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V I I . 8
C a s e s t u d y : S C R A N - E l i m i n a t i n g r i s k f o r
c u l t u ra l h e r i t a g e i n s t i t u t i o n s
In the framework of the DigiCULT-study, SCRAN (Scottish Cultural Resources Access
Network) serves as an example of the new type of institutions needed in the digital
environment to fully unlock the value of cultural heritage resources.
SCRAN is a brand and in a class of its own: Its name is a Scottish word meaning
provisions food. But SCRAN is not just Scottish "food for thought", it aims at being a
benchmark in providing online educational resources, tools and services. And it really has
become a reference point for new cultural heritage institutions that are set up with similar
targets. SCRAN has received many awards:
A Silver Muse Award from the American Association of Museums (AAM) "in
recognition of the Highest Standards of Excellence in the use of Media and
Technology for a Collections Database or Research Resource"
The Jason Farradane of the Institute of Informations Scientists "an outstanding
piece of work in the information field";
The Guardian Newspaper one of the "six of the best" museum web sites in the
On the SCRAN web site there is a definition: "The official definition of SCRAN is that it is
a searchable online resource base of over one million text and multimedia records.Translated to layman's
terms, SCRAN is rather like an enormous online interactive library with an extensive and diverse
collection of records relating to culture, history and science."
This is mainly a definition of its web site and the resources it makes available to licensed
users.There is much more to SCRAN than just a web site, in the work it has done in
convincing so many cultural heritage institutions to understand more about the risks they
see in the digital environment, and helping them unlock the value of their resources
through an established business model, the secure presentation of their material to a world-
wide audience and the development of educational material from their resources integrated
with others.
How SCRAN came into life
SCRAN was started in November 1996 on the basis of a partnership of three major
Scottish institutions: the National Museums of Scotland, the Royal Commission on the
Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and the Scottish Museums Council, with
the National Museums taking the lead role.
What SCRAN aimed to become initially was "Scottish Culture's Digital Heart", a
networked multimedia resource base for the study and celebration of human history and
material culture in Scotland. A "one stop shop" where people can come, to access
authoritative cultural content.This was not seen as part of the core business of the founding
organisations, so the venture was taken separately, driven by a separate company set up
specifically with these goals.There are two parts to SCRAN; SCRAN is a company limited
by guarantee and a registered charity. SCRAN IT is the trading company, wholly owned by
The initial funding to digitise and make accessible Scotland's material culture and human
history came from the Millennium Commission who distribute funds from the UK