European visions

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Came across this article via ResourceShelf on the efforts of the European Union’s “European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media” and a conference titled “The Role of Libraries in the Information Society”, which took place in Luxembourg on September 29, 2005. The commissioner, Viviane Reding, gives an illuminating overview of the challenges and importance of libraries as they grapple with questions of access, digitization efforts, and relevance.

In her address, she outlines an initiative called i2010, which aims to “provide[s] a framework to address the main challenges facing the Information Society and media sectors in the next 5 years.”

She also lists three main components that the European community, and their libraries, must surmount before any large-scale digitization processes can occur:

    1. digitisation – always bearing in mind that though it is important to get the paper of the past online, our digital libraries of the future will also have born digital materials in an increasing range of formats – for example, audio, still and moving images, 3D graphics dynamic web pages.
    2. making resources accessible over networks – users expect that books and articles can be delivered to them over networks. It appears increasingly paradoxical to them that they have physically to visit the library to consult an electronic publication.
    3. preservation and archiving of digital resources. Digital material needs to be maintained to keep it alive, if not it risks being lost because of the rapid changes of hardware, software or because the physical supports (e.g. CD-ROMs) are decaying. This comes as a shock to most citizens, especially those with digital cameras, but the library world recognised the issue years ago and is looking for ways to deal with it.

The article provides a great map of the obstacles, challenges and strategies both libraries and governments must hammer out before we as societies become, as Ms. Reding states, a “20th century black hole in the digital collection of knowledge.”

Article: http://tinyurl.com/7jeac
Website: http://www.theeuropeanlibrary.org/portal/index.htm

Lots of great stuff too in the European Commission website.

Memo Cordova