Thursday, March 29, 2007

European Digital Library Grows After New French Contribution

Daniel Griffin in Information World Review reports on the Bibliotheque nationale de France's addition of its Gallica Collection to the European Digital Library:

The Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF) helped the European Digital Library move a step closer to the goal of a fully comprehensive European collection of cultural heritage after announcing the development of their new Europeana portal.

According to the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL) the BnF managed to raise funds as well as provide a possible template of what a future European Digital Library may be. The funding will now allow the digitisation and uploading of an additional 80-100,000 items each year from the BnF’s Gallica collection.

CENL, who envisage a digital version of The European Library, have mirrored the BnF attempt by implementing a foundation in a joint venture with other European cultural and heritage organisations, in order to give the digital version a legal and operational foundation.

Commenting on the significant contribution, Elizabeth Niggemann , Director General of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek and Chair of CENL said “We have to deepen the existing collaboration with colleagues from archives and museums in order to arrive at a European Digital Library that encompasses material from different types of cultural institutions across Europe”.

Niggemann’s comments reflect CENL’s position that there is an urgent need to mass digitise material for the initiative as currently the amount of actual digital content held in The European Library is miniscule compared to that of each national library in the EU.

The support is there in EU however, which has supported a number of projects surrounding the creation of The European Library. The portal it created by the national libraries who make up CENL and hosted by the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in the Netherlands, is widely considered a cornerstone of building a Euro-wide digital library.

Contributions from digital initiatives from other members such as those by the Polish National Library and the Dutch Royal Library are also being put into place following investment from the respective nation’s governments. Whilst private/public initiatives from those such as The British Library and Microsoft are also viewed as positive as they increase the amount of digital information available to the user.

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