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Brussels, 18 November 2010
Europeana – Europe's digital library: frequently asked questions
(see also IP/10/1524)
Europeana is a multimedia library, museum and archive gateway with Web 2.0 features. It offers direct access to digitised books, audio and film material, photos, paintings, maps, manuscripts, newspapers and archival documents that are part of Europe’s cultural heritage. Visitors to www.europeana.eu can search and explore different collections in Europe’s cultural institutions in their own language, without having to visit multiple sites or countries.
Europeana was launched by the European Commission and the EU's culture ministers in Brussels on 20 November 2008 (IP/08/1747).
Who is Europeana for?
Europeana offers anyone interested in literature, history, art or cinema a direct route to access European cultural resources. It offers a simple way to find cultural material from across Europe in digitised format. Europeana is also expected to attract students and researchers with its vast virtual collection of material from all disciplines. That said, it is just as easy for school children to use it, for homework or for fun.
How does Europeana work?
Europeana is a multimedia internet portal with content from different sources. The digital objects that users can find on Europeana are not stored on a central computer, but remain with the cultural institution where the objects are in reality, and are hosted on their network. Europeana collects contextual information about the items, including pictures where appropriate. Users can search this contextual information, and a simple click provides them with access to the full content – inviting them to read a book, play a video or listen to an audio recording that is stored on the servers of the respective content contributing institutions. Cultural institutions collaborating with Europeana organise their digitised content so as to make this search possible, while maintaining control over their content.
How does a cultural digital object (book, video, etc.) end up in Europeana?
First, the cultural object has to be digitised. Digitisation is the transformation into digital format of text and photos from paper, films from reels, music from vinyl or videos from tape, so it can be accessed from a computer. For text and photos this involves scanning. Then the cultural institution that has digitised the object has to make it available for search and retrieval through Europeana. To make it searchable from a single entry point, the institution has to add the right contextual information to the digital object, such as the name of the author/creator, the place and date of creation, etc. The selection of content to be digitised and brought into Europeana is determined by EU countries and their cultural institutions in line with their cultural and/or information policies.
How many digital objects are available through Europeana and where do they come from?
Europeana gives direct access to over 14 million digitised items from museums, libraries, audiovisual and other archives across Europe. Over 1,500 cultural organisations from the 27 EU countries have provided material to Europeana.
Are 14 million objects enough?
14 million objects is a very respectable number. It shows good progress compared to 2 million items in 2008 and is well above the Commission's initial target of 10 million works for 2010. To attract more users and to ensure that users come back to the site, the amount of objects searchable through Europeana should grow over the coming years. The speed of this growth depends largely on the pace of digitisation in EU member states.
This can happen if more Member States make their digitised heritage available to redress the present imbalance between the contributions, and if content providers increase the diversity of the types of content, especially audio and video content.
What kind of interesting cultural objects can I find on Europeana?
How can I access Europeana, search cultural content, and learn more about it?
You can visit Europeana at www.europeana.eu/