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Libraries within the 
third Framework Programme (1990-1994)

under the Specific Programme of Research and Technological Development in the field of Telematic Systems of General Interest - Area 5: Libraries.

Updated 11 JUN 97


Background

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 N C 117 of 30.04.1984). 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 N 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 the 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 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 (ION, CDBIB and EROMM).

The Action Plan for Libraries was subsequently approved as one of the areas of the Telematics Programme and given an indicative allocation of 22.5 Mecus, later increased to 25 Mecus, to cover the period from July 1991 to December 1994.

The first Community action devoted to libraries was designed to promote:

  • The availability of 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 may;
  • Standardisation, because of its practical consequences and economic impact;
  • Harmonisation and convergence of national policies with respect to the above.

Objectives

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 disparate infrastructures across the Community.

The Action Plan was structured in four action lines within which around 50 shared-cost cooperative projects have been launched.

  • Action Line 1: Computerised bibliographies To create, enhance and harmonise machine-readable bibliographies (principally national bibliographies user for international bibliographic services) and union catalogues, as well as the development of tools and methods for retrospective conversion of catalogues of internationally important collections.
  • Action Line 2: International linking of systems To further the international linking of systems holding such source data for specific library functions, and thus foster the development and application of a range of international standards.
  • Action Line 3: Innovative library services using the new technologies To provide for cost-effective, innovative services enabling libraries to satisfy user needs more efficiently and visibly and to exploit better the resources already available.
  • Action Line 4: Market stimulus in telematic products and services for libraries To encourage development and production of prototypes of new technology-based products, services and tools specifically for libraries and their more efficient management.

European Commission 
DG XIII/E-4 Telematics for Libraries
Contact person: Ian Pigott
e-mail: ian.pigott@lux.dg13.cec.be

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