Электронная математическая библиотека Европейской службы математической информации — опыт распределенных недорогостоящих издательств

Elib in EMIS — A Мodel for Distributed Low-Cost Electronic Publishing

Електронна математична бібліотека Європейської служби математичної

інформації — досвід розподілених маловартісних видавництв

Бернд Вегнер

Технический университет Берлина, Берлин, Германия

Bernd Wegner

Technical University Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Бернд Вегнер,

Технічний університет Берліна, Берлін, Німеччина

Электронная математическая библиотека (Electronic Libary in Mathematics — ELibM) как часть Европейской службы математической информации (European Mathematical Information Service — EMIS) представляет собой форму международной кооперации при поддержке Европейского математического общества (ЕМО). Главной задачей ELibM является предоставление доступа к бесплатным электронным публикациям по математике через web. Как важнейшая составляющая EMIS, ELibM располагается на главном сервере и на его зеркальных отражениях. В электронную библиотеку поступает все бесплатные электронные журналы по математике,а также электронные версии печатных журналов. Здесь хранятся и изданные в электронной форме монографии, труды конференций и организаций. Все эти документы снабжаются ссылками и внедряются в среду, охватывающую самые разнообразные средства доступа к научным математическим документам: информационные базы данных по математической литературе, проекты универсальных магазинов на web, бесплатные цифровые базы содержания классических публикаций по математике, доступ к электронной серой литературе. Целью статьи является описание концепции и возможностей ELibM, а также представление добровольных помощников в развитии Электронной библиотеки.

The Electronic Libary in Mathematics ELibM as a part of the European Mathematical Information Service EMIS is a co-operation between several partners world-wide under the umbrella of the European Mathematical Society EMS. The main purpose of ELibM is to provide access to freely available electronic publications in mathematics in the web. As the most important part of EMIS ELibM is stored on the main server and its mirrors, collecting all freely accessible electronic journals in mathematics combined with electronic versions of printed journals. It also contains electronic proceedings volumes and monographs. This core content is embedded in and linked with an environment of comprehensive facilities for accessing mathematical research papers: literature information databases, projects for one-stop shopping sites for mathematics in the web, freely available digital content of classical mathematical publications, and access to electronic grey literature. The aim of this article is to describe the concept, the voluntary supporters and the offers of ElibM in some detail.

Електронна математична бібліотека (Electronic Libary in Mathematics — ELib) як частина Європейської служби математичної інформації (European Mathematical Information Service — EMIS) являє собою форму міжнародної кооперації при підтримці Європейського математичного товариства (ЄМТ). Головним завданням ELib є надання доступу до безкоштовних електронних публікацій з математики через web. Як найважливіша складова EMIS, ELib розташовується на головному сервері і на його дзеркальних відображеннях. В електронну бібліотеку надходять усі безкоштовні електронні журнали з математики, а також електронні версії друкованих журналів. Тут зберігаються і видані в електронній формі монографії, праці конференцій і організацій. Всі ці документи забезпечуються посиланнями і впроваджуються в середовище, яке охоплює найрізноманітніші засоби доступу до наукових математичних документів: інформаційні бази даних з математичної літератури, проекти універсальних магазинів на web, безкоштовні цифрові бази змісту класичних публікацій з математики, доступ до електронної сірої літератури. Метою статті є опис концепції і можливостей ELib, а також представлення добровільних помічників у розвитку Електронної бібліотеки.

Keywords: electronic library, digital archive, freely available literature in mathematics, open archive, bundling offer of journals.

0. Introduction

The increasing development of electronic devices for the publication of papers and books in mathematics lead to a drastic change in the communication facilities between authors and editors, to new ways of distributing mathematical publications to research mathematicians — like electronic journals, and to an extension of the offers of information on mathematical research to the mathematical community. Confronted with a permanently increasing number of research papers and high production and distribution costs for mathematical journals and monographs, it becomes more and more difficult to get access to these publications. Electronic publishing provides better facilities for these purposes. It reduces the production costs for the preparation of the articles and improves the methods to find his way through the tremendous bulk of mathematical research papers. It enables reviewing journals to speed up and improve their procedures.

The aim of this article is to report on aspects related with methods of electronic publishing and electronic communication by exhibiting offers provided by the Electronic Library of Mathematics ElibM in EMIS (European Mathematical Information Service) as an example which may indicate a good model for the future. This refers to the production and distribution of electronic publications in mathematics, to electronic access to evaluated information on all mathematical papers as well as to general search facilities leading to interesting documents in mathematics.

1. The General Concept of ELibM

The idea to develop the European Mathematical Information Service EMIS was born at the meeting of the executive committee of the EMS (European Mathematical Society) in Cortona/Italy, October 1994. In ElibM as far as possible peer-reviewed mathematical articles should be provided. The whole enterprise was only based on the enthusiasm of some mathematicians trying to build up an alternative to high-priced commercial publishing. They were lucky to find technical support for their project from the editorial staff of Zentralblatt MATH, to get the approval for collecting most of the freely accessible electronic mathematical journals in their service and to find very quickly voluntary partners to care about the distribution of the content. They did not care at all about competing portals, but the positive response from partners prepared to give content to ELibM showed that there was a gap they were able to fill.

Hence as a next step it was decided almost immediately to set up a system of electronic servers in Europe for Mathematics under the auspices of the EMS, and this was extended very soon to the current version of a central server collecting mathematical information and distributing this through a world-wide system of mirror servers. In June 1995 ELibM went on-line under the URL http://www.emis.de/. The first mirrors were established very soon. See [2], [3] and [4] for first reports on EMIS as the general environment for ELibM. To distribute EMIS through a world-wide system of mirrors, where the full content of the service will be available and updated periodically, improves the accessibility of EMIS, and it simultaneously is important for the safety of the data and their archiving. This is in contrast to several other offers which are eager to maintain the exclusive control over their offer. More than 40 mirror sites have been installed so far, two of then in Moscow and one in Novosibirsk.

Commercial publishers also start to think about portals in mathematics, and some of them even want to sell their bundles of electronic journals as a kind of portals or comprehensive database in mathematics. But because of the commercial aspects this is not comparable with EMIS, and the concept of these activities is a different one.

2. The Offers in ELibM

There are four sections in ELibM: journals, proceedings volumes, monographs, and collected works. In order to guarantee that the electronic publications stored in ELibM meet the requirements satisfied by articles in print journals, the decision on the inclusion of journals, proceedings or monographs is taken in accordance with the Electronic Publishing Committee of the EMS. Hence no documents will enter the library which have not been evaluated and recommended by a referee within the editorial procedures of the corresponding journal or series. This is in particular important in order to rule out the curent reservations of scientists who have the opinion that electronic publishing will damage the quality of research publications.

The section on Electronic Journals contains purely electronic journals as well as electronic versions of print journals (dual journals), both nearly at equal parts. The purely electronic journals are produced elsewhere and ELibM plays the important role of a bundling distributor. The installation of electronic versions of print journals depends on the technical facilities of the editors of these journals. Preferably, the offer of the electronic version is installed at the site of the editors, such that a mirror of the journal can be taken over by ELibM. Support for this is provided accordingly. Most of these print journals are published at a low-budget level, and hence the risk to loose subscribers to the print version due to the free electronic offer currently had been considered as low by them. Some of them give the electronic offer with a delay to EMIS such that the earlier availability will serve as an advantage of the print version.

But to be honest, there may be a change in the near future. The electronic information will be the more attractive service. The electronic installation will be the first item available and this has to be reflected in the access policy. Nevertheless, the offer in EMIS will remain as free as possible, and low budget models for such a change will be provided. One idea may be a charging of the access to the electronic offer for dual journals in an intermediate period. Though there obviously is no chance to offer free access to electronic versions of the journals in mathematics published by commercial publishers,

EMIS succeeded to get the agreement of a series of quite established journals to be made freely available in its library, as can be seen from the samples given in the subsequent list. The idea behind the selection is to show that contributions to EMIS come from many parts of the world. The purely electronic journals are marked by an (e):

Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae Series A. Mathematica (Helsinki),

Algebraic and Geometric Topology (e) (U.K.)

Beitraege zur Algebra und Geometrie / Contributions to Algebra and Geometry (Berlin),

Commentationes Mathematicae Universitatis Carolinae (Prague)

DOCUMENTA MATHEMATICA (Bielefeld)

The Electronic Journal of Combinatorics (e) (U.S.A.),

Electronic Research Announcements of the AMS (e) (U.S.A.),

Geometry and Topology (e) (U.K.),

Homology, Homotopy and Applications (Tbilisi)

Journal de Theorie des Nombres de Bordeaux (Bordeaux),

Lobachevskii Journal of Mathematics (Kazan)

Matematicki Vesnik (Belgrade),

Mathematical Physics Electronic Journal (e) (U.S.A.),

Revista Colombiana de Matematicas (Bogota),

Seminaire et Congres (e) (Paris),

TICMI: Bulletin and Lecture Notes (Tbilisi).

More or less all freely available purely electronic journals in mathematics are mirrored in EMIS. The current total number of journals in ElibM is 45 and 9 are about to be installed soon.

The access to the journals is organised quite conventionally. On the home page of EMIS a list of mirrors is provided where the site with the presumably most convenient access can be clicked. Then a choice can be made, to enter the ELibM through the short list of journals without graphics or to use the full display of these items. The first one is preferable, if the choice of journal is clear already and if one wants to avoid the lengthy transfer of the graphical data associated with this journal. The full display contains also background information on the editorial policy of the corresponding journal and instructions how to submit an article. In cases style files for such a submission can be found on this level.

Having made the choice of journal one wants to read, the level of the contents will be reached. This is organised as usual. With the table of contents information on the offer of files is given. In all cases DVI- and Postscript-files will be available, sometimes also TEX-files can be found in addition to that, and in cases geometric material is stored in separate files. PDF is coming up rapidly and will be an obligatory offer in the near future. Clicking one of these files, its content is transferred to the computer of the user and can be viewed there. Also printing or storage of these files will be possible at the site of the user, but he is requested to respect the copyright according to the rules of the corresponding journal. The access to the section of Proceedings Volumes is organised in a similar way.

At present we have only a few Proceedings Volumes in EMIS, though electronic publishing will be the choice for the future because of their low selling rates on paper. If contributors to proceedings really are interested to make their work public in a reasonable way, they will see that electronic publishing will be the only way. ELibM is just the appropriate system for a good distribution of such publications in mathematics. This is underlined by the present access numbers which are growing continuously.

As samples for Proceedings those from the International Conference on Secondary Calculus and Cohomological Physics (Moscow, 1997) and the International Mathematical Congress of Mathematicians (Berlin, 1998) should be mentioned. As a monograph with not-printable electronic enhancements “Cusps of the Gauss map” by T. Banchoff et al. is remarkable. But also S.S. Kutateladze “Russian — English writing. Advice to the occasional translator” can be found in ElibM. A big historical achievement are the digital editions of the collected works of Hamilton and Riemann by David R. Wilkins.

3. Projected Improvements for ELibM

Admittedly, after five years of EMIS some of the above features will have to be modified. The request for PDF-files will become a must, because the preinstalled readers at electronic access facilities in libraries and desktop-computers of research mathematician already point into that direction. For the current offer in many cases special measures have to be taken for making the article readable or printable. Decisions about affordable systems for assigning digital object identifiers (beyond DOI) have to be taken to enable a richer linking system between electronic articles. Having such a lot of articles in the library, better direct access to the articles will have to be organised, improving the initial browsing of journals and their contents. One choice may be the EULER service (see [5]).

As mentioned earlier, the upcoming method to offer the electronic version of an article as soon as the article will be available in final form (“online first”) will have impact on the free access to the installation of the dual journals in ELibM, i.e. journals which provide both, a printed version and an electronic version. They will not be able to survive from what they get for the paper version, when online will be declared as “first class” and print will be still important, but second class only.

But anyway, EMIS and in particular ELibM will remain non-profit during such a transition, and provide as much as possible on the free level. ElibM will try to co-operate with similar offers, like they will be available through project Euclid and the upcoming activities of low-budget publishers supported by universities and libraries. Very soon some integrated access to the holdings of ElibM and those of digitisation projects like ERAM (see [1],[6]) will be available. Finally, in addition to the current archiving through the mirrors more precise arrangements for the long-term preservation of the contents of ELibM will have to established. Here co-operation with some comprehensive mathematics libraries like SUB Goettingen is on the schedule.

References

[1] Hans Becker, Bernd Wegner: ERAM — Digitisation of Classical Mathematical Publications, Proc. ECDL 2000, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 1923, 424-427 (2000).

[2] Bernd Wegner: EMIS and its Electronic Library. Vichysl. Tekhnol. (Comp. Technol.) 2, No. 3, 25-30 (1997).

[3] Bernd Wegner: EMIS i ego elektronnija biblioteka. (Russisch) Nauka b Sibiri no. 21 (Mai 1997), p. 4.

[4] Bernd Wegner: Electronic Publishing and Electronic Publications in Mathematics. Progress in Mathematics 169,

315-337 (1998) — RT at EMC 2, Budapest.

[5] Bernd Wegner: EULER — a DC-based Integrated Access to Library Catalogues and Other Mathematics Information in the Web. Seventh International Conference “Crimea 2000” Libraries and Associations in the Transient World: New Technologies and New Forms of Co-operation. Conference Proceedings. Sudak, Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine, June 3-11, 2000, Volume 1: 264-267.

[6] Bernd Wegner: ERAM — Digitalisation of Classical Mathematical Publications. Seventh International Conference “Crimea 2000” Libraries and Associations in the Transient World: New Technologies and New Forms of Co-operation. Conference Proceedings. Sudak, Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine, June 3-11, 2000, Volume 1: 268-272.