Europeana opens up Europe’s cultural data for innovators

17 Feb 2012

The National Library of Ireland on Kildare Street, Dublin 2, beside the Government buildings

Europeana, an online resource whereby people can explore the digital resources of Europe’s museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections, has published data pertaining to 2.4m objects for the first time under an open metadata licence.

The licence is called CC0, the Creative Commons’ Public Domain Dedication.

The 2.4m objects include texts, images, videos and sounds gathered by Europeana. The collections have come from eight direct Europeana providers comprised of more than 200 cultural institutions from 15 countries.

So what European treasures can people stumble upon using this open data resource? Maybe you could check out Isaac Newton’s book about the laws of motion: Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica, the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, Johannes Vermeer’s painting of Girl with a Pearl Earring, or objects around the Berlin Wall.

To make it easier for people to understand the concept of linked open data, Europeana has also created an infographic.

Europeana says it is making data openly available to the public and private sectors so they can use it to develop innovative applications for smartphones and tablets and to create new web services and portals.

The organisation, which also holds hackathons, says the linked open data concept is already attracting Europe’s major national libraries. The Bibliothèque nationale de France, for instance, recently launched its linked data resource, while the national libraries in the UK, Germany and Spain have been publishing their metadata under an open licence.

National libraries in Ireland, Austria, Serbia, Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Luxembourg and the UK have provided CC0 metadata to Europeana’s Linked Open Data pilot.

Europeana’s new Data Exchange Agreement – the contract that libraries, museums and archives agree to when their metadata goes into Europeana – will also come into effect on 1 July 2012. After that date, all metadata in Europeana will be available as open data.

The agreement has already been signed by all of the national libraries, by national museums, such as the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and by many of the content providers for entire countries, such as Sweden’s National Heritage Board.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic