3.00 FYI France: Enewsletter and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

May 15, 1994 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on May 15, 1994. This particular issue originally was distributed in two parts, as indicated below.
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Date:         Sun, 15 May 1994 14:09:43 CDT
From:         Jack Kessler 

FYI France: President's Report (reprise), Cons.Sup.des Bibl.(pt.1of2)

There have been several requests for additional translation of Michel
Melot's Presidential Report for the Year 1993, from the French Conseil
Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques.

The report is very informative, on French library and networking current
events, but it is too long to be translated in its entirety here. Last
month the Introduction and sections entitled "The Development of
Electronic Networks" and "The Weakness of Music Libraries" appeared.

This month the translation of "VII. The European Programs of the
Libraries of France" gives a fascinating glimpse into the political
workings of European librarianship. These are complexities and headaches
which no American librarian will envy. They have to be understood,
though, by any American librarian or networker who really wants to
interact with foreigners in the field. Asia, Latin America, and Africa
no doubt will have their own complexities; for now it is enough at least
to sympathize with what the Europeans must go through, as judiciously
and often eloquently described here by Melot.

The full text of the Report is available in French as follows:

1) By anonymous ftp:  ftp.grenet.fr
                      cd /pub/doc
                     get csb.ps (postscript version)
                     get csb.txt ( ascii -- "version texte seul
                                 avec accents quand me^me")

2) By gopher: gopher.grenet.fr path /OPAC/rapport du CSB/

3) By mosaic URL //ftp.grenet.fr/pub/doc/csb.ps (or csb.txt)

4) By mosaic page "reseau documentaire de grenoble" URL


Printed text citation:

Conseil Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques, _Rapport du Pre'sident [Michel
Melot] pour l'Anne'e 1993_ (Paris : Association du Conseil Supe'rieur
des Bibliothe`ques, 1994). ISSN 1157 - 360. Section VII. Translated by
Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us.


VII. The European Programs of the Libraries of France

Mid - Way Evaluation of the European Plan of Action
The Perspective of National Libraries
The Perspective of Public Libraries
The Third Call for Proposals
The French Part in the European Plan of Action for Libraries
The Role of the Council of Europe in Books and Reading


VII. The European Programs of the Libraries of France

Mid - Way Evaluation of the European Plan of Action

Inserted in the third Community Executive Program for Research and
Technological Development (1990 - 1994), the Telematics Program --
within which may be found, among many other concerns, the European Plan
of Action for Libraries -- has been the object of a mid - way evaluation
by the DG - XIII, the directorate of the European Community's Commission
which has this responsibility.

The chapter devoted by the editor to the plan of action for libraries
expresses a certain number of concerns which recall for many the
concerns which the French committee has had from the beginning. These
reservations, although they are numerous, do not reflect on the basic
principle of the plan of action and the considerable wisdom which it
brings to library affairs. At the very moment when the budget for the
fourth Executive Program for Research and Technological Development
(1994 - 1998) is being negotiated, criticisms must not be permitted to
compromise the redirection of the plan in favor of libraries. This is
why, relying on the position of French experts, the President of the
Conseil Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques has -- in a letter to the General
Director of DG - XIII -- asked that the plan of action for libraries be
maintained and in fact intensified, taking into account the conclusions
of the editor.

In fact, the project of the fourth Executive Program for Research and
Technological Development (1994 - 1998) retains, for the Telematics
Plan, the importance which was accorded it in the preceding program, and
maintains, in similar terms, the plan of action for libraries, following
a double orientation: 1) the development of systems facilitating access
to library resources, considered generally to be under - exploited; 2)
the interconnection of libraries, among themselves and with the
telematics infrastructures of Europe, guaranteeing the inter -
operability of different applications and of different types of systems.
These projects also concern the creation of virtual libraries,
permitting the dial - in access to collections and the rapid furnishing
of documents by electronic means.

In his response to the President of the Conseil Supe'rieur des
Bibliothe`ques, M. Carpentier, Director of DG - XIII, recognizes that
his work needs the support of libraries and that budgetary restrictions
risk having a constraining effect on the Commission's actions in this
area. He confirms that, "the preparatory work for the fourth Executive
Program will take account of the Mid - Way Evaluation... and will take
advantage of the results of the third Executive Program and of the
experience gained so far."

If the first results have been deemed disappointing at times by the
editor, the reasons for this stem less from the actions themselves than
from their environment: libraries have little experience in
international cooperation, as we ourselves often have pointed out for
our French case; their means are feeble, and the market which they
represent is of little interest to industrialists; American domination,
and that of the Library of Congress, make difficult the establishment of
a European system in a world in which communication is instantly global.
These reasons are reinforced by the structure of the European programs:
libraries are a part of DG - XIII, which has a direction oriented toward
the development of technology. The plan of action therefore leaves aside
teaching, legal, or cultural programs which ought to accompany these
developments, particularly in countries which still are poorly developed
in these respects.

Thus the programs of education and of educational exchange, demanded
with insistence by the national experts, were dropped from the plan of
action. The criteria of selection of projects over - valued
technological innovation in an area which, not carrying great economic
weight itself, has an interest in using existing technologies rather
than inventing new ones. The emphasis was put on systems rather than on
contents, and the projects for joining the two -- of specialized centers
which could unite different documentation practices -- were not
supported so much as were minute, isolated, researches. Legal questions
and those of standardization -- without which nothing can be
accomplished -- for these same reasons have rested outside the purely
technical program of research.

Finally, the cultural aspect of libraries, particularly their role in
the national patrimony and in the development of reading, ought to be
taken up by DG - X, which is responsible for culture, and which seems to
have left the libraries sector entirely to DG - XIII: it is not pleasing
to see that the programs proposed by the national libraries, which very
much are preoccupied with national patrimony, and those concerned with
public reading, are under - represented in the plan of action.
Coordination of the two directions in this regard is a necessity, in
order to consider, at the same time, technology, use, and contents.

On certain points, modifications already have been made of the plan of
action. In particular, the procedure of the Call for Proposals which, by
the heavy investments which it assumes (the preparation of complete
files, propositions supported by precise studies, negotiations with
foreign entities) excludes small organizations by definition. For the
third Call, in 1993, financial aid was offered to candidates who asked
for it. But there was feeble representation in the first two Calls for
Proposals of projects emanating from national libraries or public
libraries; most of the projects proposed and retained emanated either
from research libraries or from private companies. DG - XIII therefore
organized two workshops, one on the needs of the national libraries,
held at Paris on September 24, 1993, and the other on those of public
reading, held at Luxembourg on November 11 and 12.

The Perspectives of National Libraries

During the meeting held at Paris, four lines of action were outlined for
permitting national bibliographic services to integrate themselves
better into the European Plan, and four working groups were created,

1) the improvement of national libraries and the enlivening of their
information content; it will be presided over by Finland, joined by

2) the study of the needs of users of national bibliographies,
particularly of their costs and means of diffusing information; it will
be presided over by Germany;

3) the accessibility of national bibliographies on the networks, their
opening to other organizations, and the distribution of notices; it will
be presided over by Great Britain, assisted by the Netherlands;

4) technical problems and their development: for example the diversity
of character sets and of authority files; it will be presided over by
the Netherlands, assisted by Great Britain;

France is represented on each of these working groups, and has let it be
known that she willingly will accept to be charged with any of the
programs, which will be defined by the groups and confirmed by the
Commission in September 1994 as part of the fourth Executive Program.


(Next: public libraries' attitudes, the European Community's efforts and
the French role, and a new library role for the Council of Europe.)


FYI France: President's Report (reprise), Cons.Sup.des Bibl.(pt.2of2)

(Michel Melot, President of the French Conseil Supe'rieur des
Bibliothe`ques, has been describing recent library and networking events
in Europe, and the particular problems of National Libraries there. Here
he continues, with a consideration of public libraries' attitudes, the
European Community's efforts and the French role in them, and a possible
new library role for the Council of Europe. Translated by me from his
1993 Report: full print citation and references to online fulltext
French language versions appear in Part 1.)



The Perspectives of Public Libraries

The examination of the needs of public libraries was made during a two -
day workshop held at Luxembourg (November 11 - 12, 1993), which united
forty experts concerned with three subjects: 1) the perfecting of
automated management tools, 2) the use of "new media", and, 3) the role
of public libraries in that which one has become accustomed to call,
after the British practice, "open education" (which should not be
confused, taking into account the active role which a librarian assumes,
either with the concept of auto - didactic education or with those of
professional training or continuing education).

Six French representatives were invited, in addition to Jean Gatte'gno,
who represented the Council of Europe. The Director of Documentation of
the National Center for Educational Documentation, M. Sanz, spoke on the
concept of "open education", insisting that technological development
could not be separated from legal studies, and calling for a study of
users in each country, in order to avoid the imposition of insensitive
models. In fact it is not likely that the notion of "open education",
already known to the libraries of the Northern countries, is adaptable
as it is to those of the South, and particularly to France, considering
the role there of National Education. Inversely, the existence of the
Minitel permits in France a development of telematic relations between
librarians and their users which cannot be applied to the general public
in other countries. The President of the Conseil Supe'rieur des
Bibliothe`ques presented a round table on the use of new media in public
libraries, also insisting on the necessity of accompanying technological
developments with programs of professional training, to be given
priority by the Southern countries, and of considering legal
implications. Presided over by P.J. Th. Shoots, director of the
Municipal Library of Rotterdam, the meetings took up a number of
interesting points, which remain to be developed fully and for which the
public libraries will be invited to propose European projects in the
fourth Executive Program.

The Third Call for Proposals

The Technical Committee of the Telematics Plan, formed of experts from
each member - State, met on  April 23 to comment upon the results of the
third Call for Proposals. It seemed to them that the projects conformed
more to what the Commission had desired, and that the division among
different countries was better. They noted, however, that the libraries
do not consider themselves to be a terrain of experimentation for
private enterprises, that the commercial objectives were not well -
formulated, and that commercial vendors were not represented in the
projects. The absence of a national political dimension behind these
projects was emphasized, a need which the French committee will try to

A third Call for Proposals was launched in mid - November 1993, for a
deadline set for February 15 1994. The results will be known by mid -
June 1994. In order to encourage French candidates, the French committee
organized, on December 20, an information day for eventual candidates,
to help them with their applications, although service companies and
specialized centers formed the majority attending. The secretariat of
the Conseil Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques, in the person of Madame Marie
- Dominique Nicolas, ably supported the work of the French committee as
it has in previous years: notice of the Call for Candidates was sent to
over five hundred institutions and companies, of which seventy - five
asked to receive a complete information file.

The French Part in the European Plan of Action for Libraries

It is time to render an accounting of the French role in the first two
Calls for Proposals, even though this will not involve a technical
evaluation. During the first Call, in 1991, French companies and
institutions were involved in only four of the forty projects and ran
two of those. These four projects were the following:

1) EDIL ("Electronic Document Interchange between Libraries") developed
an electronic system for rapid furnishing of digitized documents among
libraries. It brought together three French partners: Te'le'syste`mes
and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research in two of these
partners (university libraries and INIST), with leading institutions in
this area: the Dutch network PICA, the documents service of the British
Library (BLDSC, Boston Spa), and the library of technical information
(TIB) of the University of Hanover. Operations began in January, 1993,
and have attained the stage of making specifications.

2) MORE ("Marc Optical Recognition") is directed by the company Jouve,
in association with the Center for Computer Research at Nancy and the
Royal Library of Albert I at Brussels. The project evaluates the
possibility of using techniques of optical character recognition for
automated retrospective conversion of library catalogs. It began in
January, 1993, and already has produced specifications for automation,
for dictionaries, and for pattern recognition.

3) ELISE ("Electronic Library Image Service for Europe") is a project
studying the electronic transmission of image databases among libraries.
It is led by the University of Montfort, at Leicester (Great Britain)
with the British scientific center of IBM, the Victoria and Albert
Museum (London), the university library at Tilburg (Netherlands), and
the Bibliothe`que Publique d'Information (Paris). Work only began in
October 1993.

4) EBP ("European Books in Print") is a project for the equivalent
publication, for the Southern countries, of our _Livres Disponibles_ or
the British _Books in Print_. It naturally brings together groups of
publishers, thus: for France, the Cercle de la Librarie; for Italy the
ARA Group d'Anco^ne, Editrice Bibliografica de Milan, the Marciana
library, and the Braidense library; and ELEA of Athens for Greece.

For the second Call for Proposals, in 1992, five projects, among the
fifteen, had French participation, and one was led by France. Thus:

1) ELSA ("ELectronic Library SGML Applications"), conducted by the Jouve
company with the University of Montfort in Leicester and the Dutch
publisher Elsevier Science Publishers BV. It is concerned with the
development of access tools for electronic documents responding to the
intentions of users, using the standardized document coding of SGML
("Standard Generalized Markup Language", which allows the retrieval and
transfer to other media of any part of any marked - up text).

The other French institutions involved in the European programs are:

2) The Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chausse'es, for EDUCATE, a teaching
program about the possibilities of new technologies, which is
distributed on the academic networks. The courses, each of about ten
hours' duration, concern physics, electrical engineering, and
electronics. These teaching programs, at reduced costs, may be found in

3) The Ecole Nationale Supe'rieure des Etudes Ae'ronautiques (ENSEA),
for the project EURILIA, which furnishes extension and access services,
and document delivery (texts and images) in aeronautics, for teaching
and research.

4) The company Matra Cap Systems for the project BIBLIOTECA, which is
developing a "toolbox" for document analysis, founded upon optical
character recognition and various forms of electronic coding for
treatments of natural language.

5) The INIST ("Institut National de l'Information Scientifique et
Technique". jk.) for the project AIDA ("Alternatives for International
Document Availability"), extending a document rapid - delivery service
to Italian and Portuguese libraries.

These last projects were only initiated during the course of the year
1993, or are in the final phases of their negotiation. Although it is
too early to evaluate their final results, these programs may be
evaluated at the French level in order to gain the benefits of their
experience for libraries. The Conseil Supe'rieur des Bibliothe`ques has
proposed the organization, to this end, of a public information meeting,
during the course of which the different institutions and participating
companies will present their institutional experiences and techniques of
this European cooperation.

The Role of the Council of Europe in Books and Reading

During the meeting of April 9, 1993, Jean Gatte'gno, a member of the
Conseil Supe'rieur and chief of the Section for the Book of the Council
of Europe, presented the role which the Council of Europe has defined in
this area.

The Council of Europe did not officially concern itself with reading
until the month of October, 1992, following a conference of ministers of
culture of the entire continent held at Paris, that itself held
following a decision taken at the preceding meeting, in 1990, at
Palermo. They were concerned to develop a number of recommendations,
within the role of the Council, particularly considering the tenuous
nature of previous Council efforts, notably the support of the Council
of Europe for the organization LIBER, which functions as a sort of
representative of the Council for assistance programs to the libraries
of Eastern Europe.

The Council of Europe has nothing in common with the Commission of the
European Communities. It has no President, its General Secretary is not
more than the secretary of the Committee of Ambassadors, which only can
make suggestions and aid in the submission of propositions to the
Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the member countries. The budget devoted
to culture by the Council of Europe for 1993 is 20 million francs, and
that devoted to the Book is 500,000 francs. It therefore cannot
subsidize programs and really cannot go further than the giving of

The program which the conference of ministers accepted was developed
with a group of restrained experts, chosen to respect balances between
East and West and among the professions (three librarians: an
Englishman, an Italian, a Hungarian, a bookseller, several publishers).
The program for libraries presents several methods for, first of all,
helping the new democracies to re - integrate themselves into Europe in
this area. It is not concerned either to create a new European structure
or to integrate the libraries of Europe; the sense of the program is to
help the countries which are rejoining us to adapt to a European
environment already guided by the European Community and by IFLA.

Once it was reaffirmed that the library is one of the essential links in
the chain of books and reading, a certain number of important points
were emphasized:

1) The question of national bibliographies: Greece doesn't have one.
Portugal has interrupted the cataloging of its own. In other countries,
one is far from having a satisfactory tool, and in the old Soviet
empire, many years will be necessary to develop one. This therefore is
an essential path to pursue.

2) The enrichment of the collections of the libraries of the East, to
make up for a gigantic retardation and to correct the effects of the
censoring of foreign collections. Such a program supposes the
expenditure of considerable sums, but the German, English and French
governments already have active policies in this area: Germany is
devoting 60 million marks over three years in gifts of books for the
libraries of the former communist countries; France and England, each
three to four times less. This will not permit a complete recovery but
will help in the renewal of the collections.

3) Inter - library lending must be very strongly developed.

4) Professional education, and particularly education for management and
training in the new technologies, must be very strongly reinforced.

5) It is time to have a European Association of Librarians. This is the
only professional group which does not have authority to have European
representation. The Council of Europe is prepared to finance a meeting
at Strasbourg in 1994, and the Germans are prepared to send out the

These measures may seem banal and general, but at the same time, to the
extent that it is the countries of the East which are the target, they
can develop into true actions and cooperation with the nations of the
West. France, by its Conseil Supe'rieur and its professional
associations, must pursue these goals. Information sessions, and
organization, will be supported by the Council of Europe.

The Commission of Brussels is launching a program of support for the
nations of the East via DG - XIII. In principle, a committee will
prepare a seminar to define the exact actions to be undertaken. The
accent will be placed, conforming to the role of DG - XIII, on the new
technologies, but the Council of Europe will continue to defend the
restoration and the conservation of the national patrimonies,
particularly for the nations of the East, for which the national
patrimony is very rich and recently has been abandoned.

The responsibility placed upon the Council of Europe by this charge is
light. Its role is to aid the States or the libraries to mount projects
which then may be proposed to the Community for financing.


FYI France (sm)(tm) e - newsletter        ISSN 1071 - 5916

      |           FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic newsletter,
      |           published since 1992 as a small - scale, personal,
      |           experiment, in the creation of large - scale
      |           "information overload", by Jack Kessler. Any material
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        Copyright 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.    

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