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Europeana Judaica logo
Judaica Europeana Jewish collections online
photo of EVA Minerva conference participants at Harvard
Participants at the Harvard EVA Minerva Conference, April 2015. Some familiar faces of Judaica Europeana partners: Violet Radnofsky, Charles Berlin (our hosts), Dov Winer, Lena Stanley-Clamp, Franziska Frey, Susan Hazan. Photo by Yossi Zwecker.
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.

Europeana graphic
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.

Illustrated map: Europe as a queen
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.

gouache on paper by Josef Herman
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.
Judaica Europeana at large

International conferences provide opportunities for discovering what is happening elsewhere in digital heritage, for spreading the word about our work and meeting new partners.

Harvard University photo
The Widener Library―Harvard University’s flagship Library houses the Judaica Collection which covers all aspects of Jewish life and culture in the world.

The Harvard EVA Minerva Conference was convened in April 2015 by the Judaica Division of the Harvard University Library. The programme covered the latest advances from the world of libraries, museums, visual and performing arts, and academia.

Judaica Europeana contributed a presentation by Lena Stanley-Clamp (EAJC) ‘Working with Europeana: Integrated Access to Digital Collections’ and Dov Wiener’s presentation ‘Europeana and LOD: Enhancing Jewish and Israeli Heritage Digital Contents’ (both can be accessed on the Judaica Europeana Events page). Our partner at the YIVO Institute, Roberta Newman, presented the YIVO Vilna Project. It was particularly interesting to hear Dan Cohen speaking about the progress of the Digital Public Library of America and see its similarities with Europeana. Fascinating presentations by visual and performing artists working with digital media demonstrated the fluid boundaries between these disciplines.

Curators Conference photo
Lena Stanley-Clamp, Violet Radnofsky, Rachel Heuberger, Catherine Eagleton, Sabina Magrini, at the Curators’ Conference convened by the NLI.

The Second International Curators’ Conference at the NLI
Curated Collections: Towards a Jewish Digital Culture was convened by the National Library of Israel in November 2014. The conference brought to light many challenges and opportunities in this fast moving sector.

The session on ‘Building Digital Collections’ featured a panel of Judaica Europeana partners: Violet Radnofsky (Harvard University Library), Rachel Heuberger (Frankfurt University Library), Catherine Eagleton (British Library), Sabina Magrini (Biblioteca Palatina) and Lena Stanley-Clamp (European Association for Jewish Culture), who chaired the discussion.

Linked Open Data and Jewish Heritage
The new technologies of Linked Data allow researchers and institutions to cooperate in a decentralized way, interconnecting their resources which would otherwise remain isolated on the web. Although the potential of Linked Data for Jewish studies is still not much appreciated, pioneering projects on sharing resources and knowledge demonstrate the benefits of the new web technologies for this field.

Judaica Europeana and our partner JudaicaLink have been actively promoting the enhancement of Jewish studies by Linked Open Data technology. JudaicaLink, which has so far published three encyclopedias of Jewish culture and history, is an initiative of Professor Kai Eckert of the Stuttgart Media University. We shall expand on the subject of LOD publishing in the next newsletter.

Open Data cloud diagram
JudaicaLink resources published in the LOD Cloud. Linking Open Data cloud diagram 2014, by Max Schmachtenberg, Christian Bizer, Anja Jentzsch and Richard Cyganiak. CC-BY-SA.

A good opportunity to showcase our initiatives came in January 2015 at the international workshop on Linked Open Data & Jewish Cultural Heritage organized by Fondazione CDEC and held at the Italian Parliament. Kai Eckert presented ‘JudaicaLink: Linked Data from Jewish Encyclopedias’, while Dov Winer (EAJC) spoke about ‘Linked Data: towards a global Jewish studies knowledge grid’. Other speakers included Yael Gherman (Yad Vashem), who presented EHRI project’s work with LOD, and Adina Molad on the new web interface of Yad Vashem’s database of names.

Editor: Lena Stanley-Clamp, European Association for Jewish Culture, London
with contributions from the AthenaPlus project; Center for Jewish-Moroccan Culture, Brussels; Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw;
JDC Archives, New York; YIVO Institute, NY; Leo Baeck Institute, NY. | Contact us | Subscribe to Judaica Europeana Newsletter
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