Collection and Handling of Electronic Publications by a Legal Deposit Library

Permanent Deputy Director, Die Deutsche Bibliothek Leipzig / Frankfurt / Berlin

(1) DDB: Die Deutsche Bibliothek, Deutsche Bibliothek Frankfurt am Main, Adickesallee 1, 60 322 Frankfurt/M. Germany. Fax: +49 69 15 25 10 10; E-Mail: schwens@dbf.ddb.de The paper was delivered at the Karuizawa Inose Lodge on Wednesday October 20th, 1999

Legal Requirements
"Digital Library" of Die Deutsche Bibliothek
Online Publications
Principles, Objectives and Mechanism


The German National Library (Die Deutsche Bibliothek) is obliged by law to collect all publications issued in Germany or German-language publications issued abroad.

In March 1997 a group of publishers presented a recommendation calling for a system of voluntary deposit in order to provide for the archiving of digital publications, an aspect currently not covered by legislation. That has been the starting point for the creation of the "Digital Library" of Die Deutsche Bibliothek.

In the understanding of Die Deutsche Bibliothek the digital library consists of different types of publications:

I would like to explain the legal requirements for the collection of German publications in general and for the deposit of electronic publications in particular:


Legal Requirements

The law regarding Die Deutsche Bibliothek of March 31st, 1969 amended in 1990, specifies the functions and duties of Die Deutsche Bibliothek, defining it as the central archival library for Germany.
Responsibility for printed and recorded music is assigned to the Deutsches Musikarchiv Berlin, which is a department of the Deutsche Bibliothek Frankfurt.

Offline publications are defined to be included in the legal deposit. But even the amendment of the law in 1990 did not include online documents. Nobody foresaw at that time the development which took place.

As I mentioned already at the beginning publishers started an initiative in 1997 to extend the legal tasks of Die Deutsche Bibliothek with respect to electronic documents.

But for the time being Die Deutsche Bibliothek does not consider an amendment of the law. Instead it promotes discussion with publishers in order to collect empirical data on both technical and legal requirements in order to influence the future legislation. I will come back to this later.

But first I would like to come back to the "Digital Library" of Die Deutsche Bibliothek and to its first type of publications - those that are published offline on certain media like CD-ROM or discs.


"Digital Library" of Die Deutsche Bibliothek

How to handle such publications? How to process and archive them, how to offer access without having to fear that the media could be stolen?

For that purpose, a special system was developed by Die Deutsche Bibliothek and a German company called CSC Ploenzke - the Multimedia-Access System.

This system supports cataloguing, management, research and presentation of electronic publications and conventional publications converted to digital form.

It makes no distinction with respect to the media (CD, disc, etc.) or formats (proprietary, standardised or de facto standardised) on which the publications are stored.

The user interface is designed as a web browser.

Through a modified version of the Microsoft Internet Explorer, users first consult the online catalogue of Die Deutsche Bibliothek (OPAC) which contains entries for all publications in the library archives. If an electronic publication has been permanently installed in the system (at present approximately 500 publications), the user may then access the publication in question directly via the OPAC. All installation procedures are carried out automatically and run invisibly in the background.

Titles that have not been preinstalled in the system can be ordered from the archives and installed with the approval of library staff. Users install such publications at the workstations themselves via network without having the media in hand.

Apart from this controlled user access to OPAC and electronic publications the Multimedia-Access System offers access to the Internet, printing and downloading of results onto floppy discs, and the conversion of electronic publications from one medium to another for the purpose of ensuring long-term preservation of electronic material.

We are coming now to the second group of publication forms - the online publications.


Online Publications

National libraries and other legal deposit libraries are challenged with finding solutions for archiving, access and long-term-preservation of electronic publications and for the bibliographic control of such publications. For these purposes it does not matter whether a given electronic document was originally born-digital or derived from a traditional document through conversion (which ordinarily involves digitisation).

In future, Die Deutsche Bibliothek will generate electronic publications itself, using electronic archiving techniques apart from collecting and preserving electronic documents submitted as legal deposit copies. This applies especially to traditional publications that have become brittle due to age that measures have to be taken with urgency to safeguard their long-term preservation. Digitisation, subject indexing and subsequent presentation in the network are a possibility to not only to preserve publications but to facilitate access to them for the public.

It is hoped that experience with the application of different techniques and processes will help provide answers to the following questions:

Die Deutsche Bibliothek is currently participating or planning in four major co-operative digitisation projects involving other libraries, publishers and Die Deutsche Bibliothek. Further on I want to describe one of them.

The German Exile Archive (Deutsches Exilarchiv) 1933-45, a special collection of Die Deutsche Bibliothek currently is carrying out the project "Digitisation, bibliographic indexing and providing access to selected journals and newspapers published during the period of 1933-45 by German speaking exiles".

The project started in 1997 and was conceived to be realised over a period of four years during which thirty selected exile journals and newspapers shall be digitised. These materials represent source material of significant interest to interdisciplinary research which either are not entirely available at one location or are in very poor condition.

Digitisation, bibliographic indexing and subsequent representation in the network will significantly improve access to these sources. Therefore the mere scanning is supplemented with a record of issue number and issue date of each journal or newspaper. Author, title, subtitle, translator etc. of each article within the journals are keyboarded and entered into an index.

With a harvesting system these entries can be searched and the journal issues belonging to them can be found.

This access to the digitised data is offered via the homepage of Die Deutsche Bibliothek (http://www.ddb.de/online/exil). Access via the cataloguing entries of the digitised newspaper and journals in the OPAC is planned.

A special type of publication are the electronic dissertations which were accepted more or less by the universities since the beginning of last year. Due of this acceptance first steps towards the collection of these documents have been taken since July 1998.

The university libraries register these net publications per e-mail - using an agreed metadata format (Dublin Core) - with Die Deutsche Bibliothek who takes them over from the university servers onto the document server deposit.ddb.de of the library.

It is important that the authors of original electronic dissertations also draw up metadata for their documents and transmit them to Die Deutsche Bibliothek.

Metadata are crucial both for the structured search in the internet as well as a source for further indexing. For libraries therefore it is very important that authors produce online publications accompanied metadata.

There have been various discussions with user groups as well as library networks and individual university libraries in order to lay down the metadata requirements for online dissertations. The result was an agreement over common data elements and extensive standardisation of the data structure. These determinations shall be kept stable within a medium term framework in order to guarantee sufficient reliability for planning.

Here I show you the web template we offer in order to facilitate metadata delivery to Die Deutsche Bibliothek. If somebody prefers to send us the original Dublin Core format as agreed on, it is also okay for us.

As I mentioned earlier on, via the OPAC have users direct access to all online dissertations archived by Die Deutsche Bibliothek.

Here I show you an example of an online document linked to the server which is part of the cataloguing entry.

As you can imagine the danger of manipulation of these documents by third parties is considerable higher than with other media. Even if an author's original is protected in a secure environment and available for reading only, it is relatively simple to produce copies or alter contents. Without additional document security features such manipulation is very difficult to prevent and to detect.

For that purpose an authentification code is derived from the document by a special program using the MD5 (Message Digest Algorithm 5) process when storing it at the server of Die Deutsche Bibliothek.

At our document server deposit.ddb.de you can find not only electronic publications themselves but also a lot of additional information concerning the internal processing of this material and the technical issues.


Principles, Objectives and Mechanism

Now I am coming to the most important part of the of Die Deutsche Bibliothek's Digital Library because this is the part influencing the amendment of the legal deposit law and the relationship with the publishers.

As mentioned at the beginning the current law regarding Die Deutsche Bibliothek does not cover online publications. Publishers therefore in 1997 began to deposit their electronic publications on a voluntary basis at Die Deutsche Bibliothek.

A number of basic principles and objectives were defined in the course of hearings involving publishers, librarians, information specialists and government representatives:

On the basis of this agreement a task group between Die Deutsche Bibliothek and 5 publishers was founded to discuss technical and legal issues on a very practical platform.

The task group met the first time in September last year, committing itself to the following projects:

The library has to care for copyright regulations and the publishers' rights as commercial companies. Agreements have to be negotiated how to handle access to electronic documents via the library. For which period? When will the electronic document be no longer of interest to the publisher from the commercial point of view?

The next steps in cooperation with the publishers should be:

New law regarding DDB

This has been a brief review on the collection and handling practice of electronic publications by a legal deposit library. I hope I was able to give you a general idea of the set-up and have not gone too much into the details - as librarians often tend to do.

Finally I want to invite you to "look in on us' - the website of Die Deutsche Bibliothek. It always offers current information on projects and ongoing activities, so it is a good idea to visit us on a regular basis (http://www.ddb.de).