Review of Europeana (14-18)

Cataloguing and crowd sourcing


The Europeana platform is a huge digital catalogue that aims at regrouping works in public domain of various European libraries, achieves, museums etc. The project is meant the render available to the public the heritage of European culture. The website actually does not host on its server the digitized documents but redirect the reader to other online archives.

Meant to be the European response to Google books the platform actually repeats the same mistakes and shortcomings: many scholars complained that in Google books the majority of documents are in English shaping for some the culture following an anglo-american view and Europeana just do the same but France leads the trend and furnishes most of the material of course written in French. Due to keyword search it is not always easy to find the targeted subject just as in Europeana.

The similar project Europeana 14-18 is also an online catalogue linking to other websites but this time focusing on World War I primary sources. The diversity lays in the gathering of the material: part of it is actually provided by national libraries and museums but part has been given by European citizens with an operation of crowd sourcing.

Since the website contains mostly primary sources and is mean to be a catalogue there should not be any narrative in it; however it suggests, in the graphic and in the way the search is organized, to the user that WWI was a European event rather than a global conflict. On the main page the user can chose between sources from Europe, America, Canada or New Zeeland attempting to relate to other continents but there is no sign of the colonies that were as well involved in the conflict; and why then there is no section about Turkish sources?

As a conclusion Europeana copied Google books and encountered the same difficulties. It wanted to demonstrate that a similar project could be achieved with public money rather than with private incomes. However if Google had not hurt French pride Europeana probably would not be born. (accessed on 30/11/2014) (accessed on 30/11/2014) (accessed on 30/11/2014) (accessed on 30/11/2014)

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