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NCC Historical Projects: AAU/ARL/NCC Japan Project Background

AAU/ARL/NCC Japan Project Background

Since 1998 the Japan Project, previously known as the Japan Journal Access Project, has been a collaborative effort of the AAU, ARL and the NCC on the North American side working with a number of groups in Japan on specific initiatives to improve access to Japanese language resources for faculty and students in North America and Japan. Until 2003 the Japan Project was coordinated by ARL as part of its Global Resources Program funded by the Mellon Foundation. After the Mellon funding ended the Global Resources Program's name was changed to the Global Resources Network (GRN). In January 2003 the management of the Japan Project was transferred to the NCC and is currently coordinated by NCC Executive Director Victoria Bestor

To date the largest area of Japan Project activity has been in interlibrary loan (ILL) and document delivery (DD) initiatives, an area of expertise of long-time project coordinator Mary Jackson of ARL mary@arl.orgwho continues to act as an advisor to the project and as ARL's representative to the NCC.

The Waseda University Document Delivery Project was the first major ILL/DD project coordinated by the Japan Project beginning in 1998. Because Waseda University's records are fully contained in OCLC's system, ILL librarians can request materials and pay fees using a system with which they are familiar and that presents no language barrier to operation. The Waseda Project has been completed and ILL/DD between Waseda and North American libraries is via the OCLC ILL system. Waseda's OPAC is available at

The Union List of Japanese Serials and Newspapers (ULJSN)is another early initiative of the Japan Project. The Union List was brought under the wing of the Japan Project by the then-NCC Director and Japan Project manager, Dorothy Gregor. The project continues to function on a server at Ohio State University Library where it will remain for the foreseeable future, available to faculty and students who use it. Previous Union List funding came from Ohio State, the NCC, and outside grants. The union list lacks appropriate technical infrastructure, and without location of a permanent home for the union list, and the infusion of funding the ULJSN is in a static state. Since the Japan-US Friendship Commission-funded review of the ULJSN in 2000 no additional funding has been allocated. The Japan Project plans no further investment in the union list.

If the NCC undertakes further efforts in this direction they will likely be in collaboration with Japan's National Institute for Informatics (NII) which has created a Union List of Japanese materials held by Japanese libraries as well as libraries in the United Kingdom. NII expects that their system may eventually be able to absorb Japanese language union lists from other parts of the world. If there is demand among faculty and students for such an undertaking, independent funding will be sought.

Following the success of the Waseda project plans were made to attempt a larger scaled project with the Japanese Association of National University Libraries (ANUL). The ANUL Pilot ILL/DD Project was a one year test conducted between a group of Japanese national universities and ten libraries that are members of the Japan Project. A review of that pilot was completed in January 2000 at the project's conclusion. The ANUL Pilot was judged to be highly successful proving the ease with which electronic ILL/DD can be transmitted between North America and Japan and making recommendations about how to establish a system of Global ILL.

The Global ILL Framework (GIF)grew from the ANUL pilot and was launched in April 2002 with the considerable technical assistance of NII in Japan. NII worked closely with OCLC to facilitate exchange of ILL transactions in compliance with international standards for ILL communication. NII also worked closely with the Japanese government to modify existing government regulations regarding payment of fees and other procedures, and has produced a set of lending policies for Japanese academic libraries. NII and its partners in ANUL have publicized the project widely and generated considerable interest among a broad range of libraries.

Phase II of the GIF initiative the lending of books began in August 2003. Since that time directories of lending policies of libraries in the North American and Japan have been compiled and Z39.50 searching data is also being compiled to facilitate access for participating institutions.

As of December 2003, 86 Japanese libraries had signed up to participate along with 35 North American libraries which participate in all or part of the GIF initiative. All aspects of GIF are open to any North American library wishing to join. Those wishing to join GIF and the Japan Project can do so by contacting project coordinator Vickey Bestor at vbestor@fas.harvard and by completing the GIF Project registration form.

With the transfer of Japan Project management to the NCC in January 2003 a Japan Project Advisory Committee (JPAC) was constituted to study the need for future Japan Project initiatives and to provide ongoing advice and support. Further information on surveys conducted by JPAC can be found at (JPAC link).

Last updated January 2004

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