Libraries must embark on a programme of digitising content if they are not to be left behind amid changes to the sector, a senior figure in European library digitisation has claimed.
Speaking to The Bookseller, Jon Purday, senior communications adviser on pan-European digitisation project Europeana, said that if libraries do not make their content digitally available they will not keep up with consumer demand.
He said: "I think so [they will be left behind], particularly for the research libraries that have unique content. It's important to be able to open it up not just to enable people to see the content, but because it underlines your own relevance." He added: "We're already seeing that digitising [content] is also a way of driving traffic in terms of footfall, because people recognise that not everything is digitised there. They will also come to you to find related material."
Purday also identified "the harmonisation of rights [laws in Europe] and action on orphan works" as the two most critical issues to be improved on to help digitisation programmes.
Purday was speaking after the Big Picture Digitisation Initiative in Libraries seminar, in which Michael Popham, head of the Oxford Digital Library, and Google Books libraries partnership manager Ben Bunnell also discussed their own initiatives.