"The Consortium was formed in 1992 on the initiative of research libraries in many European countries and legally came into being in June 1994. CERL seeks to share resources and expertise between research libraries with a view to improving access to, as well as exploitation and preservation of the European printed heritage in the hand-press period (up to c. 1850)."
"The Heritage of the Printed Book Database (HPB)
(previously called the Hand Press Book Database) contains high-level bibliographical records for items of European printing of the hand-press period (c. 1455–c. 1830) held at major European and North American research libraries. The database has multiple search indexes suitable for bibliographical research. CERL member libraries can download MARC records for derived cataloguing.
Further new catalogue records are added each year.
"The CERL Thesaurus
contains multi-lingual information on names of persons and places found in catalogues of books of the hand-press period. The Thesaurus was developed to facilitate access to the large quantity of data in the HPB containing titles and catalogue notes in many European languages.
The Thesaurus is both an independent research tool and a database searching aid for the HPB and the CERL Portal.
"The CERL Portal
provides cross-searching of catalogues of European manuscript and archival materials. In order to reflect the Consortium's interests in both the European printed heritage and written heritage, the Portal has been extended to provide cross-file searching of the HPB Database and the English Short-Title catalogue. The Advanced search interface uses the CERL Thesaurus to provide multi-lingual assisted searching of personal names.
"Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI)
MEI is a database specifically designed to record and search the material evidence (or copy specific, post-production evidence, provenance information) of 15th century printed books: ownership, decoration, binding, manuscript annotations, stamps, prices, etc.
CERL started to take a strong interest in the recording and interpretation of data about owners of early-printed books following the success of its tenth-anniversary Seminar in 2004. In addition to web pages containing information about publications and web sites on provenance, the CERL Thesaurus can now link personal names of owners of books to web-based catalogues containing books owned by them.
A Provenance Working group has been set up (2007) to take this work further.
"Web resources for the History of the Book
CERL tries to maintain web pages with links to information about the History of the Book for both rare-books librarians and scholars.