Report on Section 4: Electronic Libraries

10th Jubilee Conference Crimea 2003

Report on Section 4: Electronic Libraries

The section brought together several parties involved in the subject of electronic libraries:

- funding institutions and organisations,
- librarians and library technicians,
- digitisation projects,
- editors and publishers from the side of content providers,
- subscription agencies,
- database providers,
- information brokers and managers of gateways in the web,
- professionals developing highly sophisticated access facilities.

The talks gave

- a state of the art report,
- instructions for the usage and installation of digital offers,
- models for running projects related to electronic libraries
- outlooks to future web offers developed in projects,
- proposals for improving current offers and
- hints, how future co-operations may help to reach such improvements.

The topics addressed in the presentations were

- programs for funding and installing electronic libraries,
- approaches to get a more precise idea what should be considered as an electronic library,
- metadata and knowledge production using electronic media,
- organisation and design of concrete electronic offers,
- digitisation of conventional publications,
- document delivery based on electronic media,
- general aspects of knowledge management,
- library services as gateways to information and publications in the web.

There was a total of about 75 talks which were given in several sessions. Some of them even were part of other sections. The major themes for arranging the sessions were commercial offers for electronic libraries, local and regional electronic offers, digitisation activities, tools for running and installing electronic offers and a special session devoted to the eLIBRARY run at RFBR. Furthermore, a special seminar was organized addressing the Russian-German cooperation in Scientific Information and Communication.

With the increasing number of talks also an improved level of the talks in general could be observed. There was a higher rate of contributions from participants not coming from FSU, which indicates that the conference has increasing importance for knowledge transfer. The attendance at the talks was rather high, and the concluding panel session showed that electronic offers had become a focus of interest at the librarian community in general. The two topics, which had been declared at Crimea 2001/2 to be of primary interest for concerted actions in the near future, were well represented in the talks. This was: a) archiving problems for electronic documents, and b) development and standardisation of metadata. Clearly, both will be a permanent subject of discussion, and improvements will happen step by step only.

The Panel Session at the end of the Section showed that the representation of electronic offers and the general flow of information was appreciated by the participants, but that the academic part related to library science was too low. This was considered as a vicious circle, because due to the low current funding the level of research in that subject is not very high in Russia, and as a consequence of the comparatively low level the options to activate more funding are very reduced. One escape from that may be a better cooperation with international projects. This will be addressed in the additional comments.

It was the general impression, that these topics should be discussed and coordinated permanently, and just taking the Crimea conferences for this will not be sufficient. LIBCOM may be an intermediate alternative, which already had been taken into account at LIBCOM 2002. Also the RCDL series may be a suitable forum, but so far these conferences developed a rather academic and research oriented profile, which makes most librarians hesitating to attend the RCDL conferences.

Some recommendations for improvements and suggestions for new features are given in the special comments for internal usage.

Bernd Wegner, Berlin, June 2003

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