A few weeks ago the European Commission launched Europeana, an online multimedia project that aims to make Europe's scientific and cultural heritage universally accessible. Enthusiasm for the project is so high that within hours of Europeana's official Nov. 20 launch, millions of hits reduced the site's speed to a crawl, forcing administrators to shut it down temporarily. The developers plan to have a sturdier version up by mid-December.
The site, which has been in the works since 2005, boasts “more than two million books, maps, recordings, photographs, archival documents, paintings and films from national libraries and cultural institutions of the European Union's 27 Member States.” If it exists in a digital format, whether it’s a book from Hungary or a painting from the Louvre, it will be on Europeana and available in every language of the EU.
And this is only the beginning. For the next three years, the website and related projects will receive millions of euros in funding from the EU to expand the collection and create interactive space for users with specific interests.