The new Renaissance – Report of the “Comité des Sages” on bringing Europe’s cultural heritage online


In ancient times, the library of Alexandria was said to contain up to 70% of all human knowledge. The challenge for the digital age is to do even better than that – and make the result last longer.

The EU’s digital libraries initiative sets out to make all Europe’s cultural resources and scientific records – books, journals, films, maps, photographs, music, etc. – accessible to all, and preserve it for future generations.

The initiative focuses on two areas:

  • cultural heritage – creating electronic versions of the materials in Europe’s libraries, archives and museums, making them available online, for work, study or leisure, and preserving them for future generations;
  • scientific information – making research findings more widely available online and keeping them available over time.

A further key goal is to set up and develop Europeana – a single access point for consulting digital copies of the materials held by libraries, museums and archives. In the “analogue times“, if you wanted to research a subject – Rembrandt, for instance – you had to travel all over Europe to find material. But with the European digital library, you will be progressively able to access all of it online – his works, books and documentary, films about him, drawings, photographs etc. – regardless of where the originals are held.

The digital libraries initiative is part of the Commission’s Digital Agenda for Europe.


About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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