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EBLIDA Council & Conference 2016

Report from EBLIDA Council and Conference, 9-10 May, The Hague, Netherlands


EBLIDA Council Meeting


The 24th EBLIDA Council meeting was held on 9th May at the Hague Public Library. Items discussed at the meeting included:


Approval of new members, cancellations and dismissals

The Council approved two new members, three cancellations and one dismissal. The European Commission Library cancelled due to a conflict of interest as EBLIDA is registered on the EU Transparency Register. As at April 2016 EBLIDA had 109 members in 36 countries comprising 46 full members and 63 associate members, a slight decrease on the previous year. EBLIDA has gained two new sponsors since Jan 2016, and now has a total of five.


2015 Annual Report

President Jukka Relander said EBLIDA had achieved a 70% success rate on its 2013-2016 strategy of bridging libraries, enhancing access to information, and ensuring sustainability via EU advocacy and support for members. Copyright continued to be a key issue for EBLIDA in 2015/2016. The new European Commission which has been in place since November 2014 is not in favour of a legal solution as some Member States don’t want reform. The ELINET project concluded on 31st January 2016 and a workshop was held in September 2015 at the end of European Literacy Week. In February 2015 the Council of Europe produced a statement on the Internet of Citizens which promotes the human and cultural dimension of the internet. EBLIDA published a statement in September 2015 highlighting examples of member services and projects relating to refugees. The EBLIDA newsletter now has nearly 800 subscribers, a 147% increase since it was opened to the general public in 2012. Social media usage is on the increase and EBLIDA now has over 1000 followers on Twitter. The Library Advocacy 4 EU event held in February 2016 brought together a network of 29 colleagues who worked together on developing advocacy tools. Participants will be contacted again in the next few weeks for follow-up actions including a questionnaire on non-formal and informal learning activities in public libraries. The E-Books Task Force was disbanded in February 2016 and the work taken over by the Executive Committee with the support of the Expert Group on Information Law (EGIL). A new Working Group on Finance and Membership was created in February 2016 comprising three members of the Executive Committee. The group’s remit is to attract new sources of funding and increase income and membership, and it will produce a set of recommendations in autumn 2016.

The Annual Report is available online at


Reports from Expert Groups


  • Expert Group on Information Law (EGIL)

The group’s mission is to provide expert input, advice and representation for EBLIDA’s policy and activities concerning copyright and related rights. Its functions are to assist the Executive Committee, maintain a good awareness of legal issues, address EU institutions, and co-operate with other organisations. In 2015 the group provided support in preparing for a number of meetings, including representation at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) and meetings with EU Commissioners Günther Oettinger and Andrus Ansip. Barbara Stratton was appointed as Chair in September 2015 to replace Ulrika Domellöf Mattsson and the group’s first meeting with the new Chair was held in London in October 2015. The group meets twice a year and the next meeting is scheduled for May 2016 in London. New guidelines were issued in November 2015 and are available online at  In 2016 the group began developing resources on harmonisation of copyright exceptions across EU member states and on existing national legislation examples supporting library work. The group also provided support for an open letter to the European Commission drafted by Copyright for Creativity (C4C), the EBLIDA/IFLA joint statement on the EC Communication on modernisation of copyright, and EBLIDA position papers on copyright, e-lending, cross-border services and contract override. In June 2015 the CJEU consulted EU Member States’ governments on the issue of e-lending, and EGIL drafted answers to the four questions which EBLIDA circulated to copyright offices in the 28 Member States. A response was received from a representative in the Intellectual Property Unit of the Irish Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation acknowledging receipt and noting EBLIDA’s position on e-lending in the context of the questions posed.


  • Expert Group on Culture and Information Society (EGCIS)

Guy Daines replaced Aldo Pirola as Chair in May 2015. EGCIS actively contributed to the ELINET project and worked with the Irish Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) to bring together different resources. The remit of the group was revised to cover literacy in a wider sense than reading and writing, to include information literacy, digital literacy, financial literacy, health literacy, and also transliteracy. The group’s name has been changed to EBLIDA Literacies to reflect the broader focus. There are currently five members in the group and two or three more are needed with an interest and expertise in libraries and literacies. Members need their own funding to travel to meetings.


EBLIDA Finances

The total income for 2015 was €128,567 including €115,533 from membership fees and a grant of €11,698 from ELINET, and total expenditure was €139,329. EBLIDA is losing members and some don’t pay regularly. There are 37 national libraries in Europe that are not EBLIDA members. As a non-profit organisation with taxable income of less than €15,000 EBLIDA is exempt from corporation tax. The revised budget for 2016 includes income of €137,775 and expenditure of €148,714, and the draft 2017 budget provides for €116,091 income and €144,145 expenditure. Grants are not included in the figures as it is necessary to apply each year. EBLIDA is looking at potential partnerships and sponsors.


EBLIDA Strategy 2016-2019

The 2016-2019 strategy was approved and is available online at EBLIDA’s vision is to be “a strong European library and information community enabling an equitable, sustainable and well-informed European civil society” and its mission is to “promote free access to information, education and culture for all citizens in Europe and “to advocate the interests of the library and information sectors and professionals in Europe”. Goals include strengthening library and information institutions in Europe, enabling citizens to fully participate in modern society, and prioritising work on copyright, e-lending and literacy. EBLIDA’s actions on behalf of members include taking forward legislation, ensuring visibility in policy documents, having a presence in Brussels, and exchanging information.


Work Programme 2016/2017

The priorities for the 2016/2017 work programme are divided into six themes – advocacy/lobbying, literacy, copyright, communication, management and strategy. New priorities include developing an online Knowledge and Information Centre and collecting survey data, creating a regular email news summary for EBLIDA members, and implementing proposals of the Working Group on Finance and Membership.


Next Council Meeting and Conference

The next Council meeting and Conference will be held in Aarhus, Denmark on 3rd/4th May 2017.

The meeting was followed by a tour of the library and a reception hosted by the Hague Public Library.



The joint EBLIDA/NAPLE conference was held on 10th May at the National Library of the Netherlands and was attended by 91 delegates from across Europe. The conference theme was "Empowering Europe! Libraries Opening up New Perspectives", inspired by the EU agenda of empowering and protecting citizens. 


Opening Session

The conference was opened by Bert Mulder, Associate Professor of Information, Technology and Society at the Hague University. Welcome messages were delivered by Lily Knibbeler of the National library of the Netherlands and Annette Kelly, Head of Libraries Development, LGMA and NAPLE Chair. Lily emphasised the crucial role of libraries in empowering Europe, and the benefits of networking and collaboration. There is a new law in the Netherlands which prescribes the role of public libraries in making knowledge and information available, offering opportunities for development and education, encouraging people to read, introducing them to literature, art and culture, and organising meetings and debates. The National Library has responsibility for co-ordinating the network of public libraries under the legislation, and also for developing a new National Digital Library. Annette referred to the changing economic and government agenda and highlighted the conference as an opportunity to discuss future opportunities from different perspectives, including those of library managers, practitioners and local government representatives.


Keynote 1: Libraries Opening Up New Perspectives: Dimitris Protopsaltou, Co-founder of Future Library, Greece

Dimitris gave an update on the new Greek National Library, which is nearly completed and has been a positive development in the midst of the economic crisis. The development cost a total of €600 million, and the venue includes plenty of green space and a surrounding park. He outlined the Future Library project which began in 2010 when the Veria Public Library received a Gates Foundation Access to Learning Award. The objective of the project is to develop a sustainable network of public and municipal libraries linked to the National Library, to increase library users, and to improve the public perception of libraries in Greece. A feasibility study was carried out in 2011 with focus groups from across Greece to determine the priorities in local communities, and the Future Library was established in 2011 as a non-profit organisation with a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The current Director is Despina Gerasimidou. One challenge was how to progress from local impact to national impact, as different ideas emerged from the North, Athens and the Islands. It was decided to focus on children’s services initially, and eight libraries in four cities were refurbished and staff trained on how to approach children and deliver services. Services included workshops for children and parents, regional leadership training programmes on library advocacy, international trends, and project management.  A summer reading and creativity campaign commenced in 2012, with initial resistance from staff due to changes in working conditions. However this changed when the children arrived, and the number of participating libraries increased from 73 in 2012 to 140 in 2014. In 2013 the Media Labs project was initiated, which involved renovating libraries and training staff in 10 cities to create community spaces. The idea was to engage with youth and transform library spaces for study, relaxation and socialising, including a music studio, a video editing and broadcasting room, a brainstorming space, and live conferences with scientists from CERN. Unexpected services such as a yoga studio were also included. Collaborative partners included Aarhus Public Libraries, Google, Mozilla Foundation, and Helsinki City Library. The target for 2015-2017 is to expand the network to the Balkan region, which has societal and economic challenges in common with Greece, and also needs to support public library services. The International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI) was established in 2011 and comprises 12 countries – Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey. The group developed a training curriculum including leadership skills, new services, and network development. Challenges included reaching local communities in an English language based network, evaluation of innovators, and ensuring sustainability by finding co-funders and building partnerships within and outside the library sector. The network’s vision is that every librarian can be an innovator.


Keynote 2: Influencing the European Parliament: Ilona Kish, Director, Public Libraries 2020 Programme, Brussels

Ilona introduced the work of Public Libraries 2020 and outlined its political priorities which include copyright co-ordination and developing a skills agenda. A workshop was held in June on the changing role of public libraries in the 21st century, which included modules on e-book lending, information and media literacy. A large exhibition is planned in the European Parliament from 18-20 October 2016 to coincide with EU Code Week, which will involve creating a virtual library space to showcase digital exhibits from public libraries across the EU. An informal MEP library supporters group has been formed to provide an accessible forum for debate and raising the profile of libraries. It is time for action as publishers in Brussels are visible, aggressive and active, and support is needed to identify suitable MEPS at national level. The target is to have 50 members by October, with representation from all major political groups and geographic areas, and a focus on three key committees (CULT/JURI/EMPL).


Panel Discussion

A panel discussion focusing on library advocacy was chaired by Bert Mulder, with participation from Annette Kelly, Ilona Kish, Dimitris Protopsaltou, EBLIDA President Jukka Relander and members of the audience.

Annette said that in Ireland the library brand is trusted and valued in the community. The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) currently has 350 member libraries and numbers are growing. Membership is free and Libraries Development provides information and business support, job skills, reading and literacy and is the national leader for electronic services, ebooks and courses. The aim is to standardise the level of support and keep a focus on core functions. There is a need to upskill library staff so they can engage more with users, and align priorities with those of politicians, such as business and job support initiatives.

Ilona has been involved in lobbying for 20 years, and believes it is important to create a situation where politicians at the appropriate level are intimately involved. It is tough to advocate in European countries due to scarcity of resources. By contrast most US libraries have a full time advocacy officer. Ilona asked how many members of the audience had an advocacy plan and very few raised their hands. Politicians need to be eased into the image of a new library, and advocacy plans should cover several years with one key message each year, for example focusing on reading and literacy in the first year, social welfare in the second, and 21st century skills and IT programming in subsequent years.

Dimitris discussed some of the lessons learned from the Future Library project, and what could have been done differently. The focus was on users and library directors rather than politicians, who are interested in investing in tourism, not education. The programme managed to increase visitors but wasn’t successful on the authority level and there were misunderstandings on the core activities of libraries. We need to change the way we think of library services, to introduce training and to bring libraries to the centre of communities.

Jukka said that the emphasis should be on making librarians’ work more visible to create attention rather than just lobbying politicians. As a member of Helsinki City Council he noted that decisions are often taken in areas of low resistance, and media attention is needed to keep library agendas in the spotlight as politicians are less likely to ignore issues if there is public pressure.

Susan Reilly (Executive Director, LIBER) said academic libraries haven’t moved away from their core activity of providing access to knowledge, and there are opportunities for public and academic libraries to work together.

Ciara Eastell (President, Society of Chief Librarians, UK) said library leadership is not about the people at the top, but involves empowering staff and allowing innovation to grow from the bottom up.

Other discussions included the lack of emphasis on advocacy in library schools, the culture of invisibility amongst librarians, and a pop-up library project in Amsterdam which created a lot of free publicity.


Parallel Work Sessions


  1. Civic Participation in Libraries

Chair: Annette Kelly. This session addressed the question of what is meant by civic participation, how it relates to the role of librarians, and the benefits of sharing different approaches across Europe to promote new strategies and best practice. It included two presentations: “Civic Participation in Libraries” (Bert Mulder) and “Empowerment through Library Cooperation: Experiences from a Portuguese Region” (Sónia Almeida, Head Librarian, Anadia Public Library).


  1. The Butterfly Effect: Library Advocacy (From Country Specific to Global Level)

Chair: Jean-Marie Reding, Luxembourgish Librarians', Archivists' and Documentalists' Association (ALBAD). I attended this session, which gave an overview of library advocacy activities and opportunities at national, EU and international level and included three presentations:


  • eLending in Denmark: Mikkel Christoffersen, Specialist Consultant Library Development, Copenhagen

Mikkel is Senior Advisor on Digitisation, E-lending and Digital Strategy at Copenhagen Libraries and Project Manager for eReolen, the national library-driven e-lending platform which provides a joint ebook and digital audio books service. All Danish public libraries are members and the portal is jointly owned by publishers. It currently includes 9,500 ebooks and 4,200 digital audio books supplied by over 250 publishers with a mixture of three lending models:

  1. One copy one user (71.9%)
  2. One copy multiple users (23.4%)
  3. Free for all (4.7%)

The portal started in 2011 with funding from the Ministry for Culture and participation from all libraries and publishers, using the one copy multiple user model. In 2012 some big publishers pulled out citing catastrophic summer sales, and in 2013 they created their own portal eBib using the one copy one user model, which languished and closed in 2014. Negotiations re-opened resulting in a deal with a hybrid model in 2015. However publishers were concerned about the back catalogue’s impact on sales and five of the six biggest publishers pulled out again in 2016. One literary agent was quoted as saying “it’s difficult to move new titles when the library pukes the back catalogue out over everybody!” The biggest digital publisher stayed on board, and negotiations with the others have re-opened again. The project to digitise the national back list involved bilateral agreements with individual publishers and authors rather than a collective subscription model, and some authors insisted on keeping their digital rights. The system is linked to social media and library catalogues, and users are authenticated via a national database linked to social security IDs which are needed for library access. Audio books proved more successful than e-books and the market is expanding. Print books are reducing in popularity. Amazon is trying to enter the Danish market, but is finding it difficult as publishers aren’t engaging and they can’t compete with eReolen.

Mikkel highlighted three “golden rules” and three “golden goals” that emerged from the experience:

Golden rules:

  • Nothing is strong enough to promote itself in a digital world
  • What librarians do is just as important in a digital world – if not more
  • We cannot control or even predict what publishers will do – only what we will do

Golden goals:

  • Don’t just offer e-lending – offer a literary environment
  • Integrate said environment with the rest of the library’s business
  • Watch trends, cultivate new friendships and work with new partners


  • Library Advocacy at EU Level: The Joint EBLIDA-LBB Project, Kristīne Pabērza, President of the Library Association of Latvia

Kristīne outlined her career to date and her passion for public libraries. Her experience includes training students in library advocacy, and she initiated the Library Advocacy 4 EU project jointly organised by EBLIDA and the Latvian Library Association (LBB). The objectives included developing a network of committed individuals, strengthening capacity to advocate for the EU library community, creating common advocacy tools, highlighting public libraries’ contribution to EU 2020, and linking European and national level advocacy. Common points of interest that emerged during the workshop in Brussels were the social value of libraries, copyright, digital literacy, reading/e-reading, data collection, and digital literacy. There are 65,000 public libraries in Europe including 800 in Latvia, 70% of which are small single staffed libraries. Six out of ten Latvian libraries provide non-formal learning activities, and nine out of ten provide informal assistance and consultations. 85% of training events are initiated and carried out by librarians, and a third of libraries have dedicated training staff. The provision of non-formal and informal training activities in public libraries has had a big impact in local communities. A follow-up study across Europe is planned with questionnaires to be issued by the end of June.


  • Global Messaging at WIPO, Vincent Bonnet, EBLIDA Director

Vincent summarised the main problems in relation to copyright. He stressed the need for library organisations to have a strong voice at national, European and international level, to be visible to policy makers, and  to co-ordinate activities to ensure the message is heard globally. The legal situation relating to copyright is fragmented, and legislation that affects libraries includes the Rental and Learning Directive 1992, the Database Directive 1996, the INFOSOC Directive 2001, and the Orphan Works Directive 2012. Copyright laws allow exceptions and limitations to balance the interests of rights holders and users of protected works. French law is different from other EU countries regarding the length of copyright protection (70 years). Partners in EU copyright reform include EBLIDA, which is concerned with eLending, harmonisation of rules, and protecting exceptions and limitations  from contract override, LIBER (text and data mining), CENL and Europeana (digitisation and online access to orphan works and out of copyright works), and IFLA (all of the above and representing the EU position at the World Intellectual Property Organisation). The WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) was set up in the 1998-1999 biennium to examine matters of substantive law or harmonisation in the field of copyright and related rights, and includes 188 member states. Library organisations are seeking an international instrument that sets minimum standards for copyright exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives. Licensing is not working as library workers are not trained to negotiate contracts, libraries cannot afford the digital content their users need, we often cannot reproduce or preserve digital content, we are prevented from making copies that are otherwise allowed under law due to technological protection measures, and we generally can’t share digital content across borders. There are eleven cluster topics relating to copyright limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives  which are discussed at the SCCR - preservation, right of reproduction, legal deposit, library lending, parallel Importation, cross-border uses, orphan works, retracted and withdrawn works, liability of libraries and archives, technical protection measures, contracts, and translation. In our digital world, libraries and archives cannot provide services that we were able to provide in print. Vincent is attending the WIPO SCCR in Geneva on May 11th which will include discussions on exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives.


  1. Open Access and Libraries

Chair: Astrid van Wesenbeeck, Project Manager and Open Access Officer, National Library of the Netherlands. This session was concerned with the current state of the open access movement and the role of public libraries, with reference to specific projects, policies and services. It included an introduction from the Chair and three presentations: “Open Science: A Publisher's Landscape”(Raluca Pop, Commercial Manager Europe, Accucoms, Netherlands), “Developments in Open Science on National and EU Level” (Ron Dekker, Project Leader, Open Access, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Netherlands) and “Access to Research for Public Libraries” (Ciara Eastell, President, Society of Chief Librarians, UK).


A plenary session followed with a summary of the key points covered in each parallel session.


Civic Participation in Libraries

There is no clear definition of civic participation and it can mean many things. Literacies can be strategic, tactical, or operational. There are different users in different countries e.g. older people in the Netherlands, which means civic participation has an urgency it didn’t before. People will have to help themselves, and the role of libraries will be more important to empower citizens and create a vibrant society. In Portugal eleven municipalities worked together to co-operate and produce a standardised approach to delivery of services, by sharing collections and work practices. The Initiative came from librarians and was supported by mayors.


The Butterfly Effect: Library Advocacy

The session gave different perspectives on advocacy at local, European and international level. The key message from the Danish project was to create a literary environment rather than just focusing on ebooks. Publishing is changing and libraries need to digitise. The Library Advocacy 4 EU project relates to European engagement for libraries, and help is needed to make the follow-up survey a success, specifically assistance with translating the questions. The situation in relation to copyright is fragmented and a minimum standard is needed. The EU market fears exceptions, and licensing is not working. Lots of countries don’t have copyright laws and guidelines and updated agreements are needed on an international level. We should think global, act local, and work together to achieve results.


Open Access and Libraries

There have been significant national and EU developments relating to open access, and all scientific/scholarly information will be available freely in a few years’ time. The Netherlands EU presidency aims to have full open access for all scientific publications by 2020. Libraries will be the hub in local communities to link end users to publishers’ free scientific content.


Wrap-up: Jukka Relander, EBLIDA President

Jukka closed the conference by stressing the importance of advocacy and marketing. We need to turn readers into ambassadors, and to defend what we have and not take it for granted. While in Panama recently for an IFLA meeting, Jukka met with South American librarians and discovered that in one country users were unable to take books out of the library. In summing up he said that libraries represent a good return on investment to the community. He highlighted the key issues for EBLIDA in future - literacy, e-books and copyright.


The conference presentations are available on the EBLIDA site at


Photo: Casper Cammeraat, Beeldstudio KB


Zoë Melling

May 2016