For the next two weeks I’m here at Europeana in Den Haag/The Hague working out of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB) – the National Library of the Netherlands – and I need your advice. I want to know any ideas you have for how Wikimedia and Europeana can work together.
I arrived here yesterday (meeting up with GerardM on the way) having been invited for two reasons:
- To keynote their conference next week in Amsterdam. Specifically this will be about my British Museum project but more broadly it will be about why letting go of control of cultural heritage is A Good Thing™. I’m very honoured to have this role, especially since the other keynote speaker is head of technical-shinanigans at Google Books.
- Coming up with ways that Wikimedia and Europeana can collaborate. I’m spending the next two weeks focusing on this. Delivering a range of proposals to Europeana and also bringing greater awareness of what they can offer to the Wiki-verse.
Europeana is an EU funded project to be, in effect, a Meta-GLAM. Whilst they do not themselves own a collection of objects their task is to help coordinate Europe’s GLAM sector to make that cultural material more accessible. They do this by aggregating the metadata of digitised objects from their uber-impressive list of partners. Currently, they are most well known for their search portal but this is only the beginning. As you can see on their “about us” page:
[The project’s task is to]…report on the further research and implementation needed to make Europe’s cultural heritage fully interoperable and accessible through a truly multilingual service.
Anyone familiar with the Wikimedia mission statement will notice how much the two have in common. Not only that, but Europeana GETS the kind of principles that Wikimedians are always going on about. For example take a look at their Public Domain Charter. They also don’t suffer from what I call “Portal envy” whereby an organisations refuses to work on projects that are not wholly confined within their own portal for branding purposes.
One of the other ways they’re testing of getting cultural information out is to curate digital exhibitions. Check out the current exhibition on Art Neauveau!
So – here’s the question: What, in your opinion, are some things that Europeana and Wikipedia can do together?
The main point of difference with any other GLAM-WIKI relationship in this case is that Europeana doesn’t itself control any of the original objects, on the other hand, they have a unique pan-European access and data consistency. Please contact me with any ideas, leave them as comments or tweet me. Direct any carrier pigeons c/o the KB.
Some potential ideas that come to mind immediately are:
- Using the API to add snippets of Wikipedia to Europeana search results (like the way the National Library of Australia does it)
- Using a Wikimedia Commons bot to import consistent metadata from Europeana to attach things like creator templates or other template boxes
- Using Europeana’s simple and persistent links + a citation template to provide a URL-redirecting service. This makes would make it easy for Wikipedians writing articles about about cultural objects to discover and link to the object reference in the online catalogue of the GLAM that owns the object.
- Work with the relevant Wikiproject when curating a new digital exhibition to write and share texts, footnotes, translations and multimedia.
- Provide a relationship brokering service between the European Wikimedia Chapters and their local GLAMs to help fulfill the mutual mission of sharing cultural heritage.