ELNET Consortium Development Strategy


Approved on 5 February 2019
on General e-Meeting No 1/2019


ELNET is a cooperation network that coordinates joint activities in the development of library services, implements innovative solutions and ensures the widest possible access to information. Through its activities ELNET supports the fulfilling of the statutory tasks of member libraries.


ELNET is a valued partner in the development of information services both on national and international scale.
ELNET is the instigator of the development of the most extensive in Estonia online library catalogue ESTER, articles database ISE, Estonian subject thesaurus EMS and the Estonian E-varamu portal by creating applications which increase their usability and by designing novel services. ELNET offers access to substantial scholarly databases.


Established in 1996, ELNET currently initiates, coordinates and organises the joint projects of institutions and organisations engaged with Estonian scientific information and cultural heritage. The main fields of activity of ELNET are:

  1. Development and management of the online catalogue ESTER and Estonian articles database ISE;
  2. Development and management of the Estonian subject thesaurus EMS;
  3. Development and management of the Estonian E-varamu portal;
  4. Coordination of joint procurements for electronic resources, including scientific electronic information;
  5. Preparation of guidance material for the activities listed above.

ESTER, ISE, EMS and E-varamu are data sets open to all and have become an important source of information also for memory institutions not belonging to ELNET as well as for all public, school and special libraries. The user guides prepared by ELNET are available to all Estonian libraries and specialists via the website of the Consortium.

In 2018, the activities of ELNET engaged 9 member libraries and 9 libraries under partner agreement. Several smaller collections have been included in the online catalogue ESTER under cooperation agreements (users can specify approximately 100 different locations in the online catalogue). All member and partner libraries are members of the online catalogue ESTER. At the end of 2018, the size of the online catalogue was 3,320,548 titles and 9,885,372 copies. 10 libraries contribute to the Estonian articles database ISE, on 31 December 2018 the database contained 1,868,867 bibliographic records and 61 891 authority records. Libraries can use the total of 561 simultaneous usage licenses for employees in the Sierra/Millennium system (ESTER and ISE). The Estonian subject thesaurus EMS had 60,668 records by 31 December (39,465 preferred terms and 21,203 nonpreferred terms). The E-varamu portal consists of 13 data sources, and nearly 15 million objects have been indexed.

As at 1 January 2019, ELNET staff consists of 16 salaried employees (i.e. the total of 4,15 full-time positions which also include part-time positions, and 4 employees working under authorisation agreement). Also, 7 working groups operate under the auspices of ELNET, and all members and partners can contribute to their work. In 2018, the following working groups were active: open data working group, database ISE working group, digitisation working group, E-varamu portal working group, cataloguing and classification working group, and joint procurements working group, as well as the board of administrators.

The budget of the Consortium forms of membership fees, service charges and grants. In 2018, the budgetary assignation from the Ministry of Education and Research for the maintenance and development of ESTER and ISE was EUR 153,068; for the purchase of research databases EUR 3,121,363; and for the development of the E-varamu portal EUR 50,000. ELNET is making continuous efforts to obtain additional funding from different sources.
In the management of datasets, ELNET partners with the company Innovative Interfaces Inc. (Sierra (online catalogue ESTER) and Millennium (article database ISE)) and Convit GmbH (E-varamu portal). ELNET cooperates with the following international organisations and communities:

  1. eIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) Consortium – international consortium organising negotiations with publishers in order to ensure access to major research databases at preferential terms.
  2. IUG (Innovative Users Group) – international user group of the software of the company Innovative Interfaces.
  3. Nordic IUG – Nordic-Baltic user group of the foftware of the company Innovative Interfaces.
  4. Europeana – digital cultural heritage platform managed by the European Commission which mediates data from the E-varamu portal to the Europeana portal.


ELNET ensures the efficient operation, development and management of the e-services needed by library users and thus contributes to reaching new levels of quality in science and culture.
ELNET arranges the development of the information systems and portal created in cooperation with its members, by ensuring the optimum use of the resources at its disposal and an efficiently operating organisation.



ELNET develops and manages the online catalogue ESTER, articles database ISE, Estonian subject thesaurus EMS and E-varamu portal, proceeding from the needs of libraries and resource efficiency, and ensures positive user experience.


1.1.1. While developing the information systems and datasets, their interoperability with one another and with external information systems is ensured.

1.1.2. For the management of the online catalogue ESTER, the latest version of the most suitable library system is in use.

1.1.3. The article database ISE and the Estonian subject thesaurus EMS will be transferred to state-of-the-art technological platform, ensuring their smooth operation.

1.1.4. The usage possibilities of the KRAS system for user registration and authentication will be extended, e.g. by implementing Smart-ID.

1.1.5. The E-varamu portal and the different applications of ESTER will be developed (m-ESTER, Open Shelves Guide, ELNET-ID, and others) and new services will be implemented according to the suggestion of libraries.

1.1.6. The specialists of ELNET take part in national analytical studies and development programmes.


To improve the accessibility of data available in ELNET datasets and to develop new services, ELNET will:

1.2.1. Prepare the policy paper and activity plan of open data.

1.2.2. Take into use the new cataloguing standard RDA (Resource Description and Access) and implement new data models FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records), FRAD (Functional Requirements for Authority Data) and FRSAD (Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data).

1.2.3. Automate work processes within ELNET datasets and across datasets.

1.2.4. Develop cooperation with memory institutions to build and use shared ontologies.


To ensure quality data and positive user experience, ELNET will:
1.3.1. Implement a sustainable system for displaying additional information (cover illustrations, content descriptions, etc.) in ESTER and E-varamu.

1.3.2. Continue cooperation in editing the records in the online catalogue ESTER, work out a solution for the automatic mesting of double records.

1.3.3. Continue cooperation to avoid duplication in digitising and reflecting digital content in datasets. Digitising will be carried out according to the agreed quality requirements and rules of procedure.

1.3.4. Ensure the updating of data in the E-varamu portal and the usability of the portal, and improve the search result quality.

1.3.5. Refresh its image as the provider of fundamental services in Estonia and update its website, emphasising the services provided by ELNET.


ELNET organises joint procurements of electronic research information and publications of common interest in order to ensure the expedient use of the members’ resources.

2.1. ELNET partners with the Ministry of Education and Research by providing access to electronic scientific databases for Estonian researchers, and cooperates for building new funding models for supporting open access.

2.2. ELNET monitors and tests attractive packages of databases and electronic academic publications, and concludes contracts of use with their publishers at maximum favourable conditions.

2.3. ELNET conducts negotiations with the publishers of Estonian electronic publications and carries out joint procurements for getting preferential terms for libraries.

2.4. ELNET arranges presentations of new databases and organises training events for librarians.


ELNET is a library network that mediates quality information and datasets to the public and libraries.

3.1. ELNET partners with the Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Culture and memory institutions by offering access to E-varamu as an information gate and cross-searching which ensures access for the public to the scientific and cultural history datasets of libraries, museums and archives.

3.2. The datasets of ELNET (ESTER, ISE, EMS, E-varamu) are a quality data source for Estonian public, school and special libraries (regardless of the information systems they use) and for libraries worldwide for information searching as well as for using records and subject terms (including copy cataloguing, loading data) by providing public access to

  • the records of ESTER and ISE;
  • E-varamu portal;
  • Estonian subject thesaurus (EMS).

3.3. ELNET makes accessible for public, school and special libraries the guidance material necessary for their work (cataloguing, digitising, content describing, etc.), and organises information days and training events.

3.4. ELNET cooperates with research and memory institutions to increase the amount of scientific and cultural history datasets in ESTER and E-varamu portal, as well as to improve the discoverability of Estonian datasets and to increase awareness of the wide public of the possibilities of ESTER and E-varamu.


ELNET is an internationally recognised partner and representative of Estonia.

4.1. ELNET is a member of the international eIFL Consortium (Electronic Information for Libraries) and participates with other countries in negotiations with publishers in order to conclude agreements for access to important scientific databases on preferential terms.

4.2. ESTER and ISE can be publicly used worldwide for free via Z39.50 protocol.

4.3. The authority records of ESTER are permanently submitted to the VIAF (Virtual International Authority File) database.

4.4. Data are regularly submitted to the Europeana portal via E-varamu portal.

4.5. In autumn 2020, ELNET will organise the Nordic IUG conference in Tartu for Scandinavian libraries using Sierra software.


ELNET is a sustainable and dynamic institution with a strong organisational culture. Members and partnets are involved in its activities, the budget ensures the fulfilment of the tasks undertaken.


5.1.1. ELNET is the strategic partner for the Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Culture in carrying out state policies and strategies in the relevant area, and applies for sustainable state funding for the management and development of ELNET datasets to ensure user satisfacstion and the further development of ELNET services.

5.1.2. ELNET writes applications to obtain additional funding for its projects.

5.1.3. ELNET invites institutions which possess research and cultural history collections to join its membership as partners. The visibility of the new datasets on ELNET website and on the websites of the datasets will be improved, thus increasing their usage.

5.1.4. To ensure the efficient operation and administrative capability of ELNET, the number of full-time employees will be increased (according to the increasing work volume in datasets management). As of 2018, the only full-time employee in ELNET has been the Executive Director.


5.2.1. To increase the efficiency of ELNET, the possible changing of its legal status will be analysed and work processes will be evaluated.

5.2.2. The employees of ELNET regularly attend the conferences of the Innovative Users Group, Nordic IUG and LIBER to be informed of the developments of the information system and to share professional information with the community.

5.2.3. ELNET develops organisational culture: disseminates information via intranet and monthly newsletter; organises regular meetings (board, general meeting, working groups, employees), seminars and, upon necessity, training; the best employees are acknowledged.

5.2.4. ELNET supports the work of its members and partners by offering, via its updated website, access to instructions, documents, statistics, etc.

5.2.5. The records management and archive of ELNET will be transformed to state-of-the-art document management software.