More than 6m books and other culturally significant works are to go online via the European Digital Library over the next five years.
The ambitious scheme will involve establishing centres throughout Europe dedicated to rendering works in a digital format, partially funded by the European Commission. The commission plans to establish a framework for setting up the library that respects intellectual property rights.
The commission also published the results of a consultation on the digital libraries initiative on Thursday, which revealed opinions are divided on copyright issues, in particular between cultural institutions and right holders. On the practical side, the European Digital Library will build upon the TEL (The European Library) infrastructure, which also gives access to a range of digitised resources of the participating libraries.
By the end of 2006, the European Digital Library should involve collaboration among all the national libraries in the EU. Over coming years this will be expanded to include archives and museums. Two million books, films, photographs, manuscripts, and other cultural works will be accessible through the European Digital Library by 2008. A figure that will rise to at least 6m by 2010, as potentially every library, archive and museum in Europe will be able to link its digital content to the online resource.
The commission intends to work with member states to thrash out a plan to tackle barriers to digitisation and online accessibility by the middle of this year. Before the end of the year, commission proposals will address broader issues such as intellectual property rights management of digital content. ®