From Inside: "We have obtained the knowhow and software to share collections in a more transparent way"

30 September 2014

By Laurent Meese

The main aim of the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences to participate in Europeana Inside to facilitate the process of exporting collections to the Europeana platform. By participating in this best practice network we have gained access to technical knowledge and expertise from other European museums and technical and commercial partners.

The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences houses a precious collection of zoological, anthropological, paleontological, mineralogical and geological materials and data. We use darwin as a main gate to glimpse the extent and diversity of the collections. The darwin database manages information on about 350.000 specimens stored in the institute’s depositories.

In addition, the central library of the The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences has 600.000 bibliographic records relating to natural sciences in general. Our bibliographic records are managed with several databases and hosted mainly by their Technical Parnter LIBIS. This collections are held in two other bibliographic utilities: Antilope (catalogue for scientific serials) and (central catalogue for federal libaries).

As for the impact of using ECK with our collections, it can be better understood by providing an example. Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences has been content provider for The Biodiversity Heritage Library for Europe ( This is a project engaging 28 natural history museums, botanical gardens and other cooperating institutions. BHL-Europe provides a multilingual access point for biodiversity content with specific biological functionalities for search and retrieval through the portal. We delivered our digitised materials to this project via the dark agregator developed for Europeana Inside members which is connected to our records with no need of a further mediator.

By using ECK functionalities, we have now a local tool to easily select and manage data for export. There is a better structured workflow, staff members understand the importance and know how to use the ECK.

Europeana Inside raised awareness of the importance of providing correct copyright information and other types of Intellectual Property Rights. The local ECK helps this process by providing accurate copyright information to our data. In order to avoid legal limits, we carefully selected our materials and supplied all in-copyright and free domain content.

The last novelty that ECK has brought to our local system is the capacity to return enrichments from Europeana. The addition of geonames or multilingual data could be useful for us. We will incorporate the information in our system. The main advantage of enriched content is that it provides more search options for cross domain research in a multilingual context.


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