Creative Archive Licence Group

EC unveils plans for European digital libraries

The European Commission has unveiled its strategy to make Europe’s written and audiovisual heritage available on the Internet. It is proposing a concerted drive by EU Member States to digitise, preserve, and make this heritage available to all, and plans to take consultation to draw up a proposal for a Recommendation to be presented in June 2006.

“Without a collective memory, we are nothing, and can achieve nothing. It defines our identity and we use it continuously for education, work and leisure”, commented Information Society and Media Commissioner Reding. “The Internet is the most powerful new tool we have had for storing and sharing information since the Gutenberg press, so let’s use it to make the material in Europe’s libraries and archives accessible to all”.

Ján Figel’, Commissioner for Education and Culture, added: “European cooperation is an obvious necessity in this field: it is about ensuring preservation and access to our common cultural heritage for the future generations”.

Last week the Commission communication was announced, setting out three key areas for action: digitisation, online accessibility and digital preservation. Several initiatives such as the Creative Archive Licence Group currently exist in the Member States, but are fragmented, possibly mutually incompatible and may potentially duplicate work. The Commission is therefore proposing that Member States and major cultural institutions join EU efforts to make digital libraries a reality throughout Europe. Private involvement and public/private partnerships are a key element in achieving this goal. For its part the Commission will step up coordination work and contribute funding through its research programmes and through the eContentplus programme.

The Commission presents a first set of actions at European level and invites comments on a series of issues in an online consultation. The deadline for replies is 20 January 2006. The replies will feed into a proposal for a Recommendation on digitisation and digital preservation, to be presented in June 2006.

For more information:
online consultation on digital libraries
eContentplus programme
Lund action plan
European Cultural Portal

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