Reactions to Google Art Project

Wow! This is what I call NEWS! Today Google launched a new service called ‘Google Art Project’. Using Street View technology it enables visitors to pay a vivid visit to some of the worlds’ most famous cultural institutions.

As explained on the FAQ of the site, for now the following museums are included in the project:

* Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin – Germany
* Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, Washington DC – USA
* The Frick Collection, NYC – USA
* Gemäldegalerie, Berlin – Germany
* The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC – USA
* MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC – USA
* Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid – Spain
* Museo Thyssen – Bornemisza, Madrid – Spain
* Museum Kampa, Prague – Czech Republic
* National Gallery, London – UK
* Palace of Versailles – France
* Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands
* The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg – Russia
* State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow – Russia
* Tate Britain, London – UK
* Uffizi Gallery, Florence – Italy
* Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands

Taken a quick scan of the first reactions on twitter (#googleartproject) and elsewhere, people seem to be amazed and excited about Google’s new project. So far I have only read some doubts on the site of the Telegraph.

Some elements that immediately caught my attention:

1. You can create your own collection (based on your favorites) and share it. You only need your Google account. The feature looks interesting, simple and easy. In other words: well done!

2. The quality of the pictures is amazing. Take this portrait of Marie Antoinette plus children at the palace of Versailles, France.

3. Officially, the copyright remains at the side of the participating institutions….

I wonder though what this means for I understand the point of view of the institutions that also (can) participate in Europeana. They wish to be visible to as many people as possible. Obviously Google is a great help in expanding one’s reach. But how will the European Commission react? What are the USPs of Europeana versus Google’s new initiative?

More information:

‘World’s museums go online with Google Street View’ (AFP)

‘The problem with Google’s Art Project‘ (Telegraph)

Rights, Registries and Orphan Works

Fleur writes: Yes, another project! ;-) This time around I would like to draw your attention to a project entitled Accessible Registries of Rights Information and Orphan Works, in short ARROW.

“The aim of the ARROW project is to help identify copyright holders of out-of-print works, to create European registers of orphan works and also to develop models for integrated access to charged and free digital content. Effort is being made to ensure that the project results are interoperable with the future European digital library “Europeana”. Source of this text:

According to a document that was published on the European Commission website, the Arrow consortium involves six National and one University libraries; three publishers’ associations; one authors’ association; three technology developers and ISBN agencies; seven Reproduction Rights Organisations (RRO); and the three international organisations European Digital Library (EDL), Federation of European Publishers (FEP) and International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO). In addition the European Writers Congress (EWC) has been invited to attend the steering committee without being a formal partner. Read more by clicking here

More Information
* Press Release annoucing the launch of the project (d.d. 12/12/2008)
* What Can Google Books Do For Orphan Works?

Questions following Europeana Launch?

Fleur writes: Following the launch of Europeana, many are finding their way to the office in The Hague and ask us all kinds of questions. Maybe this post helps a bit in finding the answers….But before I do, may I please remind you that Europeana and The European Library are two different services…? (please note “view of a bird” for further info) went live last Thursday 20 November. As an unprecedented number of people immediately visited Europeana, the site came to a standstill. Technical developers, among others colleagues Sjoerd and Eric, are working long hours to create a more robust version. Mid December the site will be reopened. If you now enter you are redirected to the project development site. Here you can find all kinds of information and also a video that gives a preview of what’s on the real Europeana site.

One of the resources you can find on the project website is a link to the European Commission press briefing which was held November 21. During this briefing, Martin Selmayr, Spokesperson of European Commission, Information Society and Media gave an update on Europeana and also answered all kinds of questions, such as…

1. Why do you need a couple of weeks to come back?

2. Are you going to inform the registered users of Europeana when the site is back up?

You can watch the press briefing via

Further, if you are wondering what kind of film footage is available for TV companies, please follow this link. It mainly shows how digitization takes place.

Europeana goes live!

Welcome Europeana!

IMPACT: Improving Access to Text

“IMPACT is a project funded by the European Commission. It aims to significantly improve access to historical text and to take away the barriers that stand in the way of the mass digitization of the European cultural heritage.” (text published on

Hildelies BalkProgramme Manager IMPACT – further explains:

IMPACT is a European project that aims to speed up the process and enhance the quality of mass digitization in Europe. The IMPACT research will significantly improve digital access to historical printed text by innovating Optical Character Recognition software and language technology. IMPACT will also build capacity in mass digitization across Europe.The fifteen partners (seven libraries, six research institutes and two private sector companies) together form a Centre of Competence that will share best practices and expertise with the MLA community.

Fact sheet

· IMPACT is supported by the European Community under the FP7 ICT Work Programme. The project is coordinated by the National Library of the Netherlands (KB)

· Project type: Large-scale Integrating Project

· Start date: 1 January 2008

· Duration: 48 months

· EU funding: € 11 500 000

· Contact:

· Web site:

More Information

The concept and project objectives are described extensively in the IMPACT Description of Work, that forms the basis of the projects’ contract with the EC. A public version of this document is available from the IMPACT Project Office .

Do you want to know how things are going? Curious about the general state of affairs, or which prototypes have been made available? The recently produced half year report gives a full update of all developments (and includes pictures of involved people – nice!). It can sent by request.

Press Coverage – Some Links

The Progress Report of the European Commission has generated interesting press coverage from all over the world. Some examples:

Opening soon: a digital library for Europe
7thSpace Interactive (press release) – New York,NY,USA

Daily Digest 11 August – Dublin,Ireland

EC funds more digitization for OA, calls on member states to do …
By Peter Suber

L’Europe aura sa bibliothèque numérique
by Thomas Ferenczi
Le Monde 13.08.08

Interview Hans Geleijnse (“één van de drie Nederlanders in het achtkoppige bestuur”)
BNR Radio

La Ue mette la cultura on line torna il mito della Biblioteca

La Repubblica

Europas digitale Bibliothek startet im Herbst
die Welt

Did you see / hear an item that’s not listed here? Would love to know about it….!

Digital Activities Report

Just the other day the European Commission issued a progress report entitled Progress on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation across the EU.

The associated press releases explains: “Europe’s cultural diversity in books, music, paintings, photographs, and films open to all citizens at the click of a mouse via one portal – this dream of a European Digital Library could become reality this autumn. However, further efforts by the EU Member States are needed, said the Commission today (…).Europe’s libraries alone contain more than 2.5 billion books, but only about 1% of archival material is available in digital form. The Commission therefore called on Member States to do more to make digitised works available online for Europeans to browse them digitally, for study, work or leisure. The Commission itself will provide some € 120 million in 2009-2010 for improving online access to Europe’s cultural heritage.

(…) € 69 million from the EU’s research programme will go to digitisation activities and the development of digital libraries. In the same period, Europe’s Competitiveness and Innovation Programme will allocate about € 50 million to improve access to Europe’s cultural content. However, the total cost of digitising five million books in Europe’s libraries is already estimated at approximately € 225 million, not including objects like manuscripts or paintings. Realising the vision of a European Digital Library (Europeana) needs substantial investment from national institutions, but at present most countries only provide small scale, fragmented funding for digitisation. The Commission today called on Member States to raise digitisation capacities to make their collections available for Europe’s citizens, team up with the private sector, and address the following priorities:

* More funding needs to be allocated to digitisation, along with plans for how much material will be digitised.
* Most countries still lack methods, technologies and experience for the preservation of digital material, vital so that content remains accessible to future generations.
* Common standards need to be implemented to make different information sources and databases compatible for and usable by the European Digital Library (Europeana) (…).

Public domain content

The Staff Working Paper accompanying the progress report includes this paragraph: “Public domain content in the analogue world should remain in the public domain in the digital environment. If restrictions to user access and use are necessary in order to make the content available at all, these restrictions should only apply for a limited time period” (7.1.3., p.23)
‘An interesting statement’, says Patrick Peiffer (National Library of Luxembourg) ‘since Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) deals and institutions tend to cover public domain works with new exclusive rights’.

He further points out that 20-21 October a very relevant (free) Public Domain workshop will take place in Amsterdam: