Joint Ameritech/Library-Sponsored Competition
Library Hosts Global Legal-Network Leaders
This award program will enable U.S. libraries, archives, museums and historical societies to digitize their collections of primary resources in United States history for incorporation into the Library's National Digital Library (NDL).
Since that announcement, the Library staff have been preparing for the award competition, which has a Nov. 1, 1996, deadline. The staff's first product was a brochure that was distributed at the annual meeting of the American Library Association in early July, where Dr. Billington announced the Ameritech gift in his address. The brochure advised potential applicants that in the first year of the competition applications would be encouraged for the digitization of primary materials illuminating U.S. history and culture for the period 1850-1920. Such materials will complement and enhance many of those already available in the National Digital Library or planned to be mounted in the next five years.
In mid-August, detailed Guidelines and Application Instructions were made available in printed form and for downloading from the Library of Congress's World Wide Web (WWW) site (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/award). Ameritech also posted the same information on its Web site. Since that time, nearly 400 institutions have requested (by e-mail, telephone, fax and U.S. mail) printed copies of the guidelines, and 49,000 surfers have "hit" the Library's Web site, where they were able to download the guidelines if they found them relevant to their concerns.
The guidelines enable institutions to prepare effective applications by spelling out in a systematic manner and considerable detail the information that should be included. They prompt the applicant to describe the collection that is to be digitized and discuss its significance and utility for both education and research in the history and culture of the United States during the period 1850-1920.
Applicants are also advised to explain existing intellectual access to the collection (such as catalog records, finding aids, or databases) and the work that will be necessary to adapt these resources to a networked environment. Because of the Library's commitment to preservation, applicants are reminded that they need to show that they will give appropriate attention to the physical condition of the original materials while they are being scanned and processed, as well as into the future.
The project team also appended to the guidelines, technical notes summarizing the Library's experience with a variety of formats in implementing the American Memory pilot project of 1990-1994. They provided references to articles and examples on the Web site that further delineate the issues relating to the creation of and access to digital reproductions.
Independent reviewers external to the Library will evaluate the applications in a three-phase process. A panel that will meet in January will review them for the historical significance of the collection's content; a second panel meeting in February will evaluate for their bibliographic, technical and administrative viability those proposals that are most highly recommended by the first panel. Evaluators for these two phases will be convened by the Division of Preservation and Access of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The third phase of the review will consist of a panel convened by Deanna Marcum, President of the Commission on Preservation and Access and of the Council of Library Resources. This panel will make a final selection, and the awardees will be announced by Dr. Billington on March 31, 1997.
-- Barbara Paulson
Library of Congress/Ameritech
National Digital Library Competition
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GLIN is a database of the laws of 11 participating nations, with abstracts in English based on a common legal thesaurus, accessible on the Internet (in addition, about a dozen nations are currently seeking membership). GLIN helps fulfill the Law Library's chief mission: providing foreign and comparative legal research to Congress. The public may access abstracts of legal texts from the GLIN homepage at
According to Rubens Medina, Law Librarian and Director General of the GLIN project, "The meetings were an opportunity for the GLIN participants to share their success stories -of which there were many. We are pleased with the progress our members have made in providing GLIN data to their users."
The meetings also provided a forum for discussing such issues as computer security and transmission of GLIN data via satellite, an effort for which the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been providing technical expertise to GLIN.
As they have in past meetings, representatives from each country presented reports on their GLIN stations. This reporting session highlighted issues common to many network members as well as some unique concerns. A delegate from Argentina, for example, reported on her country's attempts to publish its official gazette (primary source of laws) electronically. The debate over electronic publication of official sources of laws is continuing in other countries as well. On the other hand, Kuwait suggested that new forms of queries be considered for searching the GLIN database because the morphology and grammar of Arabic may require different search techniques.
Also participating in the meeting were representatives from GLIN partner institutions the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and NASA. The World Bank has financed the participation of Mauritania, and Tunisia is poised to join the network with the World Bank's support. Andrew Vorkink, assistant general counsel for legal reform at the World Bank, gave remarks in which he expressed the World Bank's commitment to assist interested nations in joining GLIN as part of its legal reform efforts. The Inter-American Development Bank is supporting the participation of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay (the Mercosur, or southern market, countries) as part of its commitment to integrate countries into international legislative networks, and implement technologies that support legislative activities.
If participation in GLIN is successful for the Mercosur countries, the Inter-American Development Bank intends to extend its support to other countries in Latin America as well.
In opening remarks, Milton Halem, chief of the Earth and Space Data and Computing Division at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland discussed the continuing, collaborative efforts between NASA and the Library of Congress. He made reference to the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by the two agencies this spring in which NASA will apply its technology concepts to a global information system, namely GLIN.
Later in the meeting representatives from NASA provided information on technical options for the future design of the network, including a distributed architecture in which some or all of the database resides on regional servers instead of a central server, at the Library, as it does currently.
Participants in the meeting were treated to a tour of Goddard Space Flight Center. Prior to the tour, the use of satellite links to access the GLIN database was demonstrated. NASA and the Library have been exploring the potential use of satellite links for countries that do not have adequate land lines to link to the Internet.
Maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the legal texts found in GLIN is of paramount importance. This issue was addressed in a session on computer security. Barbara Guttman, computer security specialist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology discussed some currently available security technologies such as digital watermarks and electronic signatures. Mary Levering, associate register for National Copyright Programs, U.S. Office of Copyright, discussed some legal issues related to the application of this technology. For example, the Copyright Office has determined that electronic signatures are legal.
Dr. Medina led the discussion about expanding the content of legal information to be included in the database. Although the GLIN database began with statutes and regulations, it is designed to accommodate the full range of legal information such as constitutions, jurisprudence, parliamentary debates and legal articles and commentaries. Dr. Medina encouraged Project Directors to consider the establishment of associate GLIN stations at institutions other than the legislature, such as ministries of Justice and law schools, to capture this related material.
A resolution affirming the central role of the Library in developing, administering and recruiting new partners for GLIN was proposed and Dr. Medina was asked to serve as director general of the GLIN network. In this role, he will continue to promote and recruit membership in GLIN, develop the training program that the Law Library provides to GLIN teams from member nations, and direct research and development efforts.
On the final day of the meeting, the Lithuanian GLIN station, under its project director, Ausra Petraitiene, was given the GLIN Model Station Award for its exemplary performance and pioneering work in the network. The Lithuanian GLIN station was the first fully operational station in the network. Shortly after its team was trained in April 1995, they established a stable routine of transmitting legal material to the database. Regular transmission of legal material is critical to maintain the GLIN standards of currency and completeness of the file. In spite of the loss of the original GLIN legal analyst, a new team member was trained, and Lithuanian contributions to the database were uninterrupted.
In addition to the award ceremony, three new project directors, from South Korea, the Federal District of Mexico and Romania signed the GLIN Guiding Principles, which spells out the noncommercial, cooperative character of the network.
This year's meeting was the largest to date. As the number of countries contributing to the database grows, its value to members increases. Created to support the research needs of Congress, it benefits from GLIN's expanding membership and content.
-- Janice Hyde
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