The growth of the web in the 1990th and its use for the publication of scientific results
lead to the concept of a digital library
as a cheap and ubiquitous access to knowledge and data.
New Potentials - New Challenges
New technical developments opened options for new services - like very fast publication,
communication with authors, and personalized access or publication in other formats
than print (like video, demonstrators or "active" examples).
But soon it became clear that these options pulled in a bunch of new problems
and challenges as well - technical problems, but as well organizational and economical
ones. A rather basic one is the apropriate definition of the "objects" a digital library
should handle. An early proposal was the notion of a "document like object" as used in the
Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (
DCMI), that just left this question open.
Structuring Knowledge in Distributed Collections
Information Retrieval is of course central to the development of a digital library.
New problems arise if the "collection" of the library is distributed over various
locations (or servers) or if the "documents" have to be retrieved out of a much larger
set of objects like on the web. Methods to approach these problems are the use of
metadata descriptions of "resources" or "objects" using specifications like
or syntax specifications like
RDF. Other approaches are Data Mining Methods that can use the content
of web pages, their structure and markup, or the link structure and anchor texts between
In a global perspective all these approaches can be seen as attempts to construct
representations of knowledge that are useful for humans and machines.
International Co-operations and Projects
During my work at GMD in Darmstadt I have participated in the setup of the digital library
department (delite) and have been responsible for GMDs NCSTRL server and its further
development within the EU-funded Delos and ETRDL initiatives.
Further I have been involved in the Multiple Languages working group of the Dublin Core Initiative.
I have co-ordinated several project proposals for GMD and the Darmstadt University of Technology
to national and European funding programs, in particular the Global Info Program of the German Ministry
of Science and Technology.
HTML file generated 24. 3. 2003 by R. Ferber