27 Major Digital Library Projects – Rest of the World

Kannan P


I.  Objectives


The objective of this module is to impart knowledge on digital library initiatives in various countries except USA and UK (covered in module 25 and 26 respectively), role of funding agencies to promote digital library activities, services offered by the digital libraries, current status and their impact on the global digital library movement.



II.  Learning Outcome 


After going through this module learners would attain knowledge about major digital library initiatives and their outcomes and achievements. these digital library initiatives includes initiatives from different countries including Germany (Vascoda, DissOnline and German Digital Library), New Zealand (New Zealand Digital Library Project, Digital New Zealand), Australia (PANDORA, Australian Digital Theses, ARROW and Trove), Russia (Russian Archives Online (RAO)), France (Gallica Digital Library), Canada (Canadiana), China (National Digital Library of China (NDLC) and Europe (Decomate and Europeana). They would also learn about roles of National Libraries of various countries and other funding partners, locally and internationally that supported and promoted digital library initiatives.



III Module Structure 


1.  Introduction

2. Germany

2.1  Vascoda

2.2  DissOnline and Dissertations Online at German Library (Die Deutsche Bibliothek)

2.3  The German Digital Library

3.  Australia

3.1  PANDORA – Australia’s Web Archive

3.2  Australian Digital Theses System (ADT)

3.3  ARROW: Australian Research Repositories Online to the World

3.4  Trove Discovery Services

4.  New Zealand

4.1  New Zealand Digital Library Project

4.2  Digital New Zealand

5.  Canada

5.1  Canadiana

6.  Russia

6.1  Russian Archives Online (RAO)

7.  France

7.1    Gallica Digital Library

8.  China

8.1  National Digital Library of China (NDLC)

9.  Europe

9.1  Decomate I & II

9.2  Europeana

10.  Summary

11.  References




1.    Introduction 


The digital libraries have greater advantages in comparison to traditional libraries, as users in a digital library can access scholarly resources distributed through network of computers from anywhere and at any time. Institutions and researchers in developing countries do not have access to the research articles published in the developed countries due to the high costs and inadequacy of the distribution mechanisms [1]. The digital library is an alternative to providing instant access of scholarly publications published all over the world. An interconnected global digital library can contain the unique cultural treasures of various countries, and by offering free access, it would help people understand one another better [2]. as the development of digital library involves huge financial constraint, the use of open source digital library software is crucial. The open source digital library software enables its digitization processes more affordable and effective, therefore digital libraries are being established worldwide, and many countries are digitizing country specific collections [3]. In this module, we will focus on major digital library initiatives and their status in Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Russia, France, Canada, China and Europe.



2.  Germany 


2.1  Vascoda (http://www.vascoda.de/)


The Vascoda is a non-profit association, an interdisciplinary Internet portal to provide access of scientific and scholarly information available in Germany. It was launched in 2002, funded and supported by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). The main objective of Vascoda is to provide access of full-text electronic journal articles, subject gateways, research output of academic institutions, high- quality databases, and bibliographic data of higher education institutions holdings to the users via single interface. The uniform interface enables users to access the resources through subject specific search and interdisciplinary search. More than forty two German institutions, mostly libraries and information centres and other institutions providing quality scientific information are working together to offer scientific information to the academic community. The major partners of this project are Electronic Journals Library (EZB), Information Alliance and Virtual Libraries (ViFa). The Electronic Journal Library sponsored by DFG offers structured access to the scientific and academic full-text journals through subscription for licensed resources and free for open sources journals to the users. The Information Alliance collaboration with EconDoc (www.econdoc.de), GetInfo (www.getinfo-doc.de), infoconnex (www.infoconnex.de) and MedPilot (www.medpilot.de) and focused on providing access to full-text published materials and grey literature. The Virtual Libraries (VIFA) are networks of libraries, scientific societies and information providers who present their subject specific materials through common interfaces and gateways on the internet. At present more than 45 subject gateways are integrated with Vascoda, which focused on providing web based documents and information relevant to the research area of specific field of studies. The Second phase of Vascoda was launched in 2005 funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the major focus was to facilitate complex search and browsing enabled by meta-search engine, standardization of metadata and integration of local and regional libraries with Vascoda portal.


2.2  Diss Online and Dissertations Online at German Library (Die Deutsche Bibliothek) 


The German Library (Die Deutsche Bibliothek) is the national library of Germany. It was established by merger of the German Library (1947) in Frankfurt and the German Library (1912) in Leipzig, which, until the reunification of Germany had functioned as the national libraries of West and East Germany, respectively [4]. The system also includes the German Music Archive (Deutsche Musikarchiv) in Berlin. The Dissertations Online project was initiated by the German Library in 1998. The project was funded and supported by German Research Foundation (DFG). The objective of this project was to legally collect and archive the theses, dissertation and post-doctoral theses as part of collection of print version produced from the Universities and R&D Organizations in German. More than 100 universities joined in this initiative and accumulated 1,20,000 digital documents [5]. The metadata was uploaded by the researchers and the full-text dissertation uploaded by the respective institutions for authentication. The full-text theses and dissertations are available for access to the  public through Z39.50 gateway or OPAC of the German Library. The DissOnline is a coordinating agency that was established in 2001 to promote and further develop the dissertation online project. The DissOnline is responsible for preparing guidelines and informs libraries and research scholars about various tools, formats and adopting workflow to participate in the Dissertation Online Project. The metadata has been shared with DART-Europe for wider visibility of research output from German to International research community.


2.3  The German Digital Library 


The German Digital Library (Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek) project was started in the year 2007 with the cooperation of the Federal Government of Germany, State and local authorities. The Federal Government contributed eight million euros to the development of infrastructure, the State and local authorities sanctioned as annual operational budget of 2.6 million euros for five years, since 2011 [6]. The main objectives of this project is to provide unrestricted access to Germany’s cultural and scientific information, which includes millions of books, archived items, images, sculptures, music and sound recordings, as well as films from all over Germany. This project interconnects the German cultural and scientific institutions and brings the digital content to the single point access. Till now, more than 2079 institutions have joined and are contributing digital content to this project. The project provides metadata to European digital library’s internet portal Europeana via API, which gives global users access to the cultural assets of the European Union’s member states.


3.  Australia 


3.1  PANDORA – Australia’s Web Archive (http://pandora.nla.gov.au/)


The PANDORA (Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia), Australia’s Web Archive is a digital library project initiated in 1996 by the National Library of Australia. Eleven other Australian libraries and cultural organisations collaborated with the National Library of Australia to build PANDORA [7]. The main objective of this project was to develop a world class archive of selected Australian online publications, such as electronic journals, government publications, web sites of research or cultural significance and encourage a collaborative national approach to the archiving and long-term preservation of Australian online publications, involving the participation of state libraries and other cultural institutions. The digital collection includes full-text databases, online Australian government publications, archived websites,  and  online  copies  of  significant  Australian  material  in  traditional formats such as photographs, paintings, cartoons, transparencies, negatives, postcards, maps, printed music, manuscripts, books and journals. In 2001, the National Library of Australia developed PANDORA Digital Archive System (PANDAS) to support the collection development and management of growing digital content and effective distributed archive management. As on April 30, 2014 the PANDORA archive has more than 37,000 titles stored in 232 million files and occupied storage space over 10.5 TB [8].


3.2  Australian Digital Theses System (ADT) (http://adt.caul.edu.au/) 


The Australian Digital Theses System (ADT) was a collaborative project between the University of New South Wales and six leading universities from Australia that began in 1998. The ADT project initially funded by Australian Research Council (ARC), later in 2001 transferred to Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) and in 2006 the Council of New Zealand University Librarians (CONZUL) also joined in this project for funding and promotional support. During late 1990s, Australian universities produced 4000 theses per year out of which 50% come from seven major universities [9]. The main objective of this project was to digitize the research output of Australian universities and provide access to the worldwide research community via web. The ADT partnered with NDLTD project for wider visibility of Australian research activity as part of the international network. The ADT was the centralized metadata repository, where the full-text tresses is hosted at the participating institute server and metadata harvested at regular interval. Australian-developed proprietary search engine is used to search theses from the central metadata database. The project was decommissioned in 2011, when the database was transferred to the National Library of Australia and accessible via Trove discovery service.


3.3  ARROW: Australian Research Repositories Online to the World (http://arrow.edu.au/) 


The Australian Research Repositories Online to the World (ARROW) was a discovery service launched in 2005 funded and promoted by the National Library of Australia. Monash University was the lead institution, and the other partner members were the University of New South Wales, Swinburne University of Technology, Central Queensland University, University of South Australia, University of Southern Queensland, University of Western Sydney, and the National Library of Australia [10]. The project was funded by the Australian Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training, under the Research Information Infrastructure Framework for Australian Higher Education. The ARROW Project was also sponsored as part of the Commonwealth Government’s Backing Australia’s Ability. It provided a single search interface to search the contents of Australian University research output such as digital collection (images, datasets), theses and dissertations, preprints of journal articles, conference papers and book chapters, etc. The focus area of ARROW were development of the repository and the enabling metadata to support independent scholars, as well as those associated with research institutions  [11].  The  project  closed  in  2008  and  the  discovery service was rebranded as Australian Research Online (ARO) in 2009. As of now the ARROW and ARO  discovery services and metadata integrated with Trove Discovery Service at National Library of Australia.


3.4  Trove Discovery Services 


Trove, the national discovery service for open digital content was launched by the National Library of Australia (NLA) in 2009. One of the major objectives of the Trove  Discovery Services was to aggregate metadata developed by Australian institutes. Trove helps the researchers to access rich digital content, provides a platform to share and re-use of research activity and community need. The National Library of Australia brought the Trove data corpus together with a simple, single discovery premise – a concept that underpinned services such as the Australian Bibliographic Network (1981), Picture Australia (1999), Australian Research Online (2005) and the People Australia Project, all now part of Trove [10, 12]. The collection in Trove includes journal articles, books, maps, music, sound and videos, digitized newspaper collections, archived websites, etc. In 2010, Trove extended its scope of the collection to include selected e-resources subscribed by the Australian libraries. It was the collaborative project between National, State and Territory Libraries of Australia (NSLA), Reimagining Libraries Open Borders Project and two e-resources vendors, Gale Cengage and RMIT University Publications with the support of the National Library of Australia. As on 30th June, 2014, more than 2000 libraries, archives, museum and other organisations are participating in the Trove collection, it reached 377 million items including 135 million journal articles from the e-resource vendors [13]. Trove system harvests metadata from a participatory organisation using Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), the original digital content are delivered from the participatory organisation’s web server.


Fig. 1: Trove Architecture (Source: [14])


4.  New Zealand


4.1  New Zealand Digital Library Project (http://www.nzdl.org)


The New Zealand Digital Library Project was a research programme at the University of Waikato launched in 1995 with funding from the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. The major objective was not merely to develop digital library collection, but to develop the underlying technology for digital libraries and make it available publicly so that others can use it to create their own collections. The major achievement of this project was Greenstone Digital Library Software, an open source digital library software available under GNU public license to develop digital collections. It allows collection building, indexing, browsing and searching. One of the important collections of New Zealand Digital Library was Library of Computer Science Technical Report available in full-text. TidBITS, a weekly electronic publication collection that covers news and views relating to the Macintosh computer, with a focus on Internet-related topics [15]. Other collections included historical documents, humanitarian and development information, indigenous people, etc. Digital collection from other projects was incorporated to strengthen the project such as the Karlsruhe Bibliographies, the Humanity Development Library, City Council Minutes and National Library of New Zealand catalogue records with full-text search. Apart from the textual collection, the library included special collection of music which can be accessed through Melody Index.


4.2  Digital New Zealand (http://www.digitalnz.org


Digital New Zealand (DigitalNZ), taken up in 2008, is one of the Digital Content Strategy initiatives of the National Library of New Zealand funded by Government of New Zealand. Two major digital library services namely, the New Zealand Online and Foundations for Access were initiated in 2006 and grouped together in 2007, were renamed as Digital New Zealand. The main objective was to provide access of digital content developed in New Zealand. Users can search across more than 27 million digital items such as photos, posters and memorabilia, newspaper clippings, artworks, books and journal articles. More than 150 organisations participated in this project including the cultural institutions, government departments, publicly funded organisations, educational and research organisations as well as the private sector and community groups. One of the key components of DigitalNZ was the creation of open Application Programme Interface (API), a kind of metadata service that enable the users to search different sources of digital content via a single interface. DigitalNZ encourage other participating organisations and private agencies to use DigitalNZ’s API to build a search service using DigitalNZ metadata. In 2010, the project launched a competition programme called Mix & Mash to encourage the creative use of reusable content and data with funding support from private agencies such as InternetNZ, Google, Microsoft, Boost, Codec, Department of Conservation, Pixton, MusicHype  and Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand.


5.  Canada 


5.1  Canadiana (http://www.canadiana.ca/en/home)


Canadiana was established in 1978, as the Canadian Institute for Historical Micro Reproductions (CIHM). CIHM played a vital role and led microfilming efforts of Canada’s fragile and scattered documentary heritage and pioneer in reproduction of rare or fragile documents as well as microfiche copies for distribution across Canada. The project provided an opportunity for networking of research and public libraries, sharing the best practices, capacity building and planning the future of digital preservation in Canada. It is a not-for-profit and charitable organisation governed by a volunteers Board of Directors made up of distinguished scholars, representatives from participating organizations and leading research libraries. The collection includes books, newspapers, periodicals, images and significant archival material from Canada. Early Canadiana Online was launched in 1999 as a part of this project that provides more than five million pages of rare heritage content to participating research institutions, schools and libraries. In 2005, CIHM merged with Canadian Initiative for Digital Libraries and Alouette Canada become CANADIANA that is playing a lead role in digital preservation throughout Canada. Canadiana, as a national aggregator, operates the Canadiana Discovery Portal, a federated search system, collect metadata from the participated organisations and provide access of more than 65 million bibliographic data via a single search interface. Canadiana.org acts as coordinator, facilitator and advocate for digitisation initiatives in Canada and providing discovery services to the Canadian Community.


6.  Russia 


6.1  Russian Archives Online (RAO) (http://russianarchives.com/about/history.html)


The digital library initiatives started in Russia during 1997 by the project called Russian Online Culture and Knowledge (ROCK). In 1997, the Archive Media Project (AMP), the parent of ROCK, partnered with Internews, United States Agency for International Development for financial support to archive the films and photos of Russian heritage and provide access to the public via World Wide Web. Abamedia and Internews Network in collaboration with Library of Congress hosted a conference at Library of Congress, Washington to discuss aspects of Russian Archive Online services with academic advisors and potential funders in 1998. The Russian Archive Online (RAO) continuously supported by premier archives and organisations to strengthen the collection such as the Russian State Documentary Film & Photo Archive at Krasnogorsk (RGAKFD), the Russian State Archive of Scientific & Technical Documents in Moscow (RGANTD), the Russian State Museum of Oriental Art, Abamedia’s Film Archive, etc. The RAO project receive funds through sponsorship for collection development and promotion, the major sponsors for the project are UNESCO, USAID, Intel, etc. The RAO is proving itself as a single interface to search the collection item available among various archival Agencies and organisations. The RAO is the international licensing agency to provide access of archival collection available in Russia to outside Russia for commercial purpose. Apart from the above service, the RAO is conducting an online course called Russian History Online, which is sponsored by Moscow University, The University of Texas and Abamedia.


7.  France 


7.1  Gallica Digital Library (http://gallica.bnf.fr/)


The Gallica Digital Library serves as an online gateway to the National Library of France (Bibliothèque Nationale de France) collection by providing access of public and copyrighted materials to the French nationals and to the world. Gallica initiated in the year 1997, and constructed from the existing collection of the National Library of France. The collection consists of printed materials such as books, journals, newspapers, printed music, graphic materials such as engravings, maps, photographs and sound recordings. Gallica provides great opportunity to find out-of-print, hard-to-access documents and discover France’s and humanity’s scholarly legacy [19]. Through this project, the National Library of France digitised 26 important titles of the French daily press belonging 19th to 20th Century, the total volumes around 3 million pages, which constitutes the largest online collection of newspapers in the world. Also Gallica committed to systematically digitise the missing issues of the most important journal titles in response to the users’ demand. The resources available in their portal are royalty-free, downloadable for private use. As on June 30th, 2014 Gallica hosts three million digital documents and every year more than 20,000 documents are added to the collection. The National Center for the Book, France promotes and provides financial support for digitizing and delivering the copyrighted material to the research community.


8.  China 


8.1  National Digital Library of China (NDLC)


The 62nd Annual Meeting of International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) meeting took place in Beijing, China in the year 1996. The concept of digital libraries received its first widespread attention in China at that time, and has gained more and more importance ever since. The academic community in China realized that digital libraries will be the conduit of future to deliver scholarly content. A large number of articles and books were published in the area of digital library development during 1997. In the year 2002, the first phase of the National Digital Library Project was launched with funding support from State Council of China. The goal of the project was to: i) establish a digital library service that provides all the functionality of the Chinese National Library and implements mechanisms and procedures for collection development, digitization and archiving of Chinese information resources; ii) accumulate a very large amount of high quality digital resources, provide access to those resources over the Internet; iii) establish a platform for technical support of digital resource collection, enhancement, storage and management; and iv) establish the largest and most complete digital Chinese information collection and provides services for it, and makes it part of the foundation of the national information service [21]. The digital resources in the NDLC come from legal deposits, purchased databases, self-developed databases and the digital collections harvested from the Internet. By the end of 2012, the National Digital Library of China had established an index of more than 70 million items, totaling to 807.3 TBs of digital resources and made them accessible via the library website. Out of 807.3TBs, 690.2 TBs digital data was produced by the library itself. Through the digital library project, more than 60 libraries had been interconnected via virtual private network in China.


9.  Europe 


9.1  Decomate I & II


Developing the European Digital Library for Economics (Decomate) was a digital library project coordinated by Tilburg University (The Netherlands) with the collaboration of London School of Economics (United Kingdom), Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB), Spain and funded under European Union Telematics for Libraries project [23]. The Decomate – I, took place during 1995 to 1997, the main objective of the project was to develop interface to manage the authentication / identification of users to access copyrighted electronic resources. The system also allows the user to search the bibliographical database using Z39.50 and retrieve the article in the PDF format. During 1995, about 35 journal titles related to economics and most of them from UAB Publishing Services were included in the pilot project and provided access to the UAB Community. In the year 1997, UAB Library Service (SBUAB) made three years contract with Elsevier Science to provide electronic version of journal articles with metadata to the Decomate service. Kluwer Academic Publisher and UAB Publishing Services also supported by providing electronic versions of journal articles to Decomate project. The SBUAB managed to include 267 journal titles for this service, totalling 35,000+ items including journal articles, editorials, reviews, etc. Based on the experience in Decomate – I, in the year 1998, Decomate – II started and coordinated by Tilburg University. Along with the existing partner, European University Institute and SilverPlatter Information joined as associate partners. Université Libre de Bruxelles, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Maastricht University agreed to act as test sites. The Swets & Zeitlinger jointed this project as content collaborator and for supporting user evaluation. The major objective of Decomate-2 was to enhance the feature of the Decomate-1, personalised current awareness service and implement various access models such as free access, consortium license model, pay-per-view, etc.


9.2  Europeana 


The Europeana was called the European Digital Library Network (EDLnet) initiated through a letter send by Jacques Chirac, President of France to Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, President of the European Commission in April, 2005 [24]. The letter suggested developing a virtual library to host the digital contents developed by Europe and provide access to the world. The Europeana project was funded by European Commission under its eContententplus Programme. The main objective of this project was to provide online access of digital objects such as digitised books, audio, video, historic medical film, theses and journal articles from the national and research libraries across Europe; preserve high-quality metadata with full-text indexing; provide platform to the research libraries to promote their collection to the widest audience. The first prototype was launched in 2008 with 4.5 million digital objects from 1000 institutions across Europe. At present, 30 million digital objects including text, image, video and audio from 2300 institutions, including national and research libraries from 35 countries [25]. The Europeana developed strong aggregator network to collect metadata from the geographic region and send to Europeana. The project collects only the metadata in the standard European Data Model (EDM) format from the participating institutions, the full-text and actual digital objects reside in the institute servers.


10.  Summary 


In this module, digital library initiatives of various countries like Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Russia, France, Canada, China and Europe are discussed. The module also elaborated on the role of National Libraries of various countries and other funding partners locally and internationally to support and promote digital library activities. The digital libraries will be the future to deliver the scholarly resources for research activity and community use. The module also discussed the role of private agencies to promote digital library research and promotional activities.



11.  References 

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or foe? Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 29, Iss.5, pp. 16–21,

June/July 2003

2. Billington, J. (2005). A digital library that all nations can learn from James Billington.

London: The Financial Times Limited

3. Bultmann, B., Hardy, R., Muir, A., & Wictor, C. (2006). Digitised content in the UK research library and

archive sector. Journal of librarianship and Information Science, Vol. 38(2), 105-122

4. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/159776/Die-Deutsche-Bibliothek

5. http://www.dnb.de/EN/Wir/Kooperation/dissonline/dissonline_node.html

6. https://www.deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de/content/about/

7.  http://pandora.nla.gov.au/historyachievements.html

8. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/statistics.html

9. Cargnelutti, Tony. The Australian Digital Theses (ADT) Project [online]. LASIE: Library Automated Systems

Information Exchange, Vol. 30, No. 4, Dec 1999: 88-93. Availability:


10.  http://trove.nla.gov.au/general/supporting-australian-research-through-trove

11.  Gunjal Bhojaraju, Urs Shalini, Shi Hao (2008) Proceedings of the World Congress on Engineering and

Computer Science 2008 (WCECS 2008), October 22 – 24, 2008, San Francisco, USA

12.  Trove: http://trove.nla.gov.au/

13.  Sherratt, TIM (2013), Beyond Discovery: Digital Scholarship, Connected Communities and the Evolution

of Trove, Proceedings of the e-Research Australia Conference 2013, Canberra, Australia

  1. Trove Infrastructure: http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november11/holley/11holley.html
  2. Witten, Ian H, McNab Rodger (2002), The New Zealand Digital Library: Collections and Experience, Department of Computer Science, University of Waikato, New Zealand
  3. DigitalNZ: http://www.digitalnz.org
  4. Canadiana: http://www.canadiana.ca/en/home
  5. Russian Archives Online: http://russianarchives.com/about/history.html
  6. Gallica: http://gallica.bnf.fr/
  7. Gallica Digital Library: http://www.bnf.fr/en/professionals/anx_pol_num_eng/a.gallica_digital_library_charter.ht ml
  8. National Digital Library of China: http://www.nlc.gov.cn/
  9. Zhen, Xihui (2010), Overview of Digital Library Development in China. D-Lib Magazine, Vol. 16, No. 5/6, May/June 2010. Available: http://www.dlib.org/dlib/may10/zhen/05zhen.print.html
  10. http://ddd.uab.cat/pub/poncom/1998/59595/libcarresdec_a1998m4.pdf
  11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europeana
  12. http://www.europeana.eu/portal/aboutus.html