Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Planet SOSIG

Phil Cross reports on a recent workshop for subject gateways in Europe and Dave Boyd look forward to developments within the Geography section of SOSIG.

Renardus - the European Subject Gateways Project

Renardus is a collaborative project funded through the European Union’s Information Society Technologies Programme (IST). It aims to improve academic users’ access to a range of existing Internet-based information services across Europe.

Renardus partners are drawn from European library and other information-related communities who work at the forefront of developments in quality-controlled subject gateways. The aim of the Renardus project is to provide users with integrated access, through a single interface, to these and other Internet-based, distributed services.

The Renardus project organised a workshop in Denmark, 15-16 November, for potential future participants in the service, who could join the nine major subject gateways already provided by existing partners. The event was held at the Technical Knowledge Center of Denmark (DTV), Lyngby, just outside Copenhagen. Of the 53 who attended, over 30 were from subject gateways and national funding bodies that have previously had no participation in the project. There was a large Scandinavian presence, with many people from Denmark, Sweden and Norway, as well as delegates from Hungary, Lithuania and Estonia, who gave an Eastern European perspective. The workshop was an opportunity to describe and demonstrate the Renardus service to new and existing gateways, with the intention of interesting them in joining the service at a future date.

The first day included a demonstration of the cross-searching/cross-browsing system (now with access to over 62,000 records) with an opportunity for the participants to explore the service for themselves. There were also presentations by project members on the background to Renardus and benefits of participation, and the second day included presentations on the informational, technical, and organisational requirements for Gateways wishing to join the service. A useful session at the end of the second day consisted of presentations by some of the invited participants themselves on their own services, some of them newly developed, which gave fascinating insights into the approaches of different services around Europe.

Opinions were sought from participants at all stages of the workshop, and we finished with a discussion considering the next steps that both Renardus and interested Gateways need to take to develop this fruitful cooperation between European gateways further. (It will not be possible to include further services before the end of the project in June 2002, by which time we will have finalised our business plan for continuing the service).

The workshop was of great value to the project through gaining valuable feedback from other gateways around Europe, and it seems as though participants valued the opportunity to get together and discuss common issues. It has indeed been suggested that this should be an annual event. Content from the workshop will be available on the Renardus Web site in the next couple of weeks.

Renardus web site: http://www.renardus.org/

Information Society Technologies Programme (IST): http://www.cordis.lu/ist/