No matter whether researchers are interested in a major journal or whether it is a Chinese literary classic that they need, whether they are looking for sources on the history of the Reformation or documents about the Holocaust, researchers now have access to a wide variety of digital media via the computer networks at universities and research institutes. Thirty large databases, electronic text collections and journals can now be accessed free of charge throughout Germany. National licences have made this new range of electronic information sources possible. The collections of literary works and publications of major international publishers, amounting to around 210 million pages, have now been put online. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has provided 21.5 million euros to finance the purchase of these licences, which will give a long-term boost to the accessibility to academic literature in Germany.
The new research resources include the electronic journal archives of the largest academic publisher, Oxford University Press, as well as those of publishing houses such as Elsevier, Springer and Wiley-VCH. The Springer Online Journal Archive alone encompasses more than 800 journals published between 1860 and 2000. One area in which the international funding initiative specialises is chemistry journals, including the renowned American Chemical Society Journal Archives (1879-1995) and the Royal Society of Chemistry Journals Archive, which contains articles published between 1841 and 2004.
Information on classical and modern China also features prominently in the national licences initiative. The digital collection "Chinese Classic Ancient Books" comprises more than 10,000 classical works in Chinese, and the "China Academic Journals" database, with more than 18 million articles, is a treasure trove for researchers in a variety of disciplines concerning China.
The "Testaments to the Holocaust" can also now be studied online at every German university and research institute. This collection contains handwritten documents and rare printed materials from the Wiener Library, London, the world's oldest Holocaust museum. It makes personal accounts and photographs of Jewish life in Nazi Germany, in the concentration camps and in hiding, and the life of emigrants and refugees, accessible in a new way.
This funding initiative aims to boost the provision of Germany's national library services and information systems with digital media. In an endeavour to establish a better information infrastructure, the DFG has traditionally supported the acquisition of technical literature for science and research through its funding of university libraries with special subject collections. So far, these special subject collections have included few electronic publications, since national licences needed to be purchased in order to access them. It was impossible to cover the cost of these licences using the existing funds for special subject collections and the contributions made by the specialised libraries themselves. In light of this situation, the DFG first provided funding for the purchase of national data access rights for electronic publications in 2004. The goal was to encourage and promote the digitalisation of DFG special subject collections in an effort to ensure high quality, consistent and efficient provision of information in Germany.
The following seven institutions were involved in purchasing the licences for the special subject collections and providing access to the digital media: the Berlin State Library; GESIS Social Science Information Center, Bonn; Frankfurt City and University Library; Göttingen State and University Library; German National Library of Science and Technology and University Library, Hannover; Cologne University and City Library; Bavarian State Library, Munich.
Coming soon: An information event on the topic of national licences will take place at the Frankfurt Book Fair on 5 October 2006. Representatives from libraries, publishing houses and the DFG will discuss the challenges, objectives and visions for the provision of literature in Germany on the general theme "Digital information as a raw material - what is beneficial for Germany as a centre of research?" (Frankfurt Trade Fair exhibition grounds, Hall 4.2, Forum Innovation, 2:30-5:00 pm).
Dr. Ralf Goebel, Scientific Information Systems
Dr. Rembert Unterstell, Press and Public Relations