European digital library takes shape
At least 6 million books, documents and other cultural works will be made available online through a European Digital Library over the next five years.
The European Commission plans to fund a series of "digitisation centres" across Europe and create a framework for protecting, accessing and using intellectual property rights in digital libraries.
It said the centres will house the skills and expertise "needed to achieve excellence for digitisation and preservation processes".
Information Society and Media commissioner Viviane Reding said in a statement: "Information technologies can enable you to tap into Europe's collective memory with a click of your mouse."
Users of the library will be able to search the different collections of libraries, archives and museums through one single multilingual entry point, which will take the form of a web portal.
Two million books, films, photographs, manuscripts and other works will be accessible through the library by 2008, rising to 6 million by 2010.
The Commission said the final figure would be much higher as "every library, archive and museum in Europe will be able to link its digital content to the European Digital Library".
The Commission also said Google's digital library project had "triggered a reflection" on how to deal with our European cultural heritage in the digital age.
The Commission said: "It is also interesting in that it highlights the possibilities for public/private initiatives in this area. Public/private partnerships or sponsoring by private companies will accelerate digitisation.
"Given the budgetary constraints on many cultural institutions, initiatives involving the private sector can be a useful means to complement public funding."
Steve Ranger writes for Silicon.com.
Reprinted with permission from Silicon.com