...began not much after the Internet had been first introduced in Hungary, after the launching of the gopher project of the IIF in 1994. As a result of the project, experiments on the promptly established gopher infrastructure and related services (FTP, WWW, Listserver) have revealed an increasing interest for high-quality web-content in Hungarian language, as well as for professional solutions and arrangements that would improve access of this kind of material, since navigating the Internet has become more difficult with the rapidly growing number of available documents.

In the spring of 1994, during the first/annual GOPHER-WORKSHOP meeting, a few enthusiastic librarians came forward with an Initiative Plan concerning the establishment and operation of a future Electronic Library. The first draft of the proposition has been developed through the discussion on the mailing list MEK-L@huearn.sztaki.hu during the summer of 1994, with the distribution of ideas and the examination of similar projects abroad. Simultaneously, two test-collections were established on the gopher servers of the University of Miskolc and the University of Economics in Budapest. In September, 1994 the National Information Infrastructure Development Program (NIIF) included the Hungarian Electronic Library (MEK) Project into its first three-year agenda, and, in early 1995, work started on the central collection of the MEK, hosted on one of the devices of the NIIF, initially as a gopher-service on the address gopher.mek.iif.hu.

A year later, the web-interface was created, and the mainstream service of the MEK switched to a http server on mek.iif.hu. Due to the invaluable assistance and work of several individuals and institutions the collection grew to about 4000 items between the years of 1996 and 2002, with 60-70 thousand visitors each month. Also, the collection development policies were formed: the MEK collects resources concerning Hungary or the Central European region, in the fields of culture, education and academic research. The collection consists of text-based resources, but does not exclude other formats such as maps, sheet music etc. The Hungarian Electronic Library also collects periodicals and journals, and links to other relevant resources, services and documents concerning libraries.

In 1999 the non-profit association was established for the support of the Hungarian Electronic Library. In the autumn of the same year the Hungarian National Library decided to provide a new home for the MEK project. As a result of this decision, the MEK-Department was formed, starting with a two-men staff. In the year 2001 the new service launched on the MEK's own server (mek.oszk.hu) with an enhanced collection and system, and the addition of the Electronic Periodicals Archive. In 2004 an accessible homepage was created (VMEK), followed by a mobile interface in 2012 (m.mek.oszk.hu). In the year 2007 a new subcollection, the Digital Archive of Pictures launched (dka.oszk.hu). Between 1999 and 2001 the MEK also hosted the MIT-HOL (lately known as LIBINFO) online reference service.

During the course of the past few years the Hungarian Electronic Library became one of the most popular and most significant text-archives of the Hungarian webspace. Technically a civil movement has formed around it, due to the fact that anyone, even with the simplest of methods and means can contribute to the development of the collections: individuals can offer digitized works (their own or by other authors) with due respect to copyright-issues. Also, users can make propositions concerning the archiving of material found on other servers, give a hand in document-conversions for the collection, or help by simply taking part in PR-tasks. Contribution or financial support are both welcome. For further information please read our leaflet or contact us via e-mail.