This section will show how specific examples of digital libraries in Japanalign with the design principles and the reference model sketched. It will tryto represent each case on its own terms, leaving general comparisons andevaluations until the end of the chapter.

Nara Institute of Science and Technology

This section begins with the digital library at the Nara Institute ofScience and Technology (NAIST). NAIST's digital library is functional today andexhibits all the characteristics of the generic digital library referencearchitecture. The presence and management of both data and metadata isespecially apparent in the NAIST technical and operational architectures (seeFigure 4.5). The reader is directed to the site visit reports (Appendix C) fordescriptive information about NAIST.

Capture and Catalog

The acquisition or capture process at NAIST is based on local conversion ofprint materials to digital form. Semi-automated means are used to preparejournals for scanning. For journals, article-level bibliographic data areproduced; the articles are scanned and passed through optical characterrecognition systems for both English and Japanese texts. NAIST uses externalcataloging services from NACSIS, a national service, which providesbibliographic records for many Japanese libraries.


NAIST conceptualizes storage as a multimedia database, but clearly separatesthe "primary content" from metadata, which, as the NAIST concept of operationsdiagram (Fig. 4.5) indicates, are a mixture of bibliographic, presentation,inventory, and navigation data.


NAIST does not use technologies beyond user login to protect content. NAISTrelies on publisher agreements to manage copyright issues.

Fig. 4.5. Operational concept: NAIST University Digital Library.

Search and Distribution

The NAIST interface for query and retrieval is mainly Web-based, but thereare specialized video presentation and editing workstations.

NAIST's digital library mission subsumes traditional research librarymissions, and practically all library capabilities are partially or fullyrealized with digital technologies. NAIST includes all core capabilities of adigital library and was the most complete example of a digital library that wesaw.

From an architectural standpoint, NAIST's digital library aligns with thereference model, with emphasis on multimedia as the content rather than anabstract content type such as "library holdings" or "library objects."Implementation is largely through integration of off-the-shelf componentsrunning on commercially available systems, servers, and networks.

NAIST's systems include five main subsystems and interconnections to campusand external networks (Figure 4.6):

NAIST adopts mainline technologies and builds most digital library servicesupon a readily available commercial base. The panel did not find, however, thatthe NAIST digital library, or any other Japanese example was either built uponor extended the capabilities of conventional, commercial automated librarysystems. NAIST's operational concept is very advanced. Remarkably, NAIST'ssystem implementation is very conventional.

Fig. 4.6. Systems concept: NAIST University Digital Library.

Nikkei (Nihon Keizai Shimbun)

Nikkei demonstrates how digital library technologies provide support for newand expanded lines of business where information management is central to corebusiness functions. Nikkei's systems illustrate the following principles:

The reader is directed to the site visit report (Appendix C) for furtherdetails about the scope of Nikkei's newspaper and information businesses.

The Nikkei concept of operations is shown in Figure 4.7, taken from a 1997corporate overview. News gathering corresponds to the acquisition function of adigital library, but in the Nikkei situation, one sees that capturetechnologies, such as scanning, are secondary. Instead, the emphasis is oninformation gathering by a worldwide staff of reporters. The Nikkei automatedsystems are sharply focused on converting information intoinformation-intensive products and services that are distributed via print,broadcast, and online media.

Fig. 4.7. Nikkei operational concept.

The operational concept diagram (Figure 4.7) shows Nikkei's fundamentalinformation acquisition resource: a worldwide team of reporters andnews-gathering offices (the blocks at the top).

The ovals represent automated information management systems that are verygood examples of the application of digital library approaches to a commercialinformation service. The systems shown are an editorial system, a publishingsystem, and three network-based businesses that distribute various blends ofinformation, most of which has passed through the editing and productionprocesses.

Nikkei has mastered the problem of building a system for management ofdigital information that can very easily adapt to new technologies (e.g.,Internet). This achievement appears to derive from an operational architecturethat is explicitly designed to re-purpose and leverage information that isderived from or complementary to the newspaper production system. But inleveraging its core capabilities, Nikkei is pursuing new lines of business,such as being the Japanese supplier of AOL.


PLES is the PaperLess Editing System that prepares material for publication(Figure 4.8). PLES processes the information produced by the worldwide staff of1,400 reporters, data gathered from wire services, and other internal archivaland current information resources. Interestingly, it uses a text-to-speechsystem for copyediting. It is believed that multi-modal editing (both listeningand reading) is more accurate than simply reading copy. PLES also includes acomplete graphics input system, including scanners and digital formatconversions. PLES corresponds to the capture and catalog capabilities in thedigital library reference architectures discussed at the beginning of thischapter. The PLES subsystem provides inputs to the computer-based newspaperproduction subsystem, ANNECS, shown in Figure 4.9.

Fig. 4.8. Paperless editing (PLES).

Fig. 4.9. Newspaper production (ANNECS).


ANNECS is the computer-based publishing system. Not only does it performtypesetting and layout, but also routes its data to other Nikkei businesses(Figure 4.9). Nikkei's approach to leveraging and reuse of information worksbecause they have digital information which can inter-operate with a variety ofsystems, and which can be effectively reused in other lines of business besidespublishing. One of the features of the digital library reference modelsdiscussed at the beginning of this chapter is data interoperability. Nikkei'sapproach depends on data interoperability. Accordingly, data that supportnewspaper production are passed along to subsystems that support onlineservices and broadcast media.

Figure 4.10 shows how capture and production facilities for news gatheringand newspaper publishing pay off for Nikkei by supporting additional lines ofbusiness.

Fig. 4.10. Wire services and databases (NEWS, NETS and NEEDS).

NEWS is a distribution system (Nikkei Economic Data Wire Service)that feeds broadcast and online services.

NETS is a system to convert information originally in Japanese intoEnglish for resale or inclusion in Nikkei English-language products.

NEEDS is a database service and text search and retrieval system.

All of the above services that organize and manage digital information feedadditional products and lines of business based on digital content, as shown inFigure 4.11.

Fig. 4.11. New business based on organized digital information.

QUICK is a customizable, personalizable online product that delivershigh-end business information to select customers.

NIKKEI NET is an Internet, Web-based news service that chargesusers.

AOL services in Japan are provided by Nikkei. Nikkei information inJapanese is a value-added product for Japanese AOL customers.

NSN is an all-business television channel that is broadcast usingdigital satellite technologies.

Nikkei Telecom is another Internet service that features ahyper-linked online newspaper format that offers search and retrieval forspecialized business information such as corporate strategies and managementnews items.

Nikkei illustrates very clearly how interoperability in data and middlewarecan leverage information assets into many lines of business with differentmarket targets, different selections of information, and differentapplication-level interfaces and capabilities. The architectural and systemsapproaches seen in Nikkei information systems are the clearest and mostadvanced examples of digital library approaches to the organization ofinformation for commercial purposes that the panel saw in Japan.

National Museum of Ethnology

The National Museum of Ethnology is a leader in utilizing technology formany aspects of museum operations, which are detailed in the site report(Appendix C). The museum is a good example of systems and architecture becauseall technologies at the museum are specifically designed and implemented toautomate or enhance internal museum procedures.

The museum utilizes 3D imaging and measurement technologies to partiallyautomate the acquisition process. Figure 4.12 shows one of the scanners andalso gives a sense of the exhibition space at the museum. Digital librarytechnologies are extending the capabilities of the museum, and over more thantwo decades, an elaborate local system to support museum functions has evolved,which features the following:

The museum's current systems design places technologies for individualmuseum functional capabilities such as video exhibits, kiosks, scholarship,asset management, and Internet on a high performance local network (Figure4.13). This system is not designed as a single unified or comprehensive museumsystem. In that sense the design is conservative. However, the scale of thesystem relative to the museum's overall mission is very impressive, becausenearly everything at the museum is strongly supported by technologies that mapclearly to the digital library reference models.

Fig. 4.12. National Museum of Ethnology: operational concept.

Fig. 4.13. National Museum of Ethnology: systems concept.

IBM Tokyo Research Global Digital Museum

One of the visions of digital library is global virtual collections. Workingwith the National Ethnographic Museum and the British Museum, IBM's TokyoResearch Laboratory has designed and implemented a global virtual museumfocused on problems of K-12 museum education. The virtual museum includes thefollowing characteristics:

One of the problems a virtual collection must address is a data architecturethat makes the different legacy systems of the various museums interoperable inthe virtual collection space. The Global Museum Project defines dataabstractions and user-level operations that allow teachers to create virtualcollections for instructional purposes, and students to annotate, select, andpresent their own personal collections (Figure 4.14).

Fig. 4.14. IBM Tokyo Global Museum: operational concept.

Fujitsu Multimedia Library

Japan's technology providers are very focused on multimedia systems.Fujitsu's vision represents some of the architectural and systems issues thatmust be faced in order to build full-service, scaleable multimedia digitallibraries, as indicated below:

Figure 4.15 summarizes challenges for digital library technology providers.From the top down, heterogeneous media requires changes in search and storagesubsystems. Improvements in database technology for managing metadata must becomplemented by advances in multimedia object stores.

Multimedia distribution raises quality of service issues and requiresresource management at the systems level.

Finally, many device improvements will drive the multimedia library,especially devices that extend information management to new areas ofinternetworking, consumer electronics, home devices, and collaborativeworkspaces.

Japan's Second Generation Digital Library Project

In Japan, a second national digital library project is underway, funded bythe Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), and conducted by theInformation Technology Promotion Agency (IPA) and Japan Information ProcessingDevelopment Center (JIPDEC).

Fig. 4.15. Fujitsu: concept.

The purpose is to develop a reference architecture that will drivedevelopment and utilization of advanced technologies for informationmanagement. Only an overview of a preliminary version of the next generationarchitecture is considered here. The following bullets highlight main themes ofthe project:

The reference model reflects modern multi-tier distributed systemsarchitectures (Figure 4.16). It features messaging middleware, agenttechnology, multimedia databases, mobile agents, and CORBA distributed objectmanagement. The project is practical, and the plan calls for a prototype systemin the next two years.

Fig. 4.16. Reference model for basic architecture (Japanese DLIIinitiative).

Up-to-date information may be found at the Next Generation Digital LibraryWeb site,

Figure 4.17 is representative of the project's approach, indicatingutilization of the three-tier model, CORBA, and Internet standards.

Fig. 4.17. Structure of messaging platform (Japanese DLII project).

Published: February 1999; WTECHyper-Librarian