Dialogue Forums

CENL Dialogue Forums as informal meeting points

The CENL Dialogue Forum shall be an informal format where CENL members can meet with representatives of other interest groups or organisations to discuss topics of mutual interest.

FEP-CENL Dialogue Forum

One of the first Dialogue Forums is the FEP-CENL Dialogue Forum. The partnership between CENL and the Federation of European Publishers has a long tradition but faded after the reorganization of working groups in 2019. Now, the Executive Committee agreed to restart the dialogue.

The FEP-CENL Dialogue Forum shall be a space enabling national librarians from the CENL member states to communicate on a par with publishers. The existing FEP-National Libraries Working Group will serve as the nucleus of the FEP-CENL Dialogue Forum.

National Libraries as Data Dialogue Forum

Another Dialogue Forum is the National Libraries as Data Dialogue Forum. National Libraries have not only been pioneers in the development of data infrastructures, but they also play an essential role in facilitating research in the arts and humanities. Likewise, the continual growth of digital (digitised and born-digital) cultural heritage is crucial for arts and humanities researchers, especially for analysis and interpretation using digital methods. The digital data infrastructure landscape is currently in considerable flux, both nationally and internationally. Existing Research Infrastructures, such as DARIAH and CLARIN, are joining forces to contribute to the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), for example through the establishment of the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) Open Marketplace. In the cultural heritage space, emerging initiatives such as the common European Data Space for Cultural Heritage and the European Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage are set to disrupt this landscape further, providing both challenges, as well as unprecedented opportunities for both libraries and research infrastructures alike.

To facilitate structural and strategic collaboration between Europe’s National Libraries and Research Infrastructures, the idea of a CENL Dialogue Forum was born. It provides an ideal opportunity to assess the landscape; identify and prioritise specific challenges and opportunities, and understand how (national) libraries could benefit from structural collaboration with, and active participation in Research Infrastructures such as DARIAH and CLARIN. A key issue for debate is the international accessibility of FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) datasets and related challenges in implementation. Furthermore, the Collections as Data initiative is gaining traction internationally. With the increasing emergence of ‘data labs’ throughout the library community, such labs could be an ideal point of intersection between the libraries, research infrastructures and digital humanities research communities. Not only could the Dialogue Forum be the voice of libraries in this data space, at the same time, it would raise awareness of this crucial topic throughout the (national) library community.

A survey of CENL member’s institutions was chosen as the starting point for the activities. The survey aims to obtain a deeper understanding of existing and planned collaboration between national libraries and research infrastructures and to elicit information about activities in the areas of digital scholarship and digital data curation. Questions cover areas including compliance with the FAIR principles and Open Science, collections as data, data labs, data access, digital literacy, artificial intelligence and data science.

There were 31 National Libraries that responded to the survey, of which 20 (64%) institutions indicated that “Participating in Research Infrastructure” initiatives is a strategic priority of the National Library. However, feedback in other responses also indicated that activities may well already be part of everyday life, not a priority for development or preparing a strategy on research Infrastructure. Overall, the responses indicate that the percentage of institutions actively engaged in research infrastructure or intending to do so is 82%. There are 23 (74%) responding institutions already active in National Research Infrastructure initiatives.

Of the participating institutions, 14 (45%) – i.e. just less than half – state that they are participating in a European initiative, and a further 6 institutions are currently planning to do so. Thus, at the European level, Research Infrastructure appears to be a current topic at more than half of the participating institutions. DARIAH (10) and CLARIN (9) are the most frequently mentioned initiatives.

When asked about the different stages of development of individual topics, the institutions responded as follows:



There is a clear focus on “Digital Humanities” and “Collection as Data” as established activities, while “Data Literacy” and “Data Strategy” are currently in development at nearly half of the institutions, and topics such as “Data Science” and “AI” are still very much identified as topics that could become important.