Based in Amsterdam and Paris, the European Archive is a non-profit
foundation working towards universal access to all knowledge. The
archive will achieve this through partnerships with libraries, museums,
other collection bodies, and through building its own collections. The
primary goal of collecting this knowledge is to make it as publicly
accessible as possible, via the Internet and other means.
With the Internet, tremendously rich
parts of our cultural heritage could be freely accessible online. But
most of them are still dormant (non-digitized collections) or
disappearing (Web history).
Massive digital collecting,
digitizing, and storage techniques make it possible to preserve and give
public access to this rich material. Mastering these techniques will be
key in the coming years for the future of cultural heritage, both
traditional and materials produced in digital form.
cradle of a unique cultural heritage has a special role to play to this
regard. But even in a connected world, propinquity, specific legal and
technical environment should not be underestimated and having a
European-based institution in this domain makes a difference.
developing a large-scale archiving architecture in Europe and
competences that come with it, the European Archive intends to be a
catalyser in the development of skills and know-how in the domain of
preservation and access to digital collections. It also intend to bring
in Europe a new type of Cultural Institution that focus to free public
access to large rich digital collections.
As the web has grown in
importance as a publishing medium, we are behind in bringing into operation the
archiving and library services that will provide enduring access to many
important resources. Where some assumed web site owners would archive
their own materials, this has not generally been the case. If properly
archived, the Web history can provide a tremendous base for time-based
analysis of the content, the topology including emerging communities and
topics, trends analysis etc. as well as an invaluable source of
information for the future.
The foremost effort to archive the Web has been carried on in the US
by the Internet Archive, a non-profit foundation based in San Francisco.
Every two months, large snapshots of the surface of the web are archived
by the Internet Archive since 1996.
This entire collection offers 500 terabytes of data of major
significance in all domain that have been impacted by the development of
the Internet, that is, almost all. This represent large amount of data
(petabytes in the coming years) to crawl, organize and give access to.
By partnering with the Internet Archive, the European Archive is
laying down the foundation of a global Web archive based in Europe.
We have entered an era where
digitization of all significant cultural artefacts will be completed.
Within the next decade, most of the published cultural content (books,
music, images and moving images) will have been digitized. Recent
commercial announcements have fostered awareness and started
this movement, but limited to a few major libraries which leaves an
opportunity for an open system to be pursued. This entails digitizing,
preserving and providing access to the rich public domain of books,
music, images and moving images on a the large scale.
By fostering the development of a large scale, archiving platform,
the European Archive intend to facilitate the mastering of processes and
tools needed for digital public content archiving and distribution in
With the technical support of
the Internet Archive and XS4ALL, the European Archive has installed a repository with 250
terabytes (250 000 giga-bytes) capacity in Amsterdam via which a large
collection digital material (text, music,
moving images, software) can be accessed.
On average, the
download rate has been over 350 Megabits per second in December 2005,
already making EA a significant content provider in Europe.
data organization is highly distributed (200 nodes on a cluster) to
enable distributed processing.
This achievement represents
already a significant step in establishing in Europe an archiving
infrastructure to collect and archive digital material at large scale.
We plan to extent it to 1 petabyte (1000 terabytes) within the coming
The European Archive should be accessible in
Europe’s language. A multilingual web management system for large
digital collections has been implemented. This system is based on a
flat structure permanently indexed and updated. It allows light and
flexible management of the web interface to collections, and can scale
up unlimitedly in the future.
An opportunity for Europe
We expect the
European Archive to become an essential piece in the European cultural
In order to meet the goals of Lisbon 2010
for Europe to become “the most dynamic knowledge economy in the
world” large-scale public archive is a key component.
will enable public and free access to large portion of European cultural
heritage and bring in the broadband network infrastructure tremendous
quantity of rich and legal content.
It will bring to
traditional heritage institutions a technology partner enabling them to
make significant steps towards digitization and public accessibility of
their collections, making Europe more visible and attractive in a globally
By developing cutting hedge technology
application in the domain of massive digital collection acquisition,
management and storage it will develop a centre of excellence in a key
domain of tomorrow’s Internet.