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Workshop on issues in the field of
national deposit collections of electronic publication

Luxembourg, December 18, 1995


Table of content

PREFACE

REPORT OF THE WORKSHOP

1. Background and objectives of the report

2. Participation

3. Discussion of issues

3.1 General aspects of legal deposit of electronic publications

3.2 Selection of publications for deposit

3.3 Storage and maintenance of electronic deposit collections

3.4 Bibliographic control of electronic publications

3.5 Providing access to deposited publications

4. CONCLUSIONS AND RESULTS OF THE WORKSHOP


PREFACE

Since the Commission first started its work with libraries in Europe, prompted by the Resolution of the Council of Ministers in 1985, the move towards the information society has gathered pace and political profile. Libraries, as guardians of and gatekeepers to knowledge and information, have a key role to play in the increasingly complex electronic information environment.

The perspective of libraries, and particularly of national, deposit libraries, is a long-term one. They collect and provide access to a history of acquired knowledge, and preserve that access for the future. In a world of increasingly rapid technical change where more knowledge and information is produced in electronic form, the challenge facing national libraries is how to maintain this long-term view and fulfil their function of providing continuity of access to this knowledge.

The establishment of deposit collections of electronic publications is a keystone in the strategy of long-term availability. Deposit may be a result of legislation or of voluntary agreements: whatever the framework within which it operates, it poses signficant problems of an organisational, economic and technical nature.

These problems were high on the agenda of CoBRA , a concerted action involving national libraries in Europe and steered by a forum of eight national librarians. At CoBRA's instigation the Commission has funded a study into the issues facing national libraries in the field of deposit collections of electronic publications. The study has been undertaken within the Libraries programme, which itself is part of the Telematics systems in areas of common interest programme under the Third Framework

The study has been carried out by NBBI: it forms the basis of the background paper for this Workshop. The full study report will be published by the Commission in late Spring 1996.

Of course, deposit affects not only libraries but also publishers who themselves are facing challenges which are no less acute, with major impacts on the economics and on the models of distribution and use of publications. In the new environment of the information society, actions cannot be taken in isolation and new alliances are called for between libraries and publishers.

This Workshop provides a rare opportunity to bring together key players from the national libraries and publishers in Europe in order to discuss those issues which are critical for deposit collections of electronic publications and to set an agenda for the future collaboration which will be essential if the information produced today is to be accessible tomorrow.

Ariane Iljon

DG XIII/E-4

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REPORT OF THE WORKSHOP

1. Background and objectives of the report

The Workshop, hosted by the European Commission's DGXIII/E, brought together European national libraries, publishers and experts to discuss deposit collections of electronic publications.

The starting point was the background document for the Workshop (see Appendix 1), based on the findings of a nine-month study into 'Issues faced by national libraries in the field of deposit collections of electronic publications', conducted by NBBI of the Netherlands for the Commission. This study has been carried out at the suggestion of CoBRA (Computerised Bibliographic Records Action) a group, established under the aegis of the Conference of European National Librarians and supported by the CEC, which integrates actions in the area of national bibliographic resource provision and national libraries. It comprises eight national libraries in the EU, EEA and EFTA countries. The study was monitored by a Steering Committee consisting of Dr. Brian Lang of the British Library, dr. Wim van Drimmelen of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in the Netherlands and Professor K.D. Lehmann of Die Deutsche Bibliothek.

Most countries in Europe maintain a deposit collection of publications. These collections are usually based on legal conditions which require publishers to deposit their publications with a designated deposit library - usually the national library. In a number of countries there are no legal deposit regulations, but voluntary regulations have been agreed on by publishers and the national deposit library.

The existing methods of legal or voluntary deposit which have been applied to publications on paper do not yet have their parallel in the electronic world. This world is subject to rapid organisational, economic and technological changes. At the same time, there is an ever-increasing number of publications available (only) in electronic form.

Storage and preservation of electronic publications by deposit libraries is necessary to preserve the intellectual record of the information society for future generations. The need for long term preservation of electronic publications is recognised worldwide. In addition, analysis of existing deposit legislation leads to the conclusion that there is no reason for a legal distinction between electronic and nonelectronic publications. Urgent efforts are therefore now needed from national libraries and publishers to collect electronic publications and to store them so that they are accessible in the future. New strategies are needed for:

  • the selection of electronic publications by deposit libraries;
  • the acquisition of electronic publications;
  • creating and maintaining the technical environment needed to store and access these materials in the short and long term;
  • providing bibliographic descriptions for these materials, including information on where and how to access them;
  • arriving at the level of co-operation between deposit libraries and publishers to ensure best practice in this area.
The overall objective of the Workshop was to establish consensus on what are the critical and priority issues and to discuss what might be done to address them in a timely manner. The specific objectives were:
  • to discuss the findings of the study and to validate them;
  • to prioritise key issues;
  • to identify responsibilities, channels and structures for further actions, in the short and medium term;
  • to bring together the different interests in the deposit process.
The study by NBBI did not set out to resolve problems but rather to identify them and bring them to the notice of relevant organisations who could initiate the actions needed to address the problems.

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2. Participation

The participants comprised: directors of the national libraries in the EU, EEA and EFTA countries, or their nominated representatives; publishers of electronic materials as well as representatives of publishers' interest groups; and technical experts with experience of the issues. Representatives also attended from the Commission of Preservation and Access in the USA and from its European counterpart (European Commission on Preservation and Access).

This meeting provided a rare and valuable opportunity for these groups to meet and discuss issues of common concern.

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3. Discussion of issues

The main debate was structured in two sessions: the first focused on issues which affected primarily libraries or which lay principally (though not exclusively) within their responsibilities and remit to address; and the second tackled issues from the publishers' perspective, with the aim of establishing bases for future collaborative actions.
  • The discussions centred round the following key issues:
  • General aspects of legal deposit of electronic publications
  • Selection of publications for deposit
  • Storage and maintenance of electronic deposit collections
  • Bibliographic control of electronic publications
  • Providing access to deposited publications

3.1 General aspects of legal deposit of electronic publications

The need for deposit . The need for deposit of electronic publications was confirmed by both libraries and publishers at the Workshop. The use in online publishing of generally accepted standards does provide some guarantee of access in the short-term. However, there was consensus amongst libraries and publishers that without deposit many materials would risk becoming unavailable to future users. Leaving the responsibility for archiving and preservation with the originator of the publication does not offer adequate guarantee of future availability and continuation of access.

Deposit libraries and their role . It is clear that technology and change is having an immediate and wide-ranging impact on the electronic publishing environment and on libraries. However, the historical function and responsiblity of national libraries - to store the collective memory of the nation - remains unaltered. Technology, rather, makes it possible for this responsibility to be met and fulfilled in new ways.

Co-operation between national libraries and publishers . Two fundamental principles were recognised here. First, on the side of the libraries, there was clear recognition of the legitimacy of publishers' demands for a fair return. From the publishers' side came the consensus that the national library, insofar as its role of maintaining a national deposit collection is concerned, was not in competition with publishers. The role of the deposit, national library is different from that of other libraries and is hospitable to mutually beneficial alliances with publishers. This recognition of common interests presented a sound basis for developing cooperation in this area.

Co-operation between Europe and the United States . It is important to take note of activities in the area of electronic deposit outside Europe, notably in the United States. There, the Task Force on Digital Archives, set up by the Commission on Preservation and Access (CPA, a private non-profit organisation) has recently studied the issue of long term preservation of electronic materials. The Task Force produced an interim report in August 1995 with the final report due in early 1996.

Mrs. Marcum of the CPA described its activities in this field at the Workshop. The Task Force sees the primary responsibility for the archiving of electronic documents as lying with the owner of the document. Nevertheless, fail-safe mechanisms have to be built in to guarantee long-term preservation. The Task Force has argued in favour of a decentralised solution in which a number of certified archives are foreseen. The European approach, involving deposit libraries in the various countries, can be regarded as a special case of such a decentralised solution.

There are areas of common ground which call for co-operation between partners in the United States and Europe. Two of the recommendations of the Task Group were particularly hospitable to cooperation at this level, namely:

  • experiments and the development of demonstrators, especially in the area of authentication and handling IPR;
  • a joint engagement in policy development for the networked information infrastructure to ensure the longevity of archived materials.

3.2 Selection of publications for deposit

It was agreed that at a legislative level all electronic publications should be considered as candidates for deposit in order to maintain a suitably flexible framework in a context of rapid change. However, it was also accepted that practical solutions had to be based on the application of selection policies. Such practices are not, in any case, novel: selection is already applied in many cases to the intake of printed materials for deposit. For electronic publications, selection should be pragmatic, taking as a starting point materials which were stable and which could be handled by deposit libraries without excessive additional effort, expenditure and risk. An incremental process of regulation and best practice should evolve in due course.

There was considerable discusion on categories of material and on whether distinctions could or should be made between online and offline, static and dynamic etc. It was generally agreed such distinctions were artificial and of diminishing relevance in the long term. Selection criteria for materials to be included in deposit collections should be driven by the content of the publication and not the medium of publication, subject in practice to the pragmatic considerations outlined above.

3.3 Storage and maintenance of electronic deposit collections

Storage issues are partly dependent on the outcomes of the selection debate. If the pragmatic solutions practised by libraries imply a high level of selectivity, such as accepting only a restricted range of media and formats, the confrontation of some of the more complex archival and preservation issues may be postponed for the short term. However, - and this is echoed by the CPA findings - there is to date very limited experience of handling electronic document collections and stores of the volume and scale of those that will be accumulated by national collections. There is a need for experimental projects to identify the software and hardware environments that are likely to be required for very large scale digital collections. This was a problem also confronting publishers and was a fruitful area for collaborative actions.

On the part of the national libraries, there is also a need to establish on a European level the basic conditions and requirements needed to fulfil the functions of providing a national deposit collection of electronic publications. There are likely to be considerable disparities between Member States which would need to be overcome if a satisfactory pan-European approach were to be implemented. In both the United States and in Europe, efforts are needed at national policy level to develop suitable organsational and technical infrastructures for ensuring the longevity of information.

3.4 Bibliographic control of electronic publications

In the area of electronic publications, bibliographic control is likely to become increasingly important as an aid to:
  • authentication of publications
  • safeguarding intellectual property rights through clear attribution of authorship, linked to the deposit process;
  • development of recognised access points and navigation routes from a single source, providing high-quality, accurate and independent descriptions, to distributed publications. As such the bibliographic record becomes an integral part of a value-added 'promotional' service delivered by libraries to publishers, through providing active links from the bibliographic record to the publishers' own resources.
Implicit in such developments is the requirement to develop appropriate metadata formats and resources. Bibliographic formats must become more flexible if they are to cope with the evolving requirements of electronic publications. National libraries should look to ongoing initiatives in this area, both inside and outside the library/bibiographic world, but are well-placed to develop services of this kind.

3.5 Providing access to deposited publications

A substantial part of the Workshop discussions was devoted to the issue of access to deposited publications. This was, unsurprisingly, the area of key concern to publishers. For libraries, it is a basic principle of legal deposit to ensure that there exists at east one place in every country where publications are stored and held available. This principle of last resort is as valid for on-line electronic publications as it is for printed and off-line publications.

The study by NBBI also indicated the need for deposit libraries to provide access to electronic collections and pointed out three basic strategies for achieving this in a way which protects the interests of the publishers:

  • On-site consultation in a controlled access area within the library; this is the approach taken by the Library of Congress in the United States, and also considered by a number of national libraries in Europe.
  • Restricted, controlled remote access over the external network, based on license agreements between library and publishers; this model is now being tested in the Netherlands.
  • Time-windowing, i.e. initial restricted access followed by more liberal access after a certain period of time.
In discussion, the publishers present also added a number of suggestions to the range of possible solutions, including:
  • Restriction on the number of accesses to deposited materials within a give time-frame;
  • Setting differential levels of access according to the information level concerned (bibliographic data, tables of content, abstracts and full contents of publications)
  • Re-routing access from the deposit library to the publisher's repository for as long as the requested publications is held there.
  • The adoption of national licensing schemes for access to publisher's repositories.
  • Having the national library act as distributing agent for the publications, on behalf of the publisher
The national libraries tended to the view that limiting the use of deposited electronic publications to on-site access was unacceptable in an information society based on new service opportunities offered by the rapidly emerging network infrastructure. Experience in this field shows that provision for remote access can be mutually agreed by publisher and library if, for example, the national library allows publishers to audit and monitor remote access systems. In general, access should be based not on an extension of lending rights, but on specific access agreements between libraries and publishers. Campus licences could be used as an appropriate model for this kind of agreement.

The solutions proposed imply changes in the economic models for for publication and distribution which require investigation and testing collaboratively by national libraries and publishers. In the right conditions, access to deposit collections could act as a stimulus to the market for electronic publications, rather than posing a competitive threat. Testing is also needed in the application of security mechanisms, access controls and transaction and rights monitoring systems.

Overall, it was agreed that new alliances between libraries and publishers have to be created in order to reach more innovative and creative solutions. The mutual interests of libraries and publishers were recognised. If the right solutions are found, libraries could enhance the use of electronic publications in a way which leads to an increased volume of trade for publishers.

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4. Conclusions and results of the Workshop

It was recognised that many questions remain to be resolved in all areas of electronic deposit. There is a need for pilot projects to develop practical solutions. The recommendations by NBBI in the Workshop's Background Document can be considered as a research agenda.

The main conclusions of the Workshop can be summarised as follows:

  • The Workshop validated the findings and recommendations of the study by NBBI, as summarised in the Background Document.
  • The need for deposit of electronic publications is recognised by libraries and publishers. There is consensus amongst both groups that many materials otherwise risk becoming unavailable to future users, and that the deposit library has a responsibility towards users without alternative means of access.
  • There is a need for new solutions which support national libraries in their role of collecting the national memory or intellectual record. Further studies and pilots are required following the specific recommendations in the NBBI study and including the ideas for demonstrators put forward in the Workshop.
  • Solutions adopted by national libraries in the area of deposit should recognise the rights of publishers and the legitimacy of their demands for fair return and protection against unfair use.
  • More work needs to be done to arrive at solutions for access to deposit materials which satisfy the interests of both libraries and publishers .
As a result:
  • Publishers and national libraries at the workshop agreed to work together to develop both collaborative agreements and practical test-beds. Much of this work will be carried out in co-operation with CoBRA+, which has on its agenda the long-term availability of electronic publications and metadata issues.
  • National libraries and publishers will form a small Task Group to consider further actions, which should be convened as soon as possible either under the aegis of CoBRA+ or independently.
  • In view of the importance of deposit in the world of electronic information, national libraries and publishers are urged to bring that issue into the political arena of their countries to arrive at further legislation and adequate funding.


For further information, please contact:

Patricia Manson
Telematics for Libraries
e-mail: (email removed)
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European Commission

DG Information Society
Cultural Heritage Applications Unit
Contact:Digicult
e-mail: digicult@ec.europa.eu (email removed)

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