new vision of digital libraries, and to translate it into concrete research actions to be undertaken by the 6FP.

Complete details about the meeting (programme, projects, presentations, list of participants) can be found at

Please contact:
Costantino Thanos, Director of the DELOS Network of Excellence
Tel: +39 050 3152910