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I kind of fell on this story today – it wasn’t featured in any news programmes i watched, it wasn’t in any newspapers that I read, It was an RSS feed from the BBC’s tech pages that drew my attention to the fact that a European online library had managed to open and close within the blink of an eye and nearly pass me by completely.

monalisaApparently, the website will include images of paintings, photos, films, books and maps from 1000 museums across Europe. Unfortunately, so many people visited the picture of the Mona Lisa on the site last week that its servers crashed and took it off-line within hours of going live.

Clearly, it’s a pity that the system was not set up to deal with more than 10 million visitors at once. It’s not like we didn’t know that there are more than 10 million people in Europe with internet access, right? plus this site, being one the WORLD wide web, is actually open to anyone in the world who wanted to visit, and that’s DEFINATELY more than 10 million potential visitors…. however. There are two things that really astound me about this story:

1) Enough people knew about this site to crash it.

2) Even Americans knew about this site before me.

Am I just really culturally backwards, or was there no information or promotional activity in the UK to announce the imminent launch of this site? I’m a library member, there hasn’t even been any info in our local library about the site, as far as I could see. I mean, it’s just as well – imagine the chaos that would have occurred if more people had known about the site!

Anyway. I’d like to ask the developers of the Europeana website to get hold of some lottery money and appoint a UK PR company before they go live again in December, because I’m sure I’m not the only person who’d be interested in visiting. I imagine that there might be a student or two out there that would find it helpful for a start….

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