Indo-US Workshop on Open Digital Libraries and Interoperability

Holiday Inn, Arlington at Ballston, VA. USA, June 23-25, 2003



Organized by


Virginia Tech & Old Dominion University, USA and

University of Mysore & Indian Institute of Science, India

Supported by


Indo-US Science & Technology Forum and 

Virginia’s Internet Technology Innovation Center


  1. Problem
  2. Approach
  3. Objectives
  4. Concepts and Purpose
  5. Expected Outcomes

Problems: With the proliferation of the Internet, as well as related content and tools, technology is enabling the exponential growth of online resources. Some examples include: pre-prints, including technical reports; tutorials, posters, and demonstrations from conferences; student project reports, theses, and dissertations; working papers; courseware; and tool descriptions. However, a variety of obstacles (such as dispersion over the Web and lack of metadata) hamper discovery of such materials and hinder their widespread use. These obstacles highlight serious technical challenges that need be addressed, and lead to difficulties in both India and USA. In the USA, a key question is if the many digital library efforts can be made to work together (interoperate) and can scale up to support millions of users. In India, ‘inequalities of access’ to libraries, and inadequate library resources, especially for researchers from not so privileged universities, is a major issue. Furthermore, India slipping in its research output from 8th position in 1980, to 13th in 1995, and to 15th in 2002, has caused alarm among policy makers & researchers alike. In both India and USA, access to scientific information, and dissemination channels for scientists, are steadily decreasing, due to increases in journal subscription costs and cuts in library budgets. One other area of joint concern is enhancing access to learning resources for students at all levels. Digital libraries are being viewed as a means for dissolving inequities in access to scientific information for both researchers and students alike, nationally and internationally.

Approach: Digital libraries (DLs) address all these problems by providing an infrastructure for publishing and managing content so it is discovered easily and effectively. Digital libraries provide cost-effective access to a wealth of information for remote and geographically dispersed users. Thus, digital libraries are especially desirable where access to physical libraries is limited. Further, they allow research results to become visible in a more cost effective manner, stimulating productivity and international collaboration. DLs are being widely deployed in the USA, in part stimulated by substantial federal research investment. However, further R&D, as well as discussion of frameworks and standards regarding architecture and interoperability, is essential to promote broader deployment and the resulting benefits of economic development and enhanced international understanding.

Objectives: The workshop aims are to:

  1. advance / share knowledge among researchers, fellows, and students of the two countries working in the area of digital libraries;
  2. foster and strengthen collaboration on R&D in the field, especially as it helps address the abovementioned problems;
  3. develop approaches, standards, and frameworks to build open multilingual digital libraries of mutual interest to the two countries, such as on: cultural heritage, Indo-US memory (e.g., history of Indo-US cooperation), and learning/teaching; and
  4. identify and develop proposal areas and plans for pursuing research of mutual interest.

Concepts and Purpose

The DL research community is a dynamic, heterogeneous mixture of the fields of information & library science, human-computer interaction, computer networking, databases, multimedia information, and web technologies. Since its emergence in approximately 1992, there have been several significant NSF funding initiatives focusing on DLs: DLI, DLI2, NSDL. Other programs, such as the ITR, have had substantial DL participation. Several conference series focus on DLs: the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL), the European Conference on Digital Libraries (ECDL), International Conference of Asian Digital Libraries (ICADL), and conference series in Japan, Russia, and China. While Springer publishes the International Journal on Digital Libraries, the real action takes place through online journals, most notably D-Lib Magazine.

In the broad scholarly community, a number of free on-line journals and digital libraries exist today, promoting development and economic growth. Many new DLs are emerging in USA and India. However, sharing metadata among these libraries is difficult. Thus, interoperability is a key area of DL research, facilitated by open frameworks and standards, involving lightweight protocols. One of the major efforts to address technical interoperability among distributed archives is the Open Archives Initiative (OAI). OAI is one of the foundations of the large NSF-funded National Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education Digital Library (NSDL), which we hope to extend to India to promote teaching and learning. Development of NSDL was recommended at a NRC-sponsored workshop of Aug. 7-8, 1997, which co-PI Fox (member, previously also chair, of the NSDL Policy Committee) attended. Indo-US collaboration on NSDL is a theme that can maximize impact as well as research interest/relevance.

The workshop will foster and strengthen the collaboration between the digital library researchers of the two countries. We believe this will lead to the deployment of digital libraries that will benefit both countries (e.g., an extended NSDL). The participants for the workshop include researchers, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students. Also attending are administrators responsible for deploying digital libraries, particularly to address copyright and logistical issues. To achieve the workshop objectives, we have a three day meeting near Washington, D.C., USA. Keynotes and position papers will be presented and discussed. In the afternoon of the second day, breakout groups will summarize the discussion in the form of a research agenda. On the third day, the breakout groups will focus on developing an action plan.

Those involved are experts in the digital library area from both countries, able to discuss issues faced when building and deploying open digital libraries. Scientists having similar interests will be able to meet and develop plans and proposals for future collaboration.

One of the focuses of the workshop would be to see how the recent developments in the digital area can benefit Indian digital library efforts. One example of the projects that we want to explore in this context is the deployment of the Kepler framework in the Indian context. The Kepler framework gives publication control to individual publishers, supports speedy dissemination, and addresses interoperability. For this, we extend the OAI framework to support what we call “personal data providers” or “archivelets”. The objective of the extended framework is to: (1) Satisfy the need for the average researcher at an average university to publish results and disseminate them to a wide audience quickly, conveniently, under their control, and possibly have them annotated and reviewed by peers outside the traditional and lengthy journal review process. (2) Let the public have seamless access to the totality of all such published material.

Expected Outcomes

  1. Foster and strengthen collaboration between researchers of the two countries.
  2. Identify specific proposals for future collaboration.
  3. Address issues specific to building and deploying digital libraries together (e.g., NSDL).
  4. Prepare a workshop report for the Indo-US S&T Forum highlighting the outcome of the workshop, to be published in D-Lib Magazine.

Note that a team led by PI Fox has recently completed a report that appeared in the October 2002 issue of D-Lib Magazine, as a result of a US-Korea Workshop that was supported by the US National Science Foundation and several government agencies in Korea. Several of the people in the proposed workshop were involved in that effort, so there is clear precedent and interest in similar international collaborative activities. Thus, there is a very high probability of success for the proposed effort, building as it does on prior experience.

On a broader note, we expect that there will be collaboration emerging between the nations on the application of digital libraries to enhance education (e.g., NDLTD, NSDL) and to promote global understanding, as well as to advance science, technology, and commerce. There will be advances in the field of digital libraries, especially regarding interoperability, and dealing with complex problems related to multi-national and multi-cultural collaboration.

Workshop Organizers

Local Arrangements and Administrative/Financial/Logistical Support

Transportation to and from Airports

Transportation from Dulles, Reagan National, and BWI to the hotel:

BWI: go to ground transportation between baggage claims 6 and 7 and an airport representative will be there to assist you.

Washington: both Dulles International and Reagan National - go to ground transportation. There will be an orange sign that says van shared ride. An airport representative will be there to assist you.

Original receipts will be required for reimbursement.

You will need to make a reservation for your return from the hotel to the airport. This can be done by calling 800-258-3826 or online.

Note that attendees may communicate with the group by using the listserv, by sending mail from their preferred addresses to


Site last updated 10/10/2003 by Edward A Fox  (, Ramesh C Gaur ( and Mini Ulanat (