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Digital Library Medium Term Plan for 2004

Based on the "Electronic Library Concept" formulated in 1998, a foundation for digital library services has been laid at the National Diet Library (NDL), and such services have been augmented. This medium term plan sets forth in detail the direction in which electronic library services will be oriented at the NDL over the next five years, in light of conditions in the year 2004, and presents the frameworks required for realizing such services.

In scope, the medium term plan covers keynote functions of digital library services and preparation of digital library contents, all aimed at expanding and bolstering services via the Internet. It will form the basis of digital library services for the National Diet, the administrative and judicial sectors, libraries and general users.

1. Background to Formulating the Plan

(1) Digital information as social foundation

Various human activities have become highly dependent upon the computer and data communications networks. In all fields, including politics, economics, culture and society, information is being produced, circulated and used electronically, and digital information has become a vital part of our social infrastructure.

(2) International conditions affecting digital information

At UNESCO's 32nd General Conference (2003), the "Charter on the Preservation of the Digital Heritage" was adopted. In light of the fact that the preservation of vital digital information in modern society, including Internet information, is not assured, the Charter declares that each national government must take steps to instill awareness of the problem and to encourage preservation. On the other hand, at national libraries and parliamentary libraries in each country, collection, storage, preservation and distribution of digital information have been recognized as urgent issues, and measures are being implemented.

(3) Domestic conditions affecting digital information

On the domestic front, the e-Japan priority policy program was proposed within the government at the end of FY2000. Digitization and archiving of collections of art galleries, museums, libraries, etc., have been carried out.

Amid these conditions, the NDL's electronic library services, which were considerably augmented upon the opening of the Kansai-kan in October 2002, have been favorably received, and there is growing expectation that the Library will play a leading role in the field of electronic library services.

2. Fruits of the "Electronic Library Concept" at the end of 2003

The "Basic Implementation Plan for Electronic Library Services, " formulated in 2000 on the basis of the "Electronic Library Concept, " encompasses the time period up to FY2002. The achievements by the end of 2003 can be summarized as follows:

(1) Construction and provision of digital contents

The NDL is in the process of digitizing its book collection. Some 50,000 Japanese books published in the Meiji era (approximately 6 million image frames) have been made available online as the "Digital Library from the Meiji Era." 33,000 image frames of rare books are also available. Children's literature is also being offered to the public in digital format.

In the realm of the services for the National Diet, full texts of National Diet proceedings are being provided electronically in cooperation with the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. Materials created by the NDL are also available in digital format via the website on the National Diet WAN.

Electronic exhibitions are also being produced. Seven exhibitions are being offered including, "The Birth of the Constitution of Japan, " "The Japanese Calendar, " and the "Picture Book Gallery."

(2) Web archiving and provision

The NDL is carrying out an experimental project to acquire, preserve, and provide information resources on the Internet. Electronic journals, and websites of government agencies and cooperative organizations, are being collected and provided, after approval has been obtained from all the copyright holders involved.

(3) Information for accessing materials

(a) Secondary information

In March 2000, the Web-OPAC, which provides over the Internet bibliographic information on 2 million Japanese books and on 200,000 Western books, was opened to the public. The NDL-OPAC took its place in October 2002, and now bibliographic information on over 10 million items, including the Japanese Periodicals Index, is available to the public. At the NDL-OPAC, information not available through the Web-OPAC is provided on the status of materials. In addition, requests can be made from remote areas for copying, loan services and more.

The National Union Catalog, which covers Japanese books held by prefectual and major municipal libraries, the Union Catalog Database of Children's Literature, and the Union Catalog of Newspapers are also available online.

(b) Navigation to external resources

To online information resources that cannot be collected mechanically, (for example, the databases which comprise information provided over the Internet), the NDL provides navigation service via a portal site called Database Navigation Service or Dnavi.

(4) Expansion of the NDL website

The NDL website was renovated in March 2000 and again in October 2002. Since the renovation in October 2002, in particular, the NDL website has been evolving into a gateway to digital library services for general users.

(5) R&D

The NDL is conducting survey research on the preservation of digital information and a collaborative initiative with other libraries and institutions nationwide to develop a reference service system.

In these ways, the NDL has succeeded in translating the electronic library concept into fruitful results. For its preparation and provision of digital contents, in particular, it has been highly recognized throughout society.

3. Perspectives in Planning

The NDL, the library for the National Diet as well as Japan's only national library, has drawn up this medium term plan aiming at developing its digital library services in light of the following three perspectives, while continuing with the operations it has implemented thus far.

  • By using data communications networks, opportunities can be greatly expanded for using the NDL's services without restrictions of time and location.
  • Amid developments and changes in the information environment inside and outside Japan, the importance of collection, organization, storage and provision of digital information is increasing.
  • In order to expand the NDL's electronic library services, cooperation with other organizations is indispensable. Thus, it is crucial that the NDL clearly indicates its orientation for the future and gain the understanding of other organizations.

4. Objectives of Electronic Library Service

From the standpoint of providing digital contents for a wide range of users, the NDL serves as a vital base for digital archiving in Japan. In order to meet the demands of diverse users both inside and outside Japan, a comprehensive portal site is being constructed by the NDL, which will navigate them to digital information throughout Japan.

(1) Construction of digital archive

The NDL collections are being digitized in order to eradicate regional differences in terms of access and improve convenience for users. Efforts are also being made to expand our collecting to online resources, to prevent loss of information, and to ensure permanent access to resources.

(a) Digitization of books, etc.

Expanding upon ongoing operations implemented thus far, the NDL is digitizing books and other materials and providing them in compliance with copyright laws. We select materials to be digitized based on the role of the NDL as an organ of the National Diet, the value of the material as national cultural heritage, and the needs of users.

(b) Collection of online resources

Information on the Internet generated in Japan--and which might be lost-will be collected on a systematic or selective basis in light of criteria established for the selection, storage, management and provision of such information. The Librarian of the NDL consulted the Legal Deposit System Council held in March 2002 about the scope and methods of collecting online electronic publications issued in Japan which impose a legal obligation on publishers. A report should be obtained at the end of 2004.

1) NDL Web Archive (provisional name)

Web information on the Internet will be collected in the web archives, maintaining the structure of each site as it was transmitted as much as possible. The collected information will be stored and provided in a format that allows for time-series recognition.

2)Online Deposit (provisional name)

Of the information resources provided over networks such as the Internet, those which cannot be collected by mechanical means (for example the deep web), and those which should be treated as separate intellectual property, will be collected, organized, stored and provided individually.

(c) Provision of information for access or storage

The digital archives constructed by the NDL are a sort of national storage for digital materials and information. Identifiers for long-term data storage and for preservation of uniformity will be provided, as are metadata for access or storage.

(2) Expansion of information on information resources

While bearing in mind compatibility with the materials in existing media, the NDL is taking steps to expand information and methods for accessing individual information in digital archives. In addition, full-text search and other search methods are being enhanced. Subject information is being amplified, together with expanded annotations and introductory and reference information.

(a) Preparation of search interface

Suitable search interfaces are being prepared so that users can properly use the digital archives accumulated and constructed by the NDL. Ample consideration is also being given to new search interfaces such as full-text search and intelligent concept search. In addition, dictionaries and other items required for such searches are being prepared.

(b) Expansion of tools for searching information resources

In order to improve convenience in searching information resources, the NDL will expand access points for digital archives, together with reference information and reference tools.

(c) Digital exhibitions

In order to share valuable information resources and stimulate interest in them, the NDL will hold digital exhibitions by organizing, editing, and adding annotations to the portions of information in digital archives.

(3) Digital Archive Portal Functions

While the NDL website serves as the main gateway to the information on the organization, a separate gateway is being constructed so that users can obtain information they need through a one-stop operation. This gateway guides users not only to the NDL's digital archives, but also to digital information sources and information services provided by national and other public institutions.

(a) Envisioned functions

1) Comprehensive search

Comprehensive search functions are being constructed so that digital archives, OPAC or other information sources can be searched effectively. Comprehensive information search within a preset range is being made available to guide users effectively to information resources.

2)Subject gateway

This gateway will be available to guide users so that they can systematically find information resources according to subject.

3) Online tutorial on information search

Information search methods will be taught to users online.

(b) Japan Digital Archive Portal (provisional name)

A portal function for the NDL and national or other public institutions will be constructed.

Also under consideration is the feasibility of constructing portal functions for web archives throughout Japan, looking at the trends in web archive construction by other organizations.

5. Essential Frameworks

In order to implement the digital library services referred to in Section 4, networks are being established, cooperation is being extended to related institutions, and frameworks for R&D are being set up.

(1) Cooperation with related organizations for resolution of technical problems

(a) Ensuring interoperability for sharing digital archives

Keeping international standards in mind, the NDL will ensure interoperability with related organizations so that digital archives can be shared. In particular, emphasis is put on domestic and international technological standards of metadata, long-term storage and provision. Steps are being taken to establish common procedures so that any institution using digital archives will be able to provide value-added contents in accordance with its objectives.

(b) Ensuring common standards in collecting metadata

As a foundation for portal construction, a common framework for collecting and using metadata from various information providers will be maintained, and installation and use thereof will be promoted.

(2) Preparation of systematic frameworks

The NDL will establish rules in handling rights involved in the construction of digital archives and in the storage and provision of archive data, and also legal conditions. Systematic issues will be taken up through deliberations with relevant government ministries, etc.

(3) Establishment of a framework to promote planning and construction of new operations

Networks will be established within the NDL and between the NDL and related government ministries and institutions for effective promotion of planning, preparation, construction and execution of the new services.

(4) Establishment of operation systems

The NDL will undertake these new operations concerning online information from collection to provision. In addition, a system of investigative research into collection, storage and provision is being established from an institutional and technological standpoint.

The NDL will cooperate with other institutions in operating portal functions, etc., as well as in continuing investigative research.

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