Latvian National Digital Library

The Baltic states are small but they pack a punch when it comes to digitization and open access of scholarly materials. Latvia is no exception. The Latvian National Digital Library offers amazing access to full-text resources, including periodicals, books and maps. This digitization project was made possible in part by the European Regional Development Fund. The European Union created this fund to help even out the economic disparities between western European countries, who were already members of the EU and new member states, many of which were formerly part of the Soviet bloc of countries. You may be wondering, how does regional development coincide with digitization?

Here is some text from the Development Fund regulation that helps to clarify this answer:
Under the Convergence objective, the ERDF shall focus its assistance on supporting sustainable integrated regional and local economic development and employment by mobilising and strengthening endogenous capacity through operational programmes aimed at the modernisation and diversification of economic structures and at the creation and safeguarding of sustainable jobs. This shall be achieved primarily through the following priorities, the precise policy mix depending on the specificities of each Member State:
information society, including development of electronic communications infrastructure, local content, services and applications, improvement of secure access to and development of on-line public services; aid and services to SMEs to adopt and effectively use information and communication technologies (ICTs) or to exploit new ideas. (Source)
The European Union sees information technology and digitization efforts as a way to economic development, which means that many of the Eastern European countries who are now members of the EU have been able to focus on spreading information about their culture through digital libraries.

The ERDF has had a tremendous impact on Latvia's digital collection, which is made most apparent in the periodicals collection. The portal of periodicals includes almost 3000 newspapers and magazines--more than 2.5 million digitized pages! Digitization focused on the most sought-after issues as well as the ones in bad condition. The most interesting aspect of the process is that all of the periodicals undergo automatic text recognition process and mistakes are corrected, and the digital library welcomes information about any mistakes the reader may discover.

The list of periodicals truly is extensive. Note the "C" image next to some of the titles. Copyright restrictions still apply in many cases of these periodical. These marked titles are only available to view within Latvia. The website is quite easy to navigate: periodical years are listed in a drop-down menu and available dates are marked in a calendar. Next time you need to find an article from a Latvian periodical, be sure to look at the Latvian National Digital Library.

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