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EU digital library off to a shaky start

It was supposed to be a new library for a new millennium, but within 24 hours of the launch of Europeana, an EU initiative to store millions of documents in a searchable online repository, the database came tumbling to the ground. According to the Associated Press, a relaunch isn’t planned until mid-December.

The site crashed after registering 10-million visits per hour, The Guardian reports:

The project was born of a fear among European leaders and culture bosses that Google was dominating the web, with its Book Search project scanning millions of books from dozens of world libraries to boost its traffic.

Europeana goes further by providing interactive content, audio and video, ranging from original texts of Dante’s Divine Comedy and the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man, to footage of the fall of the Berlin wall or 1970s documentaries on the pornographic film market in France. The site will feature pieces such as the 1215 Magna Carta and a painting by Domenico di Michelino “ Dante illuminating Florence with his Poem “ as well as 80,000 broadcasts from French national archives, including footage from the first world war.

Like Google, access to the trove of material is free; but unlike the mighty search giant, Europeana will only host material already in the public domain.