Transatlantic Digital Library Cooperation: Introduction
The New Transatlantic Agenda (NTA) was signed in Madrid in December 1995.
It calls for expanded cooperation between the United States and the European
Union and its member states in four areas: promoting peace and stability,
addressing global problems, expanding trade and investment, and building
bridges across the Atlantic. In May 1997 the United States and the European
Union co-sponsored a conference, "Bridging the Atlantic: People-to-People
Links," which brought together over three hundred prominent Europeans and
Americans to propose new initiatives for transatlantic cooperation under
the NTA. Specialized working groups in four areas -- electronic exchange,
civil society, culture and youth, and building partnerships in the global
economy -- helped to organize the conference, prepare its agenda, and ensure
The electronic exchange working group recommended that interested organizations
on both sides of the Atlantic explore the establishment of a transatlantic
digital library with content relating to U.S.-European relations. The working
group also recommended that the digital library be linked to the proposed
Transatlantic Information Exchange System (TIES).
Organizations that expressed interest in participating in a transatlantic
digital library project included national libraries in Europe and the United
States, the National Digital Library Federation, the Council for Library
Resources, the United States Information Agency, the National Library of
Education of the U.S. Department of Education, and the European Commission.
These organizations and other potential partners discussed a number of topics
considered to be inherently transatlantic and likely to be of interest to
European and American librarians, educators, students, and researchers. These
topics included the Marshall Plan, the founding of transatlantic and European
institutions in the early postwar period, immigration and emigration, and
European exploration of North America.
To demonstrate the feasibility and value of the digital library concept,
the Library of Congress and the National Library of the Netherlands jointly
developed a pilot project devoted to the fiftieth anniversary of the Marshall
Plan. This project was featured at the May 1997 "Building Bridges" conference.
A second pilot project dealing with immigration is in progress. The transatlantic
digital library is intended to complement existing projects underway in Europe
and the United States, as well as other international cooperative projects,
including the Bibliotheca universalis launched under the auspices
of the G7 in early 1995.