Site: National Center for Science Information Systems (NACSIS)
3-29-1 Otsuka,
Tokyo 112, Japan
+81-3-3942-2351 (Exchange)

Date Visited: 24 March 1998

WTEC Attendess: R. Reddy (report author), R. Chellappa, B. Davis-Brown, R.Larsen, J. Mendel



The National Center for Science Information Systems (NACSIS) is theprincipal center within Japan for promoting comprehensive digital libraryinformation systems in service for all the universities in Japan. The centertries to achieve fundamental functions common to the universities across thenation, such as supplying science information and performing research anddevelopment related to distribution of science information. In particular, thenationwide SINET, which is the principal Internet backbone network within Japanconnecting universities, is under the control of NACSIS. SINET is analogous tothe NSFnet in the United States. NACSIS also is responsible for Japan's librarydigitization efforts in science information. The electronic library service(NACSIS-ELS) was started in 1997.

During the WTEC panel's visit to NACSIS, there was a broad discussion of theconceptual issues associated with digital libraries, as well as presentationson a number of ongoing research projects. A brief description of these isprovided here.


NACSIS has several major projects that it is responsible for in support ofthe university activities in Japan. These projects are described here.

Catalog Information Service

The Catalog Information Service is a union of catalog databases covering thewhole country with an online network. This database includes monographs andserials. To prevent duplicate catalog work in libraries and save labor andprocessing time, NACSIS-CAT refers to standard bibliographic databases such asJAPAN MARC and U.S. MARC.

Libraries can utilize data extracted from the catalog information servicesdatabases for general users and build their own library systems. At present,over 500 participating libraries in Japan use this service, including nationaluniversities, municipal universities, private universities, researchinstitutes, junior colleges, and colleges of technology. A book and a CD-ROMversion of the Union Catalog of Serials have been published by NACSIS. The bookis in eight volumes and consists of 7,500 printed pages.

NACSIS also provides support for interlibrary loan services among thelibraries by using the Union Catalog Database. Libraries can select and orderdestinations by reference to the latest information in the Catalog InformationServices Databases resulting in labor saving and quicker document delivery.Requests may also be redirected to the National Diet Library and the BritishLibrary Document Supply Center. All of this can be done by the researcherswithout having to make a trip to the library.

Information Retrieval Service

NACSIS provides a national information retrieval service. There are 59different databases covered through this service, containing 71 million recordsof information in fields of humanities, social sciences and natural science foronline retrieval. The services are offered for scientific research in generaland for library reference work to academic staff, library personnel, andgraduate students. There is a nominal charge of 50 per minute connection fee,13 per case retrieved, and 22 for a sheet faxed.

Electronic Library Service

The NACSIS-ELS is an information service that enables users to retrieve apage image from a database containing academic journals and magazines, alongwith bibliographic information, via the Internet. Researchers can searchjournal articles by title, author names, or keywords from their workstations aswell as obtain necessary articles after reviewing the table of contents. Highquality printout of pages can be immediately permitted at the localprinter.

Permission to use journal data for experimental purposes was granted fromacademic societies in 1993. This was converted to regular service in 1997.Currently the database includes most of the academic journals published byJapanese academic societies. At present, the use of this service is limited tofaculty members, graduate students and members of academic societiesparticipating in the NACSIS-ELS. At present the service is provided free ofcharge. It was anticipated that there would be a nominal fee beginning in April1998.

Electronic Mail and Bulletin Board Services

NACSIS provides and operates the inter-university electronic mail network,SIMAIL. This service is offered via the SINET, the Japanese equivalent ofNSFnet. It also acts as a gateway to the Internet for mail forwarding anddelivery leading to worldwide exchange of research information. The bulletinboard service, NACSIS-BBS, offers a service for distributing messages to manyunspecified users. This permits users dedicated to a specified topic to set upa separate bulletin board for exchange of ideas and opinions. Electronic mailservice is free of charge when used domestically, while a fee of 20 perkilobyte is charged for international electronic mail service.


A number of research systems under development in support of NACSISactivities were demonstrated. These included access to full text content ofscientific journal papers, retrieval of images based on face similaritymatching, and a visual query generator for retrieval and discovery of imagebased information.


NACSIS is one of the major centers for digital library based activitieswithin Japan. At present, the center outsources much of the scanning of thecontent. It was estimated that it spent 70 million on this in 1997. It costsapproximately 1,200 to scan a paper of 8 pages, roughly a dollar a page.

The white paper on the national activity on the promotion of an advancedinformation and telecommunication society (AITS) in Japan produced in February1995 provides a blueprint of NACSIS's plans in this area. The key action itemsfor the realization of AITS include a society in which everyone can benefitfrom advances in information and telecommunications, with a special emphasis onthe "have nots," contributing to regional vitality, leading to freedistribution and access to information, and enabled by the comprehensivedevelopment of information and telecommunications infrastructure.


Ministry of Education and the National Center for ScienceInformation Systems. New Catalog Information Service. (Brochure.)

National Center for Science Information Systems. NACSIS-ELS. (NACSIS Electronic Library Service Brochure.)

National Policy Paper (authors unknown). 1995. Basicguidelines on the promotion of an advanced information and telecommunicationssociety.

Satoh, Shin'ichi, Yuichi Nakamura and Takeo Kanade. 1997.Name-It: naming and detecting faces in video by the integration of image andnational language processing. In Proceedings of the Fifteenth InternationalJoint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-97): 1488-1493.

Sugimoto, Masanori, Norio Katayama and Atsuhiro Takasu.1997. COSPEX: A system for constructing private digital libraries. In IJCAI-97: 738-744.

Published: February 1999; WTECHyper-Librarian