The European Commission has put a boatload of extra cash into Europeana, an ambitious project to digitize Europe’s cultural heritage for generations to come. The 120 million euro it will be investing in 2009-2010 will prove to be insufficient, so they’re calling on all member states in the European Union to reach for their (public and private) pockets and raise some more funds.
“The European Digital Library will be a quick and easy way for people to access European books and art – whether in their home country or abroad. It will, for example, enable a Czech student to browse the British library without going to London, or an Irish art lover to get close to the Mona Lisa without queuing at the Louvre,” said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. “However, even though Member States have made significant progress in making cultural content accessible on the Internet, more public and private investment is needed to speed up digitisation.”
Europeana should become open to the public by the end of this year, although the project has been running for a number of years already. The portal’s demonstration site went live earlier this year as a showcase for organizations interested in submitting digital content.
Libraries in EU countries contain more than 2.5 billion books. But only about 1 % of archival material is available in digital form. The total cost of digitizing 5 million books is already estimated at approximately 225 million euros, not including objects like manuscripts or paintings. Europeana will also make music, photographs, and films digitally available in one portal.
Instead of being cynical about this, I’m going to hope for a great outcome for the project!