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Brussels, 25 August 2006

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

Commission calls on Member States to contribute to the European digital library

The European Commission today urged EU Member States to set up large-scale digitisation facilities, so as to accelerate the process of getting Europe's cultural heritage on line via the European digital library. In a Recommendation on digitisation and digital preservation, it calls on Member States to act in various areas, ranging from copyright questions to the systematic preservation of digital content in order to ensure long term access to the material.

“Our aim is to arrive at a real European digital library, a multilingual access point to Europe’s digital cultural resources”, commented Information Society and Media Commissioner Reding. “It will allow, for example, Finnish citizens to easily find and use digital books and images from libraries, archives and museums in Spain, or a Dutchman to find historical film material from Hungary online”.

At present only a fraction of the cultural collections in the Member States is digitised. A common effort is necessary to speed up the digitisation and online accessibility of the material in order to arrive at the necessary critical mass. With the Recommendation just adopted, the Commission invites the Member States to take concrete steps in this direction.

By 2008, two million books, films, photographs, manuscripts, and other cultural works will be accessible through the European Digital Library. 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 (see IP/06/253). The online availability of Europe's rich and diverse cultural heritage will make it usable for all citizens for their studies, work or leisure and will give innovators, artists and entrepreneurs the raw material that they need for new creative efforts.

The measures put forward in the Recommendation come on top of the financial contribution that the Commission already has set aside for the digital libraries initiative in the EU’s Research&Development programmes and in the eContentplus programme. The Commission will co-finance amongst other things a network of centres of competence on digitisation and digital preservation (see IP/05/1202). Europe's libraries, museums and archives are taking the lead in a range of projects starting this year which will add to the building blocks for the European digital library.

The European Digital Library is a flagship project of the Commission's overall strategy to boost the digital economy, the i2010 initiative (see IP/05/643).
The text of the Recommendation on digitisation and digital preservation can be found on the i2010 Digital Libraries Initiative web site at:

See also MEMO/06/311 of today
The portal of The European Library can be accessed at:

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