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A Concerted Action for Public Libraries

Updated: 24 NOV 98

See also: Public Libraries National Policies General Information Resources Technical Information Resources Central and Eastern Europe Journals Library Systems Music Acronyms Multilingual Tools

The Libraries sector of the European Commission's Telematics Programme launched an initiative for Public Libraries during a meeting on 7 November 1995 in Luxembourg. The proposed initiative, called PubliCA, is funded under the Call for Proposals 1995 in the area of the Telematics Applications within the Framework Programme IV (1994-1998) and is a Concerted Action for Public Libraries. 
Concerted actions come under what is known as accompanying measures; that is, measures which help the main projects by supportive actions such as gathering information, sharing views, and agreeing common objectives.

Following the last Call for Proposals, PubliCA has been granted a 6 month extension to continue its work, and extend its scope to Central and Eastern Europe.

Additional information is available from the PubliCA website. (

PubliCA within the Telematics for Libraries Programme

Telematics for Libraries aims to stimulate and co-ordinate the response of libraries to the changes brought about by the Information Society. It comes under the Commission's Telematics Applications programme .

As an adjunct to this programme, the concerted action PubliCA has the objectives of:

  • stimulating more public library participation in the current programme;
  • assisting the European Commission in ensuring public libraries benefit from the results of projects;
  • reducing disparities between public library services in the different Member States

PubliCA focuses on the integration of public library services into the Information Society through the creation of a human resource network connecting public library managers, researchers, policy makers and all other interested parties. The Concerted Action aims at supporting and enhancing the role of European public libraries in the Information Society by creating a better understanding among them of the opportunities and problems they need to address, by building consensus about the use of telematics technologies and by enabling a coherent approach to the development of new services to meet the need of the citizens in the Information Society.

PubliCA also ensures through dissemination to the public libraries network, that public libraries fully benefit from the results of relevant RTD projects in the Libraries Sector. 
In addition it promotes actions aiming at reducing disparities among public libraries across European countries.

PubliCA strategic actions

PLIS Study

The first activity envisaged was a study entitled Public Libraries and the Information Society . The study looked at the challenges for public libraries in Europe in establishing their role in the Information Society. It followed a poor response from the public library sector, as opposed to the research and academic library sector, to the Commission's calls under the Third Framework Programme and the first call on Telematics for Libraries under the current Fourth Framework Programme. As public libraries represent half of some 100,000 libraries throughout the European Union, the Commission is keen to see them better represented.

The Executive Summary of the PLIS Study is available in 9 different languages. The publication has been widely distributed through the PubliCA national contacts in all the Member States.

Leuven Communiqué

On 22 August 1998 a workshop was organised by PubliCA in Leuven, Belgium. At the workshop 23 European countries gathered to discuss the future of public libraries in the Information Society. The delegates focused on theReport on the Role of Libraries in the Modern World by Mrs Mirja Ryynänen and agreed that it constitutes a common basis for national and European policies regarding public libraries. The same report was adopted almost unanimously by the European Parliament during a debate in Strasbourg held on 23 October 1998. 
The proceedings of the Workshop as well as the text of the Leuven Communiqué ( available in 13 languages) can be found at the PubliCA web site.

Main future activities

PubliCA CEPP - Centres of Excellence Placements Programme

One of the future actions planned by PubliCA as part of its renewed and updated mandate agreed with The European Commission and in view of the PubliCA extension to Central and Eastern Europe, will be offer a programme of training placements during 1999 for public library service managers from the Southern countries of the EU and the ten Central and Eastern European countries with pre-accession agreements namely Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. A training needs assessment is currently under way following which training programmes will be finalised.
Detailed information on the training programmes is available from the PubliCA web site

Ministerial Conference

A Pan-European Conference on the future of public libraries in the Information Society is planned before the end of the PubliCA mandate. This conference will mainly address policy and decision makers. Promoting the role and potential of public libraries to policy and decision makers in order to involve their interest, will be one the ultimate goal of PubliCA in order to achieve real impact and to create a sustainable infrastructure for future co-operation. The agenda of the conference will probably include the Report on the role of libraries in the  Modern World as well as the PLIS Study.
At the moment the organisation of this event is at an early stage. Further information will be published on this page and on the PubliCA web site in the next future.

More information on PubliCA can be found at the PubliCA web site .

The way forward

When launching PubliCA, Chris Batt, Borough Libraries Officer for Croydon UK, said: "It is important to remember that, in the Information Technology age information should be written large, and we should ensure that the technology is applied in a way that is right for the purpose. PubliCA is a mechanism for libraries across Europe to evaluate and demonstrate the way forward for the sector. "

Progress is clearly being made along these lines.

Other pertinent links:

European Commission
DG XIII/E-4 Telematics for Libraries
Contact person: Ian Pigott

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