Rafael Capurro
This paper was one of three lectures given by invitaion of the Royal Institute of Technology Library (Stockholm, Sweden). It was published as REPORT TRITA-LIB-1137, August 1985. Stockholm Papers in Library and Information Science. See:
Moral issues in information science.  Report TRITA-LIB-6024 (Royal Institute of Technology Library, Stockholm, Sweden) 1985. 
Epistemology and Information Science. Report TRITA-LIB-6023 (Royal Institute of Technology Library, Stockholm, Sweden) 1985.

On the history of FIZ Karlsruhe see here


I Tasks and Organisation: A General Overview

'The Program of the Federal Government for the Promotion of Information and Documentation' (1974-1977) led to the foundation of the Fachinformationszentrum (FIZ) in 1977. FIZ is a "non-profit-making" organization, whose corporate members are:
  • the Federal Gobernment and the 11 states
  • the Max Planck Gesellschaft (MPG)
  • the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (FhG)
  • the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG)
  • the Verein Deutscher Ingenieure (VDI)
  • the Gesellschaft für Informatik (GI)
The last five associates joined the FIZ in 1984.
FIZ is located on the premises of the "Kernforschungszentrum Karlsruhe" and has branch offices in Berlin, Bonn and Larchmont, New York.
FIZ has at present a staff of approximately 320, including 94 scientists and engineers.
FIZ is the national centre for information and documentation in:
  • all aspects of energy
  • nuclear research and technology
  • physics and astronomy
  • mathematics and computer science
FIZ is a database supplier and producer in these fields and is the operator of an Online Service Center in Science and Technology which includes:
  • INKA - Information System Karlsruhe
  • STN Karlsruhe, part of STN International - The Scientific and Technical Information Network.
FIZ provides bibliographic, numeric and factual information on science and technology to interested organizations and individuals, ensuring neutrality and plurality of opinion.

The main user groups are:
  • Scientists, engineers and technicians from
    • universities, polytechnics and other research and teaching institutions
    • research centers and institutions
    • small, medium-sized and large enterprises
  • Members of working groups and committees in politics, administration and industry
  • Other groups or individuals interested in science and technology.
At the top of the organisational structure of FIZ is the "Board of Corporate Members" who nominates sthe directors and the members of the Supervisory Board. It lays down the general policy. The "Supervisory Board" supervises the activities of the directors and defines, together with them, important financial as well as information policy issues. The scientific-technical and administrative directors are both responsible for the documentation and information activities.

FIZ has three scientific divisions (Energy and Technology, Mathematics and Computer Science and Physics and Astronomy), one central division for data processing and systems developments, one division of information services, two administrative sectors (one for finance and general accounting, and one for personnel and administrative services), and, finally, a bibliographic service. Bibliographic, numeric and factual databases are elaborated in the scientific divisions (including online-cataloguing, indexing, classifying and abstracting activities). The documents are provided by the bibliographic service. The databases are then generated in the central division of data processing. The division of information services takes care of the marketing activities.

II Activities

1. FIZ as a database producer

Bibliographic , numeric and factual databases are produced completely or partly by FIZ. In order to minimize expenditure, FIZ cooperates on an international, bilateral or multilateral level. Some 200 000 documents per year, covering all kinds of conventional and non-conventional literature are inputed. Cataloguing, indexing, classifying and abstracting of documenta are performed according to international standards. Literature is evaluated either for the Federal Republic of Germany only (cooperation) or on a worlwide basis (FIZ database) depending on whether a database is produced in cooperation with other organisations or by FIZ alone. The following databases are produced in the working fields of FIZ:

a) Energy and Technology
  • Bibliographic databases: In the energy field, FIZ collaborates in the production of two important databases: INIS and Energy.
    • INIS (International Nuclear Information System) is a typical example of a database produced in international cooperation. Seventy-two member states of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna)  and fourteen international organisations are now participating in INIS and their combined input exceeds 70 000 published items a year. At the end of 1984, the INIS bibliographic File, which was put into operation in 1970, had grown to include some 900 000 items. The German contribution to INIS is about 10%. The printed version "INIS Atom-Index" is published by the IAEA. As we are celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of INIS this year, it is worthwhile remembering that the basic cooperation philosophy of INIS, namely, decentralization of input and dissemination and centralization of data checking and processing, has proved to be most effective in providing comprehensive coverage of the nuclear literature, facilitating the handling of documents in different languages, spreading the costs, and improving the development of the national information infra-structure. INIS' technical rules have a model character in the whole field of information and documentation. The success of INIS lead to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to adopt the same pattern for its own International Information System for Agricultural Sciences and Technology (AGRIS). A further application in the area of the social sciences was made in the planning of the Development Sciences Information System (DEVSIS). On a national level, INIS has been theexample for most bibliographic and factual databases developed at FIZ and other German information centres.
    • ENERGY: An example of multilateral cooperation is the Energy-Database which is produced by the US Department of Energy,  Office of Scientific and Technical Information (US DOE OSTI). It is the most comprehensive bibliographic database containing references of world-wide literature on energy research and technology, in fact for all kinds of energy sources. FIZ evaluates and delivers in machine-readable form some 25.000 documents published in the Federal Republic of Germany and some other European countries (about 12% of the input). The growth rate of the database is about 170 000 citations per year. The number of citations is 1.8 Million (including INIS).
    • Aeronautics and Astronautics: FIZ provides input to the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) database, sending German non-conventional literature in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics to the European Space Agency (ESA/Italy) where it is processed. The database is offered by ESA, FIZ being the National German Centre for astronautics and aeronautics. Retrospective searches and SDI profiles are carried out by FIZ. The NASA-Database contains some 1.3 Million citations and increases by 60 000 citations per year.
    • Report literature in science and technology produced within the Federal Republic of Germany is provided by FIZ for input into the NTIS-Database which is produced by the National Technical Information Service (US Department of Commerce). The computer tapes contain the bibliograpic citation, an abstract in English, the availability source, and indexing for each item.
    • ENERGIE: this is a bibliographic database produced by FIZ itself covering literature on energy research and technology published especially in German speaking countries. The database comprises some 120 000 citations (from 1979 to date). The growth rate is about 20 000 documents annually.
    • In addition to this, FIZ cooperates with other German information centres, the Fachinformationszentrum Werkstoffe (Materials Information Centre) for input processing for the SDIM-database (System for Documentation and Information in Metallurgy).
  • Numeric and Factual Databases:
    • ENEC: The Energy and Economic Database has three subfiles which have different sources. The Energy Balances contain data on all energy sourcess of member states of the United Nations. Power reactors contains the data on power reactors in the member states of the IAEA, and Reserves and Resources corresponds to the data collection of the last World Energy Conference. This database was developed by the IAEA in cooperation with FIZ.
b) Physics and Astronomy
  • Bibliographic Databases:
    • PHYSICS BRIEFS: is produced by FIZ in cooperation with the American Institute of Physics (AIP). It covers the world-wide literature on all fields of Physics and related topics including Astronomy and Astrophysics. AIP supplies the records of its own publications and some other American journals. Special emphasis is given to non-conventional literature and to that written in Eastern languages. A total of 2 200 journals and serials form the main source of this database; 400 are evaluated cover to cover. Increase of citations is approximately 130 000 per year (1984), the AIP contribution being about 20%. The database is offered exclusively by FIZ.
    • PHYSCOMP: is the only bibliographic database of data compilations in all fields of physcis and related topics. It is produced by FIZ. Approximately 3 600 citations are registered and approximately 280 citations are updated annually. It is also offered exclusively by FIZ.
  • Numeric and Factual Databases
    • ENSDF: (Evaluated Nuclear Structure Data File) contains data on the nuclear structure and radioactive decay of all known isotopes (8 600 data sets). It is produced by international cooperation coordinated by the IAEA. The master file is maintained at the National Nuclear Data Center of Brookhaven National Laboratory. The bibliographic information is cited in a special database, ENSF-NSR. Data which are or special interest to the life sciences are collected in a subdata base called ENSDF-MEDLIST (1 800 data sets)
    • ICSD: contains data on crystal structures of inorganic compounds. So far ICSD contains some 32 000 entries. The following data are stored for each compound: name, formula, bibliographic data, crystallographic data, measuring conditions. A picture of the crystal structure can be displayed on the terminal with graphic facilities. The database is produced by the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Bonn in cooperation with the Canadian Institute for Scientific Information and FIZ. It is offered exclusively by FIZ (except in Canada).
    • C 13 NMR: (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Database) contains data on 54.000 spectra of some 47 000 organic chemical compounds. The molecular and structural formulae are given for each compound. The producer of the database is the "Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik AG" (BASF) and it is offered exclusively by FIZ.
    • In addition to these databases, FIZ publishes data compilations on special physical properties. The series has the name Physikdaten / Physics Data (2).
c) Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Bibliographic Databases
    • MATH: is the online version of the abstract journal "Zentralblatt für Mathematik / Mathematics Abstracts" published since 1931 and contains citations to publications in pure and applied mathematics. 1 300 journals and series as well as conference proceedings and books are evaluated (scanned) for MATH. It is produced and offered exclusively by FIZ. Increase rate per year: 45 000 citations
    • MATHDI: another database produced and offered exclusively by FIZ is Mathematical Didactics. Its scope is the teaching of mathematics and computer science at school and university level. The corresponding abstract journal is International Reviews on Mathematical Education (Zentralblatt für Didaktik der Mathematik). The database has an increase of some 3 000 citations per year.
d) Referral Databases
  • SIGLE: (System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe) is a multi-disciplinary database for the purpose of tracing grey (non-conventional) literature covering the fields of science, technology, the humanities and social science, published within the territory of the European Communities [sic] and to simplify its delivery. It is produced by six national centres of member states of the European Communities (Belgium, France, Great Britain, Ireland and the German Federal Republic). It contains approximately 50 000 citations. Holland, Italy and Norway will be joining the system in the near future and Sweden (Studsvik Library) and the European Communities are associated institutions.
  • CONF: this database produces information on conferences, seminars and other meetings which deal with the fields of energy, physics, mathematics and computer science, aueronautics and astronautics, astronomy and astrophysics and engineering. The calendar of events is available up to two years in advance. The database includes approximately 28 000 conference citations.
  • CORP: is a database containing the names of institutions (corporate authorities) in standardized form. CORP is suitable for searching institutions that are active in the fields of research covered by FIZ. Thus this database is a very useful bibliographic instrument for information centres and libraries. Some 50 000 names of institutions are searchable. The database increases by approximately 1 500 entries annually.

2. Host Activities

FIZ is an online service centre in science and technology and related fields. It is operator of:


Over 40 bibliographic and 15 numeric and factual databases are now available through INKA, Information System Karlsruhe. INKA offers access to a total of approximately twelve million citations from different scientific and technological subject fields and to numerous data and facts from specific fields. Besides the databases produced by FIZ as a result of national and international cooperation, INKA's database offer is completed with material available by domestic and foreign producers, e.g. the INPADOC databases of the "Internationales Patentdokumentationszentrum" in Vienna, COMPENDEX of the Engineering Information Inc., New Aork, INSPEC of the Institution of Engineering Information Inc., New York, INSPEC of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, England, METADEX of the American Society for Metals and The Metals Society, London, NTIS of the National Technical Information Service (US Department of Commerce) and others.
The following German information and documentation centres are offering their databases through INKA:
  • Fachinformationszentrum Chemie offers the database DETHERM which contains properties of the most important materials in chemical engineering
  • Fachinformationszentrum Werkstoffe offers databases in Rheology, Tribology, and the SDIM database (Metallurgy and metallic materials), part I of which (SDIM 1 1972-1979) was produced in cooperation with the Commission of the European Communities, whereas SDIM 2 (since 1979) is produced in cooperation with the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris.
  • Informationszentrum Rohstoffgewinnung, Geowissenschaften - Wasserwirtschaft (GEOFIZ) offers GEOLINE and MARINELINE. GEOLINE covers literature in the fields of geosciences, natural resources and water supply, 4 500 journals are evaluated by an international cooperative group. Some 350 000 citations are available.
  • MARINELINE covers literature in the fields of marine research and technology. It contains some 17 000 citations from 1970 onwards.
  • Informationszentrum Raum und Bau (IRB) produces several bibliographic (ORLIS, LINA) as well as factual databases in the field of regional and town planning, housing, and construction engineering. The factual databases are on research projects (BAUFO) and on buildings (BODO).
  • Informationszentrum Sozialwissenschaften (IZ) produces a bibliographic (SOLIS) and a factual database on sociology and related subjects, the factual database (FORIS) contains research projects in social sciences in the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
  • ONLINE GmbH produces the international BUSINESS database of business contracts and opportunities for manufacturing, marketing, sales, services, representation, cooperative ventures and research and development in all industriess world-wide.
  • Deutsche Bibliothek produces BIBLIOI-DATA which is the national bibliographic database. It covers more than 1.2 million German or German-language books, theses, maps, periodicals and other items isssued since 1966. Information on aproximately 100 000 new titles is added annually.
  • In addition the "Fachinformationszentrum Technik" (FIZ Technik) produces several bibliographic databases and operates an online host service utilizing FIZ computer facilities. The following databases are accessible: DECHEMA (chemical engineering), DKI (plastics and polymers), DKF (automotive engineering), DOMA (mechanical engineering), EKMRA (non-bibliographic file of manufacturers), MEDITEC (biomedical engineering), VDI news (full text journal database concerning the areas of economics, science and technology), ZDE (electrical engineering) etc.
INKA is operated with SIEMENS 7561 facility and a disc storage capacity of nearly 60 Gigabyte.

b) STN International

STN International is an international cooperation of Service-Centres for users and contributors of technical and scientific information. Within its scope are all subject areas pertaining to science, technology and commerce, including all kinds of information (primary and secondary literature, numerical and factual data). Its main functions are database building and loading, online retrieval, display and print, and document ordering.
The STN network consists of decentralized service centres whose computers are linked and have standardized technical facilities. The STN network has the same software for connecting the service centres and for the retrieval language.
The STN network is operated on behalf of the DB suppliers on a prime cost basis.
The STN network makes all databases available from every service centre.
The STN network loads each database at only one site and therefore saves financial resources.
The STN network has a high computer utilisation factor as a result of world-wide access.
The TN network provides access to information to users all over the world.
The American Chemical Society and FIZ joined their online computer services in 1984, building the first step to form STN International. CAS ONLINE service was made accessible to European users through the Karlsruhe node of STN International, whereas FIZ Karlsruhe's databases are becoming accessible to North American users through the Columbus node. Both nodes produce offline prints of search results locally to speed delivery, and both operate help desks to provide local assistance to online users. The CAS ONLINE database, until now offered only from Columbus, Ohio contains
  • the Registry File: 6 million chemical structure records searchable by structure diagram, and
  • the CA File: the complete contents of Chemical abstracts from 1967 to the present - over 6 million papers and patents in all. The source of the database is some 12 000 chemistry journals, plus books, conference proceedings, and patent documents from all over the world.
STN operates on Messenger Software, developed especially for STN to provide access to all the networks' databases through a single command language. STN is already accessible in Japan, through the Japan Association for International Chemical Information, Tokyo., which is CAS representative, whereas Kinokuniya Company, Ltd. represents Physics Briefs. In Europe the Royal society of Chemistry (UK) serves the UK, Denmark, finland, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden for questions concerning CAS. These countries (apart from The Netherlands) are served by FIZ with regard to Physics Briefs as well as sto the other FIZ databases. Questions about the Messenger command language and the STN search system should be directed to the nearest STN service centre.
As a result of this cooperation FIZ has acquirted an IBM 3081KX facility, and is operating the new software, running this system parallel to INKA, probably until the end of next year, when all FIZ databases, as well as those offered by the other German information centres through INKA shall be implemented in STN. Following databases are already accessible: PHYS (produced by FIZ Karlsruhe), MATH (produced by FIZ Karlsruhe), NTIS (produced by the US National Technical Information Service) VTB (Chemical Engineering Reports, containing 130 000 records in German, produced by BAYER AG), DETEQ (DECHEMA Environmental Technology Equipment Databank Information about 600 companies and their products are reviewed. The database is in English, French and German)), and DEQUIP (DECHEMA Equipments Suppliers Databank. Contains information about 2 600 companies in the fields of chemical engineering and biotechnology).

STN offers advantages for database producers and users.
For the database producers:
  • new markets USA/Japan (for Europeans)
  • improved sales
  • integrated offer of printed and online service
  • own marketing
  • optional database design
  • display formats
  • pricing
  • STN Service Centre (loading files, help desk, user administration, invoicing, 24h offer, user training)
  • network user for database production
For the database users:
  • One extensive service
  • every center whole service
  • nearby service center
  • offline prints
  • one user agreement, password, invoice
  • regional help desk
  • help and training in several languages
  • favourable prices
  • invoices in national currency.

3. Electronic Publishing of Patent Information

A project on electronic publishing of patent information is jointly carried out by a consortium consisting of the German Patent Office, the Satz-Rechen-Zentrum Hartmann + Heenemann, the Gesellschaft für Information und Dokumentation and FIZ as the consortium leader. The objective of the project is to develop and set up a German Patent Database with textual and graphical information and to offer it to the professional community by various computerized information services, especially ba online access via public telecommunication networks. The novel feature will bethe combined digital storage of text, graphs, chemical structures and mathematical formulae in one database. Text data are recorded by keyboarding or by OCR-Printer, drawings, complex formulae etc. by an optimal laser scanner.

The storage and transmission of the digitized graphical information is to be carried out in vector graphics which promises high compression of the data to be stored and independence from the resolution capacity of the terminals. All types of terminal shall be supported fortransmission and display of text and graphics, including the extending text of personal computers.
The tasks have been distributed as follows:
The German Patent Office provides the text data of the title pages of patent publications as well as data for classification and documentation, both in machine-readable form.
The Satz-Rechen-Zentrum processes these text data for input into the database: it supplements the text with digital information of the major technical drawings and by facsimile representations of chemical structures and complex mathematical formulae.
The Fachinformationszentrum uses these data to set up a continuously updated pilot patent database with text and graphical information and offers this database for online access. File design and patent formats will take into account all search possibilities specific to patent publications. The database will be in German, but foreign users will be offered scope notes and keywords of the International Patent Classification in English and French. The database will utilize the STN Base Software "Messenger". The data will be stored on magnetic disks; copying of the display files on digital optical disks will be possible if greater storage capacity is required.
The Satz-Rechen-Zentrum will also offer SDI services in printed and machine-readable form, first via their own database, later via connection to the FIZ host computer.
The Gesellschaft für Information und Dokumentation will accompany the project with studies especially on user acceptance and economic aspects.
A broad spectrum of users is expected and involved in the project including national and international patent offices as well as the public with the patent departments of the industry, small and medium-scale enterprises, chambes of commerce, patent agents, technology transfer agencies etc. (3)

4. Service program

The FIZ service program comprises the following items:

a) Production of data bases and data compilations in cooperation with national and international partners

b) Online service offered in cooperation with other information centers for the individual use of data bases in science and technology. When searching in a data base, costs will arise for:
  • data transmission between the computer and the terminal (costs for using the data networks payable to the respective PTT)
  • data base access (connect time, provide runs for SDI, and possible online records)
  • computer printouts of citations or other retrieval results (offline via laser printer)
Especially advantageous for users are the quantity discounts (beginning with 5 connect hours per month), the possibility for institutions to pay flat rates, and the preferential prices for education purposes. The following example can give you an impression what costs for data transmission and data base searching can arise in the case of a 15 minute search in the data base PHYS:

Use of the data base PHYS   DM 37,50
Computer printouts of
20 citations and mailing          DM 13,00

Total sum                              DM 50,50

In addition you have to pay for using the telephone and data networks according to the tariffs valid (in Swedish Packet Switching Network, DATAPAK).

c) Magnetic Tape Service: Licenses for use of machine readable data bases. The following data bases are offered for inhouse use: PHYS, C 13 NMR, ICSD

d) Information Supply: Consisting of:
  • scientific and other information (database/databank searching and manpower investment excluded) (free of charge)
  • retrospective bibliographic searches (compilation of up to 100 citation prints selected from more than two bibliographic data bases, manual search in publications, supplementary (value-added) analysis of the retrieval results (Specific Retrospective Bibliographic Searches) (DM 350,-)
  • retrospective data searches: Compilation of specific numerical data from numerical databanks available incl. supplementary analysis of the retrieved results (per databank DM 350,-)
  • Bibliographic SDI profiles: Installation of a profile with compilation of up to 100 citations prints (DM 220,-)
  • Patent SDI Profiles from the data base PATSDI: Installation or modification of a profile, resp. according to the expenditure of analysis and data base searching (scientific analysis per hour DM 93,-; online searching in the data base per hour DM 195,-).
e) Editorial operations

    FIZ is editor of four abstract journals / bibliographic services published by German editors::
  • Physics Briefs / Physikalische Berichte (pb): Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (Ed.); Physik-Verlag (publisher)
  • Zentralblatt für Mathematik / Mathematics Abstracts (ZfM): Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften / FIZ (Eds); Springer Verlag (publisher)
  • Zentralblatt für Didaktik der Mathematik / International Reviews on Mathematical Education (ZDM): Vereich für Didaktik der Mathematik / FIZ (Eds.); Ernst Klett Verlag (publisher)
  • Forschungsberichte aus Technik und Naturwissenschaften / Reports in the Fields of Science and Technology (FTN): Technische Informationsbibliothek Hanover / FIZ (Eds.); Physik Verlag (publisher)
  • and the High Energy Physics Index (HEP) edited by the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron / FIZ.
FIZ also publishes data collections in physics (Physik Daten / Physics Data), distributes the research reports of the Federal Ministry for Science and Technology, and has an own research report series.

f) Bibliographic operations
  • FIZ library provides all documents necessary for the production  of the data bases including some 4000 journals
  • literature supply in cooperation with the Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB) (FIZ is connected to the International Library Loan System)
  • Special Central Library for non-conventional literature in the working fields of FIZ (some 1,8 million documents). An online ordering system has recently been set up (4).

Notes and References

(1) The following former institutions have been merged into the Fachinformationszentrum
  • Zentralstelle für Atomkernenergie-Dokumentation (ZAED), Karlsruhe
  • Zentralstelle für Luft- und Raumfahrtdokumentation und -information (ZLDI), Munich
  • Physikalische Berichte (PB), Brunswick
  • Zentalblatt für Mathematik (ZfM), editorial department, Berlin
  • Zentralblatt für Didaktik der Mathematik (ZDM), editorial department, Karlsruhe.
(2) For further information concerning FIZ' activities on numeric databases cf. H. Behrens: Data in Physics. Int. Course on Data Handling in Astronomy and Astrophysics (Trieste, Italy, July 1984). Proceedings to be published in 1985.

(3) Cf. G. Tittlbach: Electronic Publishing of Patent Information. Paper presented to the ICSU/AB/CEC Joint Conference on Electronic Document Delivery and Electronic Publishing, 13-14 June 1984 (Luxembourg)

(4) For more information about FIZ cf. J. Grewen: Development of Data Bases in Science and Tehnology. In: The Library in the Information Revolution. Proceedings of the Sixth Congress of Southeast Asian Libraries. (Singapore, 30 May - 3 June 1983) (Maruzen Asia, Singapore, 1983) pp 285-499; G. Ebel: The Role of a National Information Center. Computer Physics Communications 33 (1984) pp. 211-215, as well as FIZ brochures supplied by: Fachinformationszentrum Energie, Physik, Mathematik GmbH, D-7514 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen 2, Federal Reublic of Germany.

Last update: April 24, 2017


Copyright © 2017 by Rafael Capurro, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. and international copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the author is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author.

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