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European online library launches

British Library
The British Library is among many institutions contributing

The British Library in London is among more than 1,000 cultural organisations making contributions to a European online library.

The free multimedia venture, Europeana, will also see input from the European Commission and the Louvre Museum.

Internet users will be able to access more than two million books, maps, recordings, photographs, archive documents, paintings and films.

These will be sourced from institutions across the EU's member states.

Further expansion for the project, which was created by the European Commission and is run by the European Digital Library Foundation, is planned for 2010.

The British Library has contributed audio recordings, images and texts to Europeana. These range from the Gutenberg Bible to the sound of a curlew on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire.

Europeana gives digital access to Europe's history, whether held by library, archive or museum and as image, text, sound or film
Stephen Bury, British Library

The library has provided access to its vast collection of sound recordings, covering British accents and dialects, British wildlife, and early ethnographic wax cylinder recordings.

Stephen Bury, its head of European and American Collections, said: "Europeana gives digital access to Europe's history, whether held by library, archive or museum and as image, text, sound or film.

"Its content can be exploited in new ways through Web 2.0 technologies."

National libraries all over Europe have contributed printed and manuscript material, including digitised copies of rare and valuable books.

Other contributing museums including the Louvre in Paris and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam - they have supplied digitised paintings and other objects from their collections.

State archives have made important national documents available, and France's Institut National de l'Audiovisuel supplied 80,000 broadcast recordings from the 20th Century, including early footage shot on the battlefields of France in 1914.

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