The pan-european digital library Europeana was brought down by massive amounts of traffic within hours after its launch; according to their temporary website, there were millions of hits per hour:

We launched the site on 20 November and huge use – 10 million hits an hour – meant it crashed. We are doing our best to reopen in a more robust version.

The project is supposed to bring up to two million works of art from various European museums, libraries and other archives within reach of every internet user worldwide. It is currently subsidized by the European Union, but aims to become self-sustaining in the near future: 

After the launch of the Europeana prototype, the project’s final task is to recommend a business model that will ensure the sustainability of the website. It will also report on the further research and implementation needed to make Europe’s cultural heritage fully interoperable and accessible through a truly multilingual service. The intention is that by 2010 the Europeana portal will give everybody direct access to well over 6 million digital sounds, pictures, books, archival records and films.


Some of these works appear to atract more interest than others. The most popular searches were shown on the library’s homepage; these included a scanned cover of “Mein Kampf”, and several paintings by Rubens and Bloemaert. Apparently, interest in cultural items is good, but not if you’re only looking at nudes. Jill Cousins, director of Europeana, immediately ordered changes to the site to censor the search results. I wonder what functionality remains once the site reopens!