20 November 2006
Collaboration – key to success of a European digital library
The TEL-ME-MOR policy conference Digital Future of Cultural and Scientific Heritagein Tallinn, Estonia, 19–20 October saw policy makers from museums, archives, libraries, publishing and the European Commission call for collaboration at all levels to create a European digital library. From ensuring that established standards are used, intellectual property issues are solved to the development of a workable governance model, collaboration will be extremely important.
The opening statement of the Estonian Minister of Culture Raivo Palmaru set the scene for the conference to discuss in his words, ‘the possibilities of cooperation and setting common goals on our way towards a digital future.’ Representatives came together from most of the cultural and scientific heritage associations and networks. These included: CENL, BRICKS, EiFL, FEPDELOS, IFLA, LIBER, MICHAEL, UNESCO and other bodies who have a stake in creating a European digital library. The 2 day conference discussed how the successful inclusion of the New Member States into The European Library, via the TEL-ME-MOR project, could be put to good use in bringing together the stakeholders of a European digital library.
The discoveries made during the project in multilingualism and the harvesting of library material for better user access are good building blocks but the project’s strongest attribute was its enormous collaborative spirit. This spirit was reflected in areas such as content development with the active translation of each others collection descriptions to promote multilingual searching. Such collaboration can lead to cultural integration, the break down of barriers and the building of trust communities within and across national boundaries. CENL is acknowledged to have had considerable experience in collaboration, witnessed by The European Library and therefore aims to try to catalyse collaboration with other cultural, scientific and educational players, both at national and European levels. Dr. Elisabeth Niggemann of the German National Library and Chair of CENL also spoke of the need for CENL ‘to promote new models of collaboration with private sector partners, publishers and rights holders.’
The conference produced a set of recommendations that can be found at: http://telmemor.net/. As well as emphasizing the importance of collaboration these recommendations also called upon National Governments and the EU to promote and commit to large scale digitisation and digital preservation programmes to provide the content users are seeking online. Any European digital library must have all cylinders of access, digitisation and preservation firing and to date there is a lack of digitised content from Europe’s cultural institutions. Throughout his keynote speech, Dr. Horst Forster, Director Content in the Directorate General of Information Society and Media, European Commission, re-enforced the concept of collaboration including the need to ‘unite strengths and expertise in collaboration with the TEL (The European Library) service’ and that such collaboration should ‘avoid fragmentation of scarce resources.’ He emphasised the Commission’s idea that we should build on what is already established such as The European Library and look to create centres of competence in digitisation and preservation to create the content for permanent access.
The Director of The European Library, Dr. Jill Cousins, welcomed the idea of all stakeholders being involved and underlined the need for strong collaboration in these areas and the creation of technological solutions that reflect both the organisational and user needs ‘to realise a cross cultural content rich European digital library by 2010.’
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CENL – Conference of European National Librarians
BRICKS – Building Resources for Integrated Cultural Knowledge Services
DELOS – Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries
EiFL – Electronic Information for Libraries
FEP – Federation of European Publishers
IFLA – International Federation of Library Associations
LIBER – Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche
MICHAEL – Multilingual Inventory of Cultural Heritage in Europe
TEL – The European Library
UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
Notes for Editors:
TEL-ME-MOR is an EU funded project under the IST technologies FP6 programme. TEL-ME-MOR is supporting the 10 national libraries from the New Member States, which are partners in the project, in becoming full members of The European Library, an initiative, established under the aegis of the Conference of European National Librarians ( CENL), providing unified access to the electronic resources of the main European national libraries as well as to other library services.
The European Library is a service of the Conference of European Librarians. It is a portal offering multilingual federated searching across and within the collections of the national libraries of Europe. It will be the starting point organisationally and technically for a European digital library encompasses museums, archives and other holders of digitised and digital cultural heritage material.
27 July 2006
R&D and the European national libraries
R&D – Research and Development – are crucial activities to shape the potential of cultural institutions, to enable them to create innovative cultural heritage and ICT solutions and to become competitive in the European arena . This is one of the assumptions which inform a report recently published by TEL-ME-MOR.
The report, building on an initial analysis focused onthe national libraries in the New Member States, examines the current state-of-the-art in the domain of cultural heritage and ICT in all member libraries of the CENL.
Some of the main recommendations made in the report are:
• Libraries and other memory institutions should be acknowledged as R&D players on the European level.
• Transparent and sound methodology for monitoring the quality of R&D activities of national libraries (and of other memory institutions) and their achievements should be established and promoted in all EU Member States.
• Existing R&D networks of competence should consider and exploit knowledge and experience available at the national libraries in the New Member States.
• There is a need to develop a culture of collaboration with users in the national libraries, encouraging their active participation during all stages of the development of digital library services.
• User-centred solutions should become key criteria for evaluating and funding R&D initiatives.
• National authorities and libraries should take appropriate actions to face the lack of a critical mass of digitised cultural heritagecontent in Europe.
The report, entitled “Research Activities of the European National Libraries in the Domain of Cultural Heritage and ICT” can be found on the TEL-ME-MOR site at http://telmemor.net/results.php.
TEL-ME-MOR (The European Library: Modular Extensions for Mediating Online Resources) is contributing to achieving the vision of the European digital library by supporting the 10 national libraries from the New Member States, that are partners in the project, in becoming full members of The European Library, an initiative, established under the aegis of the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL), providing unified access to the electronic resources of the main European National Libraries as well as to other library services. The project also aims to encourage participation of the national libraries of new member states in research and development initiatives.
For more information on the report and its methodology please contact the report authors Zinaida Manžuch (zinaida.manzuch(at)mb.vu.lt) and Adolf Knoll (adolf.knoll(at)nkp.cz).
For information about TEL-ME-MOR please contact Toomas Schvak (info(at)telmemor.net).
17 January 2006
Research reveals significant gaps in digital R&D programmes of national libraries of European Union New Member States
The vision is a shared European heritage network. The aim of the European Commission Information Society Technologies Programme is to ensure better access to resources by fostering European partnerships and increasing the participation of new member states in EU research activities. A recent survey of new member states under TEL-ME-MOR looked at how well the new member states national libraries are achieving or can achieve this goal. The resulting report is aimed at the European and national policy-makers, library specialists, and the managers of the EU research networks in cultural heritage (e.g. MINERVA).
The survey revealed what makes it difficult or impossible for National Libraries to be actively involved in research and development programmes. The issues range from intellectual, financial and organisational to the management experience of digitised and born-digital content, the size of digital collections, application and adoption of international standards and technological infrastructure. The result is that only 4 of the 10 libraries surveyed had significant amounts of digitised content.
The capabilities of these libraries vary. Those of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary and Slovenia have been involved with more European R&D projects and have also built considerable infrastructure such as digitisation facilities, mass storage systems, web harvesting, and search and retrieval gateways.
National libraries have a huge role to play in the preservation and accessibility of our cultural heritage. They are often the custodians of legal deposit and the national cultural heritage. To fulfil their role in the vision of a shared European heritage the survey concludes that libraries should find a more prominent role in their national R&D programmes; that more resources need to be digitised and new funding models uncovered and that more effective systems for the management of research need to be put in place. The European Commission should help create the conditions needed for international collaborative networks and sharing knowledge and expertise. The gap between technological innovation and its widespread application in society, split between infrastructural, human and social elements of cultural heritage R&D, needs to be overcome at the European level.
The report of the “Questionnaire for Analysis of Research Activities and Needs of National Libraries of the New EU Member States” can be downloaded here. It gives considerable detail on the state of research and digitisation of resources in the national libraries of the New Member States. The report was commended by CENL (Conference of European National Librarians), who would like to see it extended to all its 45 member national libraries.
For more information on the report and its methodology please contact the report authors: Zinaida Manžuch email@example.com or Adolf Knoll firstname.lastname@example.org
For information about TEL-ME-MOR please contact Toomas Schvak (email@example.com)
TEL-ME-MOR supports the 10 national libraries from the New Member States, that are partners in the project, in becoming full members of The European Library , an initiative established under the aegis of the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL), providing unified access to the electronic resources of the main European National Libraries as well as to other library services.