European digital library
Europeana: Commission sets precise targets to states
By Nathalie Vandystadt | Friday 28 October 2011
Customised targets: in order to improve exposure and stocks of Europe’s digital library Europeana - which is still mostly unknown to the greater public - the European Commission adopted, on 28 October, a recommendation assigning each EU member state a precise target. Member states are also encouraged to involve the private sector in digitising their cultural material.
According to the Commission’s objectives (see table), Germany is the top contributor of
www.europeana.eu(5,496,000 pieces), followed by France (4,308,000), the UK (3,939,000), Italy (3,705,000) and Spain (2,676,000).
The challenge set by the recommendation is to reach 30 million available objects (books, maps, photos, films, music clips, paintings and digitised musical excerpts) by 2015, compared with the current figure of 19 million. The initiative is only a recommendation - it is in no way legally binding - but it is a concrete way for the Commission to tackle the lack of involvement of some states.
In January, a report published by digital experts gathered by the Commission (recommending, in particular, private sector contribution) said that France was the leading Europeana contributor (18% of all objects), followed by Germany (17%). The remaining EU countries contributed less than 10% of all artefacts.
As well as all the European masterpieces that are no longer in copyright, and all the material digitised thanks to public funds, the states are asked to put more out-of-commerce in-copyright works online. In this way, the Commission wants to foster an agreement between libraries, editors, authors and copyright collection societies to facilitate the digitisation of out-of-stock books. The 27 member states are also urged to “adapt their legislation to ensure the long-term preservation of digital material,” writes the Commission.
Neelie Kroes, the commissioner for the Digital Agenda said: “Europe has probably the world’s greatest cultural heritage. It cannot afford to miss the opportunities offered by digitisation and hence face cultural decline”. Europeana was launched in 2008 (with two million cultural artefacts) and it has, until now, mainly been financed by the EU (€2.5 million per annum, ie 80% of its budget). In 2011-2013, the EU’s anual contribution reached €3.7 million.