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Updated: 15 MAR 99 

National and Global Initiatives
on Libraries in the Information Society



See international initiatives in information sharing at the bottom of this page 


The Commission has been preparing background information on a Green Paper on the Role of Libraries in the Information Society . Following the successful adoption of a report in relation to this work, the Commission will now be preparing a Communication which should be completed by mid 1999. 

See also the highlights of the EP debate 

  • AUSTRIA - The Austrian working party on the Information Society has published a report (available in German and English) on theAustrian Information Society Initiative in which the access to libraries is emphasised in the interests of culture and democracy and the need for library to preserve digitised publications is mentioned. Also in German is a report on Austria's Way into the Information Society from the Federal Ministry for Science and Transport. See also the background information on Austria for the Green Paper.
  • BELGIUM BELNET , the Belgian research network and its work group on Libraries points to national and international library projects) while the OSTC , Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs, provides information on the programmes and activities it supports. Current work at the Federal level includes initiatives under the plan for technical and scientific support for the Information Society including an online directory of Belgian libraries ( BOLD ), creation of a virtual library infrastructure ( VIRLIB ) and CD-ROM publication of the Union Catalogue of Belgian Research Libraries ( CCB for monographs and ANTILOPE for periodicals). There are plans to bring all 313 Flemish public libraries onto the Web. See also the Belgian country report from the Public Libraries in the Information Society study and background on Belgium for the Green Paper.

    DENMARK - A discussion paper in Danish (November 1997) entitled Bibliotekerne i Informationssamfundet presents possible scenarios for public libraries in the information society and considers, among other things, how libraries might charge for electronic services. An earlier report, Information Society in the year 2000 , sets out plans to develop the Danish Electronic Research Library (Item 6), and the need for libraries to help users navigate (Item 9) and become familiar with computers and networks (Item 15). A key background document is The Info-Society for All - the Danish Model containing an IT Policy Statement 1996 to the Folketing and IT Policy Action Plan 1996. See also the Danish country report from the Public Libraries in the Information Society study and background on Denmark for the Green Paper.

    FINLAND - An excellent set of links to pertinent documents showing Finland's active role in this area is now provided by Helsinki City Library's Pulse . A key document is Finland's Way to the Information Society . The Finnish Library Act , adopted in December 1998, prescribes the library and information services to be provided by municipal public libraries, and the promotion of these services both nationally and regionally. See also the Finnish country report from the Public Libraries in the Information Society study and background on Finland for the Green Paper.

    FRANCE - A major Information Society Action Plan launched in January 1998 by Prime Minister Jospin has chapters dealing with cultural heritage and with multimedia in which libraries are to play an important part. The Autoroutes de l'Information is a good resource page containing pertinent links but references to libraries are difficult to find except in some of the projects such as those identified in our French-language resources . The Ministry of Culture has produced a comprehensive 1995 evaluation on L'équipement informatique des bibliothèques municipales et départementales . See also the French country report from the Public Libraries in the Information Society study and background on France for the Green Paper.

    GERMANY - In line with the general Objectives of the Federal Government for the information society, the Federal Ministry for Education and Research has approved the Global-Info programme which, with a budget of around DM 60 million, will provide the foundations of an innovative digital library for science, knowledge and research. See also the German country report from the Public Libraries in the Information Society study and background on Germany for the Green Paper.

    GREECE - A draft of the government White Paper for the development of the Information Society in Greece in the coming years is available from the Prime Minister's Office web site. Set against the background of what has been achieved to date, it presents a comprehensive strategy, defines priorities and specific goals for the future, as well as means, initiatives and mechanisms for achieving them.
    The ATHINA Project (Action plan for The Information society of Attica), aims to establish a mechanism in order to promote consensus and close collaboration among key regional actors concerning Information Society for the region of Attica, Greece. This project is part of the Regional Information Society Initiative (RISI ), and is supported by the European Commission DGV, DGXIII & DG XVI.

    ICELAND - The Icelandic Government's Vision of the Information Society clearly points to the importance of providing access to information through libraries in a report published on 10 February 1997. See also background on Iceland for the Green Paper.

    IRELAND - The Department of Enterprise and Employment has published a white paper on Science, Technology and Innovation . Details of the Irish public library scene and recent library initiatives are available from the National Library Council which is also responsible for coordinating the development of a Libraries and Information Policy in collaboration with the Irish Information Society Commission . A new policy document for public libraries entitled Branching Out was published in November 1998. See the Irishcountry report from the Public Libraries in the Information Society study and background on Ireland for the Green Paper.

    ITALY - The strategy to develop the role of the Italian libraries in the Information Society is based on the SBN national network which now links more than 500 libraries. To facilitate access to electronic information, especially for the southern regions, there are plans to develop a network of multimedia libraries. To support the development of multimedia libraries in schools, the Department for Education together with the Department for Cultural Goods and the AIB (Italian Libraries National Association) are organising a training programme targetting teachers and school librarians. Furthermore, following the results which will be obtained from the European project "Nuova Economia del Libro" (Books New Economy) new training, programmes are foreseen for all professional figures within the "book chain" in presence of new electronic and multimedia tools and products. See also the Italian country report from the Public Libraries in the Information Society study and background information on Italy for the Green Paper.

    NETHERLANDS A Vision for Acceleration : Working Plan for the Information Superhighway commissioned by the Information Superhighway Steering Group, at the initiative of the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs. The Ministry also lists a number of related documents on the information society in Dutch and English. Of particular interest to the public libraries scene is the Cultural Policy 1997-2000 report from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. See also background information on the Netherlandsfor the Green Paper.

    NORWAY - The ODIN pages are the primary source of information on the information society. The Norwegian Way to the Information Society - Bit by bit is a key document. The links to international reports are also an interesting resource. Of particular interest to the library community, is a recent draft proposal entitled IT i norske folkebibliotek (IT in Norwegian Public Libraries) which presents a strategy for providing all Norwegian county and public libraries with access to networked resources over the four year period 1997-2001. See also background on Norway for the Green Paper.

    PORTUGAL - The Ministério da Ciência e da Tecnologia 's document on Iniciativa Nacional para a Sociedade da Informação(National Initiative for the Information Society) sets out plans for Access to Knowledge in which libraries and other memory institutions are to be included. A discussion document from the Saber Disponível panel recommends providing user access to networked information through public libraries. See also the Portuguese country report from the Public Libraries in the Information Society study and background on Portugal for the Green Paper.

    SPAIN - The Comisión Interministerial de Ciencia y Tecnología provides access to research activities in connection with the information society. The Programa Nacional de Aplicaciones y Servicios Telemáticos (National Programme for Telematic Applications and Services) covers in particular a section (3.1.1) on tele-libraries. The objective is to provide users, wherever they are, with an efficient and cost-effective means of accessing local, regional, national and international networked information resources. See also theSpanish country report from the Public Libraries in the Information Society study and background on Spain for the Green Paper.

    SWEDEN - The policy paper Communication Without Frontiers describes how the Swedes are approaching the information society and tells us that "Libraries will be in a stronger position" in the chapter on Education, Knowledge, Culture and the Media . The overall government strategy for libraries is presented, in Swedish only, in a budget proposal document earmarking SEK 27 million over three years for modernising the LIBRIS system, including the provision of free Web access, and SEK 62 million for connecting public libraries to SUNET, the Swedish university network. An analysis and strategy for academic libraries, later officially endorsed by the government, was presented by BIBSAM, the Office for National Planning and Coordination of the Royal Library in 1996. The final report of the BIBSAM study is translated into English. Information on Swedish public libraries, including the recently adopted library legislation is available from the National Council for Cultural Affairs . See also background on Sweden for the Green Paper. 

  • UK New Library: the People's Network published on 15 October 97 was commissioned from the Library and Information Commission (LIC) by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport . It sets out ambitious plans for networking public libraries over the next few years and should be seen in the wider context of the consultation paper on the National Grid for Learning . In response, on 16 April 1998 the UK Government reported it had earmarked £70 million for moderning public libraries over the next four years. The funding will be used essentially for digitisation and the retraining of Britain's 27,000 library staff. The Government's Response is available as a PDF file. In addition, the LIC has published (November 1997) a discussion paper on Library and Information Research, Development and Innovation in the UK and (March 1998) Virtually New - Creating the Digital Collection , a ground clearing report reviewing digitisation projects in local authority libraries and archives and calling for an agency to be established to coordinate public library digitisation. Furthermore, in July 1998, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published a detailed consultation paper on the Comprehensive Spending Review which presents a basis for action regarding libraries, calling in particular for better coordination between libraries, museums and galleries and between libraries and education. The wide range of projects and support actions undereLib and the emerging EARL initiative are also evidence of the UK's commitment to library technology. The British Library Research and Innovation Centre (RIC) is the official research funding agency for libraries in the information society. See also the IT for Allinitiative which encourages public awareness and access opportunities, including library services and our background information on the United Kingdom for the Green Paper.

And outside Europe...

Other pertinent information

International information policy initiatives

  • The OECD's GII-GIS policy reports make recommendations to governments on providing public access to the Internet and other advanced information services via schools, libraries, community centres and museums.
  • The Dutch-based International Institute for Communication and Development strives to assist developing countries to keep up with the latest developments in information technology. Its intervention strategy places special emphasis on electronic communication applications that can be used to improve the range and the access to basic social services such as health, education, public information and the environment, particularly by the underprivileged in society.
  • The Commonwealth of Learning is an international organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education resources and technologies, especially for helping developing nations to improve access to quality education and training.
  • The Global Knowledge Web site, drawing on the results of an international conference sponsored by the World Bank and the Government of Canada in 1997, acts as a focal point of an emerging global partnership to harness knowledge and information for development.
  • The United Nation's Development Programme's Info 21 on Information and Communications Technologies for Development shows how ICTs can be applied to encouraging the performance and growth of economies and how they represent a novel and effective tool to help advance sustainable human development.



European Commission 
DGXIII Telematics for Libraries
Contact: Concha Fernandez de la Puente
e-mail: concha.fpuente@lux.dg13.cec.be 

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