Europe’s digital library crashes

24 Nov 2008

Europeana, the massive EU digital library of everything from European literature to art, crashed after it received traffic of the magnitude of 10 million visitors an hour.

Last week, the European Commission launched the Europeana digital online library, offering access to more than two million books, maps, recordings, photos, documents, paintings and films from national libraries and cultural institutions at a single internet site.

The site offered free and fast access to Europe’s greatest collections and masterpieces in a single virtual library through a web portal available in all EU languages.

However, within hours of opening, the site crashed after receiving 10 million hits an hour – double the number of hits that were expected.

The site is still down, with a notice on the page saying: “We are doing our utmost to re-open Europeana in a more robust version as soon as possible.”

In 2010, Europeana will give access to millions of items representing Europe’s rich cultural diversity, and will have interactive zones such as communities for special interests.

Between 2009 and 2011, some €2m per year of EU funding will be dedicated to this endeavour. The European Commission also plans to involve the private sector in the further expansion of Europe’s digital library.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: the notice currently displayed on the Europeana site

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years