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Procedure : 2006/2040(INI)
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Document selected : A6-0296/2007

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PV 26/09/2007 - 16
CRE 26/09/2007 - 16

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PV 27/09/2007 - 9.1
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Thursday, 27 September 2007 - Strasbourg
i2010: Digital libraries

European Parliament resolution of 27 September 2007 on i2010: towards a European digital library (2006/2040(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the communication from the Commission entitled: "i2010: digital libraries" (COM(2005)0465),

–   having regard to Commission Recommendation 2006/585/EC of 24 August 2006 on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation(1),

–   having regard to the Council conclusions on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation(2),

–   having regard to Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society(3),

–   having regard to the report of 18 April 2007 by the High-Level Expert Group (copyright subgroup) on digital preservation, orphan works and out-of-print works,

–   having regard to the communication from the Commission entitled "Scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation" (COM(2007)0056),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report by the Committee on Culture and Education (A6-0296/2007),

A.   whereas through the meeting, exchanging and sharing that culture entails, it can help to bring the European Union into closer contact with its citizens and a true European identity to take root and find expression,

B.   whereas the wealth and diversity of the European cultural heritage ought to be promoted, safeguarded and disseminated as widely as possible,

C.   whereas the Member States and cultural institutions, particularly libraries, have a key role to play in this enterprise at the national level and at the regional and local levels,

D.   whereas account must be taken of the rapid development of new technologies and the resulting changes in cultural practices,

E.   whereas for a large number of people, particularly young people, the internet has become one of the principal means of accessing knowledge and learning,

F.   whereas in this digital environment it is essential to guarantee access for all to the European cultural heritage and to ensure that that heritage is preserved for the generations to come and that it forms part of our collective memory,

G.   whereas large-scale digitisation and on-line access to the European cultural heritage is one of the main ways of achieving this goal,

H.   whereas the European cultural heritage reflects the diversity of Europe and therefore access to it must be multilingual,

I.   whereas coherent policies on digitisation and preservation of digital works must be put in place to prevent the irrecoverable loss of cultural content whilst ensuring strict respect for copyright and related rights,

J.   whereas, apart from its intrinsic cultural qualities, digitisation of the European cultural heritage will also benefit other sectors, particularly education, science, research, tourism and the media,

K.   whereas mass digitisation of cultural content does not aim to replace or compete with traditional cultural content, but rather to produce reliable and good-quality parallel digital versions of such content,

L.   whereas digital technology is a very useful tool for disabled people and enables them to adapt content to their needs,

M.   whereas, however, only a tiny part of the European cultural heritage has so far been digitised, and Member States are progressing at very different speeds,

N.   whereas the public funding allocated to mass digitisation is insufficient for a project of this scale,

O.   whereas digitisation initiatives are very fragmented and most experience already acquired at Community level is misunderstood and does not provide simple, direct and multilingual access to all works comprising the European cultural heritage,

P.   whereas a "general public" tool must be put in place to ensure universal and immediate access to the European cultural heritage, without any need to travel, and to help speed up digitisation,

Q.   whereas it is appropriate to use as a basis existing European initiatives which will contribute to the initial development of the European digital library, such as TEL (the European Library), which already provides access to documents held in European national library collections and in particular enables searches to be undertaken through the digital or bibliographical resources of 23 of the 47 national libraries, the TEL-ME-MOR project, which contributes to the integration of the 10 national libraries of the new Member States, the EDL project, which seeks to integrate 9 other national libraries in the framework of EU/EFTA, and Europeana, which brings together the national libraries of France, Hungary and Portugal,

The European digital library, the face of a Europe that is unified in diversity

1.  Recommends setting up in stages a European digital library in the form of a single, direct and multilingual access point for the European cultural heritage;

2.  Stresses that, although the long-term aim is to establish a tool that covers all categories of cultural material, such as audiovisual content, the European digital library must initially concentrate on the potential offered by text material that is free of rights;

3.  To this end invites all European libraries to make available to the European digital library works that are free of rights which they already hold in digital form;

4.  Calls on European universities and other higher education institutions to open up access to doctoral theses and other scientific works whose subject matter and fields of study relate to the European cultural heritage under conditions to be determined and without in any way infringing copyright;

5.  Invites other European cultural institutions, including regional and local institutions, to take part in this project so that it will be representative of the wealth and diversity of European culture; encourages museums to digitise their archives so that they can be included in this project;

6.  Stresses that the European digital library does not aim to disseminate content exclusively, but to coordinate access to digital works;

7.  Urges that common standards based on existing formats are chosen and used and also adapted to ensure interoperability of content, which is necessary if the European digital library is to function properly, and that fixed metadata languages (Dublin Core, etc.) be phased in;

8.  Encourages Member States to continue their efforts and speed up the rate of digitisation of cultural content to achieve a sufficient mass of content;

9.  Encourages Member States, together with cultural institutions, to draw up digitisation plans at national or regional level to establish a European map of all digitisation activities, thus enabling synergies to operate while avoiding duplication of the efforts and costs undertaken by many public and private institutions to digitise their holdings, since it is essential to draw up a survey of work already carried out, broken down by type of institution;

10.  Encourages close cooperation between Member States and cultural institutions and an exchange of good practice with regard to digitising works and making them accessible and digitally preserving them;

11.  Emphasises, given that the project cannot be translated into reality without a substantial research and development component, that the European digital library will encourage research in the areas of digitisation, interoperability and digital preservation, particularly through skills centres set up by the Commission;

12.  Emphasises the need to support innovation and research in the field of multilingualism;

13.  Points out that, although Community programmes are not able to fund digitisation as such, new methods of financing must be developed, including partnerships with the private sector, on the understanding, however, that every effort must be made to prevent digitisation proceeding at different paces in different Member States;

Structure and content of the European digital library – a common, multilingual access point for the European cultural heritage

14.  Encourages the establishment of a common interface providing access to content of guaranteed quality and accuracy via an integrated search engine enabling searches for meta-information and direct text when documents have been digitised in text mode;

15.  Underlines the importance of achieving a multilingual interface giving direct access to content in all European Union languages in order to accommodate not just searches by author or title, but also searches by topic or keyword, the results of which must ultimately encompass the data from every library involved and in every catalogue language;

16.  Urges also putting in place innovative, modern features that are suitable for all visitors;

17.  Emphasises that the European digital library must be planned and organised on the basis of a pool of resources and technical capabilities able to facilitate the creation, research and utilisation of information and should not consist merely of a digital catalogue of European works;

18.  Points out that it would be desirable not to limit the European cultural heritage to the European Union's own works, but also to take account of the cultural contributions of other European countries;

19.  Points out that, although the European cultural heritage is largely made up of works in the public domain, it is not limited to this category alone;

20.  Points out therefore that a distinction must be drawn between works in the public domain and works which are subject to rights, including orphan and out-of-print works, and that different models for each kind of work and suited to each sector must be provided;

21.  Welcomes the establishment of the high-level expert group and in particular supports its proposals to list all orphan and out-of-print works and to develop mechanisms to facilitate the search for right holders;

22.  Emphasises that the proposals formulated by the high-level expert group in its first report primarily concern the book publishing sector, and that a decision as to whether to extend those proposals to other sectors should be taken in conjunction with representatives of those sectors;

23.  Points out that it would be desirable at a later stage for the European digital library to offer, if possible, copyright-protected documents as well as documents which are free of rights, whilst strictly complying with national, Community and international law on intellectual property;

24.  Underlines that any decision of this sort must be taken in cooperation with all players involved, particularly authors, publishers and booksellers;

25.  Proposes that users of the European digital library should be able to find any kind of digital document, in image and text mode, and consult it freely, in their entirety in the case of works which are free of rights or in the form of short extracts in the case of protected works, with the agreement of the right holder;

26.  Proposes that provision be made for on-line browsing of works which are subject to rights through specialised sites providing the security guarantees required by right holders;

27.  Proposes in this case that the European digital library act as a simple conveyor of information;

28.  Points out that specialised sites could provide access to the whole of a protected document in agreement with the right holder and in return for fair remuneration;

Management and monitoring

29.  Calls for the establishment of a steering committee in which cultural institutions play a major role to determine the priorities for and the guidelines of the European digital library and to ensure the coordination, management and monitoring of its activities;

30.  Calls for coordination between the groups established by the Commission, in particular the Member States' expert group on digitisation and digital preservation and the above mentioned high-level expert group, to achieve genuine synergy at European level;

31.  Suggests the establishment of a Europe-wide coordination body, equivalent to TEL, for national museum and archive collections which generate every kind of digitised material connected with the European cultural heritage so as to integrate it into the European digital library search system;

32.  Points out that, if integrated coherently into education systems, the European digital library would make it easier to reach young Europeans and could bring them into closer contact with their cultural and literary heritage, whilst familiarising them with new technologies and combating the digital divide;

33.  Considers it essential to intensify the exchange of experience and good practice with other European institutions, such as the European Commission on Preservation and Access, institutions in third countries, such as the library of the US Congress, international associations, such as the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, public or private organisations, such as the Online Computer Library Center, and others, endeavouring wherever possible to use software and solutions already tested and in operation;

34.  Urges that the European digital library be promoted and made visible and accessible through extensive communications at all levels and through the creation of a distinctive logo;

35.  Recommends in this connection that part of the resources earmarked for the European digital library be devoted to its promotion with the broadest possible public;

36.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 236, 31.8.2006, p. 28
(2) OJ C 297, 7.12.2006, p. 1
(3) OJ L 167, 22.6.2001, p. 10

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