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Bielefeld 2000 Conference Explores International Information E-sharing
For the fifth time now the library of the University of Bielefeld in collaboration with the British Council, Cologne, and the Booksellers Association GmbH, Frankfurt on Main, organized the top coming together of publishers, librarians and agencies. The Bielefeld 2000 Conference was held from 8-10 February. This year more than 500 participants from 22 countries took part in the lectures and discussions while more than 30 exhibitors presented themselves with stands in the foyer of the civic hall as well as with presentations and company lectures. Once again the objective of the organizers was to provide publishers, booksellers and librarians with a forum for discussing national and international cooperation in sharing specialist information by electronic means.
The Internet has influenced scientific communication to an extent that cannot be underestimated since it has increased expectations on the demand side to an enormous extent. Today users expect that it should be possible to call up all the information available in the world on their subject as directly, conveniently, rapidly and cost-favourably as possible. If these expectations are to be satisfied, appropriate accessing, administrative and archiving systems are required to enable information to be found in a targeted manner. This means that changes are needed at all the parties involved in the publicizing of scientific information. On the one hand, the technological developments must be kept pace with; on the other hand, administration and organizational systems must be changed over internally whereby it may be necessary to do this in an across-border manner. The main focus of attention during the colloquium was on the following related and still unsolved practical problems:
Price strategies for Internet products and services: will there be a market for these?
Global cooperation in the provision of Internet sources: policies and gateways.
Tele-learning and the role of publishers and libraries.
Starting with a SPARC
Explosive material was heard even in the opening lecture by Ken Frazier, director of libraries of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on SPARC. SPARC is the acronym for the scholarly publishing and academic resources coalition which sees itself as a worldwide initiative of libraries whose objective it is to make scientific communication better, faster and cheaper than by the traditional channels of information processing. The initiative of the American Research Libraries was based on the perception that changes must be brought about in the growing gap between the increasing prices of journals and the diminishing funds of libraries as well as in the restrictive copyright situation. Earlier reactions by libraries to this situation by cancelling subscriptions, by introducing deliveries of documents and international remote-lending, by forming consortia for licences for electronic information are no longer sufficient to bring about real improvements.
SPARC wishes to be the spark that breaks monopolistic positions and fans competition because in Frazier's view the change must come from the market. He presented a number of examples of projects that were set up as products to compete with established and more expensive specialist journals. In the main these projects came about through initiatives of the authors or issuers with the support of SPARC. Their spectrum ranges from the formulating of liberal copyright policies right through to approaches in which the author and not the user meets the costs.
The Market of Electronic Publishing
In the video conference between Bielefeld and New York that followed, the question of access to the market was discussed in more detail with again (electronic) journals being taken as the example. Traditional, commercial publishers are also represented in the field of electronic publishing. The prices are rising for these new electronic products not least through high development costs. Processes for determining prices and price structures by the producers are still a long way from being finalized at the present time. Librarians, on the other hand, fear not only excessive prices but also a fall in the quality of search-and-retrieve functions.
The librarians' side was represented by Nancy Kranich and Karl-Wilhelm Neubauer, director of the Bielefeld University Library, while Derk Haank and Arnould de Kemp represented the position of the publishers. Kranich, associate dean of the New York University libraries and president of the American Library Association (ALA), reported on the experience of American librarians. First of all she made clear that the scientific community everywhere around the world would like to have qualified, electronic access to specialist information. As a result of this change to the market, prices have risen dramatically and this in turn has led to a gap between the rich and the poor libraries/organizations, i.e. between those that can afford the costs of accessing electronic information and those that cannot. Since in addition the different scientific departments are often equipped to different degrees with electronic resources, there is a similar gap on the scientific side. As a solution Kranich recommended the search for alternatives; she demanded "healthy publishers" with acceptable price models and "healthy libraries" that were not forced to cancel subscriptions and reorganize themselves.
As a way out of the dilemma as sketched above, Haank, chief executive at Elsevier Science, New York, recommended the abandonment of individual models and the replacing of these with access to the complete database. Only when libraries offer access to the complete body of material can the democratic guarantee be given that each user can get every item of information.
De Kemp, director of publishing at Springer Heidelberg, sketched out two scenarios: traditionally print subscriptions are based on one-year contracts which, on the one hand, guarantee regular publishing of the item in question but which, on the other hand, tie up the funds of the libraries. This price scenario could not be taken over with the e-journals; for the latter different price models were developed, these being based on pay-per-view or consortial contracts. However, all participants were clear that licences are not unproblematic: each contract is different; the terms are difficult to negotiate and full of details, in particular with respect to clauses for cancelling subscriptions and with respect to copyright. The publishers noted in addition that the publishing houses, which have concentrated on text in the main up to the present time, now need to develop the potential for handling multimedia.
Price Strategies for Internet Products and Services
In this first of the three thematic areas, it is a matter of a problem that as Neubauer reminded participants existed when there was only printing and now, in the Internet age, is under discussion more than ever, in particular in connection with e-journals namely the problem of structuring prices.
The fact that the Internet has increased the demands of users/scientists enormously with respect to the availability of the information they seek has already been mentioned. Similarly it has already been made clear that as far as possible it should be possible to search for the required information in a qualified manner, the information should be intelligently linked, and it should be able to be found directly. These requirements are of considerable interest to the users, who care not who pays for the information or how expensive it is provided that they do not have to pay. This reality has an effect on the whole field of publishing; publishers, agencies and libraries must adapt themselves to electronic products. They must decide how these should be handled and what prices should be set for them. On the side of the providers of information, more and more concentration and monopolization are coming about and these in turn are reinforcing the upward price spiral.
Prices: All is Going to be Better For Whom?
Yvonne Campfens, public relations director at Swets & Zeitlinger Subscriptions Service Lisse, mentioned the new role of magazine agencies. In addition to the classic tasks at the print holdings, new services have been added for the e-journals: Blackwell's Electronic Journal Navigator and Swets' SwetsNet are examples of platforms with multilevel linking which provide via one gateway access to as many e-journals as possible from different publishers with across-publisher facilities for searching and browsing and administrative modules such as utilization statistics. In addition, secondary data are linked with complete texts, the authenticity of users is checked, and user rights are administered. The agency undertakes all the negotiations between publisher and libraries, concludes licensing contracts, and sets up electronic archive servers such as JSTOR and OCLC.
Patricia E. Sabosik, vice-president and general manager at ScienceDirect New York, explained the new price strategies and services, taking ScienceDirect as an example. Everything will soon be still better at ScienceDirect. There will be more publishers, e-journals, articles, abstracts and indexing than before. Reductions of 10 percent in the price increases have been announced and the licence fees will also be reasonable; it will certainly be possible to find mutually acceptable solutions in the case of cancellations.
Professor Charles Oppenheim of the Department of Information Science at Loughborough University offered a short and concise answer to the question of how libraries should react to changing market structures: "Cooperate, cooperate, cooperate". In committed manner he explained that this can be done in two ways: through the formation of consortia that should be as international as possible, and by global agreements whereby members agree to definite principles, e.g. that they not purchase any e-journals that cost more than 95 percent of the print price.
Global Cooperation in the Provision of Internet Sources: Policies and Gateways
In this second thematic area, reports from different countries showed how political strategies on the provision of electronic information can look. At the same time, the areas in which work still must be done became clear.
Ministerial Counsellor Friedrich Bode of the North Rhine-Westphalian (NRW) Ministry for Schools and Further Training, Science and Research at Düsseldorf explained the scientific-political strategies in Germany, first of all taking North Rhine-Westphalia as his example. In 1998, at the last Bielefeld colloquium, Bode had described the contours of a "distributed digital library", which it was planned to set up locally at different universities cooperating with one another. From this approach the NRW digital library, which Bode then went on to describe, came into being. Under a uniform surface, the NRW digital library provides access to heterogeneous databases and electronic publications, whereby each university can offer its own, so-called "local layer". Approximately 10 percent of the annual budget for acquisitions of the North Rhine-Westphalian universities of around DM 100 million is available for the cooperative acquisition of material within the framework of the NRW digital library.
Supplementing the NRW digital library, a comprehensive retroconversion project has been carried out in the last two years as the result of which NRW can claim to be the first federal state in Germany which can show the complete inventory of its libraries online. These inventories are administered in the NRW digital library together with the publications offered free of charge and commercially on the Internet. In addition to the compound catalogues (HBZ, BVB, GBV, DDB), international library catalogues (British Library, Library of Congress, California Periodicals), databases and delivery systems for papers and articles (such as JADE and JASON, Elsevier Science), and specialist databases (e.g. INSPEC, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, WISO, Web of Science) are available. With certain commercial systems, the transition from investigations to full texts is already possible. In one "collect database" as it is called, over 40,000 metadata have already been collected on documents that are freely available on the Internet; the expansion of cooperative agreements with other operators of collect databases in order to extend data stocks is planned.
The Ministerial Counsellor´s Outlook: Cooperation and Competition
In addition the Ministerial Counsellor appealed to publishers to participate in pay-per-view projects as partners. The fact that digital publications are of greater value than the equivalent print media is generally recognized but the market is reacting to this situation much too slowly and there are still too few offers.
Bode rejected suggestions that the NRW digital library should be imposed quasi as a national concept for the whole of Germany. Other combines should develop their own digital libraries, which should then cooperate closely with one another. He considered the situation of having a number of competing models to be good for further development, roughly in line with the motto, "Competition invigorates business".
Bode emphasized in addition that a regional, distributed digital library cannot exist in isolation. It needs gateways in all directions, based on the technical standards of Z39.50 and HTTP protocols, including:
gateways to other regional library combines such as the cooperation between Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Saxony, or the cooperation planned between NRW, Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saar;
gateways as bilateral agreements at international level such as the planned cooperation between NRW and OhioLink;
gateways to trading platforms to regulate the exchanging of information on the Internet as virtual marketplaces. However, the initiating of such information marketplaces on the Internet should really be the task of the federal government and/or the EU; and
gateways based vertically on the founding of consortia through the headquarters of combines.
full-text management systems should be organized as distributed systems of the networked servers of all universities; and
electronic lending traffic should be developed and improved further; here too reinforced cooperation between combines is necessary.
The importance of the international aspect of these gateways was emphasized over and over again.
After this, Bode examined the perspectives of the Federal Government and quoted from the action programme of the Federal Government with the title "Innovation and jobs in the information society of the twenty-first century" as published in September 1999. In this the following was stated on the building up of a digital library and the SUBITO document delivery service of the libraries:
"The availability of electronic information at every place makes global competition between the providers of information possible but requires at the same time the state-financed information institutions such as libraries and specialist information institutions to distribute their workloads and work together in an agreed manner. The objective must be to support the change to a scientific information infrastructure that is as efficient, powerful and cost-favourable as possible."
In the discussion that followed Bode made clear that in the final analysis information is a product and accordingly is and will always be traded publicly and privately. Public-private partnerships are therefore necessary and desirable whether these be in the form of links to online bookshops following researching in the NRW digital library (this is already possible) or pay-per-view on the university campus. However, the latter still has to be put into place technically and administratively. As soon as a university library is given a different form of organization, it can sell information and act as a dealer. How valuable information is can be seen from the successes of and great demand for the document delivery service of the Central Library for Medicine in Cologne and the TIB Hanover.
Providing the USA with Internet Resources
Taylor Surface, director at OCLC, the Online Computer Library Center in Ohio, explained the American strategy for providing Internet sources in the USA, taking as an example CORC, the Cooperative Online Resource Catalogue. CORC, which was set up in January 1999, enables the nearly 300 participating libraries worldwide to collect, describe, process and access information on electronic resources on the Net. In doing this, CORC places special emphasis on three key aspects: technology, cooperation and librarians. The technical infrastructure is based on a catalogue system, or, more precisely, a resource-describing system, which permits the generation and describing of multifarious metadata formats. The cooperative aspect consists, on the one hand, of the fact that each participant can utilize the inputs of the other participants and, on the other hand, that the content and location of the continually changing Web resources are jointly updated. The librarians are in direct communication with each other and the CORC development team with the aid of the most modern technology.
The Scandinavian Countries' Projects
An overview of the strategies of the five Nordic countries was provided by the director of Denmark's Tekniske Videncenter in Lyngby, Lars Björnshauge. He presented briefly the individual national electronic library projects and explained the Scandinavian way of handling consortial contracts. This contribution also made clear how essential centralization and cooperation are if libraries wish to keep up with the changes that the Internet has brought with it.
In Finland one is concentrating on the acquisition of countrywide licences for electronic resources with the aid of FINELIB. Sweden has concluded a relatively large number of national licence contracts via BIBSAM. In addition a number of Swedish university libraries are participating in Norwegian consortial contracts on databases. In Norway BIBSYS as a countrywide institution supports the libraries in concluding consortial contracts. The Icelandic Web-based project, on the other hand, is still in the preparatory phase.
As early as the start of the 1990s, the scientific libraries in Denmark joined together in consortia. It was at this time that Denmark's Electronic Research Library Project DEF came into being.
Using Subject Gateways in the UK
Rachel Heery, assistant director at the UK Office for Library and Information Networking (UKOLN), explained the strategies in the UK where traditionally the activities of libraries are organized centrally in contrast to the situation in the Federal Republic of Germany. Particular attention is paid to the subject of gateways. In 1993 the Follet Report investigated the services of the scientific libraries taking particular account of the problems that had arisen through the increasing numbers of students and the worldwide explosion of academic information above all at the university libraries. As a consequence the Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) was set up. During the three-year programme, which was promoted with a grant of around £15 million, some 60 projects were initiated. These projects and all the successor projects, which are based on eLib, cover a wide variety of different areas including the electronic delivering of documents and articles, electronic journals, digitizing, publishing-on-demand and different "access to network resources" (ANR). Although all the ANR projects permit access to the Internet resources for specific specialist areas, the superordinated objective lies in the realization of the ability for a user to access all specialist areas at the same time.
In the UK subject gateways are understood as the answer to the further development of the World Wide Web. With their aid the user is provided with access to qualified, Web-based resources for specific areas; here the scientific community is supported with a range of services; the information can be described in different metadata formats. Work is in progress to extend the material and the specialist areas, to augment the portals with additional functions, to create interoperable frameworks, and also to operate commercial models. In the future teaching and learning methods will be integrated, searching facilities and user profiles improved, metadata prepared through cooperation (that is international as far as possible) and the general management of all this improved.
Per video conference Gordon W. Smith, director of the Library Initiatives, and Marvin Pollard Jr, project manager (both of California State University), reported on the opportunities and limits of having uniform access to information services via gateways. They presented Pharos, the virtual overall catalogue of all 22 libraries of California State University. Pharos is designed to satisfy the varying requirements of the different campus libraries and forms the platform for a digital library. Searching can be carried out in manifold different sources, which naturally also include Web resources, with one search enquiry via a common user interface that supports the common Web browsers. The user can request books and articles for remote lending via Pharos. Interactive help and links to competent instructions support the user in navigating.
To improve navigation still further, two aspects are being revised, namely the bibliographic metadata and the subject pages. The latter make possible simple searches, expert searches with Boolean operators, and special professional searches. Pharos is a virtual collection of over 14 million volumes and some 30,000 periodicals. However, there are no local inventories but links to the inventory systems of the individual libraries. An index is to be incorporated in order to reduce the answer times which result from the necessity to click through to the particular local level required.
The Russian Situation
Andrei I. Zemskov, director of the Russian National Public Library for Science and Technology, Moscow, explained the situation in regard to electronic access systems in his country. The Internet has long since been recognized as an important power factor by the political sphere and corporate world and access to the Internet continues to grow without interruption. Today some 10 percent of the population have access so that above all social and economic areas can participate in the electronic exchanging of information. The fields of the mass media and advertising have not yet adapted themselves to international customs since they are hindered to a large extent by national and language-related barriers. The financial market is in the process of linking itself to the world market whereas other areas of business including e-commerce still have to be worked up in logistical and legal terms. The complete legal area is under state control whereby there are also restrictions through censorship. Copyright is considered very important in general. Most Web sites are oriented to the West, often being in English and Russian. In the case of texts in Cyrillic, it can take several minutes until the text has been decoded and transposed to international standards.
Telelearning and the Role of Publishing Houses and Libraries
In this third thematic area the phenomenon of distance learning was gone into, this being something that may represent a new task area for libraries. First, Sebastian Hoffmann, consultant at the firm of Axion GmbH, Cologne, presented the potential of technology use in correspondence courses. Axion was involved not only in the technical work of realizing the NRW digital library but also in the setting up of the tele-academy in Furtwangen. Technologically e-mail, newsgroups, World Wide Web (WWW), Acrobat Reader and Studienbriefkonzept are used. The Internet serves as potential for communication and cooperation. As a third component, knowledge management enables the right material to be accessed. Telelearning represents a learning scenario that can be especially suitable for large numbers of participants, i.e. it is targeted on mass participants. All the processes of preparing and running courses can be standardized and carried out automatically with the aid of pattern originals. However, the production of a course in a virtual academy is complex and relatively expensive. The material is not always available in the appropriate Internet formats or must be first worked up for telelearning. The individual media (texts, videos, images) are brought together via a controlling medium and prepared on a platform, the so-called course factory. They are then further processed by an application server in accordance with fixed rules (there are some ten different types of course at Axion) into a particular course. Here "Knowledgia" represents one concept, which contains the four primary activities of course production and execution:
finding of information and integrating this in the proper context;
communication as the exchanging of information; and
Web publishing as the technical production of material.
In addition virtual work rooms for knowledge and learning groups can be created with Knowledgia.
Linking Virtual University and Virtual Library
Frank Laskowski, scientific assistant at the Department for Practical Informatics at the Correspondence University, Hagen, and Dieter Schmauß, director of the library at the same university, presented the possibilities of the integration of digital library and virtual university, taking as their example the Correspondence University, Hagen. The library is the pilot library for the NRW digital library and possesses diverse Web-based services including WWW-OPAC, WWW-forms for its copying service and procurement suggestions, JASON and online access to various databases. The special situation of the Hagen university library lies in the fact that, on the one hand, it must coordinate the intensive assisting of the tele-students in their isolated situations while, on the other hand, it is in competition with local libraries. The objective is to provide the distant users with information rapidly and optimally, whereby particular attention is paid to the linking of course material and information. It is planned that the correspondence university, the Hagen university library and the virtual university should be amalgamated at the highest technical level via the common medium of Internet. Work in the virtual library is characterized by communication, cooperation, and material, whereby texts in conventional form also have to be taken into account. The integration of digital library and virtual university is taking place on two sides: the databases, document delivery services, and full-text systems offered by the university library are linked to the teaching and learning environment of the virtual university; while the documents of the virtual university are captured and integrated in the bibliographic record systems.
The experience gained at the Correspondence University, Hagen, shows that there are above all acceptance problems on the side of the authors and/or scientists. The reasons for this are seen in the difficulties with format regulations and copyright as well as in the area of scientific criticism, which is often expressed directly by electronic channels and which therefore compels the author in question to defend himself or herself immediately. Experience has been positive, on the other hand, in the area of the quality assurance of the scientific texts. Here, although the Hagen Web publications are not subjected to quality assurance by a publisher, they are checked by a widely based scientific public, which right from the start viewed the Correspondence University, Hagen, in an especially critical manner. Naturally the quality assurance processes that are usual with university publications also hold good at Hagen.
Some Legal Aspects of Web Publishing
Wilma Mossnik of the Open University of The Netherlands in Heerlen concentrated on the legal side of the complex of themes in her paper on the Open University and scientific publishing.
In the USA and also in Europe the new copyright regulations mean that the electronic rights are held more and more by the publishers or producers of multimedia products. The rights of the copyright holders are being extended while at the same time the restrictions applying in the surrounding field are being formulated ever more strictly. This in turn is leading to the situation where scientific publications are becoming ever more expensive and at the same time ever fewer texts and applications can be made freely available on the Net. The Dutch universities came up against this problem when building up a digital library, finding that a lot of the material of university members could not be put into the digital library because it was often not clear whether a particular work belonged to the university as employer, to the author as originator or to the publisher as holder of the copyright. The situation here has been caused in the main by the lack of clarity in Article 7 of the Dutch copyright law. The IWI, a consortium of Dutch scientific libraries, has investigated the situation of intellectual property rights in the area of scientific publishing and is attempting to find solutions. Efforts are being made to change the copyright policies in such a way that it will be possible for universities to self-publish scientific products which came about within their walls. It should naturally also be possible for the product to be utilized further by commercial providers of information. For this purpose the IWI has developed model contracts which are being negotiated on with the Dutch association of publishers. Since this problem is not a specifically Dutch one, an international discussion list, EDUCOPY, has been set up.
In the podium discussion under the chairmanship of Alex Klugkist, director of the University Library, Groningen, the first area covered was again the problem of finding prices for electronic information. It became clear that apparently the publishers too cannot yet correctly estimate the market potential of electronic publications and the relationship to the print media must also first be determined. Accordingly the business of finding prices has not yet been completed.
Hans-Joachim Wätjen of the University Library, Oldenburg, explained that the real problem is represented not by the increases in price but by the level of prices. In addition many librarians do not behave in a consequent manner: details are accepted in consortial contracts that would never be accepted in an individual contract to be paid for from one's own library budget. In matters relating to the consortial budget, many librarians often forget their principles.
Cancellations are not a good way out of the dilemma since, on the one hand, their effect is to hurt the small groups interested in special themes while, on the other hand, there is a lack in the main of concrete figures on cost-benefit ratios, in particular within consortia. In any case librarians cannot carry out cancellations just on the basis of criteria such as price, utilization statistics and impact factors since they in turn are bound by the instructions of their directors or consortia. Preprintservers were classified as one way of breaking the monopolistic position of the publishers. One participant in the discussion was of the view that a scientific publication was really read a lot when published first on a preprintserver. The second publication as printed by the publisher might further the scientific career of the author but was no longer really made use of. Accordingly one could save the nonsense of the second publication, above all if the universities or libraries themselves marketed the documents that arose within their own walls. In this way one could also realize much better the democratic principle of free access to information. This in turn linked up with Mossnik's paper on copyright problems, since research paid twice for the same scientific information once in the form of the salary of the scientist and later when acquiring the documents for their libraries regardless of the form these documents might be in. Mossnik called on librarians to cooperate with one another in order to form a library-oriented counterweight to the powerful lobby of the publishers in the modelling of copyright law at national and international level. Wolfram Neubauer of the library of the Federal Technical University, Zurich, reminded participants that the typical librarian was well versed in the requirements of user services and cataloguing but that he or she needed now to develop skills in the fields of law, technology and organization, in order to be able to master all of today's tasks and those of the future. The publishers, on the other hand, called on the librarians to entrust matters of publishing to the publishers for in the final analysis they understood best the added values, such as scientific quality assurance, of the information chain. This plea was brusquely followed with the view that one should leave quality assurance to the scientists.
The Bielefeld 2000 Conference was held fully under the sign of the technology change that is forcing all participants in the field of (electronic) publishing to rethink their traditional ways of dividing up work, to develop new strategies, and perhaps also to try their hand at new roles. "Change" was certainly the word heard most often at the conference. As Hans-Joachim Wätjen aptly remarked in the podium discussion, each of the participants has to define his or her own role which at the same time then calls into question the role of the others. The libraries are pressing with Web publishing into areas traditionally held by the publishing houses and should take the first steps into commercial projects; the publishers are making competition for the libraries in that they are offering end-users information direct on multimedia platforms. Only the requirements of the user were not adequately represented at the colloquium. Rarely are scientific authors aware of the enormous price increases of journals and the copyright problems of Web published articles.
Certainly the upheaval in the way roles are perceived in the field of the information process will continue to occupy us all a great deal and will influence our own activities to a great degree. In the face of this dramatic situation, we can all look forward to the next Bielefeld Conference in two years to which Neubauer invited participants in his closing remarks.
2. http://www.digibib-nrw.de/; see also Toeteberg, I. and Haage, U. (1999), "Die digitale bibliothek NRW", Zeitschrift fur Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie, Vol. 46 No. 5, pp. 443-53.
3. Bundesdrucksache 551/99 of 23 September 1999.
Regina Goldschmitt is Head of Library, Max-Planck-Projectgroup on the Law of Common Goods, Poppelsdorfer Allee 45, D-53115 Bonn, Germany. Tel: +49 (0) 228-91416-14; Fax: +49 (0) 228-91416-48; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org