Wednesday, May 11, 2005

EC: more attention for written and audiovisual archives

In a press release from Brussels European Commissioner Viviane Reding indicated that written and audiovisual archives will get more attention than they have had so far. In July a communication will be issued outlining the plans. The communication will be accompanied by a proposal for a Recommendation aimed at enlisting all the public players concerned and facilitating public-private partnerships in the task of digitising our heritage.

The press release comes against the background that Google started to scan literature books in the USA and had plans for France. Cultural institutes have pressed the European Commission to keep control over European heritage.

The press release announces actions to be continued and new actions:

Actions to be continued
- Developing techniques for standardisation and search methods geared towards exploiting written and audiovisual archives in the digital environment. Since 2001, the European IST programme of research in the field of ICT has supported the exchange of good practice, definition of benchmarks and dialogue between the players concerned (the MINERVA, MINERVA Plus and DIGICULT Forum projects) and has launched a process to identify standards and tests for reciprocal access between public libraries (the European Library (TEL) project, currently managed by the Dutch National Library, with access to 90 collections).

- For audiovisual archives, the PRESTO and PRESTOSPACE actions (allocated €9 million), funded by the IST programme, support the development of fast, high-quality techniques to digitise television archives, while the European Union’s MEDIA programme supports the establishment of film catalogues in digital format. Promoting the use of digital technologies by the European audiovisual industry will be one of the priorities of MEDIA 2007, for which the Commission is requesting a budget of €1.055 billion for 2007-2013.

- A Recommendation (currently being adopted) on film heritage, promoting in particular the standardisation of film catalogues and the interoperability of audiovisual archive databases.

New actions
- €36 million will be earmarked for research projects in this area – including the development of search engines for the general public – at the next call for proposals under the Community’s information society technologies research programme (IST programme), which will be published in May, and the Commission wishes to see the budget for this sector increased further in the 7th RTD Framework Programme, as of 2007.

- €60 million will go to digitisation of and access to content within the eContent Plus programme for the period 2005-2008, (next call end of June 2005) which will support action to network archives in Europe.

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