Europe is a pillar of the international policy of the BnF. The European strategy is multifaceted and is achieved through bilateral partnerships with European counterparts, continued involvement in the development and enrichment of Europeana and taking part in numerous content, research and development-related European projects.Europe is a pillar of the international policy of the BnF. The European strategy is multifaceted and is achieved through bilateral partnerships with European counterparts, continued involvement in the development and enrichment of Europeana and taking part in numerous content, research and development-related European projects.


Europeana makes it possible to discover, share, use and browse heritage collections from libraries, archives, museums and European audio-visual institutes, including books, manuscripts, photographs, paintings, TV programmes, movies, sculptures, objects, sheet music, audio recordings, 3D objects, etc.

Europeana, a unique cultural initiative

In 2005, following France’s lead, the European Member States and the European Commission decided to develop a European digital library to give access to cultural institution collections from all EU countries. The first Europeana prototype was launched in 2008 during the French presidency. Through this initiative, Europe boasts unparalleled access to its digital cultural heritage.

Ten years after its launch, Europeana Collections gives access to 62 million digital objects from over 3,500 institutions located in the 28 European Member States and the Council of Europe Member States. Cultural diversity in Europe is now within reach online.

More on the history of Europeana with a few key dates

What is Europeana?

The Europeana community is diverse and includes numerous entities with multiple expertise.

A European professional network
Europeana goes beyond being a unique cultural project; it is also a network of professionals who share their expertise and work together within several bodies, such as the Aggregators’ Forum. These working groups contribute to developing best practices in digitisation and exchange formats. Works on data quality, the semantic web or the adoption of the IIIF protocol are only a few examples.


Europeana is not only a cultural platform. It has also played a major role in standardisation at the European level with the development of a standard for data exchange, the Europeana Data Model (EDM). This has contributed to encouraging standardisation within contrasting technological environments. Thanks to the systematic identification of data reuse statuses, Europeana has been able to set up an ambitious policy of dissemination and content reuse.

Europeana has also contributed to creating or reconstituting thematic collections about the history and culture of Europe with digitisation projects such as Europeana Regia (a collection of European royal manuscripts), Europeana Collections 1914-1918 (World War I heritage), Europeana Newspapers (European press heritage) and Europeana Sounds (European sound heritage).

The BnF contribution to Europeana

With nearly 3 million digitised objects, France is a major contributor to Europeana and has always been strongly involved in its decision-making process through the BnF, an actor and founder of the project. In this context, Bruno Racine, President of the BnF from 2007 to 2016, presided over the Europeana Foundation from 2011 to 2016. Other French institutions such as the Ministry of Culture (, the Institut national de l’Audiovisuel, (National Audio-visual Institute) and the Cité de la Musique are also involved. The BnF also supports the development of Europeana through digitisation and aggregation European projects which focus on thematic collections, research and development.

The BnF also plays an active role within Europeana as an observer of the Foundation board, as a member of the Association board and as an active contributor (in terms of feedback, participation in task forces for the IIIF viewer, etc.). Since 2015, the BnF has hosted a technical branch of the Europeana Foundation and has acted as a mediator at the national level (for the organisation of the Europeana Tech conference in 2016, the translation of Europeana best practices in French, etc.).


With Gallica, the BnF is also the aggregator of the French partners for Europeana, composed of 40 digital libraries. As such, it is a member of the Europeana Aggregators’ Forum.


In return, Europeana lets the BnF be at the heart of its ambitious research and innovation projects at a European scale. The cooperation within this network also offers the BnF the possibility of sharing its expertise as a digital library and to increase the visibility of its collections internationally.

The BnF expertise

The BnF has taken part in European projects since the late 1980s. It has contributed to about 20 projects and has acquired precious expertise in fundraising, consortium building and project leadership. The BnF is keen on widely sharing this knowledge.

European projects guide (In French)

The BnF is currently actively involved in the following projects. These European projects are funded or co-funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 programme and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

European Projects

  • Timeline: May 2018 – January 2022
  • Objectives: Facilitating access to digitised historical press publications from the period of 1850-1950 for researchers, European national libraries users and the general public.
  • After improving the quality of articles, conducting semantic enrichment (names, places, countries, etc.), inputting positive or negative writer feedback and achieving deduction through data analysis from user searches, the NewsEye project will make it possible to create a personal research assistant. This multilingual tool will be available for all fields of the humanities and social sciences.
  • Leadership and partners: Led by the Université de La Rochelle / Computer Laboratory ‘Image et interaction’ (L3i), the project is composed of 8 partners from France, Germany, Finland, and Austria.
  • BnF Contribution: Includes providing content (OCR and OLR pages, ground truth and named entities produced through Europeana Newspapers), tool testing, exploitation of results and promotional support.
  • Timeline: January 2019 – December 2022
  • Objectives: Gathering historians, literature specialists, philosophers, linguists and computer specialists to expand the research on English and British sociability and to examine the circulation of sociability models in Europe and its Colonial Empires. This research work will help constitute a digital encyclopedia of European sociability during the ‘long eighteenth century’ (1650-1850).
  • Leadership and partners: Led by the scientific interest group on sociability based in Brest, the DIGITENS project gathers 11 partners from France, Poland, the United Kingdom and Canada.
  • BnF Contribution:  The BnF brings technical support to the project and will host a workshop for students and researchers in 2019, as well as a national information day in 2020.
  • Timeline: October 2020 – March 2022
  • Objectives: To show how the practice of reading in the Middle Ages contributed to the foundation of European culture, through medieval manuscripts in Latin characters in different languages. This involves both aggregating collections relating to this theme (to be digitised or already accessible via Europeana) and curating them in online exhibitions, blogs, galleries, etc. in order to enhance and enrich them through applications using, among others, IIIF. The target audience is the education sector and the general public.
  • Pilot and partners: Piloted by the National Library of Slovenia, the ARMA project brings together 8 partners within 4 working groups.
  • BnF contribution: Digitisation of around sixty manuscripts and contributions to Europeana’s thematic collections, virtual exhibitions, blog posts and image galleries.

European Competence Centres

Along with its participation in European projects, the BnF is involved in technical bodies such as the IMPACT Competence Centre for digitisation and the Open Preservation Foundation which is dedicated to the conservation of digital heritage.

IMPACT Centre of Competence (IMPACT CoC)

The Impact Centre of Competence for digitisation was founded in 2012 to make mass digitisation tools available for all and to significantly improve access to historical texts in Europe. This process includes automatic handwriting, document structure and name recognition.

Nearly 40 institutions are members of the IMPACT Centre of Competence including 8 premium members like the BnF:

  • The Fundación Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes and the Universidad de Alicante (Spain), in charge of hosting and operating the centre
  • The Bibliothèque nationale de France
  • The British Library (United Kingdom)
  • The Instituut voor de Nederlandse Taal (Netherlands)
  • The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Netherlands)
  • Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Center (Poland)
  • The Universidad de Guadalajara (Mexico), acting as a mediator with Central and South America.

On top of its participation in the centre of competence as a premium member, the BnF lends its expertise in OCR (Optical Character Recognition). The BnF also replies to requests from the helpdesk, is a host for conferences organised by the centre and actively promotes the latter in its francophone and Europeana networks.

Open Preservation Foundation (OPF)

With 25 institutional members, the Open Preservation Foundation for sustainable digital conservation specialises in expertise and technologies related to long-term digital heritage preservation. The BnF is a member of the organisation.