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study on digital repositories

What is the current situation among Europe's libraries in respect to the long-term preservation of digital publications?What are they actually doing in this field, how many of them are already involved and what are their plans for the future?
To pick out just a few of many interesting results: the good news is that the overwhelming majority of Europe's libraries estimates the long-term preservation of digital publications as an important or very important task.
They regard the preservation of online journals, e-books, offline media, digital print masters and websites as being part of the core business of libraries.

But the bad news is that only a minority was already able to start to systematically collecting, preserving and making available digital publications. On this account can be stated that Europe's libraries singal readiness but they need strategies and support! The Dynamic Action Plan published these days by the EU presidency for the co-ordination of digitisation of cultural and scientific content needs therefore an addition towards the co-ordination of digital preservation of digital cultural and scientific content.

The results of the the survey are presented on the reUSE website in PDF format. (download)


Institutions in the public sector will be encouraged to deliver the digital originals of their publications together with the printed pendant to their national or deposit library. The collected digital objects will be preserved for the long term. According to the agreements between the libraries and the public sector bodies the digital objects will be made available to the public.


Demonstrators will be set up in Austria, Estonia and Germany. The demonstrators will include:

  • informing public sector institutions about the new offer
  • establishing relationships on an contractual basis
  • setting up workflows for collecting the digital objects
  • managing the acquistion and ingest process
  • taking the necessary actions for long-term preservation
  • linking digital objects and printed pendants within the electronic library-catalogues
  • developing added value services in order to satisfy user need

Partners setting up demonstrators are:

  • The Austrian National Library
  • The National Library of Estonia
  • The Media and Library Center of the Humboldt University Berlin
  • The Austrian Literature Online working group

Neither from a technical point of view nor from an organisational point these demonstrators will be homogenous. In contrast they will reflect the specific situation of the library, the publishing landscape, the legal constraints and other factors. Each demonstrator shall fit into the domain of the individual library.


Nevertheless this decentralised approach does not mean that the project partners are not aware of the importance of interoperability and usability accross regional and national borders.

Standards will therefore be one of the main vehicles to integrate the digital objects into a broader information landscape.


Libraries, institutions in the public sector, publishers and users interested in the reUSE project will get detailed reports about the feasibility and usability of the demonstrators. The National Library of Slovenia will set up an evaluation framwork designed for collecting data about the organisational, legal and monetarian aspects of the reUSE approach. The National and University Library Slovenia will be supported by Die Deutsche Bibliothek and the Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering of the University Ljubljana.


The project started at the end of June 2004 and will last until June 2006.

The main steps are:

  • Early spring 2005: White paper on the approach of the project will be available.
  • Spring 2005: Demonstrators will be available in a first stage. Public sector institutions will be contacted on a systematic basis.
  • Summer 2005: Evaluation actions will be taken in order to collect basic figures about the performance of the demonstrators.
  • Winter 2005/2006: Added value services will be implemented.
  • Spring 2006: Results from the evaluation will be available.