Europe Seeks to Grow its Digital Archive

Europe’s online digital museum now has more than 14 million artifacts but experts are still looking for ways to improve the collection.

Europeana, the E.U.’s digital library, was launched in November 2008 to allow people access to digitized books, maps, paintings, newspapers, photographs, film fragments and other audiovisual documents from Europe’s cultural institutions in their own language.

Despite the overall success of the project — the original target for 2010 was 10 million objects — there is still some room for improvement, said Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes. For example, video and sound material makes up only 2 percent of the collection.

France and Germany are the largest contributors, but the steering group, the Comit√© des Sages, wants to see more material from other countries to ensure Europeana represents a true cross-section of Europe’s cultural heritage.

Europeana is also hampered by copyright clearance difficulties. The vast majority of artifacts are much older and out of copyright or are “orphan” works, or material whose potential rights holders are unknown.

Next year, users will have the opportunity to contribute to the collection as Europeana invites individuals to contribute material around the theme of World War I.

Read more about the effort at the PCWorld Business Center.

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