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Telematics for Libraries

The European Commission's Library Programme, its status and its future, and possibilities for co-operation between the EU and Central and Eastern Europe

Status report and paper for the 21st ELAG seminar, 19-21 June 1997, Gdansk, Poland


Introduction

R&D; in the Libraries sector of the Telematics Programme aims to facilitate access to knowledge held in libraries throughout the European Union while reducing disparities between national systems and practices. Topics include networking, cataloguing, resource discovery, imaging, multimedia, distance learning, public libraries, music information, standards and copyright.

Covering three areas of action, it fosters projects concerned with library networking and related services. It provides for continuity in addressing local systems and services and it has an element of novelty now that it covers extensions to the rest of the networked information universe, in which libraries can act as intermediaries to knowledge discovery. The centrepiece is the integration of building blocks from previous work into coherent interconnected and open services across Europe.

The Fourth Framework Programme (1994-1998) of the European Commission, encouraging the implementation of research and technology programmes, contains a new and specific action line for international co-operation, within which the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the New Independent States are a priority objective.

Areas of work

The activities of the past year can be listed under the following headings:

Projects

Most projects under Framework 3 are now being finalised and delivering their final results. The projects proposed under Framework 4 for the Call for Proposals issued in 1995 have started. Under FP4, we have tried to encourage the participation of public libraries in our projects, recognising the increasingly important role they will play in providing access to information services for all sectors of society.

In December 1996, a new call has been issued, the Call for Proposals 1996. This call closed on 15 April 1997.

The response to the call shows a good coverage of all the Action Lines and Call Topics identified in the work plan. Specifically, the following areas are being addressed:

  • digitising of paper documents and building an managing archives of electronic documents
  • experiments in distribution of electronic documents and in models related to copyright
  • building and using metadata for mixed media

Furthermore, there is a good participation of partners form Central and Eastern Europe in the proposals.

The proposals are now being evaluated. The results of this evaluation are expected to be available in July. Negotiations leading to contracts will take place over the second half of 1997.

For more detail on the projects supported under the Libraries Programme, see: /libraries/en/projects.html .

Concerted and support actions

Several concertation and supporting platforms are continuing their work and will be reporting results in the future. These include:

  • COBRA - National Libraries
  • PUBLICA - Public Libraries
  • HARMONICA - Music information
  • ECUP - Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights
  • CAMILE - Decision support information
  • EFILA - European Forum for Implementers of Library Applications

For more detail on the concerted and support actions supported under the Libraries Programme, see: /libraries/en/contacts.html .

Dissemination and events

A CD-ROM is being prepared with summaries and reports of all projects that have finished. The CD-ROM will be available in August.

The Libraries Unit will have a stand at IFLA in Copenhagen where 35 projects will be presented and 28 demonstrated. There will be a poster session and a workshop.

At the Frankfurt Book fair, 4 libraries projects will be demonstrated in the Commission stand; in the IBLC stand where the Libraries Unit will have a space, 18 projects will be demonstrated. There will be a workshop on the Thursday.

New publications:

In preparation: Library economics in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Web page of the Libraries sector which can be accessed at /libraries/en/libraries.html has a consistent number of accesses of over 20,000 per month, which makes it the top horizontal sector in I*M Europe. It now also has the information pages in Spanish.

Further information about the dissemination activities can be obtained from Concha Fernández de la Puente ( (email removed) )

Strategic preparations for Framework 5

Since 1984, European Community research and technological development activities have been defined and implemented by a series of framework programmes. The current 4th RTD Framework Programme expires at the end of 1998.

On the initiative of Mrs Edith Cresson (Commissioner responsible for research, education, training and youth), the Commission adopted its proposal for the 5th RTD Framework Programme on 9th April 1997. Once agreed, this programme will set out the priorities for European Union RTD activities as we move into the next millennium.

In this Framework Programme, the approach is intended to be more generic and less sector-oriented than in the previous programmes. In the Framework, the work is grouped in three thematic and three horizontal programmes, where the area of libraries will come in under the “Multimedia content” area of the thematic programme “Creating a user-friendly Information Society”.

The Libraries Unit is involved in the strategic preparations for this Framework. The Programme and the thematic and horizontal programmes are expected to be finalised and agreed at the end of 1997. These will all be published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

For further information, see: /fifth/home.html .

Actions related to Central and Eastern Europe in DGXIII/E-4

General information

News, initiatives, events, calls and publications related to co-operation of the European Union with countries in Central and Eastern Europe can be found at: /libraries/en/cee/newseven.html . Further information can be obtained from Monika Segbert ( (email removed) ).

Information pack

An information pack has been produced under the title “Introducing Information Technology in Libraries”. This Information Pack is designed to meet the information needs of small and medium sized libraries planning to introduce an automated system. It is for the moment only available in English, but we are discussing with the Regional Libraries Programme of the Open Society the best way of handling the translations into Eastern European languages.

Copies of the English version are available from DG XIII/E-4 upon request to Library Associations in Central and Eastern Europe, who could act as national multipliers for other interested parties. See for further information:
/libraries/en/cee/eclibact.html#infopack
.

Budapest Conference

The European Commission, DGXIII, Telematics for Libraries Programme and the International Co-operation Programme of the 4th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development jointly with the Regional Library Programme of the Open Society Foundation, in April 1996 organised an International Conference on Library Automation in Budapest.

The programme focused on topics such as standards, retro-conversion, national bibliographies and co-operation. Pre-conference workshops were held on document delivery, introducing information technology in small and medium sized libraries, the proposal mechanisms of the Telematics for Libraries Programme and the Regional Libraries Programme.

The Proceedings are in publication and will soon be available from the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Survey

A study under the title: “A Survey Relating to Library Activities in Central and Eastern Europe - Phase I; Volume 1 Statistical Profiles; Volume 2 Country Reports” has been done, containing a collection of library specific statistical and financial data (covering the years 1988-1995) undertaken through questionnaires and country visits on behalf of the European Commission by the Institute of Public Finance, London. The result is a preliminary statistical database, corresponding to the UNESCO guidance for the definition within which the libraries have been categorised. The report “Library economics in Central and Eastern Europe” will be available shortly.

Actions related to Central and Eastern Europe in other sectors

DGIII and DGXIII: Action Plan

The Second EU-CEEC Forum on the Information Society in Prague, 13-14 September 1996, adopted a document "Toward the Information Society in the Central and Eastern European Countries: Thirty Ideas for European Initiatives - Action Plan". The European Commission (DGIII and DGXIII) and Central and Eastern European countries agreed to continue their co-operation by starting concrete Information Society activities with an European dimension using the opportunities and mechanisms described in the Action Plan. The action plan includes a section on libraries, “Libraries in the Information Society - Know How, Awareness, Training - LISKAT”. See: http://www.mzt.si/med/peco002.html .

DGXII and DGXIII: INCO-COPERNICUS

In the framework of co-operation with the Countries of Central Europe and with the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union, the European Commission DGXII and DGXIII have launched a second call for proposals in 1997 on 15 April (with closing date 26 September 1997) under the 4th Framework Programme of RTD, known as INCO-COPERNICUS 97/98. For more information, see:
http://europa.eu/en/comm/dg12/792cop.html .

DGIA programmes Phare, Tacis and Obnova

DG IA, the Directorate General responsible for External Relations: Europe and the New Independent States, Common Foreign and Security Policy and External Missions, has three programmes aimed at Central and Eastern Europe.

For more information on the Phare, Tacis and Obnova programmes, please refer to:
http://europa.eu/en/comm/dg1a/working_with_us/framework.htm
the users and the database (catalogue) providers participating in the project.. .

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