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2 minutes to read Posted on Friday February 23, 2024

Updated on Friday February 23, 2024

portrait of Kerstin Arnold

Kerstin Arnold

APEF Manager , Archives Portal Europe

portrait of Tom Miles

Tom Miles

Metadata Coordinator , The British Library

portrait of Marie-Véronique Leroi

Marie-Véronique Leroi

Project Manager , Ministry of Culture

portrait of Henning Scholz

Henning Scholz

Partner & Operations Manager , Europeana Foundation

Europeana Aggregators’ Forum Activity Report 2023

Discover highlights from the activities of the Europeana Aggregators' Forum in 2023. 

A room filled with portraits and paintings
Die Bibliothek, zugleich Büro der Beamten der Ambraser Sammlung (Porträtsammlung)
Carl Goebel d. J. (Künstler/in)
Österreichische Galerie Belvedere


The Europeana Initiative builds on a network of national, thematic and domain aggregators which enable cultural heritage institutions (CHIs) to share their content with and open it up to new audiences. Aggregators work with thousands of cultural institutions and collectors to gather authentic, trustworthy and robust data, make it available via their own services and provide it to Using their own connections as well as those offered by the Europeana Core Service Platform, the data is then shared with education and research infrastructures, creatives, developers and the general public. As an important source of expertise, aggregators offer advice and support in digitisation, content description, metadata mapping, licensing, media formats accessibility, multilingualism and domain and subject vocabularies.

The Europeana Aggregators’ Forum (EAF) coordinates all activities required for the effective functioning of a pan-European, cross-domain aggregation ecosystem at operational and strategic level. At operational level, accredited aggregators ensure the development and uptake of standards and frameworks and have an active role in shaping the aggregation process and outcomes. At a strategic level, we function as an advocacy body for pan-European aggregation.

Finally, we collaborate closely with the Europeana Network Association (ENA) and the Europeana Foundation (EF) in working towards the overall strengthening of the Europeana initiative.

A sketch showing the Europeana Initiative
The Europeana Initiative
Europeana Foundation and Sketchy Business
A sketch showing the Europeana Initiative

As one of the three pillars of the Europeana Initiative, the EAF contributes to the implementation of the Europeana strategic plan 2020-2025, and the deployment of the common European data space for cultural heritage.

Since 2021, the European Commission has published the Digital Decade and the Data Strategy putting the user at the core of its digital policies and fostering the creation of common European data spaces. The Commission’s DG Connect stated that the Europeana Initiative will be at the heart of the common European data space for cultural heritage.

Main areas of activity

Common European data space for cultural heritage

2023 has been the first full year in deployment of the data space. As a result of a vast array of activities, undertaken by the consortium led by the EF in collaboration with 18 partners from nine EU countries and supported by the EAF and ENA, the Europeana Initiative is growing into the role of the steward of the data space step by step. In the coming years, the data space will fundamentally change the world of digital cultural heritage as we know it and this will also mean a change of roles and responsibilities for all data space partners . In 2023 we started to revisit and to refine several aspects of our collaboration, processes and workflows to ensure they are (still) fit for purpose in the new world of the data space. From the perspective of the aggregators, this included topics such as persistent identifiers, a new enrichment policy, and further developments of the Metis Sandbox, which can now be integrated into an aggregator’s own infrastructure via a new API. In addition to these general aspects, a lot of efforts were put into supporting the aggregation of 3D content, including digitisation methods and models via specialised capacity building events, to ensuring that the Europeana Data Model and the Europeana Licensing Framework can be used more easily with 3D data in future. More data space related activities with aggregators’ involvement are described separately in the following sections of this report.


The EAF has an established accreditation process in order to accept new members. New applications for accreditation are evaluated by the EAF Steering Group and approved by the General Assembly of the EAF during the two EAF meetings in spring and autumn of each year.

Two new aggregators have received accreditation in 2023. Slovakiana and Catalònica have completed all steps and were accredited during the EAF meeting in November 2023. More aggregators are under development and may be ready for accreditation in 2024. Among them are Euskadiko Liburutegi Digitala (Euskariana), DigiPhil and Heritage Malta.

EAF Steering Group meetings

The EAF Steering Group aims to meet about once a month and has held a total of 17 meetings in 2023. These meetings saw the preparation of the bi-annual EAF meetings and the preparation of the two EAF outreach events.

Europeana Initiative wide aspects have also been dealt with during Steering Group meetings, including the alignment of activities with the ENA Management Board.

Current members of the Steering Group are Marie-Véronique Leroi (Chair, Moteur Collections), Kerstin Arnold (Vice-Chair, Archives Portal Europe), Tom Miles (Europeana Sounds) and Henning Scholz. Kerstin Arnold and Tom Miles were elected in spring 2023 and replaced Kerstin Herlt (European Film Gateway) and Nicole Emmenegger (EUscreen/Dutch Collections for Europe).

EAF meetings

The EAF held its spring meeting on 4 - 5 April 2023, online, with 69 attendees on day one and 53 on day two (including EF staff) - a total of 58 participants representing 34 national and domain accredited aggregators over both days. On day one, we had the EAF General Assembly, followed by a session on aggregation strategies for implementing the recommendations related to the common European data space for cultural heritage. An open conversation on the data space and related initiatives took place with the participation of representatives from DG Connect (Rehana Schwinninger-Ladak, Fulgencio Sanmartín and Katerina Moutogianni) and the CEDCHE (Commission Expert Group on the common European Data Space for Cultural Heritage) Sub-group. We closed the day with a session on addressing the challenges to aggregation and potential solutions in a decentralised approach.

Day two started with updates from the Aggregators’ User Group, followed by a reminder on Why inclusive language matters, addressing questions on how we can increase awareness for problematic collection descriptions and how CHIs could be supported to better understand, analyse and address bias in their collections. This session was based on work that has been done on diversity, equity and inclusion by DSI aggregators in the previous year and it introduced the DE-BIAS project. In this project, six aggregators (DFF, APEF, Europeana Fashion, Michael Culture, DC4EU, Moteur Collections) are involved. The day continued with a presentation on the topic of 3D activities in the data space, specifically the work of the EUreka3D and 5DCulture projects. The day finished with an invitation for reflection, unconference style, on the topics shared during the meeting. The aim of this session was to evaluate where there’s a need for more attention in the future conversations with the aggregators.

The autumn edition of the EAF meeting took place on 2 - 3 November 2023, in hybrid format, hosted and organised in collaboration with the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Budapest and the Hungarian aggregators (MuseuMap, DigiPhil, and Forum Hungaricum). In total, the meeting had 28 participants attending in person and 40 participants attending online, representing 30 aggregators.

The meeting started with a presentation on the history of aggregation in Hungary followed by an informative description of the three aggregators - Forum Hungaricum, DigiPhil and MuseuMap. The day continued with updates from the General Assembly, EAF Steering Group (SG) activities, task forces and working groups activities, CEDCHE and the European Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage (ECCCH, now simply: Cultural Heritage Cloud), funding opportunities and a short presentation of the candidates for accreditation. In addition, the Strand 2 projects 5Dculture, EUreka3D, DE-BIAS, AI4Culture had a space to inform about their progress, a summary of findings of the aggregators’ interviews was provided and the Country Groups pilot project was introduced.

Day two of this event started with a plenary session followed by breakout groups on the topic of Organising aggregation - Accreditation scheme / Be(com)ing a member of the EAF - an interactive session about the status quo of the accreditation scheme, the responsibilities of aggregators and an evaluation of the accreditation scheme in the context of the data space. This evaluation and potential update of the accreditation scheme is part of the Implementation Plan for the data space and relates to the overall question of its governance in the future, potentially also having an impact on how the EAF collaborates with the EF and the ENA. Following this session, an exploration titled "What if...?" - Gathering Aggregators' expectations and requirements towards the data space for cultural heritage took place. It addressed aspects of how data will be shared within the data space, the actors involved, the technical evolution of the data space, the (meta)data formats required, the timeline for communicating this to aggregators and the role of the aggregators in the context of the data space. The day was closed with updates from the Aggregators’ User Group, as well as regarding the Europeana product development and the Twinit! 3D campaign.

EAF Outreach events

In 2023 we continued our EAF Outreach events with two more iterations, both in an online setting. We hosted the first outreach event on 15 June 2023, exploring the role which aggregators and cultural heritage institutions play in publishing and processing data on Europeana’s infrastructure and in the common European data space for cultural heritage. This event offered participants an opportunity to find out more about how their organisation could contribute to the development of the data space and benefit from it. Additionally, they had the opportunity to learn from aggregators about the process of aggregation, and see what happens behind the scenes for content and metadata to be processed and prepared for publication. The event started with presenting the use case for data processing of the Forum Hungaricum aggregator, followed by a panel discussion on aggregators’ workflows and tools for data processing - with contributions from the EUScreen, Forum Hungaricum and Europeana Sounds aggregators - and a demonstration the SAGE tool for generating, enriching and publishing content. The second panel of this event looked at how aggregators cooperate with their CHIs cooperation for data processing, and had contributions from the, MUSEU and SOCH aggregators.

The event had 68 registrations across all stakeholders and from a total of 26 countries (including 18 EU Member States).

The second EAF Outreach event was held on 23 November, with discussions focused on the steps involved in publishing data on Europeana’s infrastructure and the tools provided by Europeana Foundation to aggregators and cultural heritage institutions, such as the Metis Sandbox. Additionally, it explored similar tools and processes made available by aggregators in their own workflows and how this will all work together in the common European data space for cultural heritage. We learned from aggregators about the process of publishing aggregated data, saw what happens behind the scenes for content and metadata to be prepared for publication, and gained an understanding of the operational aspects when it comes to presenting data from hundreds of cultural heritage institutions in one platform and facilitating and improving its discoverability and usability.

The day started with a presentation on data ingestion and publication at the Europeana Foundation, a demonstration of how the Metis Sandbox is used by the Manuscriptorium aggregator and a panel discussion on how aggregators currently use and work with tools and services provided by Europeana Foundation - contributions from data partners such as Dublin City University Library and Milutin Bojić Library, and thematic aggregator, Archives Portal Europe. During the second part of the day a demonstration on the Welcome Pack and User Statistics Dashboard (dedicated links for data partners) was shared by Europeana Foundation followed by a panel discussion on how aggregators envisage to operate in the data space - with contributions from the Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision and Photoconsortium aggregators.

The event had 105 registrations across all stakeholders from a total of 27 countries (including 20 EU Member States).

Both outreach events had a satisfaction rate of 84% and included representatives from DG Connect to introduce the EU’s digital policy for cultural heritage and to answer questions from the audience on the data space.

EAF Task Forces and Working Groups

Aggregators’ User Group

The Aggregators’ User Group was set up in 2020 to provide and channel feedback to the EF on its range of products (including the Europeana website, Metis and the Europeana Pro website). The group met four times in 2023. The meetings focussed on the development of the Welcome Pack. This work concluded with a new Share your data page on to allow CHIs sharing data on to request a usage dashboard for their collections.

Data Quality Committee

The Data Quality Committee (DQC) is a EuropeanaTech working group, where the EAF is represented by a number of active members. It is a standing committee that works on the various facets of data quality with a particular focus on discovery and reuse of cultural heritage objects. Over the course of the last year, the discussion around problem patterns was addressed, and the following topics benefited from aggregators participation: persistent identifiers, improvement of titles and descriptions, enrichments, normalisation of dates.

IIIF and Europeana Working Group

The IIIF and Europeana Working Group was first proposed at the autumn 2019 EAF meeting and started work in 2020 with a series of training workshops. After the development of the training material in 2022, the working group focussed on more training material to support aggregators scaling the work with IIIF. Based on work done by the OpenUp! aggregator, an image conversion guide was developed, followed by a IIIF manifest creation tool. The documentation is now accompanied by a description on how IIIF manifests are created for This development of the training resources is still in progress and will conclude in June 2024.

The working group organised a workshop alongside the EuropeanaTech conference in October 2023. This workshop was about the development of shared tools, to help communities and also Europeana aggregators working with IIIF. The tools developed by OpenUp! for image conversion and manifest creation were introduced during this workshop.

Libraries Working Group

The idea to set up a Libraries Working Group (LWG) under the EAF was proposed in 2020. The LWG was launched in May 2022 to support (national) libraries to engage with the Europeana Initiative. Since then, we have started to collaborate with several libraries, but tangible results of this are not available yet. With the development of the data space we are still exploring new opportunities to engage with national libraries.

SOLID-based Decentralised Aggregation Task Force

This Task Force (run by the EAF) studied the feasibility of moving forward to a decentralised (e.g. SOLID-based) aggregation model by conducting a series of interviews and focus groups not only with aggregators, but also with other players in the data space realm. Combining these activities with further desk research, the Task Force looked at technological alternatives for decentralisation and the issues accompanying a possible transition to a new form of aggregation especially in terms of governance and organisation. The Task Force published its final report in summer 2023, including five main recommendations: further exploration of the topic, evolution of use cases, piloting a decentralised approach, and evaluating the impact of such an approach on the aggregation landscape on the one hand and data governance and the governance of the data space on the other hand. With this, the Task Force is understood to be complementary to the Linked Data Task Force led within the ENA EuropeanaTech community and its tasks have been picked up by the cross-Initiative Innovative Operating Models Working Group, which kicked off at the end of 2023.

Linked Data Task Force

The Linked Data Task Force, run within the ENA EuropeanaTech community, brings together external experts and aggregators to study the possibility of using Linked Data technologies and standards to share data in the context of the data space. The Task Force has developed a proof of concept (PoC), setting up a SPARQL endpoint giving access to datasets expressed in various semantic standards which have been transformed into the Europeana Data Model. The PoC also allows users to browse these datasets as a knowledge graph presented in a user-friendly and interoperable way.

A report detailing the approach and challenges of the Task Force and guidelines to set up a Linked Data environment for data sharing are being finalised. The guidelines will be structured around three main scenarios: no Linked Data available (yet), some Linked Data available and full Linked Data approach. The idea is to support aggregators willing to move from one scenario to another according to their means and skills. The running time of the Task Force activities has been extended until the end of March 2024 and there is a follow-up planned afterwards.

EAF Communication

The EAF continues to use Basecamp for communication towards and between its members, including separate groups for aggregators who are part of the data space consortium. We continue to share public news relevant to aggregators through Europeana Pro, in the ENA newsletter and, where relevant, through social media messages. More targeted messages are sent to promote events and news of interest to aggregators such as announcing new accreditations or funding opportunities. Based on feedback received during the EAF meeting in Budapest, we will be exploring possibilities for more structure in EAF’s Basecamp to make it easier to find and follow those communication channels of most interest for one’s aggregator.

Interviews with Aggregators

Throughout 2023, the Steering Group continued interviewing all 42 aggregators, including the two newest accredited aggregators who were interviewed after the EAF meeting in Budapest. The aim of these interviews was to gain a better understanding of topics like:

  • what was the motivation to become an aggregator for Europeana;

  • how aggregators are organised in terms of staff and budget;

  • what kind of services they provide, or would like to develop further;

  • what the data quality and data management procedures are that aggregators have developed on their side and

  • whether they have any questions regarding the common data space for cultural heritage.

The Steering Group provided an update with first insights during the EAF autumn meeting and is currently working on a final internal report.

Collaboration with ENA and EF

Joint meetings

The three Europeana Initiative pillars have been working together regularly to make sure their priorities and actions are aligned and carried out in a concerted effort. Throughout 2023, representatives of the EAF Steering Group, the EF senior management team and the ENA Management Board (MB) met on a monthly basis to discuss issues of common interest and strategic importance.

EAF’s role in cross-Europeana Initiative Task Forces and Working Groups

The closer alignment of the three Initiative pillars is also reflected in the continuation of several cross-Initiative Task Forces and Working Groups, which allow us to optimise performance and our individual and collective actions across the Initiative (see above). In addition, the EAF is represented in the Europeana Foundation’s Advisory and Supervisory Board by Marco Rendina and Kerstin Herlt respectively.

The supporting the digital cultural heritage of Ukraine Working Group aims to support existing initiatives and develop new, concerted actions that respond to the current needs of the Ukrainian digital heritage sector. It is a joint Working Group from the Europeana Initiative and Hélène Bergès, Maria Carlsson, Tetiana Kysla, Margret Plank, Corinne Szteinsznaider are active EAF members in this working group.

The Capacity Building Working Group was founded at the end of 2022 and aims to support the implementation of a capacity building working plan for the common European data space for cultural heritage. Kerstin Arnold, Valentina Bachi, Antonella Fresa and Tom Miles represent the EAF in this group.

The Data Governance Stakeholder Group was established in the first year of the data space contract. The group has published a strategy paper for data governance, which will evolve further as we get more clarity about how the data space will look like, how it will function, and what that means for data aggregation and data sharing. Furthermore, the group was involved in the development of the enrichment policy (see above) and has been conducting research into data governance concerning metadata as well as governance questions specifically with regard to 3D content. In all three of these activities, EAF members have been consulted as part of the process. Within the group, the EAF is currently represented by Kerstin Arnold and Marie-Véronique Leroi.

The investigations in the topic of decentralisation as conducted by the SOLID and the Linked Data Task Forces in 2023, have been incorporated in a new Working Group on Innovative Operating Models. This group kicked off in December 2023 and will look at decentralisation and related topics not only from the perspective of aggregation, but also from the perspective of other collaborative activities such as the new Country Groups pilot project. Cosmina Berta, Maria Teresa Natale, and Pavel Kats are active EAF members in this group. In addition to the core group, those EAF members who expressed interest, will be included as a more direct sounding board. This includes Davide Madonna, Dimitra Atsidis, Kristina Rose, Marie-Véronique Leroi, Tom Miles, and Valentina Bachi.

Involvement of the EAF Steering Group in EF and Initiative actions

Johan Oomen from the Netherlands Institution for Sound and Vision and Georgia Angelaki from the Greek national aggregator, both active members of the EAF, were on the Selection and the Programme Committee for the 2023 EuropeanaTech Conference.

Outlook to 2024

EAF Steering Group elections

In March 2024, we will run elections to fill one vacancy in the Steering Group. The three year term for Marie-Véronique Leroi is coming to an end that same month. The call for candidates will open in February and elections will take place in March.

For autumn 2024 another round of elections is planned to take place, to add another member to the EAF Steering Group. This will help to diversify the representation within the Steering Group but also to share the workload and allow the Steering Group to be represented in the working groups and committees where EAF representation is required.

Events and meetings

In 2024, we again plan to have a spring and autumn meeting of the EAF. The spring edition will take place in a hybrid format on 25 - 26 March. This time we will be experimenting, following feedback received, with decoupling the General Assembly from the EAF meeting to allow for more interactive and discussion time at the meeting itself. We plan the General Assembly to be held fully online on the afternoon of Monday, 18 March, CET, while the EAF meeting will be in a hybrid format again, from Monday, 25 March, around lunch time, until Tuesday, 26 March, around lunch time. The in-person part of the meeting will be hosted by the Europeana Foundation in The Hague. By having the main EAF meeting a week after the General Assembly, we hope the sessions will be more interactive and to increase the space for networking. Any topics that are raised during the General Assembly that would require a deeper discussion could be better addressed and aligned.

The autumn edition will take place on 22 - 23 October 2024 and details on its structure and topics are in the process to be decided.

On 20 June 2024, we will have one more Outreach event in this current series and we will evaluate whether and how to continue events like this in the future. This last event will focus on data dissemination and reuse.

Communication and coordination across the Europeana Initiative

The EAF SG will continue communication and actions to disseminate the activities of aggregators, the EAF and the EAF SG within the Europeana Initiative but also to a wider extent (European Commission, Policy makers, CHIs). This will happen in form of reinforced collaboration with the other two pillars in the context of the monthly meetings of EAF SG with ENA MB and EF senior management as well as in the context of the cross-Initiative Working Groups mentioned above with the aim of increasing the visibility of the aggregators and the EAF. Outcomes of the Task Forces and Working Groups will be published on Europeana Pro as they become available.

Work will be undertaken to improve and add information to the section dedicated to the EAF on Europeana Pro with similar intentions for the landing page for the data space, which is currently under development.

CEDCHE Sub-group

The CEDCHE sub-group was established early 2023 to ensure the design and governance of the data space for cultural heritage. Members from the CEDCHE group representing the Member States are part of the group and external experts have also been appointed. Marco Rendina from the Europeana Fashion Heritage Association represents the interests of the EAF within this group and regular updates about the group’s activities will continue to form part of the EAF General Assembly.