One of the major difference between the US and European countries when it comes to library development is the degree of service planning and provision that happens at national level.
I occasionally get asked about JISC by OCLC colleagues. This provides networking and data services in support of research and learning activities across UK higher and further education. It is centrally funded from the national education budget.
In an interesting recent development, JISC and a range of other public bodies with responsibiities in other sectors (e-science core programme, National Electronic Library for Health, British Library, and Resource, a body which advises government on libraries, archives and museums) have come together to try to develop shared approaches to the construction of distributed information environments.
The organisations listed above are committed to working together to achieve the aim of creating a common on-line information environment to support life long learning by developing and supporting common tools and services to provide access to, and delivery of, resources. [MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING]
Initially, the partnership will address:
1) collaborative development of a common distributed approach for storing, managing and delivering on-line content;
2) procurement of common services where appropriate;
3) research and development in critical areas such as web development tools, cataloguing and metadata, preservation;
4) co-operation in creating and acquiring content (from third-party rightsholders, on appropriate terms) to promote wide availability;
5) exploration of joint funding for UKOLN activities. [MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING]
Paul Miller, whom some of you know, and who was very active for some time in Dublin Core discussions, is leaving UKOLN to take responsibility for overseeing this initiative.