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Specific programme of research and technological development (EEC) in the field of telematic systems in areas of general interest - Libraries -, 1990-1994

Part of the specific programme of research and technological development in the field of telematic systems in areas of general interest (1990-1994) under Area 5: "Libraries", this first Community action devoted to libraries is designed to promote:
- The availability and accessibility of modern library services throughout the Community, taking into account existing geographic discrepancies in library provision;
- A more rapid but orderly penetration of new information technologies in libraries in a cost-effective way;
- Standardization, because of its practical consequences and economic impact;
- Harmonization and convergence of national policies with respect to the above.

In 1984, the European Parliament drew political attention to the importance of libraries to the Community in a Resolution (known as the Schwencke Resolution) which called for action by the Commission in this sector (Official Journal No C 117 of 30.4.1984). The Council of Ministers with responsibility for cultural affairs adopted a Resolution of 17 September 1985 on "Collaboration between libraries in the field of data processing" (Official Journal No C 271 of 23.10.1985). This Resolution acknowledged the importance of libraries in the European Community, both as a major force on the information market and as intermediaries to knowledge and culture. It invited the Commission to take action to help libraries which should be aimed, inter alia, at preparing a work programme in close collaboration with those responsible for libraries in Member States.

The preparation of the Community action was in two phases. An exploratory phase started in 1985 and concluded with a broad informal consultation on a discussion document which described a possible plan of action. A series of preparatory activities started in late 1989- 1990, using as template this draft plan of action. These included more in-depth consultations and investigations as well as a small number of test-bed pilot projects.
To facilitate user access, by optimum use and development of equipment and telematic systems, to the wealth of knowledge held in libraries while reducing the handicaps caused by the present disparate infrastructures in the Community.
Four action lines:

- Computerized bibliographies:
To create, enhance and harmonize machine- readable bibliographies (principally national bibliographies used for international bibliographic services) and union catalogues, and also to develop tools and methods for the retrospective conversion of catalogues of internationally important collections;

- International linking of systems:
To further the international linking of systems managing basic bibliographical data for particular functions (shared- cataloguing, inter-library loans, etc.) and thus to help prepare and apply a range of international or European standards;

- Innovative library services using the new technologies:
To provide for cost-effective, innovative services which will enable libraries to satisfy user needs more efficiently and more visibly and to exploit better the resources already available;

- Development and production of commercially viable telematic products, services and tools designed specifically for libraries, or prototypes of such.
The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme by means of RTD projects and accompanying measures. Concerted actions are not foreseen.

The projects are the subject of shared-cost contracts, with Community financial participation not normally exceeding 50%. Universities and other research centres have the option of requesting, for each project, either 50% funding of total expenditure or 100% funding of the additional marginal costs. Contracts relating to shared-cost research projects must as a general rule be concluded following a selection procedure based on calls for proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. Projects must, as a general rule, provide for the participation of at least two partners, each independent of the other, established in different Member States.

Proposals may be submitted by the following organizations: libraries, library authorities and bodies responsible for libraries; public and private sector organizations providing services to libraries, including utilities, cooperatives, library system suppliers, book-trade and appropriate consultancy services; organizations or bodies working in conjunction with one or more libraries, such as a university department, a library school and similar bodies.

Projects proposed must contain the following elements: cooperation; innovation; and use of new information technologies. They must demonstrate that they contribute effectively to at least one and preferably more of the following four major objectives:

- Promotion of the availability and accessibility of modern library services;
- Accelerated but cost-effective penetration of new technologies;
- Promotion of standardization;
- Harmonization and convergence of library policies.

It is anticipated that national focal points in the Member States may take the role of operating selection procedures or filtering project proposals in order to ensure that projects selected are strategic in their effect.

Accompanying measures will include studies, conferences, workshops, professional exchanges, etc., to stimulate exchanges of experience and dissemination of knowledge between those responsible for libraries in the Member States, to provide targeted support for the preparation of projects, to disseminate project results, and to contribute to modernizing the skills of the library workforce.