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The Parliament of Thailand is scheduled to launch in March 2012 the largest digital library of legislative collection in Thailand. It will provide access to millions of digital items, including legislative documents and related e-books, journals, newspapers, videos for the entire nation.
According to Mr. Charae Panpruang, Deputy Secretary-General of the Secretariat of The House of Representatives, providing access to legislative information is of great interest to the Secretariat of The House of Representatives. The information consists of complex official documents from various legislative processes and a compilation of materials generated at each legislative stage. The materials are inter-related and cross-reference each other. It was crucial to find the right mechanism to manage these materials to ensure access and support developmental goals.
Mr. Charae suggested that the parliament needed to find the right mechanism to create a high standard digital library that provides better access to the National Assembly collection. Another goal of the project was to reduce the space needed for print copies in the new Parliament building. In addition, ensuring long-term preservation by creating digital copies was also a priority.
The Parliament established a working group to develop the digital library. Adisak Sukul, Ph.D., from the Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science, KMITL, was invited to serve on the working group as a consultant for digital collection development. Adisak said “As the number and size of National Assembly’s documents grow dramatically every year, in order to serve the public, we need a scalable yet reliable system to handle this massive load. The working group chose DSpace as the answer, and it’s cost effective too.”
Adisak is also the EIFL Thailand Coordinator for OA/FOSS. He gained a deeper knowledge from the UNESCO and EIFL funded workshop on Open Access and Digital Libraries using DSpace.
The National Assembly of Thailand Digital Library project is comprised of a numbers of modules: DSpace for the repository, 10+ cluster nodes for server farm infrastructure, Google Search Appliance for the search engine frontend, a Digital Rights Management system to authorize user access, web and mobile client to allow patrons to download and access digital contents off-line via Windows, iPad, iPhone and any Android devices.
The heart of DSpace is a free and open source (FOSS) storage and retrieval system, which allows the repository to be scalable and customizable. Potentially, DSpace will lead to the creation of a virtual library that meshes the collections of various research libraries. DSpace repository has OAI-PMH built-in which means that it is ready to communicate with other repositories, thereby making future cooperation of different legislative departments with other libraries very easy.
Even though DSpace has a lot of great functionality which fully met the requirements of this project, further development of the software in various modules needed to be done. For example, for the search function it was necessary to use a third party module. So it was decided to implement Google search instead, “We chose the Google Search Appliance to fill the gap, the very first implementation in Thailand, and it did the job very well” Adisak added.
This project will support the work of Parliament’s members, Commissioners, Government Officers, and all stakeholders. It will also raise the visibility of the Legislative Institutional Repository by employing the newest IT solutions to publish the legislation knowledge to the people.