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Supra-regional supply and support of online databases in the special collection areas of humanities
Description of project
Since August 2003 the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has been working on a project that is intended to test new options for online access to specialised databases in the fields of musicology, pre-history and early history, classical studies, history and Eastern Europe studies. The underlying goal is to enable a greater number of potentially interested persons to use databases online than possible so far. The resulting tasks have been divided on a national level. Within this framework the BSB is the library in charge of the above-mentioned subject areas as special collection fields and its endeavours are financially supported by the German Research Foundation. This funding is granted on the condition that books, periodicals and digital resources from the special collection fields are made accessible for supra-regional use. Since traditional instruments such as interlibrary lending or document delivery are not usable in the area of specialized databases, new approaches are needed for safeguarding the supra-regional information supply.
Within the framework of the pay-per-use project also such interested persons shall be granted online access to specialized data bases who are not registered users of a license-holding library, or whose library does not hold a license for a desired database. To achieve this goal a pay-per-use platform was set up enabling individual users to access the desired databases at a fee. Parallel to setting up the platform negotiations have been conducted with suppliers of online databases since the start of the project, in order to develop a licensing framework for offering a pay-per-use access option.
The technical basis of the platform is the software "Hidden Automatic Navigator" (HAN, a product of H+H Software GmbH). The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has been enabling its registered users to access electronic journals, CD-ROMs and online databases also from off-site work places for several years with the aid of this software.
In addition to the proven authentication and logging system HAN the pay-per-use platform also uses a user-friendly post-payment concept. A typical use procedure comprises the following steps: An unregistered user who wishes to access a specialised database for the first time from an external computer first has to register in a special pay-per-use user database. Every time the user wishes to access an available database via the pay-per-use platform, he has to authenticate himself. HAN subsequently logs the relevant use data, calculates the resulting price and processes these data for invoicing. For calculating the price the suppliers provide an invoicing basis that may vary in dependence of the characteristics of the individual databases. So far the chosen pricing model has always been such that the users are charged a flat rate for the option to do several hours' research. The BSB has opened an account for processing the payments and makes out invoices for the fees payable to the pay-per-use users at the end of every month. The Staatsbibliothek makes regular payments of licensing fees to the database suppliers involved in the pay-per-use project.
The platform activated in the autumn of 2004 is directly integrated in both the virtual subject libraries of the Staatsbibliothek and the  Database Information System (DBIS). Within the framework of DBIS such databases for which a pay-per-use access is offered are marked with a special icon (the Euro-character). The pay-per-use databases can be accessed centrally via DBIS so far. It is planned to establish further access options within the framework of the virtual subject libraries of the BSB. For the history subject portal " Chronicon" a single-sign-on solution is available, which enables the user to directly access the pay-per-use databases after registration and authentication without the necessity of entering a second password.