European library site crashes hours after launch

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BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European culture went digital - but it only lasted a day.

A massive online library and museum project crashed within 24 hours of its launch after millions sought to view treasures collected from museums, national libraries and archives, the European Union said Friday.

"We are doing our utmost to reopen Europeana in a more robust version as soon as possible," the site said. "We will be back by mid-December."

The crash was an anticlimax to a heralded launch. The EU blamed overwhelming interest, saying more than 10 million hits per hour late Thursday overburdened the computer system.

Instead of the rich color-and-light texture of a Vermeer painting, there only was a stark black-and-white page, saying: "The Europeana site is temporarily not accessible due to overwhelming interest after its launch."

A subsequent EU statement said "this is an unexpected difficulty, but it is also an encouraging sign that citizens in Europe and around the world have great interest in Europe's digital library."

The Web site collected some 3 million artifacts - including books, maps, paintings and videos - from some of Europe's top museums, such as the Louvre in Paris and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It will be available in 23 languages including English, French, German and Spanish.

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