The European Library is an Internet service that allows access to the resources of 49 European national libraries and an increasing number of research libraries. Searching is free and delivers metadata records as well as digital objects, mostly free of charge. The objects come from institutions located in countries which are members of the Council of Europe and range from catalogue records to full-text books, magazines, journals and audio recordings. Over 200 million records are searchable, including 24 million pages of full-text content and more than 7 million digital objects. Thirty five different languages are represented among the searchable objects.
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Type of site
|Portal to the content of Europe's national and research libraries|
|Headquarters||Dutch Royal Library, Netherlands"|
|Owner||CENL (a consortium of 49 national libraries)|
|URL||The European Library at Europeana|
|Launched||17 March 2005|
History and concept
The European Library of today has evolved from a number of earlier projects.
Its starting point was in 1997 when the GABRIEL (Gateway and Bridge to Europe's National Libraries) project set out to establish a joint web portal of European national libraries. At a basic level, the portal provided information about each library's collections and access to their online public access catalogues (OPACs).
The European Library exists to open up the universe of knowledge, information and cultures of all Europe's national libraries.
GABRIEL was followed by the TEL (The European Library) project, which ran from 2001–2004 and created a framework for access to key national and deposit collections within Europe. The project was part-funded under the Fifth Framework Programme of the European Commission. The national libraries involved in the TEL project were those of Finland, Germany, Italy (Florence), Italy (Rome), Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland and United Kingdom.
This led to the launch of TheEuropeanLibrary.org portal on 17 March 2005.
Between 2005–2007, the TEL-ME-MOR project helped to incorporate 10 more national libraries from new European Union member states as full partners of The European Library. By the beginning of 2008, a further nine national libraries within the European Union and the European Free Trade Association had joined the service.
The European Library took a further step towards its enlargement with the EDLproject, during which national libraries continued to join The European Library. The project also focused on multilingualism, undertook the first steps towards a European Metadata Registry and created a roadmap for potential digitization efforts in the national libraries.
|Year of Joining||National Libraries|
|2005||Netherlands, Switzerland, UK, Finland, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy-Florence, Italy-Rome|
|2006||Malta, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Serbia, Croatia, Denmark|
|2007||Belgium, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Russia-Moscow|
|2008||Albania, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Turkey, Russia Saint Petersburg, Ukraine|
|*||San Marino, Vatican City (collections not searchable)|
The European Library and Europeana
The European Library provided much of the organization and support required to launch Europeana – a European Commission initiative that makes millions of digital objects from libraries, museums and archives accessible to the public via the Europeana website.
When the European Parliament called for Europeana to be established, the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL), under the auspices of the National Library of the Netherlands and CENL's service The European Library, were asked to submit for a project under the eContentplus programme. Work began on a prototype in 2007 and Europeana was launched in November 2008.
Europeana now operates independently but The European Library continues to work closely with Europeana. The European Library is the aggregator of digital content from national libraries for Europeana and delivers digital content from national libraries on a monthly basis to Europeana.
Some human and technical resources are also shared between Europeana and The European Library.
In addition to its search engine, The European Library pulls together themes from the collections of Europe's national libraries and displays them in virtual exhibitions. These exhibitions unite geographically disparate objects in a single online space, offering Pan-European sources on the topic.
- Manuscripts and Princes in Medieval and Renaissance Europe: 34 manuscripts from the royal collections of the Carolingian Emperors, French King Charles V and his family, and the Aragonese kings of Naples.
- Travelling Through History: Centuries worth of travel memorabilia from 13 European libraries, including photographs, sounds, maps and books.
- Reading Europe: Almost 1,000 books selected by national libraries, with curatorial information and full-text versions in most cases.
- A Roma Journey: Texts, photographs, paintings and recordings of traditional songs showing the heritage of the Romani people in Europe.
- Napoleonic Wars: A selection of portraits, military maps, city plans, letters, books and other material from the Napoleonic Wars.
- Treasures of Europe's National Libraries: A collection of objects selected by Europe's national libraries as some of the most outstanding items in their collections.
- National Library Buildings: Images of the National Libraries that are partners of The European Library.
Financing and ownership
The European Library is financed by its owners, the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL). The portal is maintained by The European Library Office located in the premises of the Dutch Royal Library in The Hague. Its programme director is Jill Cousins.
The 48 National Libraries who participate in The European Library project are:
Research Libraries who have also contributed content to The European Library as a result of the Europeana Libraries project include:
- CENL, Official Website of CENL. Accessed 09 October 2015
- Singer, Natasha "Playing Catch-Up in a Digital Library Race." New York Times, 8 January 2011. Accessed 17 January 2011.
- "Europe's national libraries and CENL commit to collaboration and mutual support as they build on the legacy of The European Library: TEL services to be discontinued from 31 December 2016" (PDF). 13 December 2016.
- The European Library Vision and Mission. TheEuropeanLibrary.org. Accessed January 18, 2011.
- Van Veen, Theo and Oldroyd, Bill. "Search and Retrieval in The European Library." D-Lib Magazine Volume 10 Number 2 (2004). Accessed 18 January 2011.
- List of Europeana contributors Archived 21 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Europeana.eu. Accessed 18 January 2011.
- Bjørner, Susanne. Thinking About Culture and Language. Searcher, 1 June 2009. Accessed 18 January 2011.
- Manuscripts and Princes in Medieval and Renaissance Europe TheEuropeanLibrary.org. Accessed 30 July 2012.
- Travelling through History TheEuropeanLibrary.org. Accessed 30 July 2012.
- Reading Europe: European Culture Through The Book TheEuropeanLibrary.org. Accessed 18 January 2011.
- A Roma Journey TheEuropeanLibrary.org. Accessed 18 January 2011.
- Napoleonic Wars TheEuropeanLibrary.org. Accessed 18 January 2011.
- Treasures of Europe's National Libraries TheEuropeanLibrary.org. Accessed 18 January 2011.
- National Library Buildings TheEuropeanLibrary.org. Accessed 18 January 2011.
- About Us TheEuropeanLibrary.org. Accessed 18 January 2011.