Europeana goes far beyond expectations with 14 million European cultural heritage pieces on-line

The rapid increase of resources which are available in Europeana is probably one of the best examples to demonstrate the potential of the Internet for the dissemination of European cultural heritage. This target which is part of the Digital Agenda, will be fully addressed in the report to be submitted early 2011 by the Reflection Group set by the Commission to study the best way to promote European culture through the Internet.

In May 2010, 7 million examples of cultural heritage where accessibly through Europeana and the target fixed for 2010 was 10 million items. For the moment on, this target has been reached by far with up to 14 million examples of Europe's cultural heritage accessible at Europeana. The first Lithuanian book published in 1547, a 1588 copy of Aristotle's' Technē rētorikēs in ancient Greek and Latin, the complete works of German authors Goethe and Schiller, paintings by the 17th century Dutch painter Jan Steen or a series of pre-World War I photographs of the Glendalough monastery in Ireland, are some examples of new items added to Europeana during the last year.

The project Europeana which was launched in 2008 after Commission's Communication on European cultural heritage at the click of a mouse aims to allow Internet users to search and get direct access to digitised books, maps, paintings, newspapers, photographs, film fragments and all sorts of audiovisual documents from Europe's cultural institutions.

With these data, the Reflection Group set up by the Commission to explore new ways to bring Europe's cultural heritage online, has addressed the EU's Council of Culture Ministers and the European Parliament's Committee on Culture some of the results of the ongoing works. Among them, the Reflection Group will analyse the results of the recently closed on-line consultation on digitisation launched by the Commission to seek views on how to boost cultural heritage on-line.

Digitised photographs, maps, paintings and other images at the top of Europeana

Digitised photographs, maps, paintings, museum objects and other images make up 64% of the Europeana collection. 34% of the collection is dedicated to digitised texts, including more than 1.2 million complete books that can be viewed online and/or downloaded. Video and sound material represents less than 2% of the collections.

All EU Member States have contributed items to Europeana, but input is still uneven. France is still the largest contributor (18% of total items). Germany has increased its share to 17%. To ensure Europeana represents a true cross-section of Europe's cultural heritage, it needs further quality material from all Member States.

Europeana, more than cultural objects

The potential for using Europeana in schools was demonstrated by entrants in the recent eLearning Awards organised by European Schoolnet. Next year Europeana intends to experiment with user-generated content and will invite users to contribute material to Europeana around the theme of World War I.

Currently, Europeana has two virtual exhibitions running. 'Reading Europe' presents a rich choice from Europe's rare books and literary works. The 'art nouveau' exhibition shows the potential of bringing together cultural material from different countries.