Monday, November 24, 2008

Europeana: a different model from JSTOR?

Europe's heritage went digital on Thursday when the European Union launched an online library putting famous works such as Dante's Divine Comedy and Beethoven's 9th Symphony just a mouse click away.
Back from Paris and Marrakesh, Jon (Wirearchy) Husband (thanks Jon) points me to Europeana – a single access point to Europe's cultural heritage:
Europeana is a simple but powerful tool for finding resources from all over Europe. Books, journals, films, maps, photos, music etc. will be available for everyone to consult – and to use, copyright permitting. For example, the library will be a rich source of materials for the creative and information industries in developing new products and services, for tourism and for teaching.
The new site says it began receiving 10 million hits per hour, and crashed. It expects to be back in December. More here. And:

Europeana . . .will initially offer access mainly to items in the public domain.
But the European Commission said it was in talks with cultural institutions, rights holders and technology firms about finding ways to add copyright material to its stock.  ZDnet

It does seem a bit in need of cash just to set up. The main point seems to be accessibility and simplification through a centralizing order (but not a centralized server).

Still, reading this:
The internet has created an unprecedented opportunity to make Europe’s cultural heritage accessible.
one sadly thinks of the capitalistic cordon-creating thinking behind JSTOR. Yes, one needs money to operate. But look at the pent-up demand. Micropayments of fractions of pennies could go very far.
At least we have the sense that over there, some hearts and heads might be in the right place:
The British Library is bringing some of the world's rarest books online, with the intent of giving as wide an audience as possible the most accurate experience of reading the real thing.

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