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Europeana redesigned

Europeana, Europe’s digital library, museum and archive, just launched a redesign with new functionality. The new interface has more visual appeal and has been adapted for iPads and Android touchscreens, bringing all the benefits of touch to Europe’s online treasury.

Europeana’s makeover has been shaped by users, who have helped to create the services they wanted around their cultural heritage. One request was made above all: the right to download for free and re-use the cultural highlights they find on the site. For the first time, Europeana makes it possible to narrow searches ‘by copyright’ so that public domain – out of copyright – content can be precisely targeted.

To date, almost half a million items are clearly shown as public domain on Europeana, and Europeana is strongly encouraging its data providers to correctly identify more out-of-copyright content, and not to invoke new rights just because they have digitised an item. At the forefront of public domain provision in Europeana are Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and Germany.

Other benefits that users get from the new Europeana include:

  • new ways of precision searching and a more logical structure of search results
  • more interactivity, highlighting blogging and social media activities around Europeana
  • more opportunities to browse in online exhibitions and around individual objects, each of which displays a slideshows of related images
  • automatic translation of details about a chosen item from its original language to 37 others

Jill Cousins, the Executive Director of Europeana, welcomed the makeover, saying, ‘We’ve been working closely with users to create a design they respond to, and trialling it with tablets because we know that iPad and Android users are our fastest-growing sector. They are also users who like to download, and we encourage people to use public domain content for their work, their college projects, their teaching and their creative remixes.’ brings together the digitised content of Europe’s libraries, galleries, museums, archives and audiovisual collections. It features digitised books, newspapers, paintings, photographs, maps, music and other sound recordings, museum objects, archival records, films and TV broadcasts. Europeana is funded by the European Commission to provide engaging ways for people to discover digitised cultural content and to facilitate digital innovation in the heritage sector.

Europeana has been able to amass a huge dataset, giving access to 19 million digitised books and other works, because of the network of aggregators with which it works. These aggregators collect data either nationally – like the Polish Digital Libraries Federation, which supplies data from hundreds of institutions across Poland – or by domain, like the European Film Gateway, which supplies data from Europe’s film archives.

The Public Domain

Creative works go out of copyright 70 years after the death of [all] their creators or contributors. Once they enter the public domain, they can be freely copied. The public domain is a resource for learning and research, a source of inspiration for new ideas and innovation. Europeana’s Public Domain Charter recommends that when out-of-copyright works are digitised, they should remain in the public domain and be labelled as such, enabling free download, copying and re-use by the public of their own heritage.

Increasing numbers of content providers are identifying their content with the public domain mark, so of Europeana’s 19 million items, a growing percentage will in future show their public domain status.