Bringing Jewish heritage collections together
Judaica Europeana is a network of heritage institutions in Europe, Israel and the US which have been working together very successfully to provide integrated access to their digital collections. Inspired by the vision of Europeana―the digital platform for Europe’s libraries, museums and archives―we rely on Europeana’s infrastructure and technology for this ongoing undertaking.
Arrival of a Portuguese ship, anonymous, 1600-1625. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Europeana is many things: a portal for libraries, museums and archives; a digital platform for innovation and services, and a network, which represents 3000 cultural institutions. Europeana became fully operational in 2010 when Judaica Europeana was also launched. It is funded by the European Commission under the aptly named programme ‘Connecting Europe’.
Europeana is fast becoming the world’s largest repository of trusted and accessible digital heritage. It currently holds data for 41.6 million items from every domain: images, texts, sounds, videos and 3D objects. This content comes from 36 countries with a portal interface in 31 languages. The shared Europeana Data Model makes it all inter-operable, unlike the data in many repositories held in information silos. The EDM has become an international standard, adopted also by the Digital Public Library of America.
The strategy for the coming years is to continue to shift the focus from portal to platform (‘portals are for visiting, platforms are for building on’); to keep on improving the quality of the records; and to build on the value the contributing partners get back from Europeana.
Map of Europe, 1788 from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam has been one of the most popular searches on Europeana.
Why is it useful for an institution to join Europeana?
The basic incentive for collection holders is becoming more discoverable and visible to more people. Europeana exposes partners’ data not only through its own portal, but also to other search engines. It drives traffic to the collections' own websites. But there are other important advantages: access to technical knowledge and to best practice networks. For example, EuropeanaLabs are a great resource for the improvement of metadata with Linked Open Data, which is still a closed book to many collections holders.
Reaching out to users
Europeana has run successful crowd sourcing campaigns around the centenary of World War I and 25 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Its GLAM-Wiki toolset has uploaded 300,000 images to Wikimedia Commons. Digital exhibitions are an integral part of the Europeana portal. Europeana is currently developing thematic channels that will bring together related objects in a coordinated way. For example, Europeana Sounds will give access to music, languages and dialects, oral memories and nature sounds. A channel on Art History is underway.
News from Judaica Europeana
Recent milestones include the publication of data for large quantities of books, periodicals, manuscripts, memoirs and archival collections from the Center for Jewish History in New York: namely, the Leo Baeck Institute and the YIVO Institute. The National Library of Israel has contributed manuscripts, books and archival material. The NLI digitizes huge amounts of content from collections around the world, including some Judaica Europeana partners. JDC Archives, New York contributed their World War I collection. The Brandeis University Library began our cooperation by contributing a valuable collection of Spanish Civil War posters.
An exceptional collection from a new partner, the Center of the Judeo-Moroccan Culture in Brussels, brings a historical heritage born from Jewish, Spanish, Berber and Muslim influences. The Ben Uri Museum in London has shared its collection of works by Jewish artists.
Ben Uri Gallery and Museum celebrates its centenary year with an exhibition exploring 100 years of émigré history and art, 2 July – 13 December 2015, Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, KIngs' College Cultural Institute, London WC2R 2LS, UK. [Above] Refugees by Josef Herman © estate of Josef Herman, Ben Uri collection.