Germany Launches Central Access Gateway to Scientific Information

Jul 15, 2003

Germany has launched, where 37 front-line German libraries, research centres and academic information providers have established an interdisciplinary Internet portal to make scientific literature and scientific information accessible online to the public. Designed as a central access gateway, vascoda represents the result of the German information services that have been established with public funding. It provides access to a multidisciplinary mix of scientific information products and services in one user interface. All Internet pages (URLs) linked to the central access gateway have been checked for quality. The vast majority of the information offered via vascoda is free of charge, however, fee-based information such as publishers' offers and commercial databases is also accessible. To ensure access to these kinds of publications, access for users will be through 'Pay-per-view'. Already existing subscriptions to electronic journals can be continued in the manner agreed upon with the publisher or information provider. Both the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG (German Research Foundation) support vascoda. These organizations together with the partners involved in the information alliance view the portal as a foundation stone of the "German Digital Library" which is designed to meet the needs of the users. Twenty-three subject-based VirtualLibraries (ViFas) are currently involved in vascoda. The four already established German information alliances EconDoc (economy), GetInfo (science and technology), infoconnex (education science, social science, psychology) and medical science, as well as the Electronic Journals Library (EZB). ViFas--subject-based Virtual Libraries--are user interfaces on the web that give an overall view of the specific information available for different subject areas. They have been established during the last few years with the support of the DFG, in order to provide access to Internet sources with high quality information and--through the integration of library catalogues--also offer access to printed publications. The initial version of vascoda will be publicly launched during the International Library Conference IFLA in Berlin from August 1-9, 2003.