The Impact of Europeana's Values

5 November 2015 Comment

Often in the research community, the mention of Europeana draws mixed responses. "It's a good idea, but the depth of data is not suitable for research use." But Europeana is not just about its portal (currently being renamed Europeana Collections, by the way)

It was heartening to hear the talk at the Europeana AGM from of the University of Oxford based Million Images Database Program, specifically citing how it drew on Europeana.

Les Ruines De Palmyre, Autrement Dite Tedmor, Au Désert, Engraving by Robert Wood, James Hawkins, 1753. Source: University of Heidelberg, CC-BY-SA

The talk, given by Dr. Alexy Karenowska, provoked much discussion at the event, in part because it was relevant to a very contemporary topic - the terrorist destruction of the classical monuments in Palmyra

In particular, I was struck by Dr. Karenowska's statement that the primary reason for their destruction was not cultural but economic. Palmyra was not being obliterated but blown apart and the remaining pieces being sold on the black market.

But in the context of Europeana what was interesting was how much the Million Images Program drew on Europeana's values - those of sharing, openness and mutuality. There was a specific nod to how these values underpinned what the cross-cultural Million Images Program is trying to do.

This is part of a broader theme. Europeana's impact is not just in the nut-and-bolts of providing an online service that users can search through, but also in the trying to implement that service according to certain ideals.

Time and time again, one hears of Europeana’s influence in pressing the open, sharing agenda - in the DPLA in America, but also in cultural institutions in Korea, Australia and Brazil and elsewhere. And it is in these values, embedded and put into practice in the online services, that Europeana's achieves its greatest impact.