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Save Europeana and the cultural ecosystem: Open Culture Data and OpenGLAM support AllezCulture

- July 3, 2013 in Featured, Guest Blog Post, Open culture data

  This post has been written by Lotte Baltussen, project manager at the R&D department at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and member of the Dutch initiative Open Culture Data that aims to make cultural datasets available under open conditions and stimulate their re-use, and edited by Joris Pekel, coordinator of the OpenGLAM network. OpenGLAM and Open Culture Data work together extensively and we therefore jointly make this call to support Europeana. Europeana brings together cultural collections from heritage organisations all over Europe. Through this digital library, over 27 million objects from these collections, such as books, paintings, videos and sounds can now be found from one central location. Europeana has also made all information of this content (metadata) available fully openly available, so everyone can reuse and build upon this cultural wealth. The budget of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) that Europeana is also part of, has been drastically reduced due to funding cuts, 9 to 1 billion euros. This severly threatens Europeana’s future. The coming weeks the EU member states will decide how the CEF budget will be distributed up to 2020. This will determine the fate of how the richness of the digital heritage of Europe can be accessed and reused in the – very – near future. Europeana helps cultural organisations to open up their collections and stimulates their reuse. These are also central goals for Open Culture Data and OpenGLAM, and it is crucial that Europeana can continue to actively build a digital ‘Cultural Commons‘. We therefore support Europeana’s #AllezCulture campaign and petition to create awareness for its future.

Europeana unites the cultural community

Europeana facilitates a network and infrastructure for digital heritage in Europe. Not just because organisations can make their collections findable through Europeana, but also by forming an international GLAM network. Europeana organises workshops and conferences where partners can meet each other and exchange knowledge. Also, there are many European projects that support Europeana by aggregating content on specific topics and making them available on their own portals and Europeana (e.g. EUscreen for television archives and Europeana Fashion). Finally, a number of very successful crowdsourcing initiatives have been set up, such as Europeana 1914-1918 and Europeana 1989.

Europeana stimulates openness

Europeana doesn’t stop with the formation of a European network of GLAMs and setting up public outreach activities. Opening up metadata, content and technical infrastructures is a focal point, that is formalised in various ways. A very crucial first step was made when Europeana created access to all metadata contibuted by partners in the most possible way by using the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0). By doing this, the information about tens of millions of cultural objects from all over Europe was made available for everyone to access and reuse in any way they want. And with great results: at the moment there are 770 entrepeneurs, companies and educational and cultural organisations that reuse of this rich open data source through the Europeana API, for instance in apps, websites and games. This number continues to grow as a result of project like Europeana Creative, that puts reuse of cultural heritage at the core of their activities. The Digital Public Library of America, an initiative comparable to Europeana, has also opted to make all partner metadata available under CC0. This decision was very much inspired by Europeana’s bold step.

Europeana stimulates reuse

In order to stimulate reuse of cultural collection by creative industries, it is important that not just metadata, but the digital objects themselves are openly licenced. Thus, Europeana encourages partners and other GLAMs to do so, provided the rights status of the objects permits this. As a result, a large part of the content available through is available as Open Culture Data. In total, almost six million objects have a license that complies with the Open Definition. In sister projects like Europeana Creative, GLAMs and creative industries are connected in order to stimulate creative reuse. Recently the iPad app ‘Europeana Open Culture’ made by GlimwormIT was released which lets users intuitively search and browse open collecties that are part of Europeana. The source code of the app was made available openly which allows other developers to further build upon and improve the software for new applications.

#AllezCulture! No Europeana = no European Cultural Commons

Even though Europeana is only five years old, it has in this relatively short time become a digital, cultural European ecosystem and the central hub for European heritage. If the Connecting Europe Facility drastically cuts Europeana’s budget this ecosystem will be severely threatened, and the potential and ambition of the platform cannot be extended further or even maintained. Open Culture Data and OpenGLAM therefore fully support the #AllezCulture campaign. Visit the #AllezCulture! website for more information and sign the petition to safeguard the future of the European Cultural Commons. Thanks.

Tips for data providers: how to make open culture data re-use easier

- November 21, 2012 in Featured, GLAM-Wiki, Guest Blog Post, Open Cultuur Data


Creator: TigerPixel, see CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This year, the Dutch network Open Culture Data received many tips from developers and other open data re-users of cultural datasets about the best ways for data providers to make their datasets available. In this blog post, we give an overview of the most important recommendations to concentrate on as data provider in order to increase the re-use of your open cultural datasets. What’s the best place to store my data?
  • Always make your data (content and / or metadata) available on your own website. This way it’s clear that you are the original provider. Another advantage is that you will often have a better overview of the access to and re-use of your data than if you only provide access to it elsewhere.
  • You can provide both content (e.g. images, videos), and the information about this content as well (metadata). The metadata is almost always stored on a different place than the content. If you provide both content and metadata, then make sure that it’s clear where they can be found. Ideally, add a separate field in the metadata with a URL to the content, for example the URL of the images or videos.
Besides writing a data blog, how can I provide more information about my open cultural dataset?
  • As stated above, ideally re-users can easily find a link in your metadata to the online version of the record in your own catalogue or on your own website.
  • If your organisation has an online shop where users can order content, then it is important for end users to clearly mark your Open Cultural Dataset content as such: open. For this you can for instance use (links to) Creative Commons licenses. The reason for this is that it’s confusing for re-users to see a shopping cart next to a photo which you provide as open data elsewhere. If you don’t make re-use conditions explicit, this can eventually lead to less re-use.
  • Make sure there’s an explanation or news section on your website about the sort of open cultural dataset(s) your institution provides. For this, you can use the text of your data blog.
  • Always include a field in your metadata with specific rights status information, and make clear under which conditions and license(s) you provide your content and / or metadata. Open Culture Data guidelines’ are: provide metadata under CC0, and content under either the Creative Commons Attribution or Attribution-ShareAlike licenses, or use the Public Domain Mark when all rights to the content have expired.
What is the best way to provide my metadata?
  • Indicate clearly under which conditions you make your dataset (content and / or metadata) available. See also the last point above.
  • The preferences vary among developers and other re-users. Some are happy with a simple .csv or .txt dump of metadata, others rather have access to a full live API, where you can choose to access data in different ways (e.g. JSON, .xml). Whatever your options or limitations are, at least make sure you always clearly describe what people can find in your metadata fields in your data blog, and provide re-users with as many options as possible to approach, download and search through your data. If you have an API, then describe which standard you’re using and where re-users can find more information about it.
  • Describe clearly in your data blog or – even better – in your metadata when the latest changes to your dataset were made. If changes occur regularly, provide an update incrementally, or even offer multiple versions of your dataset.
What is the best way to provide my content?
  • If you provide open content, it’s recommended to make it available in the highest resolution possible. This will stimulate re-use! Note that some developers also like to have the option to work with a smaller resolution, because this is less ‘heavy’. So ideally, you have content available in different resolutions.
Are there specific tips for getting my open cultural content on Wikipedia?
  • For re-use on Wikipedia, the following metadata fields are the most important: name of the creator, title, object type, description, creation date, measurements, current location, internal ID, license.
  • Make sure that at least these fields are properly documented.
  • If your content is labeled with an unique category on the Wikimedia Commons (for example Category:Media_from_Open_Beelden), you can get statistics about re-use of your content on Wikipedia (some examples here). These categories are assigned by the Wikimedia community itself.
Open Culture Data is an initiative of the Dutch Heritage Innovators Network and Hack de Overheid, and is supported by Images for the Future and Creative Commons Netherlands. ​Click here for an overview of all Open Culture Data on OpenGLAM