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2 minutes to read Posted on Thursday March 28, 2013

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Valentine Charles

Valentine Charles

Data Services Director , Europeana Foundation

Recommendations for the representation of hierarchical objects in Europeana

Today's blog comes from Valentine Charles, Interoperability Specialist for Europeana and The European Library.

The Task Force on hierarchical objects is pleased to announce that its report, 'Recommendations for the representation of hierarchical objects in Europeana' is now available. This report has been put together thanks to the collaboration of representatives from the various domains contributing to Europeana.

The term ‘hierarchical objects’ refers to items in Europeana which relate to each other in some way, for example, archive or library items. Hierarchical relationships are important if a user is to make sense of a related group of items. The Task Force's aim is to identify different cases where hierarchies (including sequenced hierarchies) could represent a challenge in Europeana. For example, a book where each page has been digitised separately, an archival fonds, a film divided into several sequences. For each of the identified cases, the Task Force provides a representation in the Europeana Data Model (EDM).

Arbre généalogique des descendants de Henri IV: [estampe], Bibliothèque Nationale de France, public domain

The issue of hierarchical objects has always been an important topic for Europeana’s network of projects and data providers. The implementation of solutions in the Europeana portal has been delayed for a long time mainly due to the fact that complex objects required the development of new functionalities that could not be supported by the Europeana Semantics Elements (ESE) model. The creation of this Task Force has been motivated by the creation and implementation of the Europeana Data Model (EDM) in Europeana.

This report is based on the findings made in case studies provided by each member of the Task Force. It identifies the various types of hierarchies that can be found in cultural heritage objects and the challenges they contain. For each challenging situation, the Task Force has proposed data representation solutions using the Europeana Data Model. This includes best practices for handling various cases such as the representation of missing parts in hierarchies and data propagation issues. The report also provides some ideas for the display of these complex objects in search interfaces such as Europeana.

The Task Force hopes that these recommendations will encourage data providers to provide more complex objects to Europeana and therefore will allow Europeana to build new functionalities for its portal.

Download the report: 'Recommendations for the representation of hierarchical objects in Europeana'

We thank all the members of the Task Force for their contributions to this report: Alessia Bardi (HOPE project), Allison Kupietzky (The Israel Museum, Jerusalem), Antoine Isaac, (Europeana Foundation), Dan Matei (CIMEC), Donald Weber (HOPE project) Kerstin Arnold (Bundesarchiv, APEx project), Maria Luisa Martinez Conde (Ministry of Culture Spain), Michael Fingerhut (, Robina Clayphan (Europeana Foundation), Rodolphe Bailly (Cité de la musique), Stefanie Rühle (Goettingen State and University Library), Valentine Charles (Europeana Foundation) , Xavier Agenjo (Fundación Ignacio Larramendi).