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The Role of Libraries
in the Information Society - Background Documentation

Resolution on the information society, culture and education (Morgan Report) - with amendments

A report on The Information Society, Culture and Education by the European Parliament's Committee on Culture, Youth, Education and the Media, draftswoman: Eluned Morgan, was debated in the European Partliament on 11 March and approved on 13 March 1997.

The most relevant items in connection with the Green Paper are those listed under libraries ( 35 , 36 , 37 ). Also of interest are Item T in the recital and Items 3 , 4 and 38 of the resolution.


Resolution on the information society, culture and education

The European Parliament,

  • having regard to its resolution of 30 November 1994 on the recommendation to the European Council: "Europe and the global information society" and the communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: "Europe's way to the information society: an action plan" (1)
  • having regard to its resolution of 16 February 1995 on the G7 Conference on the information society, (2)
  • having regard to its opinion of 16 March 1995 on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council Decision establishing 1996 as the European Year of Lifelong Learning, (3)
  • having regard to its opinion of 16 June 1995 on the proposal for a Council Decision on a training programme for professionals in the European audiovisual programme industry (MEDIA II - Training) (1996 to 2000), (4)
  • having regard to its opinion of 28 March 1996 on the proposal for a Council Decision adopting a multi-annual Community programme to stimulate the development of a European multimedia content industry and to encourage the use of multimedia content in the emerging information society (INFO 2000), (5)
  • having regard to the Commission's White Paper "Growth, Competitiveness and Employment - the challenges and ways forward into the 21st century",
  • having regard to the Communication from the Commission on education and training in the face of technological, industrial and social challenges: first reflections,
  • having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a methodology for the realisation of information society applications,
  • having regard to the Commission's Green Paper "Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society",
  • having regard to the proposal for a Council Decision on the adoption of a multiannual programme to promote the linguistic diversity of the Community in the information society, (6)
  • having regard to the White Paper on Education and Training, Teaching and Learning - Towards the Learning Society,
  • having regard to the intermediate report of the Task Force for Educational Software and Multimedia,
  • having regard to the interim report of the High Level Group of Experts,"Building the European Information Society for Us All",
  • having regard to the Council resolution of 4 April 1995 on culture and multimedia (7) ,
  • having regard to the Council resolution of 27 November 1995 on industrial aspects for the European Union in the development of the information society (8) ,
  • having regard to the Council resolution of 6 May 1996 on educational software and multimedia in education and training (9) ,
  • having regard to the Commission"s communication “Learning in the Information Society: an action plan for a European education initiative (1996-98)",
  • having regard to Articles 126 and 128 of the EC Treaty,
  • having regard to Rule 148 of its Rules of Procedure,
  • having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education and the Media,
A.
whereas the European model of the information society must be driven by democratic, social, cultural and educational concerns, and not dominated by economic and technological interests,
B.
whereas Article 126 of the Treaty states that the Community shall contribute to the development of quality education by, inter alia, encouraging cooperation between educational establishments, developing exchanges on information and experience and encouraging the development of distance education,
C.
whereas Article 128(4) of the Treaty states that the Community shall take cultural aspects into account in its actions under other provisions of the Treaty; whereas this includes actions in the area of the information society,
D.
whereas the market for educational multimedia is set to increase by 40% per year over the next ten years; whereas the European industry requires support to ensure that the EU benefits educationally, economically and culturally,
E.
whereas it is impossible to predict the precise economic, social, cultural and educational implications of the information society, although it is clear that both risks and opportunities are entailed, and there is thus a need for a clear regulatory framework,
F.
whereas, although the techniques of the information society provide a further basis for exchanges between individuals, they cannot under any circumstances replace (particularly in the fields of culture and education) the direct, reciprocal links between creative works and individuals and between individuals themselves (artist/public, teachers/pupils, parents/children),
G.
whereas there is the risk of deepening existing social divisions and further marginalisation of already disadvantaged groups, and of creating new inequalities according to differences in access to the new information and communication technologies,
H.
whereas the information society offers an opportunity to tackle disadvantages experienced by certain groups including those with disabilities, those living in peripheral regions and those who have experienced problems regarding access to traditional educational and cultural establishments and services,
I.
whereas the increased ease and speed of transmission of information offers new democratic opportunities regarding public access to official information, albeit with concomitant risks concerning privacy and abuse of information and dangers of ownership concentration and the subsequent threat to pluralism,
J.
whereas a range of existing Community programmes, such as Media I, INFO 2000, Socrates, Telematics for Libraries and for Education have supported measures linking new technologies with the educational and cultural spheres,
K.
whereas Community actions in the area of new technology with regard to culture are currently diverse and lacking in coordination,
L.
whereas, given the financial perspective as it stands, heading 3 does not permit culture and education, which are vital factors for innovation and growth, to be given an adequate role in the new context of the information society; whereas the structure of the Community budget should therefore be reviewed to ensure that this crucial sector, in which the Union has a major role to play within the framework of subsidiarity, is not suffocated,
M.
whereas there is great potential for the use of new information and communication technologies for educational purposes, including tackling the problems of illiteracy and underachievement, the development of open and distance learning, adult education, networking of schools and language learning,
N.
whereas the means of delivering education cannot be considered in isolation from the issues of content and quality,
O.
whereas lifelong learning and adult education are increasingly important within the context of the information society,
P.
whereas the increased ease and speed of transmission of information raises complex questions regarding the issue of copyright, as does the involvement of many players in the production of multimedia products,
Q.
whereas the impact of television on home life has influenced interactivity and culture in the wider sense of the term, and has often had a detrimental effect on oral communication skills, leading to educational disadvantage,
R.
whereas television has become an important method of communication in society, but very few citizens have been taught how to interpret the medium; whereas there is a danger that the information society could develop in the same way,
S.
whereas there is enormous potential for the introduction of new information and communications technologies within the cultural sector, and in particular in museums, art galleries and heritage sites for the purposes of protection, conservation, education and the broadening of access,
T.
whereas the information society offers challenges and opportunities concerning the role of public libraries, given the importance of a modern European library infrastructure which will increase the availability of library resources across Europe through interconnection, and thus support the economic, social and cultural life of the European Union,
U.
whereas books, newspapers and other written media will remain important despite the moves towards electronic publishing,
V.
whereas the safeguarding of the richness and diversity of the languages of the European Union is of the utmost importance, given the relationship between language and cultural identity,
W.
whereas the cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe is a strength to be built upon in terms of the production of multimedia educational and cultural products, as is its creativity and strong publishing tradition,
X.
whereas multimedia products drawing on the European cultural heritage have the potential of increasing interest in, and facilitating access to this heritage, especially among young people,
Y.
whereas it is important that multimedia designers and software specialists should work in cooperation with those in the educational and cultural sectors in developing products,
  1. Calls on the Commission to come forward with a communication detailing Community efforts to date in the area of new technologies, education, training and culture, including the development of multimedia products within the framework of the various Community programmes, and plans for future concrete measures to be implemented in these areas;
  2. Calls on the Commission to continue its efforts to improve internal coordination and external consultation in the area of the information society and to this end calls for the establishment of a permanent working group to coordinate and inform actions regarding culture;
  3. Calls for the Member States to agree goals to be achieved by the year 2000 regarding the provision of new technologies within public educational and cultural institutions, including libraries;
  4. Calls on Member States to publish a mission statement for the continued and continuing application of information technology in schools, colleges, libraries and community centres; this mission statement to be assessed and updated annually;
  5. Calls on the Commission to continue to support the actions of the Member States in this respect by facilitating exchanges of experience and best practice, promoting innovatory projects to stimulate further action, and by research and coordination activities;
  6. Believes that the European Union should be sensitive to the situation and role of new information technologies within developing countries; in particular, it is necessary that they should be able to assess, evaluate and adapt information technologies, and assess their potential for their own needs;
  7. Calls on all Member States to ensure that teachers and cultural professionals receive relevant and high quality training in the use of new technologies, and that this training should be established before the year 2000;
  8. Calls for increased Community support to stimulate projects of networked "twinning" between schools and cultural institutions in order to build on good practice;
  9. Calls upon the EU and Member States to encourage and support the activity and the development of public broadcasters who historically have provided investment which ensured access for entire societies, through education and audio-visual productions; points out that, with the new technologies, competition will be global and major investment will be necessary to ensure that all European citizens benefit fully from the opportunities offered by the information society;
  10. Calls on the Commission to establish a pilot programme in rural areas to assess the viability of satellite technology as a possible solution to the provision of universal access to the information society;
  11. Calls on Member States and relevant authorities to ensure that adequate facilities are made available to allow and encourage women to take advantage of new technologies;
  12. Calls on Member States to ensure that the needs of each region and area are catered for with sufficient technical support by the provision of one-stop shops;

    Education

  13. Calls on the Commission to support the carrying-out of a comprehensive comparative study, to be completed before the year 2000, regarding the use of new information technologies in schools in the Member States, with a review of the methods of financing used;
  14. Calls on Member States and other competent authorities to establish networks which would allow schools and colleges to contract with service suppliers who would provide connectivity, leased hardware/software and training support in a single package;
  15. Calls on Member States to encourage schools to form into groups and organizations to enjoy the benefits of scale through the ability to purchase hardware and software in larger quantities;
  16. Encourages Member States to give tax incentives to equipment and multimedia service providers who arrange special rates for educational institutions;
  17. Calls on Member States and relevant authorities to encourage partnerships between schools and community organisations/business to allow the latter use of school facilities outside normal hours: this will both increase schools" resources and increase IT skills within the community;
  18. Is concerned that the introduction of new technologies in the classroom should be undertaken in a planned manner according to educational goals and objectives, rather than being technology-led, paying due attention to the essential role of the teacher, social aspects, curriculum and teaching methods;
  19. Calls on Member States and relevant authorities to encourage a clear information technology requirement in the training courses of all newly- qualified teachers and provide ongoing training for all teachers;
  20. Calls on Member States and relevant authorities to avoid social inequality by recognising the problem areas, and targeting resources accordingly into deprived schools, whether in urban or rural areas;
  21. Encourages Member States to give due consideration to the inclusion (within their educational systems) of a course which will give people the means by which they can interpret and filter the information they attain through the information society;
  22. Instructs the Commission to undertake a study, to be completed before the year 2000, as to the effectiveness of introducing new technologies into education, for different age groups;
  23. Calls on Member States and other competent authorities to provide facilities to encourage parents to learn about the possible uses and educational potential of information technologies along with their children;
  24. Encourages Member States to examine the effectiveness of using on-line services for educational purposes, and relevant ways of using the Internet as a tool for learning;
  25. Calls on Member States to establish a European browser on the World Wide Web specifically to locate suitable sites of use for schools in the educational and cultural field;
  26. Calls on the Commission within the framework of Community programmes to finance pilot projects, by the year 2000, using amongst other things, national networks to link educational and training institutions in different Member States which are interested in using multimedia technologies to promote virtual mobility, exchange of information and experience, pluralistic practices and different themes of interest;

    Educational software and multimedia

  27. Calls on Member States to encourage private enterprise to join with the public sector to sponsor educational software, but warns that this co-financing should not compromise the content of the educational material produced;
  28. Calls on Member States and other competent authorities to encourage the use of educational software, in particular for people with learning difficulties and disabilities;
  29. Calls on the Commission, in conjunction with Member States, to launch studies, to be completed by the year 2000, on the ways in which entertainment-based interactive multimedia software can be adapted for educational purposes;
  30. Calls on the Commission to encourage the dissemination and exploitation at European level of best teaching practices based on the use of multimedia software and services making as much use as possible of existing structures at all levels;
  31. Welcomes the establishment of the Task Force on Educational Multimedia and Software and notes that this should already be a priority area for funding within the Fourth Framework Research Programme; suggests that it become a sub- action in the Fifth Framework Research Programme, attracting about 15% of the indicative budget, given the importance of education for competitiveness and quality of life;
  32. Calls on Member States and other competent authorities to ensure that teachers are involved at all levels in the design and development of educational software to ensure accuracy of information;
  33. Calls on the Commission to continue its support for the development of inter- active educational multimedia programmes, but encourages it to concentrate its efforts on developing European modules which should be integrated into the core curriculum subjects, with students encouraged to learn through new technologies as opposed to necessarily learning about new technologies;
  34. Calls on the Commission to identify and encourage support activities to be developed at the European level, for the promotion of products and services in the field of educational software; this should include an evaluation of the products and the establishment of links betwen producers, users and managers of education and training systems in order to promote quality products and services;

    Libraries

  35. Calls on the Commission to come forward with a Green Paper regarding the role of libraries in the European information society, thus initiating a debate covering such issues as copyright, the promotion of reading and books, public access to electronic information, public lending rights, the training needs of librarians;
  36. Believes that libraries have a key role to play in facilitating public access at local level to electronically available information, including information about the European Union and the various Member States;
  37. Calls on Member States and other competent authorities to encourage the provision and availability of CD-ROMs for hire in public libraries;

    Culture, language and content

  38. Calls on the Member States to put their national cultural collections into digital form in order to contribute to the creation of a European millennium archive with free public access for educational institutions and libraries;
  39. Welcomes the Commission's multi-lingual information society proposal, for which Parliament has requested Articles 128 and 130 as a legal basis, while regretting the size of the budget, given the ambitious and important cultural objectives of the measures proposed, and insists that awareness of linguistic diversity is incorporated in all Community information society programmes and initiatives;
  40. Calls on the Commission to create and provide free multimedia language courses in each of the Member States" languages (including lesser-used languages) to be available as an on-line service;
  41. Encourages the Commission, within the area of information technologies, to transfer substantial resources from infrastructure and technological development to the development of content;
  42. Welcomes the ongoing consultation process launched by the Commission relating to copyright in the information society, and calls for an awareness campaign concerning copyright aimed at multimedia producers, in particular SMEs;
  43. Encourages the Commission to hasten the report on harmonisation of copyright and related rights, as despite the work done on the Green Paper on copyright- related issues, industrial players in this field are still not assured of protection on their investment, at such a crucial stage of development of the European market;
  44. Supports the objectives of the Information 2000 Programme but calls for the specific inclusion within the programme for support for the linguistic and cultural adaptation of multimedia educational and cultural products, which have been produced in cooperation with user groups;
  45. Reaffirms the principle whereby the official languages of all the Member States should be used on an equal basis by all the Community institutions and urges the Commission and the various bodies responsible to take the necessary steps to ensure that this principle is not undermined as a result of the planned enlargement of the EU;
  46. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to develop cooperative marketing strategies in order to promote European educational and cultural software;
  47. Encourages the Commission to explore ways in which museums, galleries, heritage sites and the performing arts, including music, dance and theatre can better utilise information technology, including for example, for publicity, reviews and on-line performances;
  48. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council and the governments of the Member States.

Footnotes : representative of the total population of libraries in the European Union

(1) OJ C 363, 19 Dec. 1994, p. 33.
(2) OJ C 56, 6 Mar. 1995, p. 97.
(3) OJ C 89, 10 Apr. 1995, p. 123.
(4) OJ C 166, 3 Jul. 1995, p.192.
(5) OJ C 117, 22 Apr. 1996, p. 37.
(6) OJ C 364, 4 Dec. 1996, p. 5.
(7) OJ C 247, 23 Sep. 1995, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 341, 19 Dec. 1995, p. 5.
(9) OJ C 195, 6 Jul. 1996, p. 8.

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