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European Commission steps up efforts to put Europes memory on the Web via a "European Digital Library

Thanks to Eddan Katz of Yale for sending this in.


European Commission steps up efforts to put Europes memory on the Web via a
"European Digital Library

The European Commissions plan to promote digital access to Europes
heritage is rapidly taking shape. At least six million books, documents
and other cultural works will be made available to anyone with a Web
connection through the European Digital Library over the next five years.
In order to boost European digitisation efforts, the Commission will
co-fund the creation of a Europe-wide network of digitisation centres. The
Commission will also address, in a series of policy documents, the issue
of the appropriate framework for intellectual property rights protection
in the context of digital libraries.

Information technologies can enable you to tap into Europes collective
memory with a click of your mouse, Information Society and Media
Commissioner Viviane Reding explained. The European Commission will help
to turn this into reality by co-funding centres of competence for
digitisation and providing a truly European framework for protecting,
accessing and using intellectual property rights in digital libraries.
Member States will have to do their bit by providing the basic means for
digitisation. This is a very exciting prospect for Europes libraries and
we are eager to make this happen, added Dr Elisabeth Niggemann, Director
General of Die Deutsche Bibliothek (the German national library) and chair
of CENL, the Conference of European National Librarians.

The Commission today published an overview of the results of a major
online consultation on the digital libraries initiative which had been
launched on 30 September 2005 (see IP/05/1202
at=HTML&aged=0&language=en&guiLanguage=en> ). The 225 replies came from
libraries, archives and museums (46%), publishers and right holders (19%)
and universities/academics (14%). The replies generally welcome the
initiative and see it as an opportunity for making Europes cultural
heritage more accessible and usable on the Internet. They also show that
opinions are divided on copyright issues, in particular between cultural
institutions and right holders.

The consultation results have helped the Commission to further define the
practical set-up of the European Digital Library, which will provide a
highly visible, multilingual access point, dedicated to the digital
resources of Europes cultural institutions. It will build upon the
TEL-infrastructure, currently the gateway to the catalogue records of
collections in a number of national libraries, which also gives access to
a range of digitised resources of the participating libraries. TEL, The
European Library, was set up by members of the Conference of European
National Librarians and received European Community funding in its early

By the end of 2006, the European Digital Library should encompass full
collaboration among the national libraries in the EU. In the years
thereafter, this collaboration is to be expanded to archives and museums.
Two million books, films, photographs, manuscripts, and other cultural
works will be accessible through the European Digital Library by 2008.
This figure will grow to at least six million by 2010, but is expected to
be much higher as, by then, potentially every library, archive and museum
in Europe will be able to link its digital content to the European Digital
Library. This European Digital Library is a flagship project of the
Commissions overall strategy to boost the digital economy, the i2010
strategy (see IP/05/643
t=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en> ). The main elements of this
flagship project, which is meant to promote getting Europes cultural and
scientific heritage digitised and available online, was unveiled in
September 2005 in the i2010: Digital Libraries Communication (see
at=HTML&aged=0&language=en&guiLanguage=en> ). In November 2005, the
Council of Culture Ministers endorsed the Commissions approach to digital

The Commission intends to present a proposal for a Recommendation by
mid-2006 to tackle together with Member States and with the European
Parliament barriers to digitisation and online accessibility. Later this
year, the Commission will also unveil its strategy for digital libraries
based on scientific and scholarly information. Before the end of the year,
a Commission Communication on Content Online will address broader issues
such as intellectual property rights management in the digital age.

A High Level Group on the European Digital Library will meet for the first
time on 27 March 2006 and will be chaired by Commissioner Reding. It will
brings together major stakeholders from industry and cultural
institutions. The group will address issues such as public-private
collaboration for digitisation and copyrights.

Useful links:

* overview of the results of the online consultation on digital libraries:

* contributions to the online consultation on digital libraries:

* Portal of The European Library:
tation/replies/index_en.htm See also MEMO/06/102

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