European Commission to digitize 6 million docs

The European Digital Library

In the next five years, the European Commission will make at least 6 million books, documents and other cultural materials available online through the European Digital Library.

“The European Commission will help to turn this into reality by co-funding centers of competence for digitization and providing a truly European framework for protecting, accessing and using intellectual property rights in digital libraries,” Viviane Reding, the European Commission’s commissioner for information society and media, said in a statement last week. “Member states will have to do their bit by providing the basic means for digitization.”

About 2 million books, films, photographs, manuscripts and other works will be accessible through the digital library by 2008, according to a press release. By 2010, at least 6 million such digitized articles will be available, although the figure is expected to be much higher. At that time, every library, archive and museum on the continent will likely be linked to European Digital Library content.

On March 27, Reding will convene a meeting with stakeholders from industry and cultural institutions to discuss various issues, including public/private collaboration for digitization and copyrights. This summer, the European Commission will present a proposal to overcome obstacles to digitization and online accessibility. The commission is also expected to make public its strategy for digital libraries based on scientific and academic data later this year.

The digital libraries strategy is one component of a much larger initiative called “i2010: European Information Society 2010,” which launched last year. The i2010 project is designed to foster growth of the digital economy by establishing an open and competitive single market for information society and media services, boosting European investment in research on information and communication technologies and closing the gap between the information haves and have-nots.

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