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CERL Strategic Plan, 2020-2023

THE CONSORTIUM OF EUROPEAN RESEARCH LIBRARIES is the international focal point for the engagement with the historic printed books and manuscripts, the written heritage of Europe, represented by the collections of our members and beyond. We focus on manuscripts and printed books produced before the middle of the nineteenth century.

CERL is where library and information professionals work together so that people can gain the full, connected meaning from our distributed collections and where leaders of our member institutions have access to a pool of shared expertise for the development of strategy, policy and tools for their implementation in an increasingly international field.

We are a flexible membership organisation which works to benefit our members - in Europe and world-wide - and their users. Jointly the distributed resources of our members document a shared experience of national and regional specificities within a wider whole, which is inextricably interconnected, intellectually, commercially, and politically.

CERL is an international professional network of experts in the many disciplines which are relevant for historic printed books and manuscripts. Funding is increasingly based on collaboration, and major issues transcend national borders. Interconnectedness is of ever greater importance. The CERL network brings together skills, experience and expertise of staff and senior leaders from member institutions. Our network enables specialist staff to develop experience with strategic planning, and to maintain and advance awareness of current developments, opportunities, and issues, often relating to digital expertise. And it enables senior leaders to draw on their peers internationally in the formation of strategy and policy. Providing access to its networks of experts in specialist fields, CERL can assist in training of specialist staff. This helps ensuring awareness of current developments, opportunities, and issues, relating to digital as well as to material expertise, and can assist members with succession management and capability building in disciplines where small staff numbers in individual member institutions can make this a challenge.

CERL creates digital resources of its own and offers a structured framework within which member institutions can deliver digital services, jointly or separately, which they may not be able to deliver or sustain themselves. Among its core resources are The Heritage of the Printed Book Database, the CERL Thesaurus, the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (with the British Library), Material Evidence in Incunabula, CERL Provenance Digital Archive, and much more.

CERL engages in digital research. CERL takes part in project-based collaborative development of new services, methods and tools, to ensure that they are optimised for institutions and researchers working with the material and digitised written heritage of Europe and its metadata. CERL members benefit from research projects where CERL collaboratively on their behalf engages with higher education institutions and their researchers on developing new methods, international standards and protocols for engaging with data and metadata.

CERL provides services to its members and their users. CERL has a portfolio of services strategically chosen to meet the needs of our members. Through their collaborative development as well as through their delivery they provide opportunities for member institutions to participate in formal and informal skills and knowledge exchange.

Download CERL Strategic Plan 2020-2023

CERL Strategic Plan, 2016-2019

Mission Statement

The prime goal of the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) is to facilitate, enhance, and improve the use and impact of printed and manuscript cultural heritage material. CERL raises the awareness of cultural heritage collections and their content among scholars and interested parties in a wide community. CERL is service and partnership oriented by offering its members and the library, archival, and scholarly world at large high quality digital resources and tools using modern technology, by arranging seminars and workshops, and by providing cooperation within its membership and with other library and cultural heritage organisations. CERL concentrates its efforts on all aspects of printed material from the hand-press period and manuscripts and of their digital surrogates.

Download Strategies document in full

Download Workplan

CERL Strategic Plan, 2010–2015

Executive Summary

CERL’s original aim was to improve access to the scattered early printed heritage of Europe, by collecting widely distributed, highly specialized and often hidden bibliographical information in one joint database and providing tools to facilitate use of bibliographical resources.

With the evolving information landscape came the realisation that in addition to the role of data provider, CERL has to adopt the role of service provider. In this new position, a database such as the HPB comes to function as a node in an information network from which data on printed and written heritage materials can be filtered and aggregated. The CERL Portal for Manuscripts and Early Printed Materials was set up with this development in mind.

The mission of CERL can now be summarized as:

  • supporting the study of the book heritage of Europe by developing services that support integrated access to high-quality data;
  • developing and maintaining a suite of sophisticated tools appropriate for the study of printed and written heritage materials of Europe by pooling resources and expertise;
  • contributing to joint initiatives for the development of the digital infrastructure for the humanities, including the development and implementation of standards, especially those that facilitate interoperability

By 2015, CERL will offer sophisticated tools and authoritative services for use in modern research infrastructures employed by researchers, and will function as a point of focus for all librarians, researchers and data providers working with the European book heritage (until c. 1850). This Planning strategy shows the ways to reach these goals.

Download Strategic Plan 2010-2015

The CERL Strategic Plan, 2002–2007

CERL’s aims were defined in its five-year Strategic Plan, which was revised each year by CERL’s Executive Committee:

  1. To develop and expand the Hand Press Book Database and the CERL Thesaurus as a unique online resource, and provide appropriate user support.
  2. To provide users with integrated access to other related tools.
  3. To develop associated tools with the object of enhancing access and assisting in the interpretation of European cultural heritage as brought down to the present in the form of books written or printed before the middle of the 19th century.
  4. To develop services to assist CERL members and non-members in the study and interpretation of written culture produced before the middle of the 19th century and related cultural materials.
  5. To promote the Consortium's databases, services, and other associated activities.
  6. To develop and consolidate the Consortium's position in the European and international information landscape.

Download Strategic Plan 2002-2007

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