2 minutes to read Posted on Wednesday December 5, 2012

Europeana Network AGM: A Coming of Age

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Jill Cousins presenting Marcin Werla with his prize - an Unsung Hero mug

Last week, the Europeana Network held its Annual General Meeting at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art in Berlin.

The event was packed with discussion and networking opportunities, as well as the launch of our new API video, and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Korea Copyright Commission.

On Monday, after a day of pre-AGM Task Force meetings (of which more later), the event officially kicked off with a private viewing of one of the museum’s exhibitions followed by a dinner buffet. But no red wine allowed – the floor of the venue is so historic and precious, it was white wine only for fear of damaging it!

This social evening was a great opportunity to give out Europeana’s first ever ‘Unsung Hero’ awards. These went to partners nominated by Europeana Foundation staff for the great work they do. The team chose one Unsung Hero for each of the strategic tracks - Aggregate, Facilitate, Distribute, Engage. Congratulations to:

    - Aggregate: Mariana Damova, Ontotext, Bulgaria, for the high quality of images and metadata Ontotext provides and for efforts to establish a Bulgarian national aggregator.

  • - Facilitate: Paul Keller, Patrick Peiffer, Lucie Gilbaut, Georgia Angelaki for their work on the Data Exchange Agreement.
    - Distribute: Marcin Werla, Federated Polish Digital Libraries, Poland, for support with the API pilot, implementations and marketing, and the organisation of two hackathons.
    - Engage: Zachos Polyviou, Ministry of Education and Culture in Cyprus for his work on the Europeana 1914-1918 Family History Roadshow.

    On Tuesday, the AGM got underway with welcomes from Europeana Foundation Executive Director, Jill Cousins, and Prof. Dr. Günther Schauerte, Vice-President Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK) – Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.

    Dr. Detlef Eckert, from DG Connect and the European Commission, discussed how Europeana is positioned in terms of future funding and the Connecting Europe Facility and stressed that ‘Europeana is one of our priorities’.

    It then fell to Johan Oomen, from the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and Vice Chair of the Europeana Network, to introduce the new Network Officers: Gunnar Urtegaard, Kulturrad; Anne Bergman-Tahon, Federation of European Publishers; Louise Edwards, The European Library; and Bengt Wittgren, Murberget Länsmuseet Västernorrland.

    Chair of the Europeana Network, Nick Poole from Collections Trust, reviewed the activities and successes of what he called this ‘network of activists’ and introduced speakers to sum up the progress of the Task Forces, which covered: European Cultural Commons Advisory Board; Impact Assessment; Inter-project services and practices for User-Generated Content and tools; Public-Private Partnerships; Extending the list of Europeana controlled rights values; Europeana Tech.

    New to the AGM agenda were two ‘Soapbox’ sessions. Members had 5 minutes to present topics close to their hearts, which ranged from how to share data to semantic data experiments, and from the importance of curation to a re-use competition proposal.

    The bulk of the afternoon was spent discussing the Business Plan 2013 and the Cultural Commons, informed by presentations from Harry Verwayen, Europeana Business Development Director, and Louise Edwards, Director of The European Library. Each table chose a topic and assessed which aspects Europeana should prioritise. The results will help shape the Business Plan and Cultural Commons Task Force work.

    Discussions in full flow

    Chair Nick Poole rounded the day off with inspiring quotes reflecting the position of the Europeana Network: ‘The first, from a friend of mine who runs a National Museum in Auckland, is “We are the people we have been waiting for”. The second, from a colleague of mine, was “Culture is in good and careful hands”. The last, from Mike Edson at the Smithsonian Institution, “Think big, start small, move fast. But move!”’

    Looking back at the event a week on, Nick’s message to the Network is a positive one. He says, ‘It was a successful event, and it was good to be able to meet so many of the Network. It was good to hear of the work that the Task Forces were able to do on the previous day, and great to see such momentum and energy behind our work. Many thanks, too, to those of you that shared the proceedings via social media, adding to the vibrant feel of proceedings.’

    Nick concludes: ‘This AGM really felt like a coming-of-age for the Network, and I hope that those who attended felt it was a useful opportunity to make a real contribution to the strategic direction of Europeana. I was glad to have the opportunity of exploring our ideas around the Cultural Commons, and thanks to all of you for your feedback on this.’

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