European public libraries in concerted action
– new body for co-operation between library agencies in Europe founded
The future public library all over Europe will be a hybrid one, which implies that a growing number of virtual library services will go hand in hand with the more traditional services in the physical libraries. Public libraries will be networking in delivering virtual services for the citizens. This is one of several statements expressed at the first all- European conference on public library matters to be organised for public library authorities and national authorities in Europe.
The conference was part of the official Danish programme during the Danish EU-presidency, and directors from library agencies and associations from 33 European countries participated, focusing in particular on the changing conditions and growing challenges in relation to the public libraries’ new tasks. The conference was opened by Danish Minister of Culture, Brian Mikkelsen, who underlined the basic role of providing access which libraries have in democratic societies, and the necessity to meet citizens’ needs on the conditions of the networking society. Danish Minister for Integration and Europe, Bertel Haarder closed the conference, pointing out the tremendous role public libraries can play in relation to lifelong learning. In between a number of professional papers on strategies for networking and for developing new Internet services were presented.
In preparation of the conference the Danish National Library Authority (Biblioteksstyrelsen) had carried out a state-of-the-art survey on the development of public libraries in Europe. 23 countries are represented in the report. The main finding is that the majority of the countries have national strategies that incorporate the public libraries in strategies for developing the information society. Even if the level of development varies considerably, Internet-based services in libraries are growing at high speed in most European countries. In countries with no national strategy in the area, the development seems to lag behind. The report can be seen at www.bs.dk/naple/survey.pdf
The conference participants decided unanimously to pass the enclosed NAPLE statement on the development of public libraries in Europe.
Obviously there is a need for growing European co-operation in the field of public libraries. Consequently institutions dealing with government responsibilities in the public library area from four countries (Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark) had invited to a meeting, where an association NAPLE was founded. NAPLE stands for National Authorities for Public Libraries in Europe, and the association will primarily deal with information and strategy advisory tasks. 23 countries positively expressed their wish to join the association. The four founding countries and UK form the first executive board. A homepage will be organised by the Danish National Library Authority before the end of the year (including a closed discussion list).
For more information please contact: Director Jens Thorhauge,
Danish National Library Authority
(+45 33 73 33 67) or [log in to unmask]
Avdelningen för litteratur, bibliotek och kulturtidskrifter
S-103 98 Stockholm
Tel +8 519 264 16, 070-657 12 95
Mail: [log in to unmask]