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Libraries: Electronic Remote Access to Information over Networks

Objective

The project is based on the credo that modern libraries must provide a dynamic, annotatable and easily searchable information space that is not restricted by physical boundaries. It is less clear, however, to what extent material should be scattered over the Internet, reside in local servers or be stored on individual CD ROMs.

LIBERATION sets out to provide answers to this question. It takes a substantial body of information (e.g. journals, textbooks, reference works, dictionaries, courseware) that is, or is about to be available in electronic form, and packages it into a format that allows distribution to libraries via CDs, LANs and WANs such as the Internet. It will monitor the reaction of users in two different environments: at the user's workplace and at easy-to-use terminals in conventional libraries. LIBERATION will also evaluate a paradigm for charging that has shown more promise in the past than time-based, volume-based or individual-subscription-based techniques.

Technical approach

The project will prepare a substantial set of multimedia material and package it for usage on both CD-ROMs and for network use. Network use will be both via Internet and via local networks (LANs) that are "fed" from the Internet. In the Internet, traditional billing models (subscriptions and volume charges) and free access to some material will be offered and data on the effects of various billing schemes will be collected. In particular it will be investigated whether the claim is true that "if a multimedia version of a book is offered on Internet for free, then the sales of the printed book go UP rather than DOWN". In the LAN version, material will be offered for "n users at a time" where the fee a library pays to the publisher increases as n grows. Both networked variants will be tested with users at the workplace and with terminals placed in libraries. The underlying server technology is Hyperwave (previously known as Hyper-G). The Dublin Core Metadata approach will be applied within the framework of this technology.

Key issues

The main issues to be explored include:
cooperation of libraries and publishers in the field of electronic publishing via networks and CD-ROM;
behaviour of end-users with regard to accessing electronic library materials;
cost recovery schemes and mechanisms in an electronic library environment.

Impact, users and expected results

LIBERATION provides the first genuine comparison between various types of use of electronic material. This will allow increased efficiency both in the production and use of multimedia material in libraries or supplied by libraries. LIBERATION will also be a showcase: it is fair to assume that one of the variants of it will be successful enough to warrant further exploitation, including the reorientation of libraries to new modes of serving their customers and of European publishers to more profitable fields. LIBERATION is a carefully balanced answer to some of the grand digital library schemes in the US: rather than putting all eggs in one basket LIBERATION allows to go full speed into electronic publishing, adjusting the direction according to the wishes of users and the market.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

Technische Universität Graz
Address
Schießstattgasse 4A
8010 Graz
Austria

Participants (4)

Addison-Wesley Germany
Germany
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Germany
Address
Werthmannsplatz
79098 Freiburg
Bibliographisches Institut & F.A. Brockhaus
Germany
University of Nottingham
United Kingdom