mercredi 26 janvier 2011

Turkey’s National Library included in EU digital project

Turkey’s National Library included in EU digital project
ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency Tuesday, January 25, 2011The National Library has become the first Turkish institute to be included in Europe’s digital library project, Europeana. Thanks to the project, Europeans can see many priceless manuscripts and other objects online. ’Inclusion in Europeana is also significant for Turkey’s promotion abroad,’ says the National Library General Director Tuncel Acar

Turkey’s National Library has become be the first Turkish institution included in the European Union’s digital library project, Europeana, the director of the National Library has announced. Nearly 27,050 manuscripts and 10,000 magazines from the National Library’s digital collection will now be available through the database.

The Europeana project aims to integrate the databases of cultural institutes and libraries from around Europe. The project, which began in 2008, is based in the National Library of the Netherlands and receives funding from the European Commission.

National Library General Director Tuncel Acar said Europeana officials contacted with Hacettepe University and asked to include Turkey in the project. The university then held a meeting with the National Library to initiate work on the project, Acar said.

Europeana largely focuses on historic artworks that were digitized in libraries, museums, and research and development centers, according to Acar. “Some 27,000 manuscripts were in the digital platform, but we were not included in Europeana’s website,” he said. “This was a deficiency.” The National Library signed a protocol with Europeana a few days ago and its works are now included in the system, the library director said.

The Turkish artworks and documents included in the database are unique and could prove very important to researchers, Acar said. “These objects do not have copyrights. We have digitized them and shouldn’t other people in the world see Turkey’s priceless manuscripts?”
Acar added that inclusion in the project is prestigious for the National Library. “But the fact that we are the first Turkish institute in the system, this is more prestigious for us. I am sure that other institutes will be included in it following us,” he said.

In addition to manuscripts, printed works will also be digitized for Europeana, said Acar, who pointed to the example of a book of letters from Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror to the Vatican in 1475. “This book is as valuable as a manuscript because it was printed 600 years ago,” he said.
While European researchers may not be familiar with the Turkish National Library’s website, they know Europeana, according to Acar. “When people enter this website, they will also see our manuscripts. This is a big advantage for us,” he said. “Turkish language will also be included in the website. This is why we give importance to Europeana.”

Significant for Turkey’s promotion
Acar emphasized that the National Library’s inclusion in Europeana is significant for Turkey’s promotion abroad. “Imagine that the works at the Topkapı Palace are included in Europeana,” he said. “It would be great.”

He suggested that access to information about Turkey would encourage people to visit the country. “Because what you see on the Internet is just a small object, regardless of its magnificence.”

The only problem with digitization is copyrights, Acar said, adding that publishers oppose digitization because it hurts their profits.
“As soon as you put a best-selling object on the Internet, the sales of this object stop. This is why publishers want copyrights, but this system is not well established in Turkey yet,” he said, unlike in Scandinavian countries where the state pays copyright fees for researchers. “In this way, the right of the writer is protected by the state.”

Acar added that publishers also make contracts for digital copies when they publish books. “Such e-book companies only began appearing in Turkey recently.”

What is Europeana?
Europeana was launched in 2008 with the goal of making Europe's cultural and scientific heritage accessible to the public. The project is funded by the European Commission. The website, with some 2 million works, enables users to benefit from Europe’s cultural and scientific heritage. It offers content including images, paintings, maps, voice records and newspapers.
The National Library gives visitors a password to access the digital archives. In accordance with protocol, visitors pay for printing to contribute to the library’s funding.

Europeana can be accessed at
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