Brussels, 02 May 2005
In a letter addressed to the current European Council President Jean-Claude Juncker and Commission President José Manuel Barroso, the French, Italian, Spanish, German, Polish and Hungarian leaders have proposed making the works contained in European libraries available online in a European digital library.
Some 19 major European libraries are backing the plan, which is considered to be a reaction to Google's announcement in December 2004 that it would digitally scan books from the collections of five major research libraries and make them searchable online.
'The heritage of European libraries is unequalled in richness and diversity,' stated the Heads of State and Government in their letter. 'But if it is not digitalised and made accessible online, this heritage could, tomorrow, not fill its just place in the future geography of knowledge.'
According to the six leaders, existing efforts should be coordinated. They noted that many libraries are already digitally scanning works, but said the results should be in an online network 'to create what could be called a European digital library'.