Japanese

INDEX

Building a National and International Research Community: NACSIS in the 21st Century (A Report)
April 23, l999

Myoung C WILSON (1)
Information Services / Collection Development Librarian, Alexander Library
Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey

(1) Alexander Library, Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick New Jersey 08903, U.S.A.; Email: mywilson@rci.rutgers.edu The paper was requested for her invitation to NASCSIS in March 1999, and submitted as of April 1999. The scope was limited only to NACSIS services, and the change-over plan to the National Institute of Informatics was not touched upon by consent.

Introduction
NACSIS IN THE 21ST CENTURY
1 A Seamless NACSIS
2 A User-Centered NACSIS
3 A Global NACSIS
Conclusion

Introduction

This report is based on my visit to NACSIS in March of 1999 where a video presentation was made about the creation, development and on-going activities of the National Center for Science Information Systems (NACSIS). Following the presentation Mr. Sakai Kiyohiko demonstrated NACSIS-CAT and Mr. Kenzo Katoku demonstrated NACSIS-ILL and NACSIS-IR. Professor Eisuke Naito presented in all sessions in order to answer additional questions and to interpret the presentations. I have reviewed the content of the information packet from NACSIS that contained the demonstration presentations in print format, a copy of the 1998 NACSIS annual report, and the three latest issues of the NACSIS Newsletter.

From the excellent presentations made by Professor Naito, Mr. Sakai and Mr. Katoku it is clear that NACSIS is at the forefront of knowledge access management for research communities in Japan. It is also clear that NACSIS is at the cutting edge of the development of knowledge access tools for the next generation of researchers and librarians. This has been achieved by continuous enhancement of its existing products (examples are the latest release of web-based NACSIS-CAT, NACSIS-ILL, and NACSIS-IR) and by creating new digital library services such as NACSIS-ELS. It is also clear that through continuous system advancement, faster and more powerful network gateways are continuously under consideration and/or construction.

A national agency such as NACSIS, which focuses on developing research tools and serving the research community, is an admirable model for other nations. In fulfilling its mission NACSIS is vigorously seeking ways to make worldwide information resources available to Japanese researchers. This is amply demonstrated by the many NACSIS-IR databases. NACSIS is also taking a pro-active role in measuring the demand and supply of Japanese scholarly information abroad and in seeking ways to ensure that Japanese scholarly information is available to overseas researchers. This endeavor is demonstrated in projects like the Asia Information Highway that will make connections between the research communities of Japan and Thailand.

The comments that follow are based on similar services offered in the United States and on my experience as a user of such products and services in a large public research university.

My understanding of the work and mission of NACSIS is aided by my knowledge of several leading bibliographic utilities and research institutes in the United States. Specifically, NACSIS performs three functions that are carried out by three separate American organizations. First, NACSIS-CAT, NACSIS-ILL and NACSIS-IR offer services that are similar to those provided by the Research Libraries Group (RLG) and the OCLC. These organizations are both private consortiums and networks of libraries. The NACSIS membership composition, however, makes it most like RLG whose membership is composed of invited research institutions. The Research Libraries Information Network (RLG's information system) serves as a union catalog with specialized online databases contributed by the participating members. Second, NACSIS-IR partially performs the function of the Inter-University Consortium of Political and Social Research (ICPSR) through the construction of assimilated databases (many of the ICPSR numeric datafiles were originally collected by individual researchers while many others were purchased). Third, by creating a special database that lists those academic positions that are available, NACSIS provides a service that is similar to the one offered by the Chronicle of Higher Education the "Bible" of higher education news in the United States.

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NACSIS IN THE 21ST CENTURY

The users of NACSIS information products and services clearly span the entire spectrum of researchers. There are thus three issues that I would like to address in this report in order to build on the strengths and advantages that NACSIS currently has as the leading provider of research information in Japan. These are building (1) a Seamless NACSIS, (2) a User-centered NACSIS and (3) a Global NACSIS. NACSIS has already taken the initiative in many of these areas and has provided leadership as evidenced in the video presentation.

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1 A Seamless NACSIS

This area falls largely in the domain of systems and operations departments, an area, unfortunately, that I am least familiar with. I am knowledgeable, however, about what users demand in the construction and design of databases. While human - computer interaction (HCI) is a vast area of research (still much unknown), my daily experience with users suggests that databases must be constructed in such a way that no user needs to read a manual. Instructions on how to use and search on a particular database should be intuitive not instructive. If the system can be designed to minimize the number of places that need to be checked, and the instructions that need to be read, not only will research be facilitated but the browsability of the databases that NACSIS provides will be enhanced. Users are already overwhelmed by the task of choosing among the large number of databases that are available. If search engines require more training than necessary, they should be rethought and redesigned.

NACSIS-CAT is the leading shared cataloging service system in Japan which has now begun to include the records of overseas Japanese studies libraries. My understanding of the content of this catalog is that it is a catalog record of participating libraries. Does this include serials records as well? It appears that there are two separate databases, much as was true earlier for RLIN. From an end- user's point view, a union catalog should contain as comprehensive a record as technology and legal obligations permit.

NACSIS-IR databases, both domestic and foreign are rapidly growing in number. Some of its design features are intuitive such as the one demonstrated on the web-based NACSIS-IR. In fact, NACSIS-IR is a goldmine in what we normally term gray areas, i.e. conference proceedings and professional association papers, etc. OCLC Firstsearch offers a similar service for U.S. public and academic libraries. In an effort to offer seamless access to its user community, OCLC Firstsearch has just announced a new service that links search results to local library records or to OCLC full text electronic journal collections. The new thesaurus-aided searching will also enhance the quality of search results.

NACSIS-ELS is the result of digital library initiatives that provide full text journal articles. Because of copyright issues, NACSIS initially chose academic society journals in scanned image texts. The project that is most similar to NACSIS-ELS in the United States is the fast growing Project Muse that began at John Hopkins University Press in collaboration with the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. At a recent conference in Detroit, I was able to obtain an information packet on Project Muse which I shall include with this report. I was actually surprised to see that four Japanese libraries are individual subscribers (they are the libraries at Kochi University, Kyoto University Graduate School, NTT Communication Science Labs and Tokyo Metropolitan University) Project Muse makes it clear that institutions in consortiums will receive a discount subscription rate. Can NACSIS form a consortium on behalf of its member libraries and subscribe to full text Project Muse journals? Doing so would expand the NACSIS-ELS to include English language full-text electronic journals.

NACSIS is also leading in the research, development and building of multilingual databases. Professor Hiroshi INOSE of NACSIS nicely captured this endeavor in his recent essay on literacy:

"In view of the fact that diversity in language has enriched the culture of mankind, the oppression of mother tongues by the international language, and oppression of dialects by the standard language, and the oppression of the other alphabets by the Latin alphabets are serious problems How we can nurture multi-lingual abilities so that both the mother tongue and the international language and both the local alphabet and the Latin alphabet can be used side by side is another important question pertinent to literacy today."(2)

The development of the NACSIS-UCS font will enable NACSIS-CAT users to use European languages. It's multi-lingual catalog databases will also permit use of the Chinese and Korean languages in a seamless network of information sources.

(2) Hiroshi Inose, "Literacy in this Day and Age," NACSlS Newsletter no. 15 (March 1997), 3.

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2 A User-Centered NACSIS

In the information age NACSIS must become a user-cantered organization. In order to assess the role that NACSIS plays in the chain of information provision, NACSIS must continuously monitor the increasing and changing needs of the user community. This is particularly critical because NACSIS's clientele is composed of elite and sophisticated users who are engaged in cutting-edge research. Because these users can obtain information from a variety of sources, NACSIS must monitor its own effectiveness as an information provider.

NACSIS must take a leading role in organizing and building a sense of community among its users. It must also develop a sense of shared purpose by increasing member's awareness of NACSIS programs, policies, guidelines and services through regional, national and international meetings. While NACSIS-Mail and NACSIS-BB are part of the services offered to members, more can be done by organizing discussions groups where users can share their experiences of the best ways to use NACSIS's services and databases.

In order to build this type of user community, NACSIS needs to identify the different user groups within its own community. Since academic libraries are a large constituency, the first such group should be practicing librarians who are on the front line in these libraries. To be sure, since NACSIS-CAT is the service with the greatest longevity, NACSIS has long been providing training sessions for catalogers. The training of librarians and researchers in other areas has begun and should be expanded.

Other relatively new and fast growing services such as NACSIS-IR, NACSIS-ILL and NACSIS-ELS require intensive training of, and dialog with, users. Here the concept of "training the trainers" is extremely important. The user manuals that are already available in print and online are excellent. NACSIS, however, will more effectively benefit the research community if it goes further by forming a User Council that include library administrators as well as rank and file practicing librarians. This User Council is fundamentally a working group which provides necessary input from the end users' perspective. The Council should meet on a regular basis under the sponsorship of NACSIS and meet with the staff of NACSIS's database creators, particularly with staff from the Operations Department to ensure that both groups speak the same language and share the same priorities. User Council input can only benefit and strengthen the role of NACSIS in the future.

The training of librarians can also take many forms ranging from a one day workshop to intensive seminars lasting several days or a week. As a young reference librarian, my most useful workshop lasted for 5 days. It was spent at the United States Census Bureau Training Center where we learned how to use the 1980 census. I found it extremely useful to be able to learn from the actual producers of the U S. Census why certain data are (or are not) available and how US Census geography differs from its physical geography. Upon my return I, in turn, trained countless numbers of students and faculty how to use the massive amount of census data that exists. This sort of intensive training would be a worthy investment for NACSIS in order to maximize the use of its databases through a continuous stream of trainees.

Another user group that NACSIS needs to reach out to is researchers themselves. Researchers are not too interested in training, often thinking that they are too busy or too important for this activity. However, NACSIS can utilize other mechanisms such as "focus groups" or NACSIS sponsored academic conferences with small group sessions where researchers can help advise NACSIS on policies, products and services. Such meetings would provide a forum for the input of ideas and continents regarding how databases are being used and what future databases would be most useful. Again, a sense of being part of NACSIS thinking about future directions would give researchers a sense of empowerment. Already the annual NACSIS symposium partially meets this need.

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3 A Global NACSIS

Through international symposiums, seminars, joint research projects with a number of countries and visits made by world-renowned librarians and scholars to NACSIS, NACSIS has been quietly yet boldly promoting librarianship, particularly in several underfunded countries. A wide range of issues on international librarianship are also being quietly reviewed through NACSIS seminars NACSIS's reputation as a leading R&D think tank in the areas of information networking, information retrieval and international librarianship will be second to none if selected research projects can be made available in English to a world-wide audience.

I would like to address two issues that will enhance the NACSIS's contribution to international librarianship. Implementing these recommendations will benefit both Japanese and international librarians.

First, I find there is very little written in English about librarianship in general in Asia. NACSIS has been inviting leaders in the library community from all over Asia (and for that matter from all over the world) and providing them with a forum for the presentation of papers on the librarianship as practiced in their own countries. Information on librarianship in English from countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, China and even Japan are difficult to obtain in Western countries. For example the Rutgers University School of Communication, Information and Library Studies offers a course on International Librarianship. However, for students who are interested in studying librarianship in Asia, the background information is hard to obtain.

Much of this problem is, of course, due to general unfamiliarity with the languages of these countries, and the inability of U.S. libraries to supply the necessary vernacular language materials is also a problem. NACSIS would make a great contribution if it would consider editing one volume of papers selected from the many conferences or seminars that it has hosted. American publishers (or the International Federation of Library Associations or even UNESCO) always seek good manuscripts. The kind of papers that have been presented at various NACSIS seminars over the years, if collected into one volume, would be an invaluable contribution to the advancement of international librarianship world-wide. Such a publication would also enhance the international visibility of the outstanding work that NACSIS has been engaged in over the last decade.

A second way to build a global NACSIS would be to provide an international educational experience for both Japanese and US librarians by organizing a joint conference between Rutgers (or any other appropriate American or European institution) and NACSIS. Since both Rutgers and NACSIS are fortunate in having developed a strong connection a pilot conference that would provide an opportunity for Japanese librarians to visit Rutgers (and neighboring) libraries while participating in a 3 or 4 day seminar would be a worthy endeavor to consider. Rutgers, after all, is within 500 miles of every other major research university library on the East Coast. NACSIS could present videos to participating US librarians, research scholars, and graduate students in Japanese Studies and introduce these participants to various NACSIS databases. Meanwhile, the Japanese librarians could use this opportunity to learn more about the way that US academic libraries work and how some of the products and services offered by U. S. bibliographic utilities are used. They can also be trained in searching some of the US databases that the NACSIS has acquired as part of NACSIS-IR. The content of the conference can be shaped around the issues that are most salient at the time the conference is organized. Certainly providing NACSIS member librarians and researchers with such an opportunity would be highly valued by NACSIS user groups.

Since the creation of the Scholarly Communication Center at the Alexander Library at Rutgers two years ago, such joint ventures are almost a weekly event. Because the Scholarly Communication Center has hands-on Information Handling Labs and a Social Science and Humanities Data Center, it serves as an ideal site for conference/training sessions. Just last month, it hosted the 4th International Conference on University General Education. This was a two-day conference co-sponsored by the Chinese Association for General Education in Taiwan and venous offices of Rutgers University. A similar conference should be planned for librarians who focus on international librarianship and practical training sessions.

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Conclusion

This report has suggested several ways that NACSIS can enhance its services and reputation. These are, of course, preliminary and should be subjected to further scrutiny and refinement. Should any of these recommendations appear feasible, I would be happy to be involved in anyway I can. Whatever the outcome, I would like to express my deepest appreciation at having been honored by the request to prepare this report.

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