Our digital library system - Kyoto University Digital Library - has two functions. One is to transmit digitalized information outside our university. We make the information and materials inside our university accessible to people all over the world via the Internet. Our second function is to deliver digitalized information inside our university. We deliver digitalized information including e-journals, databases, and Internet resources for academic research to researchers and students at Kyoto University.
Our Rare Materials Exhibition at Kyoto University Digital Library is the most concentrated content for our information transmission. Kyoto City was the ancient capital of Japan for more than one thousand years. Consequently, we fill an important role for our society and the world in preserving and providing the valuable and numerous antiquarian materials in Kyoto University.
Kyoto University Library has been digitizing collections of rare materials including the National Treasures of Japan, Important Cultural Assets of Japan, and other special collections. As of early August 2004, 3,331 items and 419,229 image files are on public exhibition via the Internet.
Our Rare Materials Exhibition is primarily targeted at off-campus public users. These users actually account for more than 90 percent of all the users of Kyoto University Digital Library, which includes other contents such as e-journals and digital publications. Last year, in 2003, more than 1,100,000 people accessed our Digital Library site to look at over 13,500,000 pages. Above all, the visitors at our Rare Materials Exhibition account for approximately 80 percent of these people.
Our Digital Library Program was funded by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture (Monbukagakusho), which allocated budget for a Digital Library Program to only five university libraries for the first time in 1997. We had, however, independently started our digitizing project in 1994.
In 1994, we held our annual exhibition of Yoshida Shoin and His Associates. In that exhibition room, we displayed the digitized images of all the pages of the materials in the showcase. This was made possible through the Ariadne system. Ariadne was an experimental digital library system developed by the Digital Library Research Group chaired by Professor Makoto Nagao.
In 1995, the University Library's website was established, and we released publicly accessible contents on the web. An example of these contents was the scanned images of the Kuni-jo Kabuki E-kotoba, known as the genesis story for Kabuki plays.
In 1996, grant-in-aid funds from Monbukagakusho enabled us to digitize a large number of the titles. In our autumn exhibition, we exhibited the digitized images of the National Treasure, Konjaku Monogatari-shu.
In 1997, the annual allocation of the national budget for our Digital Library Program by Monbukagakusho was started. Using that budget, we released our current system of the Digital Library and Rare Materials Exhibition in 1998.
In 2000, the Kyoto International Conference on Digital Libraries was held at Kyoto University Library. Last year, in 2003, we made approximately 50,000 images for about 23,000,000 yen, most of which have already been released.
Our digitizing program aims at the wide use and preservation of antiquarian materials. We have an important social mission providing and preserving the large number of antiquarian materials held by the libraries, faculties, and institutions of Kyoto University. However, in order to preserve precious materials, our users are not permitted to repeatedly handle them. Our digitization enables public users to use our antiquarian materials easily at any time and from anywhere in the world, a service which was previously only provided for a limited number of academic scholars. Scholars of Japanese studies who live abroad or far from Kyoto University will not need to make long journeys to our library, and students, teachers, and lifelong learners will not be shut away from our cultural heritage.
Additionally, I would like to stress that our digitizing project aims to provide easy access for the public, but we do not use the most advanced technologies to shape and preserve exact replicas of the materials. We are preparing moderately compressed and downsized JPEG images, which can be conveniently downloaded via the Internet, because high-resolution and huge digital images are not necessary. All our image files are formatted with HTML and JPEG, which are widespread all over the world, to offer access by using normal Web browsers. For a few contents, we have adopted some plug-ins or other specific systems for the purpose of highlighting the characteristics of the antiquarian materials. In that case, however, other simple data files formatted with HTML and JPEG are provided without exception. We do this because some of our target users around the world may use old-fashioned computers or web browsers, access via slow Internet connections, or prefer not to download any software or plug-ins.
Of course, we make digitized images of all the pages of the materials in color to differentiate the letters and blots.
4. Digitization Process
At the Digital Library Section, we plan, organize, and supervise the digitizing work, which includes microfilming the selected materials, scanning and generating preservation master images, and producing JPEG and HTML files for Internet access. Digitizing work requires high technology and skill, which can be properly done by outside venders under contracts.
We shoot materials in color in 35 mm on microfilm for the first step in the process of our digitizing work. Master images for preservation are prepared in the form of Kodak°«s ImagePack CD. However, we think that electronic media such as CDs cannot currently be preserved for a long time and that microfilming is a better medium for preservation. We also microfilm because shooting with a digital camera costs more for same quality as microfilming.
In addition, we convert the master images to JPEG format for providing them via the Internet. We basically provide two types of JPEG images, which are thumbnail images of 512 x 768 pixels, and detailed images of 1,024 x 1,536 or 1,400 x 2,100.
We provide collection catalogues based on card catalogues. There is a search system for these catalogues, but it is not integrated with our library°«s OPAC. We cannot begin to input the records of our antiquarian materials into our OPAC because we have not yet finished the retroconversion of old modern publications.
In addition, this search system is only for bibliographical records. Text data transliterated from materials are not prepared except for a few works. Explanatory notes, virtual exhibition contents, and English contents should also be provided in abundance for public and overseas users. This work will require a very long time and high cost, but we are continuing step-by-step with this work, with help from some scholars and graduate students at our university.
Now, we are freely releasing our digitized images, without any watermarks. We are not using any watermark systems because of their cost. We have also not required any payments from users because we think it is our mission to serve the public. Our university, however, is being transformed into an Independent Administrative Institution (Hojin-ka), and we may have to change in the future in ways such as relying on contributors or assistance from outside our institution. This means that our project should be flexible for the purpose of fulfilling our social role of providing and preserving our antiquarian materials.
Rare Materials Exhibition: http://ddb.libnet.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/exhibit/index.html
Kyoto University Digital Library: http://ddb.libnet.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/minds.html
Digital Library Section, Kyoto University Library
(Sep. 3, 2004)