DELOS - A New Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries under FP6
by Costantino Thanos
A new Network of Excellence for Digital Libraries, known as DELOS, has been launched by the European Commission under the Sixth Framework Programme. DELOS will build on the initial work of two very successful previous activities also sponsored by ERCIM and aimed at promoting research in the Digital Library field under the Fourth and the Fifth Framework programmes: the DELOS Working Group 1996-99, and the first DELOS Network of Excellence 2000-2003.
Digital libraries represent a new infrastructure and environment that has been made possible by the integration and use of a number of IC technologies, the availability of digital content on a global scale and a strong demand from users who are now online. The DELOS 10-year grand vision is that "Digital Libraries should enable any citizen to access all human knowledge any time and anywhere, in a friendly, multi-modal, efficient and effective way, by overcoming barriers of distance, language, and culture and by using multiple Internet-connected devices".
The main objective of the DELOS NoE is to define and conduct a joint program of activities (JPA) in order to integrate and coordinate the ongoing research activities of the major European research teams in the field of digital libraries for the purpose of implementing the DELOS digital library grand vision.
Specific technical objectives of the DELOS NoE are to:
- develop a common architectural digital library infrastructure that can be customized to meet the requirements of different applications
- provide a common foundation for several forms of information seeking, searching and querying in digital libraries, so that it may become possible for all members of society to be provided by digital library systems in a cohesive way
- establish a sound framework for expressing and managing unconventional information manipulations that are critical in many applications
- establish a theoretically motivated and empirically supported frame of reference for designers and researchers in the field of user interfaces and visualization techniques
- develop mechanisms for the preservation of complex and dynamic objects
- provide a theoretical and practical framework for the evaluation of digital libraries and their components.
Other important objectives of DELOS are to:
- network and structure European research on digital libraries, so as to consolidate an emerging community
- contribute towards improving the effectiveness of European research in the digital library field
- provide a forum where researchers, practitioners, and representatives of interested applications and industries can exchange ideas and experiences
- contribute towards improving international cooperation in digital library research areas.
The major milestones for the DELOS NoE are:
- the DELOS portal, which will maintain and make accessible the collection of all the results and reports produced by the Network. It will also provide information on the most recent research results in the field of digital libraries as well as the latest information about relevant international projects, initiatives, conferences, etc
- a cross-referenced survey of the technologies in use and the state of the art in all the DL-related fields, which will be made available to the research community
- a reference architecture of a Digital Library Management System (DLMS). This will be jointly defined by the Network participants
- one or more DLMS prototypes, implemented according to the reference architecture, and developed jointly by the Network participants.
The Joint Program of Activities is organized into seven research clusters and is composed of three types of activities - integration, research and dissemination: Digital Library Architecture, coordinated by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University for Health Informatics and Technology, Tyrol; Information Access and Personalization, coordinated by the University of Athens; Audio/Visual and Non-traditional Objects, coordinated by the University of Florence and the Technical University of Crete; User Interfaces and Visualization, coordinated by the University of Rome 1; Knowledge Extraction and Semantic Interoperability, coordinated by UKOLN, University of Bath; Preservation, coordinated by the University of Glasgow; Evaluation, coordinated by the University of Duisburg.
In order to coordinate the dissemination effort of the wide range of activities carried out by the Network, a Virtual D-Lib Competence Center (VDLCC) will be established. In addition to providing support for the dissemination of the Network activities, the Center will provide education, training and technology transfer to research, memory institutions and industrial organizations in the field of digital libraries. The Virtual D-Lib Center will be implemented by the coordinated efforts of three institutions participating in the Network, strategically located in Europe: ISTI-CNR in Italy, UKOLN (University of Bath) in the UK, and Netlab (University of Lund) in Sweden.
The Network is managed administratively and financially by ERCIM and scientifically by the Institute for Information Science and Technologies of the Italian National Research Council (ISTI-CNR).
Costantino Thanos, ISTI-CNR