04.10.2010 ::: 10:45 - 11:30

Europeana - The European Cultural and Scientific Heritage Space - Jill Cousins

[... abstract: ]

Europeana moves to its second phase of development with the release of the operational service this Summer. It can now start the process of becoming a service for users and for its partners. Together with partners, the institutions and other portals and aggregators, it can shape a European Cultural and Scientific Heritage Space.
So what might be the next steps for Europeana? How can a family of portals and services support the user and benefit from knowledge transfer and technology sharing?
As new portals grow, established ones consolidate and more institutions deliver digital content, greater coordination and understanding of the space we all work in and how it relates to the needs of the user is required.
Imagine a gyroscope, spheres within spheres, each linked but independent of each other, each at a slightly different angle to another, rotating on different axis depending on where it falls. This might be a way of envisioning the European cultural and scientific heritage landscape and how the individual institutions relate to each other, with their aggregators, with Europeana, and with their user markets. Each operating independently but interactively, aiming at different user bases but encouraging wider discovery. Each partner or aggregator is an integral piece in the supply and demand chain for authentic, authoritative material on and about or held in Europe.
Making use of the Internet means being where the user is, not expecting them to type your URL. It requires the placing of information in their path, within their normal workflow. For The European Library for instance, the strategy is to create tools and services that enable humanities and social science researchers to access material, held in the national and research libraries of Europe, from within their work environments. This means not being dependent upon being a destination site but ensuring that the information is distributed, discoverable wherever the user starts. For the European Film Gateway, or APEnet or one of the new national portals, the strategy and audiences will be different but overlapping.
The European Cultural and Scientific Heritage Space is made up of small and large single institutions placing content on the web and being part of aggregators at national or international levels. From a user viewpoint this gives many ways to find the material held by the institutions depending on their starting point. The wider the net cast, through the distribution of provider metadata, the wider the user catch will be. One of the routes for German institutions to make their content more widely discoverable is via a vertical portal accessing a domain based professional research user base. Part of the onward chain for such aggregators is Europeana, where the juxtaposition of its content with that of the archives, museums and audio visual collections, creates another form of discovery for the user.
Shaping this Internet landscape of Institutions, Aggregators and Portals so that: each knows the target markets of the other; technology is reused and the user benefits from improved discovery via several entrance points and a well connected family of services for the cultural and scientific heritage domains; might lead us to sustainable, information space for Europe. The development of a family of services that aid the user in discovery should be the basis of Europe’s Cultural and Scientific Heritage Space.
This talk will explore what the next steps might be, with a quick review of the current status and work of Europeana.

[... vita: ]

Jill Cousins is Executive Director of the Europeana Foundation, responsible for the running and management of Europeana.eu; the flagship portal of the European Union that brings together the content of the Archives, Audio visual collections, Libraries and Museums of Europe. She continues as Director of The European Library, a vertical content aggregator for national and research libraries in Europe for the researcher. She has many years experience in web publishing including the commercial publishing world as European Business Development Director of VNU New Media and scholarly publishing with Blackwell Publishing. Prior to publishing she had a variety of marketing and research careers in the information field. These ranged from being the Marketing and Event Director for Online Information to managing her own research company, First Contact. All of which is very deviant from her first career as a Middle Eastern Map Researcher for the Ministry of Defence. Jill took a Ph.D in Geography on Sixteenth Century Arabic and Turkish Sea-charts.

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