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EU - Egyptian Seminar
Public Libraries and the Information Society
Cairo, Egypt, 7 - 9 December 1998

Created: 04 NOV 98

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Day 3
Session V Information Technology and Co-operation

PubliCA - The Pan-European Platform for Public Libraries: Does co-operation make a difference?


The idea for PubliCA , a support action for public libraries, originated in Fall 1995, as a direct result of the European Commission’s Libraries Programme. Although they constitute 50% of all libraries throughout the European Union, hardly 10% of the libaries represented in successful projects were public libraries. One of the main reasons for this disappointing participation was the lack of a European human network for public libraries.
PubliCA is intended to fill this gap.

The consortium set out on January 1997 to:

  • create a long-term forum for public libraries
  • provide a framework for the organisation of activities and projects
  • act as a consultative body for matching and monitoring these activities
  • influence action by national and European policy makers.

Tangible achievements of PubliCA are:

  • the PubliCA web site
  • the Leuven Communiqué on the role of public libraries in society
  • a training programme for public library managers
  • an extension to countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Earlier this year, PubliCA carried out a survey on Internet-based public library networks . There were two focuses: a) networked services to users and b) co-operation between libraries.
From an assessment of the current situation, the following typology of organisational approaches emerges:

  • the top-down model : centralised, i.e. government or related authority initiated development
  • the bottom-up model: collaborative, pragmatic and often voluntary-based development
  • the hybrid model: mixture of partnership arrangements between public libraries and local/national authorities.

Jan Van Vaerenbergh
chief librarian Leuven City Library, Belgium
Co-ordinator PubliCA

European Commission
DG Information Society
Cultural Heritage Applications Unit
Contact: Concha Fernandez de la Puente
e-mail: (email removed)
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