Sent to you by Sean McBride via Google Reader: Europeana crashes due
to its popularity via TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home by Paul Biba on
In a project that I am sure is close to David’s heart, Europeana opened
on November 20. Here is the object of the site, as stated on its Web

Europeana – the European digital library, museum and archive – is a
2-year project that began in July 2007. It will produce a prototype
website giving users direct access to some 2 million digital objects,
including film material, photos, paintings, sounds, maps, manuscripts,
books, newspapers and archival papers. The prototype will be launched
in November 2008 by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for
Information Society and Media.

The digital content will be selected from that which is already
digitised and available in Europe’s museums, libraries, archives and
audio-visual collections. The prototype aims to have representative
content from all four of these cultural heritage domains, and also to
have a broad range of content from across Europe.

The interface will be multilingual. Initially, this may mean that it is
available in French, English and German, but the intention is to
develop the number of languages available following the launch.

There is an excellent article about the background leading up to the
site in this article in The Guardian, from which the following is taken:

"It is unique," said Jill Cousins, Europeana’s executive director. "A
search engine cannot do what we can. For example, a search [on
Europeana] for Mozart brings together letters he wrote to his father,
musical scores, and film and sound recordings of his music."

She said she was grateful to Google for setting a precedent. "Part of
the reason our site exists is because Google Book Search kicked off a
debate about the presence of European cultural heritage on the web.
That allowed us to mobilise."

One of the people most incensed by Google Book Search was the former
French president Jacques Chirac, who started a race with the
Anglo-Saxons to digitalise French content led by institutions such as
the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. France accounts for around a half
of the content of the Europeana site, followed by Britain and the
Netherlands. Other countries will slowly add more content. Currently
there are around 2m items available, and the site is expected to reach
10m items by 2010.

However, the site is now down due to its popularity. As stated at the
URL in the beginning of this article: We launched the site
on 20 November and huge use - 10 million hits an hour - meant it
crashed. We are doing our best to reopen in a more robust

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