ERCIM News No.45 - April 2001 [contents]

EU-DL All Projects Concertation Meeting

by Vittore Casarosa

A concertation meeting among the digital library projects funded by the European Union, held in Luxembourg on 7-8 February 2001, was attended by more than 60 people. 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.

Planned as part of a series of meetings to bring together all the projects funded by the EC IST Programme in the field of Digital Libraries, as well as representatives of other relevant initiatives in Europe and the US, the objectives were to exchange information about the projects, to identify areas of synergy and possible cooperation, to jointly promote standardization and dissemination activities, and to provide to the EU IST Programme an appreciation and a global view on the evolution of Digital Libraries technologies.

The meeting was opened by Bernard Smith, head of the Cultural Heritage Applications Unit, who briefly presented the major programs and initiatives of the European Commission in the field of Digital Libraries. Then each participating project gave a short presentation on the main objectives of the project, the technologies developed/used, results achieved, and areas of interest for potential cooperation. The following projects were presented: PRESTO, ECHO, BRAVA, AMICITIA, SCHEMAS, RENARDUS, COVAX, MIND, SCHOLNET, CYCLADES, ARTISTE, COLLATE, ARION, LEAF, ONE-II, ETB. In addition, three presentations were given by representatives of DL initiatives in the US and Europe. Howard Wactlar (representing the US NSF Digital Library Initiative), Rudi Schmiede (representing the German DL Initiative DL-Forum, formerly Global Info), and Rachel Heery (representing the UK DL Initiative UKOLN) gave presentations on the history, projects, scope and goals of their Digital Libraries Programmes. In particular, Howard Wactlar stressed that international cooperation has recently become a major, rather than peripheral, motivating goal for the NSF Digital Library Initiative.

Following a request from the Commission, Dieter W. Fellner, (Technische Universität Braunschweig, Institut für Computergrafik) summarized the main research themes and challenges which emerged during the first day, for presentation and discussion the following day. In the morning of the second day, two parallel workshop sessions were held, one on ‘Building Digital Library Portals with Harvested Metadata’ chaired by Thomas Baker (GMD) and another on ‘Evaluation of Digital Libraries’ chaired by Norbert Fuhr (University of Dortmund). During each of the sessions there was also a discussion on the main emerging research themes, led by Dieter Fellner.

EU-DL All projects concertation meeting.

The session on Metadata examined methods for building digital library portals with harvested metadata. Simple, standards-based metadata descriptions in XML or RDF could in principle be harvested by a diversity of gateways and portals for multiple purposes (general and domain-specific) and at many levels (international, national and intra-organizational). After a brief introduction by Thomas Baker (GMD), Marianne Peereboom (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) described the Renardus Project, which seeks to integrate access to subject gateways by normalizing local metadata to a shared schema. Rachel Heery and Manjula Patel (UKOLN) described how such schemas can be published in a machine-understandable RDF format in the SCHEMAS Forum Registry. Mariano Sanz (ETB project) explained how the ‘push’ model of the European Schoolnet – mapping local metadata records to a common schema in RDF for inclusion in a central repository – gives participating repositories the full control to disclose their metadata selectively. Carl Lagoze (Cornell University) described how the Open Archives Initiative has adopted a technologically simple template and protocol allowing repositories to publish their metadata for selective harvesting in a broad range of services, from searching and summarisation to current awareness and reference linking. The point was made in discussion that the harvesting model is relevant not just to digital libraries of scholarly content, but to the global scalability of commercial applications.

The session on Evaluation of Digital Libraries focused on test beds and evaluation methods for DLs. Pasquale Savino (IEI-CNR) presented the evaluation approach taken in the ECHO project, where the test collection consists of more than 200 hours of documentary film, and where the final evaluation will focus on user satisfaction. Daniel Faensen (Free University Berlin) talked about requirements for a DL test bed in general, emphasizing the need for the consideration of domain-specific issues, heterogeneous collections and structured documents. Lars Edinger (DBC) described a testbed for interoperability testing of Z39.50 services. Istar Buscher (SWR) presented the Amicitia project, where a distributed video collection is used for end-user testing. Leona Carpenter (UKOLN) presented some aspects of the Renardus project, which focus on usability in relation to task model. Howard Wactlar (CMU) gave a brief statement concerning his experiences with evaluation during different US-DLI projects: evaluation criteria should include system performance, usability, interoperability, and user satisfaction; parameters to be considered are collection size and granularity of metadata.

Norbert Fuhr (University of Dortmund) presented the activities of the DELOS working group on DL test suites ( The group has developed a description scheme for DLs and is currently building a metalibrary of available test collections. Subsequent steps will be the identification of needs for additional test suites and the building of such collections. During the final discussion, several project representatives declared their interest in participating in the activities of the working group. Also, a possible joint working group with the members of the US DLI working group on metrics was envisaged. Concerning the acquisition of additional test collections, it was pointed out that multimedia collections pose severe problems due to intellectual property rights issues.

In the afternoon of the second day, the session chairs gave a summary of the results of their session. Costantino Thanos, Director of the DELOS Network of Excellence, then opened a brief discussion session to gather comments and suggestions from the participants on how this type of meeting can be made more effective for the participants. He then closed the meeting, announcing that DELOS plans to continue this initiative of holding DL All Projects meetings; both for European projects and (jointly with NSF) with US projects. The next EU-DL meeting will take place next year, in connection with the ECDL 2002 conference; the first EU-NSF DL All Projects meeting will take place in Europe sometime towards the end of 2001.

Complete details about the meeting (programme, presentations, list of participants) can be found at the DELOS Network of Excellence home page at

Please contact:
Costantino Thanos - IEI-CNR
Tel: +39 050 3152910