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2 minutes to read Posted on Wednesday September 26, 2018

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Emily D’Alterio

Emily D’Alterio

Former Editorial & PR Officer , Europeana Foundation

Award win for culture app: Greetings from Zagreb

We spoke to the team behind the award-winning app, Sofija Klarin Zadravec, Digital Library Adviser, from the National and University Library in Zagreb (NSK) and Dragana Koljenik from the Croatian Institute for Librarianship (NSK) about what it takes to bring cultural heritage to life, and their grand plans for new technological developments.

King Tomislav Square, J. Duval, The City of Zagreb Tourist Board, 2018, CC0

Bringing history and culture to life is no mean feat and something we in the cultural heritage sector are challenged with daily. However, creative reuse of digital cultural heritage brings with it some incredible results.

Exemplifying this is mobile application Greetings from Zagreb. The award-winning app uses historical postcards digitised as a part of the Collections of South and East Europe in Europeana (CSEEE) project developed to address a lack of visibility of cultural heritage objects from non-EU countries. Content from the project feature in a number of creative reuse outcomes, including the Picture this! Vintage postcards of Southeastern Europe competition, and the aforementioned app.

We spoke to Sofija Klarin Zadravec and Dragana Koljenik about the app’s recent award win, the process of developing technologies in the cultural heritage sector and their next big challenge: to take on Europe!

You have recently been awarded the 2018 BibLibre International Marketing Award for your mobile application Greetings from Zagreb. How does it feel to be recognised in this way?

Since the launch of the Greetings from Zagreb application, we had excellent feedback from our users, as well as extensive media interest and coverage. When we applied for the award, we hoped that our innovative approach to digital library marketing would be recognised by library professionals. It seems that thinking outside of the box really pays off. The BibLibre International Marketing Award confirms for us that we have made a step forward in promoting digital collections. And yes, we are very proud that this recognition.

Can you tell us about the development of the app?

In the preparation for the project, we reviewed all of the available mobile applications created by libraries and concluded that there was room for a new approach. Our main goal was to reimagine the reuse of our digitised collections in a way that would allow the end-user to have interaction with the content in a meaningful way. The only logical interaction with postcards is sending them, so we decided to make that the main functionality of our application. There aren't many people who still send physical postcards while they are away from home, and instead use social media to share their whereabouts and location-based experiences. It is the new currency of the ‘good life’, so we thought – why wouldn't we use this in promoting our digitised content?

Dragana Koljenik receiving nthe BibLibre International Marketing Award at WLIC 2018
Dragana Koljenik receiving the BibLibre International Marketing Award, WLIC 2018, Sofija Klarin Zadravec, CC BY-SA

How did the project evolve?

Croatian Institute for Librarianship (NSK) wanted to develop a quality digital cultural product that coexists with the NSK Digital Collections Portal as its extension, but also as a standalone product that promotes NSK. On a deeper level, we wanted to reestablish the relevance of the Library to the local community and show what we can offer to the world outside our walls. We are proud that, with this app, we stand shoulder to shoulder with a number of different tourist market players and contribute to the positive impression of our capital. We hope this project can serve as a case study and prototype for other libraries and cultural institutions in Croatia and beyond for similar products that use heritage to create new cross-sectoral values.

Can you give us an update on the proposed Greetings from Croatia application?

Undoubtedly, Greetings from Croatia has firm foundations in the Greetings from Zagreb project but it is conceptually, financially and technically more demanding so we have to tread carefully. To ensure the success of the project, we are still in the phase of searching for the right partners. Our vision is a multifaceted project that is able to accommodate the biggest and smallest heritage institutions and their digital collections. Greetings from Croatia could become the first big cultural heritage brand developed by Croatian librarians that are recognised around the world.

What’s next? Will we see Greetings from Den Haag anytime soon?

Apart from working on launching Greetings from Croatia, the Greetings from Zagreb app will get its first update in December 2018 - a holiday makeover in time for Zagreb's Christmas market (named the best in Europe three years running). We are also organising a postcard digitisation event for the citizens of Zagreb, as well as creating an exciting promotional vlog for the project so stay tuned.

And we'd be more than happy to see Greetings from Den Haag. Europeana is a great source of vintage postcards so – everything is possible! From where we're standing, Greetings from Europe looks like the logical next step.

Download the app or take a look at the project's website.