Europe plans for massive digital library


BRUSSELS -- Euro-MPs have confirmed a €250 million ($344.6 million) plan for a European digital library that will include movies and television programs in its massive archive.

The project, which will be co-funded from the European Union's budget, will include 6 million cultural works and be available to anyone with an Internet connection. The EU also will co-fund with the private sector the creation of a Europewide network of digitization centers to boost the initiative.

The European Parliament's Culture Committee said the library should make access to Europe's cultural heritage much easier.

"It is important to make use of the digital technology to promote, safeguard and disseminate the wealth and diversity of the European cultural heritage as widely as possible," the Parliament said in its report, drafted by French Euro-MP Marie-Helene Decamps.

Decamps said the library will be a single, direct and multilingual access point to the European cultural heritage, covering all categories of cultural material. She also called for new methods of financing to be developed for the library, including partnerships with the private sector.

Two million films, programs, books, photographs, manuscripts and other cultural works will be accessible by 2008, with that figure jumping to 6 million by 2010. One of the first challenges will be to digitize content stored in traditional formats, such as photographic negatives, films on reels and music on vinyl records or tape.

This ties in with separate commission calls for EU governments to set up systems for archiving movies in national archives, film institutes or similar institutions. The next step will be to ensure that the material is easily available online and that the digital information also will be available for future generations.