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Visual analytics of Europeana digital library for reuse in learning environments: A premier systematic study

Paulo Alonso Gaona-Garcia (Faculty of Engineering, Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas, Bogota, Colombia)
Salvador Sanchez-Alonso (Department of Computer Science, University of Alcala de Henares, Madrid, Spain)
Ana Fermoso García (Department of Computer Science, Pontifical University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 9 October 2017



The purpose of this paper is to assess whether Europeana can be really seen as the new “Library of Alexandria” for digital resources from the perspective of teachers, academics and researchers that might want to retrieve and reuse those resources for learning purposes.


The authors define a systematic method for studying Europeana digital resources and their potential for reuse in e-learning environments. To achieve this, the authors explore the coverage of digital resources when searching information about a specific area. The paper studies the relevance of the results (thematic coverage) provided by queries targeting the resources’ metadata elements defined by the EDM Europeana model. All the data collected for this study from Europeana digital resources are the result of four explorations since 2012-2016.


The autors found that Europeana as a digital library has good levels of coverage of digital resources for those terms in the AAT thesaurus explored (terms from the “Styles and Periods” subset). This subset was selected as an example of faceted search given that it is a common search topic in the academic environment. However, it is important to remark the use of common vocabulary words provided by participants in order to obtain relevant results of search based on specific knowledge areas defined by AAT terms.

Research limitations/implications

This research used a relatively small sample size of resources which may not be representative of the general size of Europeana digital resources. However, the results are illustrative as they are based on a specific knowledge area of AAT (118 terms) which contains very common topics used in high school courses by students and teachers in the field of art and cultural heritage. The study also aspires to provide a systematic method for conducting future studies in other knowledge areas.


The coverage study aims to analyze if Europeana is a digital library that teachers could use for the development of learning objects in specific knowledge areas, through the reuse of free/open access digital resources.



Gaona-Garcia, P.A., Sanchez-Alonso, S. and Fermoso García, A. (2017), "Visual analytics of Europeana digital library for reuse in learning environments: A premier systematic study", Online Information Review, Vol. 41 No. 6, pp. 840-859.



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