Progress Report

Society/Corporate:Royal Library of Belgium
Name:Mazur, Elisabeth


Royal Library of Belgium will participate as partner in two eContentplus “targeted” projects co-financed by the European Commission.


  1. DIGMAP - Discovering our Past World with Digitized Historical Maps


DIGMAP will develop a solution for indexing, searching and browsing in collections of digitized historical maps. It will be able to index maps by their geographic boundaries and make it easy to classify, index, search and browse them with the support of multilingual geographic thesauri. This will make it possible, for example, to find all the maps in a collection where Paris is represented even if they were not explicitly indexed in that sense. Using geographic thesauri with the geographic coordinates of Paris, it is possible to match that with the geographic areas covered by each map in the collection and find Paris on them. The system will take also advantage of any available descriptive metadata to improve the services.


DIGMAP will propose also advanced features for the automatic indexing of historical maps, in order to make it possible to add and process new maps at very low human cost. This can be achieved by comparing, at the image level, the new maps with the rest of the collection. Maps can be very rich in decorative and stylistic details, making them very different from photos, so this requires much more then simple image comparing, but new image processing techniques will be developed and tested for this purpose. The system will offer also a sophisticated browsing environment for humans with special features, such as timelines (for those maps where it is possible and easy to assess the date).

The DIGMAP infrastructure can be used as a local digital library of maps, as a standalone system, or as a component integrated with a wider local system (managed for example by a portal management system). It will be based on open data models and will be made interoperable with remote systems (web services).


DIGMAP-project will be cooperated by Information Systems Group Portugal (Lisbon). Partners are: the national libraries of Portugal, Italy, Belgium and Estonia, UPM - the Geographic Information Technology Laboratory of Technical University of Madrid (Spain) and the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (Bulgaria).

The proposed duration of the project is 24 months.



  1. EDL  - European Digital Library


EDL is an eContentplus targeted project financed in 50% by the European Commission. EDL addresses the core issues of accessing the content now available and of avoiding the reinvention of the wheel by building on the existing European Library now funded by CENL members but created with support of FP5 of the IST program (TEL) and FP6 (TEL-ME-MOR). CENL is an association of the national libraries of Europe. CENL will take forward the development and coordination of strategies for digitization and digital libraries throughout Europe. CENL has created “The European Library” portal. EDL will enlarge this portal by adding 9 countries, making 31 in all by 2007 including every EU and EFTA country and adding 40-60 digital collections.

The project will support CENL in contributing its influence to finding solutions at European level to policy issues crucial for the development of the European Digital Library.


  1. UNICAT   Towards a Belgian Virtual Union Catalogue


UniCat is one of the multiannual information society support programs supported by Belgian Science Policy. The general objective of the UniCat project is to establish a multilingual gateway allowing users to simultaneously search and retrieve bibliographic records from Belgian library catalogues. As such UniCat can be considered as a virtual union catalogue of Belgian libraries. The gateway is based on standards. The core of the project is an OAI repository and PHM (Protocol for Metadata Harvesting).

The second phase of Unicat starts in April 2006. There is an evolution in software and changes in human resources since the beginning of the project. We are now considering the use of LUCENE-software and some other tools for the purposes of the project.