Background - About the Virtual Library Irrigation & Hydrology


VL Irrigation & Hydrology - Historic web site 2005

The original World Wide Web Virtual Library Irrigation & Hydrology (short: VL Irrigation & Hydrology) was first established in 1995 providing selected and structured information related to the wider area of irrigation and hydrology. Initially it consisted mainly of manually screened and classified links pointing to relevant sources on the Internet.


With time it became apparent that not enough relevant information was available and consequently it was tried to improve the situation by directly adding information online rather than just referencing existing sources. The IRRISOFT database on irrigation and hydrology software [Stein, 1996] was one of the major projects which evolved from this need and was also established in 1995.


The VL Irrigation & Hydrology forms one of the components of the world spanning WWW Virtual Library (VL) catalogue which is, by the way, the oldest catalogue of the web et all.


The VL was started by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of html and the web itself. Unlike commercial catalogues, it was run by a loose confederation of volunteers, who compile pages of key links for particular areas in which they are experts [Manning, 2002].


In the beginning, no world spanning search engines existed and there were no ways of using comfortable search engines such as Google, Lycos or Altavista (at that time) to search a great proportion of the web as they commonly do nowadays. The popular Internet search engine Google for instance made its fifth anniversary in September 2003. In the area before the search engines, the only way of finding information was by knowing where to go. It was the time of the catalogues. Numerous individuals started to build their catalogues to assist the Internet community by describing (linking and referencing) other sources they knew. This, by the way, was also the way Yahoo started in 1994. Some of those initiatives joined the WWW Virtual Library which assisted in structuring the content within a loose thematic tree. Despite its "age" and very laborious concept of manual screening and adding information, the WWW Virtual Library could survive many years.


The VL Irrigation & Hydrology went through several phases of modernisations leading to the integration of a crawler with a search function called Sakia established in 1997. With the major restructuring of the University of Kassel the work of the Department hosting these services could not be continued anymore. Due to technical, financial as well as time constraints the VL Irrigation & Hydrology could unfortunately not be maintained and updated anymore in the way it was anticipated. Nevertheless it could be arranged that the original sources stayed online allowing its continuation finally leading to the reestablishment of the WWW Virtual Library Irrigation & Hydrology in November 2003 as part of the system on a standalone server. With the re-launch a shift towards the provision of more freely accessible full text on-line publications was made.


In late 2003, the VL Irrigation & Hydrology could finally be revived and restructured again. With new developments on the Internet and shifting demand by the community, new emphasis of the services needed to be defined for the VL Irrigation & Hydrology allowing a more targeted service to be provided. The main objective of the VL Irrigation & Hydrology has not dramatically changed but is now more closer to what it always ought to be - a Virtual Library. The new service is aimed at providing quality controlled full text publications and information online.


The new Virtual Library Irrigation and Hydrology was a thematic catalogue for on-line publications within the system. While still modest in its extent it unified publications and information of different type and origin within a defined structure. It opened up the opportunity to republish and share relevant and reviewed articles on-line.


Due to major financial setbacks paired with hardware failure and time constraints the system became dormant in November 2015.



  • The WWW Virtual Library - Central catalogue (
  • The WWW Virtual Library - History of the Virtual Library (
  • Manning, G., 2002: About the Virtual Library.- (
  • Stein, T.-M., 2004: - An on-line knowledge exchange and communication initiative in the area of 'land and water'.- The Society of Engineering in Agriculture Biennial Conference ‘To Bourke & Back’ 14, 15 and 16 September 2004.