Correspondence with Ministers October 2006 to April 2007 - European Union Committee Contents

i2010: DIGITAL LIBRARIES (12981/05)

Letter from David Lammy MP, Minister for Culture, Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Chairman

  I am sorry not to have responded to your letter of 24 November 2005[143] before now, but I am afraid that we can find no record here of having received your original request.

  You have asked for reports on the outcome of the European Digital Library debate at the Education, Youth and Culture Council and our Presidency conference, which both took place last November; and for a summary of the UK response to the European Commission's consultation.


  The European Commission has not yet issued a formal note of last November's Education, Youth and Culture Council. However, the draft minutes note that the Council held an exchange of views on the Communication from the Commission (12981/05), on the basis of a Presidency questionnaire (13392/2/05). Delegations welcomed the idea of a European Digital Library and mentioned existing and planned digitisation activities in their own countries which could contribute to this initiative. The debate focused on the need to ensure multilingualism and promote linguistic and cultural diversity, on the issue of protection of intellectual property rights and online accessibility and digital preservation.


  On 15 November 2005, as part of the UK Presidency programme, we hosted a conference about the European MICHAEL project, looking in particular at exploring ways of providing multi-lingual access to the cultural heritage online (including reports from projects in the UK and Europe); and considered ways of providing access to the digital cultural heritage for tourism, research and by the creative industries.

  In the evening of 15 November, I launched a Dynamic Action Plan to make Europe's cultural heritage more accessible through the internet. I am enclosing a copy of the Plan, which was produced by the National Representatives Group (NRG) (not printed). The NRG meets at least every six months and its activities include identifying and comparing digitisation practices, setting technical standards across Europe and developing best practice guidelines. The Plan sets out an important programme in providing diverse digital resources that support education, tourism and the creative industries, and will enable digital access by all citizens to the national, regional and local cultural heritage of Europe. Its objectives include overcoming the digital divide, and mobilising cultural institutions to co-ordinate and make best use of technologies.

  On 16 November, the NRG held an "Inspiring eLearning" conference, which looked at the links between digitisation and e-learning. The conference showcased some developments in the UK, as well as those from across Europe and looked at some of the issues involved in the provision of e-learning materials.

  The NRG met on 17 November. The meeting noted that the Dynamic Action Plan had been presented at the meeting of the Culture and Audio Visual Council on 14 November, and was subsequently formally launched in Bristol. The NRG looked at ways to implement the Plan, including agreeing to set up five working groups.

  The NRG heard presentations on proposals for a European Digital Library from the NRG member for France, and from the Commission; it also heard presentations from the TEL Project (The European Library) and the DELOS Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries. The NRG discussed the i2010: Digital Libraries Communication and agreed to prepare a common response based on responses prepared by Member States.


  Our response to the Commission's i2010: digital Libraries Communication was submitted on 30 January 2006 and published on the DCMS website.

  The response stressed that the Dynamic Action Plan and a European Digital Library complement each other, and that following the launch of the Plan we hoped that the NRG would have a key role to play in the implementation of a European Digital Library. We also noted that we consider the European Digital Library initiative should promote cultural identity as a whole by using materials from all cultural institutions, rather than just focusing on books and printed texts.

  The response also addressed the issue of copyright. In particular, many stakeholders noted that it was important to involve copyright creators and their representatives in methods to increase access to content online.

  Several stakeholders commented that they would like a clearer idea of what research and development is already being done, and how this fits with current work in individual Member States. Most of those consulted also endorsed the point made in the Communication that private sponsorship and public/private partnerships would be required to accelerate the current pace of digitisation initiatives.

  Responses to the Communication have fed into a Recommendation, which the Commission announced at the end of August (see The Council will be discussing the Recommendation in November, and probably adopting conclusions.

  The Commission has recently launched a further consultation on "Content Online in the Single Market". The deadline for responses to this is 13 October 2006 and DCMS will be contributing to a UK Government response.

15 October 2006

Letter from the Chairman to David Lammy MP

  Thank you for your letter of 15 October which provided the report we requested on the meetings which were held during the consultation on the Commission's i2010: Digital Libraries initiative. This was considered by the Sub-Committee on 23 November.

  We note that the Commission Recommendation—12352/06 on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation—was cleared from scrutiny in our 10 October Chairman's sift. We therefore now release the previous Communication document 12981/05 from scrutiny.

23 November 2006

143   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 636. Back

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