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CDNLAO Newsletter

No. 90, December 2017

Special Topic: Digitization and Digital Services

Progress on Digital Archives at the National Diet Library, Japan

By the Digital Information Planning Division, Digital Information Department, National Diet Library, Japan


1. Introduction

The National Diet Library (NDL) aims at promoting digital archives. It conducts digitization of materials, collects online publications, builds a cross-sectoral portal website, etc. In this article, we will introduce these activities of the NDL.

2. Digitization of materials, their use and application

2.1. Digitization of NDL materials

Digitization project at the NDL started in full swing from 2000. At that time, with the permission of copyright holders, the NDL digitized its holdings and provided them via the Internet.

Following the revision of the Japanese Copyright Law in 2009, the NDL became able to digitize its holdings without the permission of copyright holders, with the aim of avoiding the loss, damage, or defacement of original materials. And from 2009 to 2010, a large budget of 13.7 billion JPY was allocated for the digitization project conducted at the NDL. In 2014, a supplementary budget of one billion JPY was also allocated for the digitization of materials related to natural disasters. These events enabled the NDL to further digitize its materials, and a total of approximately 2.7 million materials had been digitized as of November 2017.

Another revision was made to the Copyright Law in 2012. This enabled the NDL to transmit the digitized data of materials which are out-of-print or otherwise difficult to obtain to other libraries in Japan. This service, which is to be explained later, began in 2014.

< Budget for digitization since FY2000 >

Below is a chart which shows the breakdown of the 2.7 million digitized materials. 530,000 of the materials are accessible via the Internet, either because they belong to the public domain or because the copyright issues have been cleared. Materials which are out-of-print or otherwise difficult to obtain are transmitted to other libraries in Japan. There are about 1.5 million of these materials. Other materials are only accessible within the NDLís premises.

< Current status of digitization and providing access to digitized materials >

2.2. NDL Digital Collections

NDL Digital Collections is a database through which the NDL provides its digital contents. By using the NDL Digital Collections, users can search and view the digitized materials and online publications collected by the NDL.

< Top page of the NDL Digital Collections >

< Digitized contents and born-digital materials are accessible >

2.3. Transmission of digitized materials to libraries

Digitized contents transmission service for libraries in Japan is a service which began in 2014. Libraries which have become partners of the NDL can provide to their patrons browsing and copying services of the contents digitized by the NDL. About 870 libraries including public and university libraries have applied and are making use of this service.

< NDL contents are accessible at libraries nationwide >

3. Collecting born-digital materials and providing access to them

3.1. Web Archiving Project (WARP)

One of the two projects through which the NDL collects born-digital materials is the Web Archiving Project (WARP). We started collecting domestic websites in 2002 based on the permission of their webmasters.

Following the revision of the Copyright Law and the NDL Law, we began in April 2010 comprehensive archiving of websites of domestic organizations in the public sector without permission. Websites of private universities, political parties, etc. are archived based on the permission of their webmasters.

< Top page of WARP >

3.2. E-legal deposit of online publications

The second project is the e-legal deposit system of online publications. This system makes the legal deposit of e-books or e-journals published since July 2013 by the private sector compulsory under the NDL Law. But for the time being, depository is limited to online publications which are available for free and are not restricted by Digital Rights Management (DRM). Regarding the collection of commercial e-books and e-journals, we are now carrying out an experimental project in collaboration with domestic publishers.

< Flow chart showing the provision of online publications >

4. Progress on linking digital archives

4.1. NDL Search: current service

The NDL Search, launched in 2012, is a database through which the NDL provides integrated search of catalogs and digital archives of the NDL, other libraries and some archives and museums. Users can search through about 120 million metadata from about 100 databases. NDL Search is available in multiple languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.

< Top page of NDL Search >

< Enables integrated search of library collections around Japan >

4.2. Linking digital archives promotion by government

The Japanese government, the Cabinet Office in particular, is promoting the linkage of digital archives in Japan. Each year, the Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters in the Cabinet formulates an Intellectual Property Strategic Program and demonstrates the nationís orientation towards digital archiving and collaboration. In 2015, the Coordination Committee of Digital Archive-related Ministries and Agencies and the Practitionersí Council were established under the Cabinet, and in April 2017, a report entitled Direction of Digital Archive Promotion and the Guidelines on the Development, Sharing and Utilization of Digital Archives were released.

In the 2017 version of the Intellectual Property Strategic Program, which was formulated under this report, the establishment of a cross-sectoral portal website called the Japan Search (tentative name) is set as a goal to be achieved by 2020. The NDL will play a central role in this project using its experience of the NDL Search.
Moreover, the NDL, in the 4th NDL Basic Plan for the Organization of Information on Science and Technology which was enacted in March 2016, sets provision of an integrated portal site for metadata of disparate contents as one of its objectives as part of the construction of an information infrastructure for facilitating the cycle of knowledge.

4.3. Japan Search: new service framework of NDL

So far, in establishing the Japan Search, the NDL is planning to develop a new platform which covers the weaknesses of the NDL Search, instead of expanding the NDL Search platform. The requirements for the Japan Search differ from the NDL Search, which carries mainly metadata of books, since it is a portal website for libraries. The Japan Search needs to be a platform which can process metadata of contents in various formats, as well as providing them in a way that facilitates their use. The functional requirements of the Japan Search are now under consideration.

We plan to integrate the metadata of libraries, museums, archives, etc. through coordinators of each field. Coordinators are expected to standardize the metadata of their field and provide them to the Japan Search. The NDL will maintain its role as a coordinator of the library field, as well as a provider of a cross-sectoral portal website for metadata of Japanese contents, in cooperation with related ministries and agencies.

We hope that the metadata collected through the Japan Search will be utilized by patrons not only in Japan but also throughout the world, in many fields including tourism, education, business, etc.

< Japan Search Linking Model Image >

4.4. International digital archives cooperation program

The NDL is also working on the construction of digital archives through international cooperation. We provide digitized contents to the World Digital Library (WDL), a database run by the Library of Congress and UNESCO, which provides contents from 193 countries. Materials contributed by the NDL can be viewed from the following link:

5. Conclusion

The NDL will enhance its digital archives through digitization and collection of online publications. We will contribute to the extension and development of a knowledge infrastructure as well as facilitating the utilization of these digital resources.

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Copyright (C) 2017 National Diet Library, Japan