EUROPE: Call to back e-library

Member states of the European Union have been attacked by their parliamentary representatives for lukewarm support of the 'Europeana' online library, museum and archive.

In a report released by the European Parliament's culture and education committee, they called for more governments to offer content and EU budget funding from 2013.

The report stressed that currently only 5% of all digital books are available in the Europeana and that almost half (47%) of these have been provided by France, with other significant contributors being Germany (16%), the Netherlands (8%), and the UK (8%).

That meant the other 21% had been supplied by the other 23 member states. The report "deeply regretted" the unevenness of member state contributions and urged governments and national cultural institutions to cooperate closely in speeding up digitisation and "not to restrict availability to the territory of their country".

One of the problems, acknowledged by the report, was copyright reasons why the Europeana could not include out-of-print books (90% of the content of national libraries) and orphan works whose authors could not be identified (which make up 10 to 20% of national collections).

The report recommended dealing with this problem through "extended collective licensing or other collective management practices". It urged the European Commission and governments to make Europeana "one of the main reference points for education and research purposes".

It also recommended creating a separate online space within the system where users could create their own content. The report will be debated by the full parliament in April.