Europeana, the European digital library, was launched yesterday, 20 November 2008, and is now available at www.europeana.eu. At its outset the project provides access to the digital content of over two million book, maps, recordings, photographs, archival documents, paintings and films from national libraries and cultural institutions of the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU), including from the collection of the Portuguese National Library. It is hoped that Europeana will be fully operational by 2010 through the development of Europeana Version 1.0, providing access to over 8 million digital documents.
The first phase of the project, Europeana, which is provided in 21 languages under the slogan ''Think Culture'', was conceived to ''launch into the world with a new aim: to inspire new thinking and get people sharing ideas.'' During this first phase the user has access to the literary classics such as Dante's ''Divine Comedy'', and historical documents such as Britain's Magna Carta, as well as famous painting and the manuscripts of composers such as Beethoven and Mozart.
Europeana was set up under an initiative adopted by the European Commission in 2005 with the intention of extending the general public's access to the cultural and scientific patrimony of the EU's 27 Member States. Around 2 million euros a year will be put into this initiative between 2009 and 2011. The Commission also has the private sector's full involvement in the library's expansion.