Posted on Sunday September 21, 2014

Getting Started with Europeana Data

If you had access to the collected memories of centuries, what would you build? The Europeana digital museum and library is a great place to find inspiration for your own websites and applications. Here are a few links to get you up and running quickly.

Content Collections

The Europeana repository is built from the digitised collections of more than 2,500 different museums, archives, libraries and audiovisual collections around Europe. Because of this, there is huge variation in the more than 30 million digitised objects that are described using Europeana's data standards. Some digital objects are in the public domain and free to use, some others require attribution, or may even be under copyright and difficult to re-use directly, at least without talking to the providing institution. Some data partners describe their collections using links to high-resolution digital files, while others prefer to direct users to thumbnails or other kinds of landing pages on their own sites.

To help you get started with your applications, we've picked collections that are easy to re-use and have links to some high-quality digital files. These collections are available on Europeana Labs, a playground for remixing and using your cultural and scientific heritage. We have tagged these collections according to a theme or a specific feature to make it easier for you to find what you need.

As you already know we have five themes. For each of them we selected interesting content collections for you to play with. For our final Challenge we will be coming up with even more interesting material. Stay tuned!

For the Tourism challenge, collections tagged either ‘Tourism' or ‘Geodata' should be most interesting. We tagged everything ‘Geodata' that has geonames in the metadata, to e.g. make it easy to locate the object on a map – which seems to be a requirement for Tourism applications to be successful.

Art and life on postcards and photographs from Girona

Art and life on postcards and photographs from Girona  - Dataset provided by Ajuntament de Girona. In the public domain

For Social Networks, we tagged only one collection in Europeana Labs, being the most openly licensed collection used for the Social Networks pilot. We expect other collections in Europeana Labs to be suitable for the Social Networks theme as well, even if they are not tagged as such.


Explore our selection from the previous Challenge:

For "History Education", 10 collections have been created. Containing for instance books from with focus on World War I, photographs from soldiers, or popes on artworks.

Photographs of soldiers during WWI  - Dataset provided by Slovak National Library. In the public domain.

For "Natural History Education", 11 collections have been selected.  Containing for example Scans of plants, insects, or butterflies

Natural History Art from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (Netherlands) - Dataset provided by Rijksmuseum. In the public domain.

It is important to say that we are continuously (monthly) updating Europeana Labs, so please come back regularly to see if new collections have been prepared for creative re-use.

While Europeana Labs is a good starting place, we encourage you to browse around the Europeana search portal to see what else strikes your fancy! There are a lot more collections with geodata, but they are either not as openly licensed as the collections in Europeana Labs or they lack a direct link to the digital object (search for geonames "edm_place:*sws*" or all kinds of geodata "edm_place:*" ). Depending on what you plan to develop, it may still be suitable or at least serves as an inspiration for content to be used.

In the Europeana search portal you certainly find many collections that are suitable for Social Networks. As this is a very wide topic seeing the sheer number of social networks and virtual communities that exist, the diversity of appropriate themes and suitable content is equally high. We don't want you to feel limited in your creativity so please explore Europeana and be inspired.

Tip: You might want to start with a search for digital objects with copyright statements supporting open re-use. Just expand the "Can I use it?" facet on the left of your search results, or add " &qf=REUSABILITY:open " to the end of your query.

Building on the Europeana Search API

To get your new website or application working with the Europeana repository directly, you'll probably want to start with the Europeana Search Application Programming Interface (API). Using the API, you can directly query the Europeana database and get back search results (in JSON or XML) which can be displayed in a web browser, mobile or other application.

Applications for Inspiration

People have been building some amazing things using the collections of Europeana, sometimes at hackathon events, sometimes for research or personal projects. Here are a few listings to some of these projects you might find something to build on, adapt or re-use. Or just be inspired to develop your own idea!

Whatever your starting point, we hope that you have a great time exploring the collections and tools of the Europeana ecosystem of data and projects. We collected this data for you to use – let us know what you'd like to build next!