The Social Science Virtual Library

1996 project proposed to the IFLA "CB Division on Special Libraries" approved by the Professional Board in April 1996.

Brief description

Establishing a WWW-site for the IFLA Section on Social Science Libraries as a prototype of a topical Virtual Library. Feasibility study for a specific top-level server clearinghouse). Establishing guidelines for special libraries on how to set up the own WWW-site.

Goals and objectives

The necessity to create some section specific pages on the IFLA website should be taken as an opportunity to study the general feasibility of web-site creation for special libraries. What are the technical requirements, possible impediments, what could be the philosophy behind, the information ethics and the organisation of this sort of a general information service which transgresses the wall of the traditional library services. Is every library well advised to try to create their own web-site? Or will their be only the one "Virtual Library" created jointly by all information providers in one specific field? These are the questions which accompany the very practical project of creating the web pages for the Social Science Library section of IFLA. The results will be at least twofold:

  1. a new web-site for the Social Sciences to be visited as an example of a topical virtual library and
  2. a WWW document giving some basic guidelines for building a Virtual Library.

The HTML pages to be created will include:

  • descriptions of aims and goals of both IFLA and the section on Social Sciences Libraries
  • presentations and links to member institutions
  • hyperlinks to a selection of other institutions important to the Social Sciences
  • descriptions and explanations to a quality selection resources for Social Sciences in the net
  • access to Social Science information sources like OPACs or specific databases
  • WAIS access to the sections bibliography on Social Science Information research
  • links to the major search engines and to netiquette material


Within the framework of a "research focus" which is about to be established at the Fachhochschule Potsdam on the topic of "Virtual libraries, virtual archives and virtual schools" the technical requirements are mostly given to set up a basic web server. Some funds are required for minor technical completion of existing hard- and software - e.g. for a WAIS server.

The most important part of the project will be the evaluation of net based material and the HTML programming of the specific pages. This can be done by less qualified clerical assistance like students. But especially on the quality assessment level there has to be external consultancy and discussion with collaborating colleagues. Also the programming of the WAIS database for the existing bibliographical material on Social Science Information will certainly require some external knowledge.

Collaborators, institutional setting

The main tasks will be accomplished at the Library, Archive and Information School of Fachhochschule Potsdam, Germany. Several of the work-packages may be undertaken within formal courses of the school by students. Some tasks require paid specialists like higher level UNIX programming (cgi, wais etc.). Institutional co-operation is envisaged with SWIDOC, Amsterdam, with Helsinki School of Economics and with Humboldt University Berlin.


The result will certainly speak for itself in its Internet context. The envisaged guidelines should not also be published electronically but at least in INSPEL or as a small brochure to be distributed at conferences or on demand.

Time lines, follow up

The project should be accomplished mainly before august 1996 so that the Standing Committee could decide on its next meeting about a possible or necessary continuation.

Potsdam, 11/20/95, Prof. Dr. Hans-Christoph Hobohm, chairman of IFLA SOC

Social Science Libraries

Last update: 5 October 2012