European Union Depository Library Meeting
Submitted by Anne Burnett
The European Union depository libraries in the United States met in Nashville March 26-29. As always, the meetings were highly informative. Although most of the depository libraries are in university libraries, the small group of law librarians present included several members of the FCIL SIS.
The meetings this year included the bittersweet announcement of the retirement of Barbara Sloan, Manager, Public Inquiries, Office of Press and Public Affairs of the Delegation of the European Commission. Barbara has served as the Head of Public Inquiries at the Commission's Washington office since 1984. She has been a tireless advocate for EU depository libraries on the issues of access and preservation. As in past meetings, Barbara sought with this meeting to involve the appropriate EU officials in our discussions. Along with the formal scheduled sessions, attendees had the opportunity to discuss access and preservation issues with the EU representatives over meals and in less structured gatherings.
Below is a summarized account of the meetings.
Erling Petersen, Administrator, Directorate General Press and Communication, European Commission: Erling Petersen discussed the EUROPA Web site (http://europa.eu.int), which began in 1995 and has evolved into a portal for all EU institutions. EUROPA had 789 million hits in 2002. Caveat: although EUROPA serves as a portal to all EU institutions, the only institution remaining on the EUROPA server is the European Commission, meaning that the EUROPA search engine does not search the individual Web sites of the other EU institutions. The good news is that EUROPA will be much improved with a new interface and updated hardware this spring.
Jacques Raybaut, Director, Production, Office for Official Publications: Jacques Raybaut discussed electronic publishing in the EU. Many of the participants cheered the news that the Publications Office is moving away from the compact disc format, preferring instead to utilize the internet. He also provided information about the new EUBookshop (http://www.eubookshop.com/about.php), which distributes EU-related materials via the Web.
Commission documents (“COM docs”) will soon be issued only electronically. The participants expressed concern that the electronic copies of COM documents be retained in their entirety rather than discarded once the document is published in the Official Journal. The concern is that not all elements of a COM document are included in the final publication in the Official Journal. The participants also expressed concern about the lack of access to previous versions of a revised document. The Publications Office intends to replace earlier versions of the document with the subsequent versions, thereby eliminating public access to the earlier versions.
The number of official languages renders continued publication of the Preparatory Acts in the Official Journal impractical, and the "C" series of the Official Journal may soon "disappear in an Internet galaxy."
The official version of the Official Journal "L" Series is the paper version, although it is no longer distributed in paper to depositories.
Jacques Raybaut also discussed the EUR-LEX and CELEX databases. All depository libraries and European Documentation Centres enjoy free subscriptions to the CELEX database. Much of the content of CELEX, which may become a free database in the future, is merging into the EUR-LEX database. Although the two databases contain a good bit of the same material, CELEX provides more stability of information and indexing, while EUR-LEX provides speedier availability without indexing.
Monique Scottini-Trussart, Project Manager, Simplification and Modernization of Archiving Systems, Secretariat General of the European Commission: Monique Scottini-Trussart discussed the life cycle of electronic documents. She provided an overview of the EU legislation governing document management and access to documents. Currently, there are approximately 1000 databases and applications in use by EU entities, and the Commission must address issues of interoperability between multiple institutions, document formats, and languages. In addition, EU legislation requiring protection of personal data further complicates the archiving process.
The Commission has determined that TIF is the format most likely to render archived documents readable in 30-plus years. A common filing plan strives to provide consistency in access. All archived materials include compulsory metadata such as date, registration number, addressee, title, and subject.
Barbara Sloan explained the structure and history of the EU Depository Library and European Documentation Centre system. In addition to providing information about shipping lists, claims procedures and other processing issues, she raised the topics of formatting and access.
Barbara Sloan provided updates on resources for EU statistics. The statistical collections in EU depositories/documentation centers have been shrinking since 1989, and much of what is produced by the EU’s Statistical Office, EUROSTAT, is not provided free to depositories. There is no public access into the EUROSTAT databases; instead, researchers must go through a vendor. Some privileged access to limited statistical materials is provided to depositories. However, a wealth of free statistical data lurks on the publicly available EUROPA site, especially on some of the Directorates General Web sites.
In a separate session, Barbara Sloan provided an update on research strategies for EU Internet resources. The session included an overview of the structure of the EU and its institutions and legislative process. The Council has significantly improved access to its documents, now providing access to a public register of documents. Researchers wishing to track legislation will find both the PRELEX database and the European Parliament’s Legislative Observatory helpful. Tip: most EU documents are now available in HTML, TIF, and PDF. The HTML version often has typos, whereas the PDF and TIF versions are created from the same files as the paper versions. Additional tip: ECLAS, the online catalog of the European Commission Libraries, includes records for gray literature studies with URLs to the text.
Phillip Wilkin, Social Sciences Bibliographer, University of Pittsburgh: Phil Wilkin demonstrated the Archive of European Integration (AEI), which is based at the University of Pittsburgh Library System and is a project of the Center for West European Studies/European Union Center, University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. The AEI serves as an online repository for non-commercial, non-governmental publications dealing with European integration. So far, over 200 papers have been uploaded into the AEI, which has partnered with the European Research Papers Archive (ERPA). ERPA only accepts papers from a highly selective list of institutions; AEI serves as a repository/archive for papers from other institutions.
The AEI utilizes Eprint software and complies with Open Archives Initiative (OAI) standards. Look for the AEI at http://aei.pitt.edu.