Culture and memory in the Digital Age: Europeana.eu

Europeana is an online resource for digitized cultural materials from all across Europe. More than 2,000 institutions have contributed to Europeana and the collections continue to grow. The history of this online source is an interesting one. In 2005, former president of France, Jacques Chirac, along with six Heads of State from across Europe, called for the creation of a European digital library in a letter to the European Commission. The project has developed and flourished over time, encompassing different aspects of information technology.

The Europeana Foundation is the leading body of the entire project, which includes the digital library at europeana.eu. The Foundation is also head of the Linked Open Data project. Several countries are already participating in the linked open data project by providing data sets of raw data. These are available for anyone to use. The project will undoubtedly continue to grow, and more data will be made available over time.

There are several ways to explore the digital library using the main Europeana search portal. Images, text, sounds and video make up the available items and material, and extensive metadata is included with each entry. Subject or descriptor headings are linkable, so one item will lead the scholar to other similar items with just one click. Many of the descriptors are in English, as well as in the language of the originating institution.  Another unique feature of Europeana is the collection of online exhibitions.

Each exhibition has a theme, and all images or sound files included are annotated in detail right on the page. Certain exhibitions are hosted by partner institutions, while most are compiled by Europeana, which uses its collections provided by institutions of cultural memory from across Europe. 

Europeana is also very active on social media sites, including Pinterest. This is the perfect forum for Europeana's content, as it has included tons of images, and organized them by theme on different boards. You do not need a Pinterest account access these boards. 

Finally, Europeana recently launched a project called "Europeana 1989: We made history". Working with HistoryPin, an online community where people can "pin" images to certain places on a map, Europeana's newest project is a crowd-sourcing endeavor. People are invited to contribute their pictures and stories about where they were in 1989, what life was like and what was happening at the time. The project only launched in early June 2013 and is growing at quite the pace. Consider exploring the contributions, or adding something yourself!