Europeana started 5 years ago as a big political idea to unite Europe through culture by making our heritage available to all for work, learning or pleasure. A deeply felt belief that our shared cultural heritage fundamentally belongs to all of us, and is therefore too important to leave to market forces alone to digitise and make available. We still believe in this big idea. We are Europeana, the network for the cultural heritage sector in Europe, and we think we are in a unique position to make these ideals come true. We are expanding our network with thousands of cultural institutions, politicians, tech entrepreneurs, open data activists, developers and researchers all with one thing in common: A shared dream of a world where every citizen will have access to all cultural heritage. We transform the world with culture
We have come a long way in a short time. In 5 years, we built an infrastructure that connects 30 million (and counting) objects from in 2014 over 2,500 institutions. From the Rijksmuseum to the Institut Cartografic de Catalunya and from the British Library to the National Audiovisual Institue in Warsaw, we have made all the descriptive data available under the most open licensing conditions. And we have started experimenting with creative re-use of that material through hackathons, in co-creation spaces and apps like Open Culture. In the meantime, the world around us has changed. The ubiquity of smart phones and tablet computers is a significant new challenge. It is now not good enough to deliver scant detail or low quality images; we need to serve carefully curated content designed to work in today and tomorrow’s technology. Our vision is an infrastructure that connects Europe’s culture digitally in the same way that roads and railways do physically. A laboratory that innovates for our new world using the richness of our past. We need a backbone that allows us to store, to access, to improve and to share. A place where copyright can be respected but ease of use is the mantra. We need to become the cultural innovators servicing the holders of cultural heritage and the users in equal measure. We have investigated thoroughly how to best achieve this. We have spent over 6 months talking with the best and brightest in our network to understand what is going well, and what needs to be improved. We understand that we need to make it easier to participate and that it needs to become clearer what the rewards are. We have been told that we need to continue to provide the catalyst to improve the way we can access our heritage. We know we need to improve the quality of the data we make available to the world. We think we have developed a plan that will take us into the future and we invite you to join us.
Mr Bruno Racine
Chair of the Board, Europeana Foundation
Président de la Bibliothèque nationale de France