The European Digital Library is taking shape

Images for the Future has a broader context – all over the world major digitisation projects are creating large-scale online heritage resources. The European Commission acknowledges the magnificent value these resources have if this wealth of material in Europe’s libraries, museums and (audiovisual) archives would be accessible to all.

Since a few years, the European Commission is supporting various initiatives that help realising this vision, dubbed ‘the European Digital Library’. These include research oriented projects such as MultiMatch, projects focussing on providing access such as Video Active and best practice networks on a specific topic, such as COMMUNIA. Knowledge exchange between projects is stimulated by coordination actions like CHORUS.

Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic
Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic

Until now, these efforts did not result in one single access point to collections across different domains. The heterogeneous nature of heritage (covering different languages, held by different organisations with their own standards for digitisation and annotation etc.) is the major obstacle. To meet user demands and in order to provide the complete picture, the access point should therefore provide solutions that provide for syntactic, semantic and linguistic interoperability between collections and objects. Needless to say: this is an extremely complex task. Therefore, expectations are high for the EDLnet, the recently launched initiative that tries to overcome exactly these obstacles and create the envisioned single window to the collections and objects. The press release states:

“The project – the European Digital Library network (EDLnet) – runs for two years, and will develop a prototype that demonstrates proof of concept, bringing together content from some of Europe’s major cultural organisations.
The project will be run by The European Library together with the National Library of the Netherlands. The project will look at the political, human, technical and semantic issues that will contribute to the creation of an interoperable system able to access fully digitised content. It will invite feedback from different types of users in order to create a service that enriches the widest public and answers the needs of researchers, students, teachers and the creative industries.”

Through Sound and Vision, Images for the Future is well represented in this network and contributes actively the workpackages around which the activities are organised. Representatives of the Video Active project participate in the workpackages on User Requirements and Interoperability, whilst mr. Edwin van Huis (general director of Sound and Vision and president of the International Federation of Television Archives) has a seat in the Executive Board of the EDL Foundation, the body that has been established to govern the further development of the European Digital Library.

I will– after this introduction – continue to report on the developments within this exiting initiative. Already, trough portals like Video Active, Images for the Future is making sure that we fully comply with the standards defined by the EDL Net. The content we offer online will be a great addition to the collections of others, the real power is enclosed in the relations that can be created between objects from different organisations; contextualisation on a pan European scale in the making!

(Johan Oomen is policy advisor at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. Contact: joomen[at]

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