During 1998 to 2002, Denmark's Electronic Research Library (DEF – Danmarks Elektroniske Forskningsbibliotek) was a large government-funded project that aimed to build a national virtual research library in Denmark. The project had a vision of a single virtual research library focused on the need to provide easy access to scientific information for researchers and students in Denmark.
In spring 2002 the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation evaluated the project. The project's results proved to be so successful that DEF was placed as a permanent activity on the government's budget proposal. In December 2002 the budget was approved, and the continuation of DEF became a reality. This paper describes the development of the project. A new organization has been set up and a framework for future activities has been designed.
The budget for the permanent DEF was reduced significantly compared with the budget allocated to it in the project period. However, it was a major achievement to get any funding – the initial planning was to give no money at all – and the resulting budget allows important activities to continue and new ones to start. The reduced budget stresses the need for there to be even closer co-operation in the library sector, and the existing co-operation has to be carefully maintained and developed.
With the same reasoning the existing international co-operation should be strengthened. International co-operation is crucial in order to get more fair terms and prices for the libraries, especially for licences for electronic resources. Other international activities such as SPARC (www.sparceurope.org/) and the Budapest Open Access Initiative should support these efforts in order to create change and to achieve some competition in the market.
Background to DEF
The national project – Denmark's Electronic Research Library – aimed to move the Danish libraries from being automated, conventional, co-operating individual libraries to the state of one large, coherent, electronic library structure providing integrated information services.
The project was defined in a project description of September 1996 by the three ministries involved: the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Research and the Ministry of Education. A governmental agency, UNI-C, and the management consulting firm, Ernst & Young, then conducted a study, and published a report (Denmark, Ministry of Culture, 1997), which described a vision for the development of the research libraries in Denmark.