Europeana.eu aims to make art, books, documents and audiovisual recordings from cultural institutions available to the public.
The new web portal aims to bring together collections of artworks, books, moving images and audio recordings from across Europe and make them available to the public at www.europeana.eu.
The website links together museums and libraries across Europe providing a one-stop-shop for digital artefacts. The portal already contains close to three million items and it is hoped that this figure will be at about ten million within two years.
The largest amount of content on the website comes from France where museums have been digitising collections for some years. There's also a video archive of news events from the First World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Thousands of books are being scanned.
Jill Cousins, Executive Director of the European Digital Library, says museums have been quite slow to digitise their content in comparison to libraries. This is now changing as more and more museums are moving their collections online offering an additional access point for the public to view their collections.
It's actually another distribution channel and encourages a whole new set of people to access their information.
The National Library of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland and the Irish Manuscripts Commission are contributing content to the portal. An 11th-century map of Ireland is already available to view on europeana.eu.
The project is being coordinated from the Dutch National Library in The Hague.
The aim is to make accessing European culture as easy as Googling.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 24 November 2008. The reporter is Sean Whelan.