ELNET Consortium 25

25 years ago, on 4 April 1996, seven Estonian libraries decided to start preparations for creating a shared online catalogue. This marked the birth of the largest co-operative body of libraries in Estonia – the Estonian Libraries Network Consortium – and its online catalogue ESTER. Today the number of cooperation partners is 19, and more than 100 libraries are involved in ESTER

Members and partners of the Consortium

The Consortium was established by the Estonian Literary Museum, National Library of Estonia, Tallinn Technical University, Tallinn University and University of Tartu. When the Estonian Academy of Arts and the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre joined a couple of years later, all Estonian research libraries were involved in ELNET. Since 2000 the cities of Tallinn and Tartu have been represented with the largest public libraries in the country.

In the present day, the Consortium’s common undertakings engage also institutions of professional higher education (TTK University of Applied Sciences, Tallinn Health Care College, Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, Art School Pallas); National Archives of Estonia and Tallinn City Archives; several museums (Estonian National Museum, Art Museum of Estonia, Estonian War Museum, Tallinn City Museum); the Estonian Defence Forces and Baltic Defence College; Supreme Court of Estonia; Bank of Estonia, Arvo Pärt Centre, Tallinn Zoo, Repository Library of Estonia, South Estonian Association for the Blind, Finnish Institute in Estonia, Tartu Observatory, Tartu Art Museum, Tartu II School of Music, and a number of academic associations – Learned Estonian Society, Estonian Naturalists’ Society and Estonian Mother Tongue Society.

Consortium Activities

ELNET members and partners are bound by common interests – the specific features of their collections and the desire to be in the same information space. The different specialties of the members enrich the datasets and enable users to find the desired professional information, but along with that also fiction, art, manuscripts, music scores and much more.
With the joint effort of libraries we build the online catalogue ESTER, Database of Estonian Articles ISE, Estonian Subject Thesaurus (EMS) and the E-varamu portal of Estonian memory institutions. Access to substantial databases is provided for Estonian researchers and guidelines are prepared for Estonian libraries. The cooperation that started with ESTER continued in 2009 with the Database of Estonian Articles ISE and the Estonian Subject Thesaurus. In 2016, ELNET began to build the E-varamu portal which is among the aggregators of Europeana, the portal of European memory institutions. Our datasets are indispensable everyday tools for thousands of users.

ELNET supporting Estonian science

The Consortium has been a long-time partner for the Ministry of Education and Research in purchasing academic databases for Estonian researchers. Currently, agreements have been concluded with 24 renowned academic publishers. The active use of the databases is illustrated by over 2 million downloads annually. Along with research information available to universities, access to EBSCO databases has been provided across the entire country since 2002.

ELNET datasets in figures:

ELNETi ühiseid algatusi

  • 1997: creating of the online catalogue began. Initially there were two separate catalogues – ESTER Tallinn and ESTER Tartu
  • 1998: cataloguing began, in 1999 lending followed
  • 1999: retrospective conversion of collections began, in 2000 ESTER reached one million copies
  • 2001: project „Red Book of Estonian Publications“
  • 2001: project „Digitised Estonian Newspapers“
  • 2003: ELNET Digitisation Centre was established
  • 2005: cooperation started with Autorihüvitusfond (Authors’ Remuneration Fund) in calculating lending compensations for authors
  • 2006: My ESTER was launched, the online catalogue got a new design
  • 2008: conference of Nordic libraries Nordic IUG was held in Tartu
  • 2009: ISE and EMS were created
  • 2010: Estonian Research Infrastructure Roadmap project “Estonian E-Varamu portal and preservation of collections”.
  • 2011: Annual Award ESTER! (Especially Successful Tackling of ELNET Risks) was initiated
  • 2013: Open Shelves Guide was created for ESTER
  • 2014: ESTER Tallinn and ESTER Tartu were merged
  • 2014: conference of Nordic libraries Nordic IUG was held in Tallinn
  • 2016: E-varamu portal was created
  • 2016: web-based registration and authentication system KRAS was taken into use
  • 2016: vision conference ELNET 20
  • 2018: ESTER became available across smart devices
  • 2019: database of cover images EPIK was created
  • 2019: servers were virtualised
  • 2019: ISE was updated to new software
  • 2019: online catalogue ESTER exceeded the margin of 10 million records.
  • 2020: Annual Award „ELNET Achievement of the Year“ was initiated
  • 2020: conference of Nordic libraries Nordic IUG was organised (virtually).
  • 2021: ELNET 25

The next major developments are the merging of double records left in ESTER after the merging of the Tallinn and Tartu catalogues, execution of open data policy, implementation of new cataloguing standard RDA, etc.

The motto of ELNET libraries has remained the same in 25 years – „Cooperation, quality information and modern solutions“..