The European Library – Towards an Open Collection

The following post is written by Alastair Dunning, programme manager of the European Library.

In digital terms, The European Library (TEL) has been around for quite a
while. Starting with the GABRIEL project in 1997, TEL sought to bring
together the catalogues and collections of Europe’s national libraries.
The alliances and ideas built by TEL also provided the foundations for
the Europeana service, which integrated digitised material from museums,
archives and other related cultural heritage organisations.

Now comprising 48 national libraries and over 20 research libraries,
TEL’s portal provides access to a
central index of over 117m metadata records, and an extra 18m records
related to digitised items.

But in the age of open, restricting access to the search and browse of a
portal is not enough. End users want to be able to interrogate and
download the data that is currently aggregated by TEL.

That’s why The European Library is embarking on the process to have as
many of these bibliographic records marked as CC0 as possible.

Throughout 2013, TEL will be in dialogue with its member libraries to
ascertain how much of their bibliographic metadata can be released with
the Creative Commons 0 mark, thus allowing for the data’s maximum reuse
both commercially and non-commercially.

If one makes the assumption that each national library’s catalogue act
as a record of books published in that country, then the combined TEL
dataset can be thought of as Europe’s bibliography.

And once this dataset is amassed and marked as CC0 it will be able to
inspire a whole range of new uses; both in terms of the data being
integrated into other library services and also in providing valuable
source for any research project that can benefit from this massive
dataset cataloguing all of Europe’s books.