New European Digital Library Proves Too Popular

Too many people are excited about Europeana, a pan-European digital library, archive, and museum. Last week, when the project’s prototype Web site debuted, it got 10 million hits per hour — and crashed.

Reporting the news, Library Journal quoted Martin Selmayr, a spokesman for Viviane Reding, the commissioner in charge of the project. Mr. Selmayr managed to find a silver lining in the situation, telling reporters that Europeana was a “victim of its success.”

With 27 countries participating, the online venture already has some two million digitized objects in its virtual collection, including not just books, newspapers, maps, and manuscripts, but also sound recordings, paintings, and even movies. The journal described it as “Europe’s answer to the potential cultural dominance portended by Google.”

Ah, but what about France, which has contributed more than half the items in Europeana’s collections, according to a recent article in The New York Times? “So comprehensive is France’s cultural dominance over this cyberspace outpost that other countries are having their own history written for them — in French, of course,” the Times noted.

“I find the figures extraordinary,” Commissioner Reding told the newspaper. “France has half the content — the collapse of the Berlin Wall is illustrated with a French TV documentary.”

Vive l’Europeana! —Jennifer Howard

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