The digital libraries initiative is part of the European Commission’s i2010 strategy for the digital economy.
European Digital Libraries is one of the flagship initiatives of Commissioner Vivian Reding’s initiative “i2010 – a European Information Society for growth and jobs”, adopted by the Commission on 1 June 2005. On 25 August 2006, the Commission adopted a Recommendation on digitisation and digital preservation which urged 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. In February 2007, the Commission adopted a Communication on "Scientific Information in the Digital Age: Access,
Dissemination and Preservation" to examine and support new ways of promoting better access to scientific information online and to preserve research results digitally for future generations.
On 20 November 2008 the European Digital Library - Europeana -was launched in the presence of José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Christine Albanel, French Minister of Culture and Communication, Cultural Ministers from other Member States and representatives of European cultural institutions, in Brussels, Belgium.On the same day the Council of the European Union adopted the Council Conclusions (JO/2008/C 319/07) on the European digital Library - Europeana.
The HLEG on Digital Libraries was setup in 2006 and renewed in 2009. See 25/03/2009 Official Journal of the European Union, Commission Decision of 25 March 2009 setting up a High Level Expert Group on Digital Libraries (2009/301/EC).
Representatives from organisations that have a main interest in the debate on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material: cultural institutions, publishers, technology firms, and academics. The HLEG is chaired by Viviane Reding.
To discuss and find ways forward on potentially difficult issues such as:
Public-private partnerships for digitisation
High Level Expert Group Copyright Subgroup
The Copyright Subgroup, in which the European Writers’ Council has been an active participant on behalf of authors, was established by the HLEG in 2006. The two main areas of attention are orphan works and out-of-print works. The aim is to find solutions to facilitate the digitisation for preservation, and for making available of works under copyright, to support digitising bodies, especially national libraries, archives and museums to this end.
The Copyright Subgroup’s mandate continued in 2008 with the aim of delivering the final report to the HLG in April 2008. Participation in face-to-face meetings and presentations of reports are the main method of work. The composition of the group was carefully established by the Commission to put together different stakeholders for a common dialogue and for consensus solutions that will help achieve the INFSO & Media goals to have 6 million digital objects in 2010.
After the Copyright Subgroup’s delivery of the interim report on orphan works and out of print works which was adopted by the HLEG in 2007, a new Working Group within the Copyright Subgroup on “On-line Accessibility to out-of-print books” was formed in February 2008 with the remit to examine solutions allowing libraries to offer online access to out-of-print books. This was necessary because the previous work on the model licence by the group did not consider online access, as it was only for closed networks, which the libraries eventually stated it was less relevant to them. The working group included EWC Secretary-General Myriam Diocaretz, and EWC Board member Mette Møller; Anne Bergman-Tahon and Vianney de la Boulaye (FEP); Elisabeth Niggemann (CENL), Ben White (British Library), Toby Bainton (EBLIDA), for libraries; Tarja-Koskinen-Olsson (IFRRO) and Olav Stokkmo (IFRRO).
On orphan works, between March-April 2008 there were several meetings and online discussions of the Orphan-Works TEXT Working Group in which EWC also participated. The aim in this group was to establish the Sector-specific guidelines for the text sector with FEP, CENL, DNB, BNF, EBLIDA, EFJ. ENPA, FAEP. These are in the set of documents that accompany the Memorandum of Understanding.
The results are a series of reports with recommendations on copyright issues and public-private partnerships. The overall recommendations and conclusions are a set of solutions addressing the most urgent needs for the digital libraries to develop further. These reports show that progress is possible even when stakeholders have very different starting points:
Final Report by the Copyright Subgroup
Annexes to the Final Report
Memorandum of Understanding
A MoU on orphan works was signed on 4 June 2008 by representatives of right holders and cultural institutions.
Another result is a large scale experiment on open access to scientific information in which scientific publishers and scientists work together. This PEER project is co-funded under the eContentplus programme.
For information on the eContentplus programme:
EWC Overview June 2008 (PDF)
The European Commission’s page on digital libraries: