Europeana Aggregators’ Forum Activity Report 2021
Explore highlights from the Europeana Aggregators' Forum's activities in 2021.
Explore highlights from the Europeana Aggregators' Forum's activities in 2021.
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. Read their activity report for 2021 in full below.
The Europeana Initiative builds on a network of national, thematic and domain aggregators which enable cultural heritage institutions (CHIs) to share their content with Europeana and open it up to new audiences. Aggregators work with thousands of cultural institutions and collectors to gather authentic, trustworthy and robust data and make it accessible to Europeana, and from there to 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 in 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.
Our activities in 2021 have covered the following range of areas:
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.
In 2021, two aggregators received accreditation, namely the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture and Estonian e-Repository and Conservation of Collections, bringing the number of aggregators represented in the EAF to 40 (as of December 2021). The up to date list of all accredited aggregators to Europeana, as well as more information about them, can be found on Europeana Pro.
The EAF accreditation scheme was developed in 2018 and the first batch of 33 aggregators was accredited in 2019. Since then, seven more aggregators have joined the EAF. In 2021 we reviewed the scheme and updated a number of aspects to reflect the changes in the ecosystem and adjusted the benefits and responsibilities of aggregators. The updated accreditation scheme was approved by the General Assembly of the EAF in autumn 2021.
In spring 2021 we reached the end of the three year term of two elected members of the EAF Steering Group, Marco Rendina and Sara di Giorgio. We invited EAF members to step forward as candidates for the Steering Group, and received the applications of four strong candidates. Elections were held in May 2021 and Marie-Véronique Leroi and Nicole Emmenegger were elected to take the two vacant seats in the Steering Group. Following the elections, the Steering Group then appointed Marie-Véronique Leroi as chair and Kerstin Herlt as vice-chair. Next Steering Group elections are due in spring 2023, when the term for Kerstin Herlt will come to an end.
The EAF Steering Group aims to meet about once a month and has held a total of 10 meetings in 2021. These meetings saw the preparation of the bi-annual EAF meetings, including Steering Group elections. Applications from aggregators for accreditation were reviewed and prepared to allow the EAF to vote. The initial preparation for the Aggregators’ Fair was carried out by the Steering Group.
Europeana Initiative wide aspects have also been dealt with during Steering Group meetings, including the alignment of activities with the ENA Management Board. Aspects related to diversity and inclusion and capacity building were on the agenda, as well as the EU recovery funds and contribution to the Europeana Conference 2021. In June, the Steering Group supported the handover of activities from the previous members (Marco Rendina & Sara di Giorgio) to the new members (Marie-Veronique Leroi & Nicole Emmenegger). A big thank you to Marco and Sara, the founding members of the EAF Steering Group, which was set up three years ago.
On 20 and 21 May 2021, EF hosted the spring edition of the EAF meeting online. 83 participants from 21 countries joined over both days and 35 aggregators (out of 40 accredited aggregators) participated in the event. The General Assembly, which is part of each EAF meeting, included the following topics: the accreditation of two new aggregators (Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture and Estonian e-Repository and Conservation of Collections); the European Commission’s Recovery and Resilience plan which provides financial support to the EU Member States to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis as well as a new cross-initiative Task Force on diversity, equity and inclusion. On the second day, we organised a training session on Artificial Intelligence (AI) which introduced tools and best practice examples developed mainly as part of Generic Services projects.
In June 2021, the EAF opened their virtual doors and organised the first Europeana Aggregators Fair. The two day event offered cultural heritage professionals the opportunity to look behind the scenes of the aggregation process, join panel discussions about user engagement and capacity building and hear about Linked Data activities, digital storytelling, and much more. With 90 professionals attending and a satisfaction rate of more than 80%, the first Aggregators’ Fair was successful.
The autumn meeting of the Europeana Aggregators’ Forum (EAF) was again held online on 26 and 27 October 2021. It followed a similar agenda structure compared to previous meetings. On the first day, we kicked off with the General Assembly where we, among others, signed off the revised version of the accreditation scheme. Marie-Véronique Leroi presented EU funding opportunities for cultural heritage institutions and aggregators. We initiated a working group to address equity, diversity and inclusivity in cultural heritage data and collection building. The second day was dedicated to the progress made on implementing IIIF, with many contributions from EAF members. This programme also set the scene for the next steps of the Europeana Tech / EAF IIIF working group. Around 60 people from 31 of our 40 accredited aggregators participated in the meeting.
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 in 2021 on a regular basis (about once a month). The agenda included: organisation pages on the Europeana website, the Jira workflow, incremental data processing, Europeana website filters, the Data Quality Statistics Dashboard and the Knowledge Base.
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 end of this series of workshops, the Working Group reviewed its status and set new goals for the next phase. Part of this work was a IIIF-focused day at the autumn 2021 EAF meeting.
Two years after the idea for a Working Group was born, it is impressive to see how many aggregators are now working with IIIF. In addition, it is obvious that more aggregators are interested to learn about IIIF; one conclusion of the IIIF day was that the technical barriers to work with IIIF are still too high and that the available guidance material is still not sufficient to allow for a wider adoption of IIIF. It was agreed that the Working Group should invest in a different type of training activities to help partners with less well developed technical skills and/or infrastructures to benefit from IIIF when sharing their digital media online.
Libraries Working Group
The idea to set up a Libraries Working Group (LWG) under the EAF was proposed in 2020. The terms of reference for the LWG were developed in 2021 with the goal to launch the group later in the year. The launch of the LWG was delayed to align with the release of the first version of the Metis Sandbox. Our aim remains to establish a group of library experts under the umbrella of the EAF which will support national libraries that have no aggregator to prepare and publish their data with Europeana. This group will also work as requirement providers for the further implementation of the Europeana Aggregation Strategy.
Digital Transformation Task Force
In September 2021 a Europeana Initiative Task Force was set up to guide the development of Europeana’s Capacity Building Framework. This Digital Transformation Task Force runs until March 2022 and aims to develop a vision of what digital transformation looks like in the sector in all its different facets, and begin to plan out how to support, enable and measure it. Kerstin Arnold and Chiara Latronico represent the EAF in this Task Force.
Diversity and inclusion Task Force and DSI aggregator’s working group
In June 2021, a call for representatives from the EAF was launched for an Initiative-wide Task Force on diversity and inclusion that will begin in 2022. Valentina Bachi and Julia Welter have applied to represent the EAF. Meanwhile, a working group bringing together aggregators from the DSI consortium will explore this theme and the specific challenges related to aggregation and working with content providers. The group had an initial meeting in late 2021 and will continue its work over the course of 2022 in the context of the DSI-4 project.
In 2021, representatives of the EAF Steering Group and ENA Management Board held two meetings (in February and June) with an aim to exchange information and look for opportunities for closer collaboration. Since summer 2021, these meetings have evolved into monthly cross-Europeana Initiative strategy meetings with the representatives of the EF. This alignment of the EAF, ENA and the Foundation allows the three pillars of the Europeana Initiative to work together more closely and to be actively involved in formulating joint positions on topics of common interest.
Furthermore, in August 2021, on behalf of the Europeana Initiative, EAF together with the Foundation and ENA submitted a joint response to the European Commission’s consultation on digital principles providing the basis of Europe’s digital environment.
EAF’s role in cross-Europeana Initiative Task Forces
The closer alignment of the three Europeana Initiative pillars was also reflected in the launch of several cross-Initiative Task Forces, which allow us to optimise performance and our individual and collective actions across the Initiative (see above).
In addition, in June, EAF representatives took part in a joint cross-Initiative series of workshops dedicated to developing a common Europeana Initiative Community Pact with consultant Lauren Vargas. The process aimed to introduce community management approaches that enable inclusive conversations in the Europeana ecosystem. The Community Pact outlines how Europeana can operationalise its values and sets expectations how it and the community will engage with each other. Its purpose is to create trust and safe spaces for civil digital dialogue, and to outline accountability measures.
The Community Pact was drafted during autumn of 2021 and is currently being reviewed and finalised. A cross-Initiative Task Force on diversity and inclusion has been set up as the next step in the process (see above).
Involvement of the EAF Steering Group in EF and Initiative actions
Marie-Veronique Leroi and Nicole Emmenegger represented the EAF Steering Group in the call for proposal committee for the Europeana Conference 2021, and Kerstin Herlt was a member of the programme committee.
The EAF Steering Group was also asked to contribute, review and endorse certain strategic documents issued by the Europeana Initiative. The EAF Steering Group participated in the statement on the New European Bauhaus, a joint position paper addressing how Europeana and the digital cultural heritage sector can contribute to the New European Bauhaus. The EAF Steering Group also contributed to the Europeana Climate Action Manifesto. The position paper as part of the consultation on a 'Declaration of Digital Principles' was submitted as a joint position from the Europeana Foundation, Europeana Network Association, and Europeana Aggregators’ Forum. In the same way, the EAF Steering Group contributed to the Europeana Initiative position on the consultation on opportunities offered by digital technologies.
The EAF continues to use Basecamp for communication towards and between its members, including separate groups for aggregators who are part of the DSI. 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.
The Pro news post, ‘Sharing heritage and building capacity with the Europeana Aggregators’ Forum’ published in July 2021 and co-written by Marco Rendina and Marie-Véronique Leroi, gave a comprehensive update of activities and future plans and passed the baton from the former to the new Steering Group members.
In September 2021, Marie-Véronique Leroi gave an interview in the context of a Europeana Pro theme on the New European Bauhaus. She reflected on how the New European Bauhaus can be relevant in the context of the EAF and how it can support a digital vision for cultural heritage.
Members of the EAF Steering Group have also taken part in various Europeana-related events to represent the EAF.