Europeana, the EU-funded digital “library” (although it is more a discovery service than a library), has released its business plan for the next five years. The document is excellently designed and produced, but contains little in the way of a business plan. The section “why this is good for you” is placed before the section “how we are going to finance this”. Unfortunately, the section on how we are going to finance it states little. So where will the revenue come from?
Could they charge their partners? Given the quote by Lucie Burgess of the British Library, “If Europeana can help us do the things we do better, cheaper and faster - that would be enormously valuable” you might think that Europeana could charge for such “things”, but there does not seem to be any suggestion that Europeana should charge the national libraries for its services.
There will be a commercial arm, that “could include consultancy services … the creation of new products … or cultural tourism”. None of this is described in any detail, and none of it looks like a long-term viable strategy. I admire the Europeana idea, and I commend the attempt to pull together data, but it needs more specific information in a business plan than this.
There is more information in a separate document, which suggests the commercial activity could raise €3m per year (although they budget for €1.9m by 2020). In this document the commercial funding is described as “revenue sharing models with creative industries … and incubation facilities”. It might be a great plan, but on the evidence of this document there is nothing that really inspires confidence since it doesn’t explain how those revenues could be generated in a sustainable way. The financial plan shows the income (grants plus revenue raised) decreasing by 28% in the next six years, while the costs will only decrease by 15%. The result, as Mr Micawber might say, could be misery.