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New European Action Plan for Libraries

eGov monitor Weekly

25 March 2003

Ministers, policy-makers and practitioners from more than 30 European countries, including the UK, have agreed to four cornerstone priorities and a 10-point action plan to enhance the role of local public library services to meet citizens' needs in the information age.

Over 200 high-level representatives from the EU governments and candidate states, as well as neighbouring countries, have signed up to a high-level manifesto statement setting out the goals for the future development of library services across Europe. The document was issued at a policy conference held in Portugal on 13-14 March by PULMAN, a European Commission-funded network of excellence, which promotes international co-operation in developing digital services for public libraries and cultural organisations operating at local and regional level.

Addressing the conference via video link, European Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen, described the move as a "key event for public libraries in Europe" that would "set the scene for exciting developments in the years to come".

The Manifesto describes libraries, museums and archives as "vital building blocks" for driving forward the information society, calling for sufficient funding and support to be given at national and local level to accelerate their development as "centres of access to digital resources".

Priorities highlighted by the document focus on the four areas of democracy and citizenship, economic and social development, lifelong learning and cultural diversity. Specific concerns include the need for libraries to "support of the take-up of services of e-government, e-health, e-commerce and e-learning by providing seamless, objective and user-friendly access, as well as training in the use of electronic resources".

The Manifesto also attaches importance to partnerships between the cultural heritage sector, local business communities and other service providers to create "value-added information services".

The PULMAN Conference Policy Manifesto

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