Europeana – European history and culture goes online

The European Union is in the midst of a project to make over 1000 years of European history, art, and material culture accessible online through a digital library called Europeana. The project was started two years ago, and already over 3 million items have been digitized and are available, with the hope to get 10 million by 2010. That’s probably only a small portion of what the partnering museums, libraries, and other institutions throughout Europe have in their collections, so Europeana is certainly a massive undertaking. It may be partly in response to and a rival of Google’s huge digital library project, but Google’s European spokesperson said that collaboration would be welcomed.

Europeana launched today, and already the site is seeing significant slowdowns from all the traffic so you may not have much luck right away, but I was able to do a search on “maps” and got over 5700 hits, including historic map and plan images, documents relating to maps and mapmaking, photos related to mapmaking, videos, and even audio.