Wednesday

1st Apr 2020

France launches Francophone digital library

The French national library BNF has launched a prototype version of its contribution to a European digital library aimed to be one of the European alternatives to US digitalisation of books and documents.

Europeana – as the cyber library is named – currently offers access to some 12,000 public domain full-text documents but is set to have by 2010 over 6 million books, movies, photographs and other documents from across the European Union countries.

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The creation of Europeana is "for France and Europe an important challenge and a great ambition to the service of spreading knowledge, cultural diversity, keeping the value of languages and the information that is the base of our shared identity," French president Jacques Chirac said according to Spanish daily El Pais.

"We want to make it so that Europe is not entirely abandoned to an American search engine," said Jean-Noël Jeanneney, the head of BNF, according to French press reports.

US Internet search giant Google triggered an international race to build an online library when it announced plans in December 2004 to digitise books and documents from a handful of big libraries.

US Internet and software giants Yahoo, Microsoft and Amazon soon announced separate plans while France, angry that private companies took the lead, instead pushed for the creation of a public digital library.

Europeana so far also has the support of 23 public libraries in Hungary, Italy, Germany, Poland and Spain.

Another European library project is also under way and is already receiving co-funding from the European Commission.

The library is to be based on the infrastructure of an already existing European network that allows access to digital resources held in national libraries.

It also aims to display around 6 million books, photographs and films available to all internet users by 2010.

The main difference between the two online libraries is the language of the website itself. Europeana is in French while the European Library is in English.

The Conference of European National Librarians welcomed the move saying the BNF has "created an example of what the future European Digital Library might be," it said in a statement.

Old books only in European Digital Library

The EU wants to digitalise and online the vast volumes of cultural works in member state libraries, but unless the issues of copyright and intellectual property rights are solved, the European Digital Library may consist only of books and journals published before the 1920s.

Google opens digital library ahead of EU governments

The Internet search engine Google has launched its books scan engine in eight European countries. The move comes ahead of the European commission and EU member states who also plan to set up their own European digital library.

Brussels to study copyright issues arising from digital library

The European Commission is to set up a European digital library able to display around six million books, photographs and films and available to all internet users by 2010. On Thursday it announced it would look into copyright issues arising from the project.

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