The DELOS WG intends to focus efforts on five key research areas considered as crucial for the development of large scale digital libraries:
- information access
- description of objects and repositories
- user interfaces and human-computer interaction
- economic, social, and legal issues
Digital Libraries have emerged as one of the central and most compelling applications enabled by network infrastructures. They are viewed as systems providing a community of users with coherent access to a large, organised repository of information and knowledge. The ability of the user to access, reorganise, and utilise this repository is enriched by the capabilities of digital technology. Digital libraries are now a highly active research area and a wide range of important research issues are currently under investigation.
Information access: If the desired information is in one or more repositories, it must be retrieved effectively and efficiently, without retrieving irrelevant information, and without missing anything relevant. Mechanisms for identifying the relevance of information to a given user request, as well as access structures for efficient identification and retrieval will be studied.
Interoperability: Information will be stored or provided by digital libraries using different commands, and will be returned using different representations. Standardised commands, protocols, and models will help, but a significant level of heterogeneity will always be present. Research will be conducted aiming at developing a technology for interoperation between digital libraries, in order to allow searches and interactions to span multiple libraries.
Description of Objects and Repositories: The most urgent infrastructure need for a digital library is to establish common schemes for the naming of digital objects, and to link these schemes to protocols for object transmission, metadata, and object type classification. Research into the description of objects and collections of objects will be carried out. Naming schemes for digital objects that allow global unique reference in order to facilitate resource sharing, linkages, and interoperation among digital library systems and to facilitate the scaling-up of digital library prototypes will be investigated. The definition and use of metadata will also be studied.
User Interfaces and Human-Computer Interaction: While user interfaces and human-computer interaction issues are an extensive field of research in their own right, there are some specific problems that are central to progress in digital libraries. Display of information, visualisation, and navigation of large information collections, and linkage to information manipulation/analysis tools have been identified as key areas for research.
Economic, Social, and Legal Issues: Digital libraries are not simply technological constructs; they exist within a rich legal, social, and economic context, and will succeed only to the extent that they meet these broader needs. Intellectual rights management, economic models for the use of electronic information, and billing systems to support these economic models will be needed. The WG will address all these issues.
Projected impact on industrial RTD: Industrial and commercial exploitation of the Internet, of the Web, and of digital libraries is fast becoming a reality. Commercial organisations can exploit digital libraries in many ways. For example, they can obtain information from libraries to help their operations, they can use library software to manage their own information, and they can sell services based on the delivery of information. The information industry is in a state of flux and fast development, which is dependent on and takes advantage of the rapid progress in the computer network sector. However, further research should help to overcome current obstacles to development and should also provide new industrial opportunities. The WG aims at providing a tangible contribution by addressing the above five key research areas in the digital libraries field.