Work begins this week to add over 5 million digital objects, ranging from Spanish civil war photographs and handwritten letters from philosopher Immanuel Kant, to Europeana
from 19 of Europe’s leading research and university libraries.
The project is called Europeana Libraries and it will put many of these treasures online for the first time. It will also add extensive collections from Google Books, theses, dissertations and open-access journal articles to the 15 million items amassed in Europeana to date. Providers include some of Europe’s most prestigious universities and research institutes, including the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Trinity College Dublin and Lund University.
The assembled objects span centuries of European history. Manuscripts from Serbia date back as far as 1206 and relate to the Ottoman Empire’s European territories. Written in Arabic, Ottoman Turkish and Persian, they are being digitised by the University Library of Belgrade. There will also be significant film additions. Footage of talks from 10 Nobel prize winners will be contributed by the University of Vienna and the Wellcome Trust Library in London will add 900 clips from medical science films produced over the past 100 years.
Europeana Libraries is notable not only for the content it will make available online but also because this project brings together national, research and university libraries under one umbrella, to make their materials available via Europeana.
The Europeana Libraries initiative is supported by key international library associations: the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL), the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) and the Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche (LIBER).
Louise Edwards, General Manager of The European Library and project coordinator said: “This project will offer wonderful new resources for Europe’s humanities and social science researchers. Unique source materials that were known only to small numbers of scholars will now become widely accessible, promoting new understanding and cross-border study.”
Paul Ayris, President of LIBER, said: “Europeana Libraries will create a service that aggregates the digitised content from research and university libraries. By the end of the project, in two years time, we will have created a robust, automated delivery system which any library can use to deliver its digitised content to Europeana, The European Library, and other services for researchers.”
Marian Lefferts, Executive Manager of CERL, welcomed the start of Europeana Libraries, saying: “It signals a commitment by the different parts of the library sector to work together to deliver the greatest possible benefit to users. We will be able to extend our reach to international research audiences with new content and innovative services, and in doing so, help to develop the European knowledge base.”