Click of a mouse to europe culture access

The European Commisison has published the Communication about Europe’s cultural heritage at the click of a mouse Progress on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation across the EU ([SEC(08) 2372]).

Europe’s libraries, archives, museums and audiovisual archives have vast and rich collections that represent Europe’s history and cultural diversity. When made accessible on the internet, these collections can be consulted and re-used by Europe’s citizens for leisure, work or studies.

In September 2005, the European Commission launched the Digital Libraries initiative, the aim being to make Europe’s cultural and scientific heritage accessible online . The initiative, which is part of the Commission’s i2010 strategy for the information society, received strong support from the European Parliament  and the Council.

The Digital Libraries initiative supports the development of Europeana – the European digital library – and contributes to improving the conditions for the online accessibility of books, newspapers, films, maps, photographs and archival documents from Europe’s cultural institutions. Priority areas to be addressed by Member States were identified in the 2006 Commission Recommendation on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation , and the related Council Conclusions.

Users can access Europeana to explore and combine digitised material from museums, archives, libraries and audiovisual archives all over Europe, without having to know about or go to multiple sites. They will have direct access to digitised books, newspapers, archival records, photographs and audiovisual files and can consult or use them for leisure, study or work purposes

European Projects.

The IMPACT (IMProving ACcess to Text) project under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Development supports a network of competence centres for digitisation. The project receives Community co-funding of €11.5 million, for a total budget of €15.5 million.

The EDLnet project, co-funded under eContentplus, directly contributes to the creation of Europeana. It brings together the main content providers to Europeana and helps to establish an interoperability framework underpinning the work. The European Film Gateway project (earmarked co-funding of €4.5 million) helps the national film archives to aggregate content across the Member States, and thus it can be easily brought into Europeana.

General conclusiones.

The internet has created an unprecedented opportunity to make Europe’s cultural heritage accessible. Through the Digital Libraries initiative, the Commission is giving Europe’s cultural institutions the support they need to turn this opportunity into reality. Where cultural material has been made available by libraries, museums and (audiovisual) archives, there has been in general great interest from the public.

Europeana, the European digital library, will be launched in November 2008 and will show the potential of a common access point to Europe’s distributed cultural heritage. The content and services offered by Europeana will grow over the years as more institutions join and more material is digitised.