The European Digital Library Progresses Bit by Bit

By November 04, 2006

The book battle rages on: While Google Book Search has been tied up in legal battles, a European Digital Library (EDL) project steering committee convened on Wednesday, January 11. Chaired by the French Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, the committee presented an EDL deployment strategy for France. The results of this meeting are to be presented to French president Jacques Chirac. The EDL is set to be launched in France before the end of the first quarter of 2006, but France is counting on several European countries to participate in creating a truly European library collection.

The committee redefined its intentions for the project to digitize European works. It will be designed as a service for all Europeans, not just those in the know or who work in academia or research.

Works already available online are to be converted from images to text. The committee hopes to digitize 60,000 works by the end of 2006. Unlike the Gallica website created by the BNF (French National Library), however, the EDL will include works in the public domain as well as currently copyrighted texts. Now it is a matter of defining a business model and a system for compensating publishers.

Currently, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Italy, and Poland are supporting the French-initiated EDL project, which was launched in response to the Google Book Search initiative.

In an interview with French financial daily Les Echos, Jean-Noël Jeanneney estimated that the project “could cost France up to €8–15 million for the digitization process.” However, certain essential aspects, such as which search engine to use, remain undecided.

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