British Library Welcomes Europe’s National Librarians Support of Open Data Licensing

The British Library welcomes the announcement made by the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL) to support the open licensing of their data (28 September 2011). This will mean that datasets describing millions of books and texts published in Europe will become increasingly accessible for anyone to re-use for whatever purpose their wish.

Neil Wilson, Head of Metadata Services at the British Library commented: “The British Library has been at the forefront of the debate on open metadata over recent years. We firmly believe that the opening up of metadata by libraries will allow the increased visibility and integration of library resources in a global pool of reusable data while also demonstrating the value of library data to wider audiences. We are therefore delighted that CENL has taken this step to assist greater collaboration across international boundaries and support the creation of new knowledge.”

Since 2009, the UK Government has been committed to the opening-up of public data for wider re-use. A report entitled ‘Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government’

required that “the majority of government-published information to be reusable, linked data by June 2011”. It was therefore understood that public sector institutions including the British Library should develop an appropriate response to this new environment and begin to make their data freely available.

The British Library’s open metadata strategy is designed to remove barriers and enable increased innovation without imposing unnecessary restrictions. This resulted in the British Library announcing in August 2010 that it would be opening up its rich set of bibliographic metadata for re-use.

Since then, the Library has signed up over 400 organisations in 69 countries to a free catalogue data service; created a linked open data version of the British National Bibliography; become one of the first signatories of the JISC Discovery Open Metadata Principles and started to offer sets of metadata to researchers under a permissive Creative Commons license.


For more information contact:

  • Miki Lentin
  • The British Library
  • t:+44 (0) 20 7412 7112
  • m:+44 (0) 7976 793 666
  • f:+44 (0) 20 7412 7168
  • e: miki.lentin@bl.uk


The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  

The Conference of European National Librarians (CENL) is a foundation under Dutch law with the aim of increasing and reinforcing the role of national libraries in Europe, in particular in respect of their responsibilities for maintaining the national cultural heritage and ensuring the accessibility of knowledge in that field. Members of CENL are the national librarians of the member states of the Council of Europe. The conference currently consists of 49 members from 46 European countries forming the CENL Board. The conference pursues its objectives by means of annual membership meetings as well as initiatives and support of research and development activities and joint projects. The topics which are discussed at the annual meetings and are worked on in working groups and projects were already identified at the very first meeting and evolved with the development of technology and library organisation: Harmonisation and innovation of national policy concerning libraries; implementation of new information technology in the libraries; standardisation of data structure and communication interfaces within a European network; preservation and conservation of important collections in Europe, including long-term preservation of digital objects.

CENL website: www.cenl.org

Contact: CENL Secretary, Britta Woldering, cenl@dnb.de, phone +49 – (0)69 – 1525 1541


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