BSN : the french digital scientific library

Report on the Presentation Day held by the national network RENATIS at ENS Cachan on July 4, 2012

This day was devoted to presentations on the work of all 9 segments of the BSN (digital science library) project, which can be found here

General presentation of the BSN TGIR (very large research infrastructure) project by Françoise Thibault (Directorate-General for Research and Innovation) and Michel Marian (Directorate-General for Higher Education and Vocational Integration) from the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

Conceived as a way of generating cost savings and quality gains, the BSN is a response to the digital revolution that is affecting the scientific and technical information sector (growing costs, increase in acquisition expenses, disorderly responses to new digital developments, etc.)
The aim is to pool the acquired knowledge of national scientific and technical information players, implement joint coordination of policies, and generate technical ideas across all segments of scientific and technical information. European and international cooperation are an integral part of the project.


  • To build greater negotiating strength and coordinated responses through the interconnection of all BSN groups and segments
  • To make cost savings by:
    • reducing cost increases (BSN 1 ceiling)
    • extending the pooling operators (BSN 1, 4, 7, 8, 9)
    • orienting and redeploying resources towards shared priorities (BSN 5, 7)
  • To make quality gains:
    • lasting possession of acquired or approved resources (BSN 1, 6)
    • equality of access (national licenses)
    • ease of access (BSN 2, 3)
    • development of French scientific output (BSN 3, 4)
    • more direct expression of researcher mobilization needs (ISTEX)

Coordinated operators serving all Higher Education and Research players: Couperin, Cines, Cléo, BNF, NumDam, INIST, ABES, etc.

We summarize some of the issues approached by the different BSN segments below:

In BSN1,  Acquisition of journals (current) and archives, by Gregory Colcanap The whole process, from the identification of needs to the acquisition of resources, is being rethought with a view to national coordination of acquisitions (Couperin’s experience is being used to create a joint structure) as well as the construction of a new model for the sharing of costs among players, the definition of a business model strategy and the acquisition of a financial support system for order grouping and national licenses.
Currently, four national licenses exist (Eighteenth Century Collections Online; SPRINGER, journals and e-books; the EEBO database; and the Classiques Garnier dictionary corpus). See the site devoted to national licenses:
The Acquisition section of the ISTEX Project approved on April 19—Couperin/CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research)/ABES (Bibliographic Agency for Higher Education)/University of Lorraine on behalf of the CPU (French Conference of University Chancellors)—has a budget of €55 million to acquire documentation under a national license for all researchers: How will the priorities be set for the acquisition of these new resources, given the need to strike a balance between general and niche resources and between all the different disciplines? There are therefore plans to begin to identify needs and conduct a survey among researchers

In BSN2, Access and hosting system, by Stéphane Pouyllau, the issue is optimizing access so that the end user is not faced with an overly complex system (information distributed via several portals that are not interconnected). Among the recommendations made by the group are the identification of resources, the use of API to facilitate access, the use of semantic web technology to ensure interoperability, and vigilance about the licenses negotiated with publishers, which must allow all uses to be made of the data.

In BSN3Identification systems, by Annie Coret and Raymond Berard, the objective is to work to create a public knowledge base and establish a repository for French scientific output. A review of existing systems is being undertaken (HAL, journals, symposia, OST base, library databases, local databases, archives, AERES file, etc.) and the project also aims to establish a pooled DBMS and form a metadata hub.

In BSN4, Open Archives, by Christine Berthaud, coled by Jacques Millet (Inria), the BSN uses HAL, an archive for the submission and dissemination of scientific articles. In 2012, a new partnership agreement built around Hal was signed with the aim of shared governance and financing in the form of a UMS (joint service unit). Note that HAL is the only open archive that ensures lasting storage of documents. Certain actions have been identified as priorities: lasting identifiers (the results of the work of other BSN segments on the subject will be used) and shared reference systems for open archives.

In BSN5, Digitization, by Gilbert Puech, the aim is to foster the coordination of digitization actions in Higher Education and Research and to support project leaders in ensuring interoperability. Some exemplary projects: The Persée project in Human and Social Sciences is to be extended to other sciences (410,000 scientific documents), the NumDam project in mathematics, the Cujas library project, etc.: How can we develop digital assets through digitization that adds value? How can we ensure better identification (indexing and enrichment of metadata)?  Assignment of labels to ensure long-term conservation of documents that meet certain specifications. BSN5 is seeking researchers representative of their scientific communities to identify corpora to be digitized

In BSN6, Lasting archiving, by Olivier Rouchon:  Collaboration between the CINES and the BNF (French National Library) to ensure conservation of the document and the information that it contains (form and content) over a very long period, while making it accessible. Actions in 2012: supporting the creation of an inter-ministerial structure bringing together national players in digital preservation and supported notably by the PIN group (ARISTOTE association work group on the lasting conservation of digital information).  Study of the implementation of a BSN LABEL validating the national scientific interest of a collection and, in exchange, providing it with archiving and access services.  Note that it is important for the project to monitor the latest technological developments in terms of metadata, formats, media, etc.

In BSN7, Electronic Publishing, by Jean-Michel Henny and Marin Dacos, with the participation of Laurent Romary (Inria/Max Planck Institute) in the group, Marin Dacos insisted on the importance of open access to research results and the redefinition of copyright, which must be rethought in the context of digital technology (the law must not curb usage), expressed reservations about the author/payer model, and advocated a search for a third way between green and gold (links with similar initiatives such as OAD). BSN7 is working to develop best practice guidelines for scientific electronic publishing, which should be issued in 2012
To support the BSN7 site, Marin Dacos has opened a site for collaborative monitoring of scientific publishing: .

In BSN8, Supply of documents and loans, by Jacqueline Gillet and Raymond Berard, the work of Aura (2006–2008) serves as a basis for the group’s work: inter-library loan services are highly labor-intensive, with an archaic and poorly organized work process. Discussion must be resumed about a unified service for the remote distribution of digital and paper documents (ABES/INIST convergence): we are aiming for maximum visibility for the user but we still have multiple entry points (refdoc, opacs, sudoc, etc.), which must be compatible with a one-stop shop

In BSN9, Training, skills and usage practices, by Michel Roland, there is a discrepancy between initial training, continuing education, and the digital environment in Scientific and Technical Information, as well as between the professional reference systems and new needs related to the digital world. The goal is to develop a collection of skills linked to digital scientific information in initial training and define training needs relating to digital scientific information based on the BSN segments.  It must be understood, for example, why all Web 2.0 tools with the exception of social networks are underused by PhD students. Libraries are changing, from places providing access to information to places providing support for changes in learning methods (Learning Centers).

See all the tweets sent on the presentation day

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