History of The European Library
The European Library (TEL) was launched by the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL) in 2004 as the union catalogue of European national libraries and then became a web portal and open data hub for national library data in Europe. Its success led to the European Commission asking CENL to set up what later became Europeana. The European Library disseminated library data in a variety of ways to promote its wider use. TEL was the biggest provider to Europeana, a digital platform for cultural heritage funded by the European Commission.
The decision to no longer contribute to the collective subscription model for TEL was made by CENL at its Annual General Meeting in Bern in 2015, and a review of alternative service models followed. The review recommended that TEL services should be concluded by the end of 2016. The original web portal was left running in maintenance mode until 2019 when it was permanently shut down.
Individual national libraries’ needs have changed since TEL was launched by CENL in 2004 and the subscription model for data aggregation offered by TEL no longer offered the best option for all national library members.
TEL aggregation services for libraries were frozen on 31 December 2016, with no subsequent updates. Europeana then took over the aggregation function for individual libraries with no alternative aggregation routes. Europeana continues to work with National Libraries to ensure that their digital materials are well represented in the Europeana Collections Portal.
CENL and Europeana worked closely together to preserve TEL’s assets in advance of its closure. This includes the migration of library records with digital media, the establishment of a dedicated Newspaper channel, and the inclusion of open data in Europeana’s Application Programming Interface (API).
The closure of TEL freed up CENL resources to establish new forms of collaboration and mutual support between pan-European national library members.