Background & overall goal
• On 28 April 2005 in a letter to the Presidency of Council and to the Commission, six Heads of State and Government advocated the creation of a virtual European library, aiming to make Europe’s cultural and scientific resources accessible for all.
• On 30 September 2005 the European Commission published the i2010: communication on digital libraries, where it announced its strategy to promote and support the creation of a European Digital Library, as a strategic goal within the European Information Society i2010 Initiative, which aims to foster growth and jobs in the information society and media industries.
• As stated by the European Commission, the overall goal of the European Digital Library is to make European information resources easier and more interesting to use in an on-line environment. It will build on Europe’s rich heritage combining multicultural and multilingual environments with technological advances and new business models.
– European Commission steps up efforts to put Europe’s memory on the Web via a “European Digital Library” (Official Press release, 30 September 2005)
The Communication on Digital Libraries, published in September 2005, was accompanied by an on-line consultation, also launched on 30 September 2005.
The consultation aimed to seek inputs from respondents on two broad areas:
• digitisation and on-line accessibility
• preservation of digital content.
Overall, 225 replies were received from libraries, archives, museums, publishers, universities, ICT firms etc., from 21 Member States as well as 8 from non-EU countries.
In a document summarising the results of the consultation, the following areas/aspects were reckoned by many respondents of key importance for the building of a European Digital Library:
• Interoperability & standards
• Need for coordinated efforts at a European level
• Creation of centres of competence for digitisation to reach critical mass.
Replies will feed into a possible Recommendation on digitisation and digital preservation and other relevant Community initiatives such as the review of the copyright framework
High Level Expert Group on digital libraries
On 27 February 2006 the European Commission established a High Level Expert Group with the task of advising and discussing issues related to the building of the European Digital Library. The group includes 20 members from libraries, archives, universities, research bodies, publishers, ICT companies and copyright organisations, who will have a renewable mandate of two years.
On 27 March 2006, the High Level Expert Group met for the first time in Brussels. Copyright, scientific information, public/private partnership and technology issues were identified at the meeting as topics to be tackled as a first priority.
– High Level Expert Group to advise European Commission on how to build the European Digital Library (Official press release, 27 March 2006)
– Minutes of the first meeting
On 24 August 2006 the European Commission adopted a recommendation on digitisation, on-line accessibility and digital preservation of cultural resources. The recommendation calls on EU Member States to set up large-scale digitisation facilities, so as to accelerate the process of getting Europe’s cultural heritage online via the European Digital Library. It also calls for action in various other areas, ranging from copyright questions to the systematic preservation of digital content in order to ensure long term access to the material.
Commission recommendation on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation (Official communication, 24 August 2006)
Towards the European Digital Library: the EU strategy in practice
The consultation results have helped the Commission to further define the practical set-up of the European Digital Library, which:
• Will build upon the infrastructure of The European Library, a web service set up by members of the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL), originated from a research project funded under the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5).
• By the end of 2006 will encompass full collaboration among the national libraries in the European Union. In the years thereafter, this collaboration is to be expanded to archives and museums.
• By 2008 it will include 2 million books, films, photographs, manuscripts, and other cultural works.
• By 2010 it will provide access to more than 6 million resources from every library, archive and museum in Europe .
– European Commission steps up efforts to put Europe’s memory on the Web via a “European Digital Library” (Offcial Press release, 3 March 2006)
– Conference of European National Librarians (CENL) welcomes European Commission’s efforts to support the creation of a “European Digital Library” (CENL press release, 2 March 2006)
– The European Digital Library: frequently asked questions
EU contribution to the European Digital Library
• The Commission will contribute in areas where there is most European added-value, but will not fund the basic digitisation of resources, as this is considered a task to be carried out by Member States and the individual institutions.
• 60 million EUR will be allocated to projects funded under the eContentplus programme, for achieving interoperability between national digital collections and services and facilitating access and use of cultural material in a multilingual context (2005-2008).
The Programme addresses specific market areas where development has been slow, namely, geographic, educational, cultural, scientific and scholarly content. It also supports EU-wide co-ordination of collections in libraries, museums and archives and the preservation of digital collections so as to ensure availability of cultural, scholarly and scientific assets for future use.
A new call for proposals was launched under the eContentplus programme in August 2006. The work programme and the call for proposals 2006 are now online. The deadline for publication of the definitive versions is July 2006. The deadline for receipt of proposals is 19 October 2006.
• Research programmes under the next Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) will make considerable funding available to co-fund a network of Centres of competence for digitisation and for digital preservation. The centres will be selected through open calls for proposals following an evaluation of the proposals by independent experts. The centres will house the skills and expertise needed to achieve excellence for digitisation and preservation processes. They will integrate and build on existing know-how in technology companies, universities, cultural institutions, and other relevant organisations.
On-going projects addressing digital libraries
A number of projects funded under the 6th Framework Programme are currently working in the field of digital libraries, such as BRICKS: Building Resources for Integrated Cultural Knowledge Services and DELOS: the Network of Excellence of Digital Libraries; other projects, such as MINERVA and CALIMERA (which ended in 2005) have helped the cultural institutions to adopt a new role as key players in putting European cultural heritage at the service of the citizen; TEL-ME-MOR is supporting the national libraries from the ten new EU Member States in becoming part of The European Library, a networked service that provides since 2005 unified access to the digital resources of many national libraries across Europe, while PRESTOSPACE investigates digital preservation of film heritage.
Projects starting in 2006 will focus on improving access to digital resources and their long term preservation. Updated information on past, on-going and future projects is published on the Digicult web site.
Digital library-related initiatives in Europe…
Access to Archives (A2A)
The English strand of the UK archives network. The A2A database contains catalogues describing archives held locally in England and Wales and dating from the eighth century to the present day.
The Archives Hub is a collaborative service which provides a single point of access to descriptions of archive collections held in universities and colleges throughout the United Kingdom. More than 140 institutions are contributing information about their archives to the Hub, which holds thousands of descriptions. The web site is free to use and contains information relevant to a wide range of research areas.
Codices Electronici Sangallenses (CESG)
The virtual library of the St. Gallen Abbey ( Switzerland), providing an access to 60 digitised medieval codices from the Abbey Library.
Colloquium of library information employees of the V4 countries
A project supported by the ministries of culture of the V4 countries (the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Hungary and Poland) in 2005. The project aims to encourage discussion and co-ordination at the European level in the fields of library digitisation and effective using of the EU grants.
Czech (Bohemian) Assemblies Digital Library
A joint project of the Czech and Slovak parliaments with the goalof making all available resources related to the history of Bohemian assemblies accessible via the Internet. It will cover the digitisation of relevant documents from the Middle Ages until 1848 and it will complement an earlier project titled Joint Czech and Slovak Digital Parliamentary Library (see below).
An on-line database of Estonian digitised newspapers from covering the period 1821–1944. Available since 2003, it currently contains currently about 360,000 pages of digitised material. Compiled in co-operation of the National Library of Estonia and the Archive Library of the Estonian Literary Museum.
DELOS (Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries)
The DELOS network conducts a joint program of activities aimed at integrating and coordinating the ongoing research activities of the major European teams working in Digital Library – related areas with the goal of developing the next generation Digital Library technologies.
A digital archive of digital-born material published by Estonian public and state institutions. Created by the National Library of Estonia in the framework of the international reUSE project. Available since 2005.
A pilot service, part of the Swiss Electronic Academic Library Service (SEALS), providing access to selected digitised scholarly journals. Currently contains the older volumes of three Swiss mathematics journals.
Digital Library Forum
A forum to bring together information on the subject of digital libraries with main focus on the funding activities of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, German Research Foundation, individual German federal states and other research institutes in Germany.
Digital Library of Malopolska
The Digital Library of Malopolska offers access to the most important publications regarding the cultural heritage of the city of Krakow and the region of Malopolska in Poland. The selection includes works of the artists and people of culture, scientific and educational publications, as well as virtual exhibitions.
Digital Library of Slovenia
A web portal providing access to digitised resources such as journals, books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, music and reference material. All the collections are freely accessible.
dLibra (Digital Library Framework)
The dLibra project is aimed at creation of software platform for building digital libraries. It is a non-profit project developed since 1999 by Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center which is a part of Polish Academy of Sciences.
dLibra Digital Libraries
A web directory of Polish regional and institutional digital libraries using the dLibra software. Provides access to 11 digital collections all over Poland.
Dolnoslaska Digital Library
This regional Polish library offers digital collections of books, text-books, monographs and special collection dating from before 1949.
Dutch Historical Newspapers
A collection of digitised newspapers from the National Library of the Netherlands, covering the period 1910–1945. An additional database of current digitised newspapers and journals, Krantenbank, is accessible to the library’s readers.
EBIB Directory of Virtual Libraries
An exhaustive list of virtual and digital libraries in Poland as well as in other countries. User interface available only in Polish.
Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS)
The EThOS project involves the development of a fully operational, easily scaleable and financially viable prototype UK e-theses online service that will enable end-users, via one single web interface, to access the full text, in secure format, of electronically stored theses after selection from a UK Database of Theses (UKDoT).
Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek (EZB)
Electronic Journals Library is a service to facilitate the use of scholarly journals on the internet. It offers a fast, structured and unified interface to access full text articles online. The service is maintained by the University Library of Regensburg.
The digital library of the French National Library for distant users was established in 1997. It contains about 90,000 scanned volumes and 80,000 images and is used by about a million clients a month.
Hungarian Electronic Library
A digital library of Hungarian full-text not copyrighted material. The library has been operating as a civil movement since its launching in the Hungarian webspace. Hundreds contributed to the development of the collection – as individuals or as representatives of corporate sponsors.
Hungarian National Audiovisual Archive (NAVA)
NAVA is the legal deposit archive of the Hungarian national broadcasters, comprising the programmes of the national terrestrial televisions and radios, produced in Hungary.
Hungarian National Digital Data Archive (NDDA)
The NDDA is a state-funded initiative, aimed to provide access to Hungary’s national cultural assets available in digital format. The NDDA adds to the value of Hungary’s public collections, cultural databases, the data treasury of the state administration, and the nation’s knowledge stock from various eras and in manifold senses through openness, self-organisation, recycling and content-integration.
Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
The official web site of an organisation co-ordinating a number of digital library initiatives and projects in the United Kingdom. List of current and completed projects is available here.
Joint Czech and Slovak Digital Parliamentary Library
A joint project of the Czech and Slovak parliaments to create and provide unified access to the documents covering (a) the activities of legislative bodies of the Czech and Slovak Republics from their beginnings in 1993 to the future; (b) the activities of common legislative bodies of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918-1992; and (c) those of the Czech and Slovak deputies in various legislative bodies (Slovak National Council, Imperial Council, Diet of the Czech Kingdom) in 1848-1914.
KB Digital Li brary
A digital library service of the National Library of the Netherlands containing books, e-journals, CD-ROMs and databases.
Kramerius Digital Library
One of the national digitisation programmes of the Czech Republic, launched in 2000 with the goal of safeguarding and preserving acid-paper library materials, especially newspapers, journals and brittle monographs. The library contains currently about 1.2 million pages of digitised material with an annual growth of about 400,000 pages.
Kujawsko Pomorska Digital Library
The library provides access to rare Polish literature, documents and materials and academic textbooks about Kujawy (Kuyavian Region), Pomorze (Pomeranian Region) and Ziemia Dobrzynska.
Manuscriptorium (Memoria Digital Library)
An initiative launched as a pilot project on digitisation under the first UNESCO Memory of the World programme in 1992, co-ordinated nowadays by the National Library of the Czech Republic and the software company AiP Beroun Ltd in the framework of the Memoria programme. It contains more than 1,000 manuscripts and old printed books – up to 550,000 full text pages – digitised by 30 partners in the Czech Republic and abroad. The annual growth of digitised material is 105,000–120,000 pages.
The service provides access to MARC21 bibliographic records and to digital material pertaining to the Slovak National Literary Museum (including a gallery of about 15.000 art originals), Literature and Art Archives (photographs), historical postcards, full-text documents of digital libraries of the Research Project of Stabilising and Preservation of Traditional Media (Kniha_sk) and the Research Project of History of the Book Culture (BDKK).
Memory of the Netherlands
An extensive digital collection of illustrations, photographs, texts, film and audio fragments compiled by Dutch cultural institutions. It currently contains about 348,500 digital objects. The project is co-ordinated by the National Library of the Netherlands.
MICHAEL (Multilingual Inventory of Cultural Heritage in Europe)
MICHAEL is a spin-off project from the activities carried out by MINERVA and it aims to provide simple and quick access to the digital collections of museums, libraries and archives from different European countries. The project will establish an international online service to allow its users to search across multiple national cultural portals from a single point of access. The material which will be made accessible via the project portal will include learning resources, catalogue information and description of physical collections, as well as images, 3D models and meta-data descriptions of archaeological sites, buildings, paintings, sculpture etc.
Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA)
The official web site of the lead strategic agency for museums, libraries and archives in the United Kingdom, a co-ordinator of a number of digital library projects: The People’s Network, Reference Online, Cornucopia, Curriculum Online and the 24 Hour Museum.
Neumann Digital Library
Named after John von Neumann (Hungarian), one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, the Neuman Digital Library, focuses all its efforts on the creation, and registration of electronic documents. The Library includes tens of thousands of Hungarian full-texts resoruces, pictures, sound material and web pages referring to the Hungarian cultural heritage.
Polish Consortium of Digital Libraries (CDL)
The consortium of Polish digital libraries will be officially established in July 2006. The mission of the Consortium will be to ensure universal and free access to scientifically and culturally important electronic resources by establishing a network of regional digital libraries which will form a durable and reliable structure, and respect the relevant copyrights.
Polish Internet Library
The Polish Internet Library offers more than 15,000 titles, mainly compulsory school textbooks and Polish classical literature. New publications are constantly being added to the collection. The complete PIL catalogue will include academic publications, publications for the blind people, sheet music, maps, paintings, photographs and other graphics and scientific periodicals. The PIL is implemented by the Ministry of Scientific Research and Information Technology and is free of charge.
The digital library of the Library Network of Western Switzerland (RERO) has been created with the aim of promoting, preserving and providing public access to the scholarly literature produced by the institutions participating in the project (electronic theses, dissertations and e-prints) as well as to the digitised collections of the RERO libraries.
Resource Discovery Network (RDN)
The Resource Discovery Network is the United Kingdom’s free national gateway to Internet resources for the learning, teaching and research community. The service currently links to more than 100,000 resources via a series of subject-based information gateways (or hubs). The RDN is primarily aimed at Internet users in UK further and higher education but is freely available to all. Created in collaboration of over 70 educational and research organisations, including the Natural History Museum and the British Library, and building upon the foundations of the subject gateway activity carried out under the JISC eLib Programme.
A partnership in the United Kingdom investigating issues in the future of scholarly communication and developing open-access institutional repositories in a number of research universities to facilitate the rapid and efficient worldwide dissemination of research.
The SUNCAT Project is carried out with an aim to create a Serials Union Catalogue for the United Kingdom. SUNCAT will be both the key tool for locating serials held in UK libraries and a central source of high-quality records that can be used by university and college libraries to upgrade their local catalogues. The project commenced in February 2003. A pilot service containing records from 22 leading research libraries was launched on 10 January 2005.
Swiss Poster Collection
The collection comprises a wide variety of posters created by artists from Switzerland and elsewhere. The material provides a snapshot from the end of the 19th Century until today, covering tourism, exhibitions, publicity, cultural activities, sport, and political campaigns among many others. The content is provided by the Swiss National Library, the Bibliothèque publique et universitaire de Genève, the Médiathèque Valais and the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz.
The European Library
The European Library is a portal which offers access to the combined resources (books, magazines, journals…. – both digital and non-digital) of the 45 national libraries of Europe. It offers free searching and delivers digital objects (some free, some priced).
United Kingdom Web Archiving Consortium
A consortium of six leading UK institutions working collaboratively on a project to develop a test-bed for selective archiving of UK web sites. The initial 2-year project will be completed in June 2006.
An archive of Czech web resources created in 2000 by the National Library of the Czech Republic in co-operation with the IT Centre and Faculty of Informatics of the Masaryk University in Brno and with financial support from the Ministry of Culture. The project catalogues on-line publications and stores them in a deposit system, in order to ensure long-term access to them.
Zentrales Verzeichnis Digitalisierter Drucke (ZVDD)
Central Index of Digitised Imprints was established in April 2005 with a support of the German Research Foundation. This portal has a goal to provide fast and central access to digital collections, both to titles and single pages as well as to full texts. This is achieved by collecting and standardising scattered, free digital material stemming from a variety of research projects.
eIFL.net (Electronic Information for Libraries)
A non-governmental organisation that supports digital library activities of thousands of libraries in developing and transition countries. Library consortia from 50 countries participate in eIFL.net programs negotiating affordable access to licensed resources, promoting open access journals, creating institutional repositories, implementing open source software for library applications and lobbying for fair intellectual property legislation at the national and international level. The New Member States of the European Union – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia – as well as many other countries in the ‘wider’ Europe form part of this global umbrella organisation and knowledge sharing network.
Google Book Search
The content in Google Book Search comes from two sources: publishers and libraries. The service enables searching across entire contents of public domain books are available for viewing; for books under copyright, just a few pages or in some cases, only bibliographic data and brief snippets. Google is currently working with five major libraries to include their collections in Google Book Search. The project aims to make it easier for people to find books, specifically those which are difficult to find (e.g. out of print), while carefully respecting authors’ and publishers’ copyrights.
The Internet Archive is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artefacts in digital form, to provide free access to them by researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public.
Open Content Alliance (OCA)
A collaborative effort of a group of cultural, technology, non-profit, and governmental organisations from around the world aimed to build a permanent archive of multilingual digitised text and multimedia content.
Sudan Open Archive
An open-access digital library created in co-operation of the Rift Valley Institute (RVI) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It contains about 500 documents drawn from the records of an international relief effort Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), material on environmental issues and the records of local peace processes in north and south Sudan. Grammar and dictionaries of Sudanese languages, cultural materials, documents in Arabic and maps will be added in the future.
Universal Digital Library (UDL)
An Indo-American collaboration aimed at digitising and making available on-line about a million of books. Project’s partners include the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, and the Carnegie Mellon University, USA.
World Digital Library (WDL)
This is a new initiative of the Library of Congress in cooperation with Google . The effort will be supported by funds from nonexclusive, public and private partnerships, of which Google is the first.
The concept for the WDL came from a speech delivered by the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington to the newly established U.S. National Commission for UNESCO on June 6, 2005, at Georgetown University. The full text is available at www.loc.gov/about/welcome/speeches.