Elisabeth Niggemann
Europeana: Connecting Cultural Heritage

The European Commission's goal for Europeana is to make European information resources easier to use in an online environment. It will build on Europe's rich heritage, combining multicultural and multilingual environments with technological advances and new business models.

The Europeana prototype is the result of a 2-year project that began in July 2007. Europeana.eu went live on 20 November 2008, launched by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media. Europeana.eu is about ideas and inspiration. It links the user to 2 million digital items: images, text, sounds and videos.

Europeana is a Thematic Network funded by the European Commission under the eContentplus programme, as part of the i2010 policy. Originally known as the European digital library network - EDLnet - it is a partnership of 100 representatives of heritage and knowledge organisations and IT experts from throughout Europe. They contribute to the work packages that are solving the technical and usability issues.

The project is run by a core team based in the national library of the Netherlands, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek. It builds on the project management and technical expertise developed by The European Library, which is a service of the Conference of European National Librarians.

Content is added via so called aggregators, national or domain specific portals aggegrating digital content and channelling it to Europeana. Most of these portals are being developed in the framework of EU funded projects, e.g. European Film Gateway, Athena and EuropeanaLocal.

Overseeing the project is the EDL Foundation, which includes key European cultural heritage associations from the four domains. The Foundation's statutes commit members to:
  • providing access to Europe's cultural and scientific heritage through a cross-domain portal;
  • co-operating in the delivery and sustainability of the joint portal;
  • stimulating initiatives to bring together existing digital content;
  • supporting digitisation of Europe's cultural and scientific heritage.
Europeana.eu is a prototype. Europeana Version 1.0 is being developed and will be launched in 2010 with links to over 6 million digital objects.

Bielefeld University Library - last update: 13/11/2008