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Iceland joins CLARIN ERIC as observer

We are very pleased to announce that as of November 2018 Iceland is the fourth country that joined CLARIN ERIC as an observer.

Iceland has been involved with CLARIN for a number of years. Iceland became a member of the consortium of the CLARIN Preparatory Phase project in 2010, but without any funding. Since CLARIN ERIC was founded, Icelandic researchers have had numerous meetings with officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture to advocate CLARIN membership. Despite not being member of CLARIN, Iceland participated in the Nordic CLARIN Network, which was active from 2014-2017, and Icelandic researchers took part in a number of meetings and workshops organized by the network.

In October 2016, the Minister of Education, Science and Culture appointed a special language technology steering group which commissioned three language technology experts to work out a detailed Project Plan for Icelandic language technology. The Project Plan was handed in to the Minister in June 2017, and in November that year, the Government decided to implement the plan and fund it for the next five years. 

The Project Plan has a special chapter on CLARIN where the importance of Iceland joining CLARIN ERIC is emphasized. Iceland will benefit from membership in gaining access to a great number of tools and resources, and to expertise in several matters. A great number of resources and tools will be developed within their Language Technology Program, and described and stored according to standards adopted within CLARIN. The Project Plan points out that CLARIN will provide invaluable assistance in these matters.

Following the proposal made in the Project Plan, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture decided to fund CLARIN ERIC membership. As it turned out, however, Icelandic law needs to be changed if Iceland is to become a full member of CLARIN ERIC. Instead of waiting for these changes to go through, it was decided to apply for observership and the Ministry has now commissioned The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies to represent Iceland in CLARIN ERIC and to lead an Icelandic CLARIN consortium. 

Preparatory meetings for creating the consortium have already been held, with the participation of the University of Iceland, the Árni Magnússon Institute, the National and University Library, the National Museum, the National Archives, and Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding. Most likely, more members will be added, and the consortium will be formally established in January.

Eiríkur Rögnvaldsson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Iceland, has been appointed as National Coordinator for Iceland.