In his recent presentation at Internet Librarian International (ILI) (Digitising Content, Freeing Culture), Aubéry Escande, Projects & Communications Advisor at Europeana explored Europe-wide collaborative projects which celebrate the rich range of content held in libraries, museums and other institutions -- and revealed how greater emphasis on thematically organised content has transformed user engagement with the digital culture platform.
With over 53 million objects available in Europeana across a very wide array of topics, Escande acknowledged that searching and browsing can be challenging, and as a consequence it can be difficult for users to find what they are interested in. Segmenting the content by theme means that services can be designed for specific interests and user groups, and discovery and user experience can be improved. Europeana introduced its first two content-specific thematic collections in late 2015, focusing on Music and Art History.
To build the thematic Europeana Art collection, the 'Europeana 280' campaign invited member states to tell the story of how Europe's art heritage has evolved over time by each nominating ten or more pieces of art that have contributed to a major European art movement. Once the thematic collection was up and running, users were encouraged to explore its richness via the 'Faces of Europe' virtual exhibition, which showcased more than 100 items from all 29 countries, focusing on themes such as 'Divinity and Discovery' and 'The Inspiration of Nature'.
Escande noted that this approach has dramatically improved user engagement. Engagement levels were three times higher for thematic collections compared to Europeana collections as a whole, with higher page views, longer session durations and lower bounce rates.
Escande closed by describing a great opportunity for cultural heritage institutions to develop a new thematic collection, drawing delegates' attention to a recent European Commission call for projects to win funding to create further thematic collections. The call, which will support digitisation of specific collections, requires at least three partners from different European member states. The deadline is 15 December 2016.
More information about the European Commission's 'public call for Generic Services' to create thematic collections here.