background image
Although cultural heritage institutions face high risk related to the uncertainty about the
rapid changes in technology, taking a "sit back and wait" approach would be the wrong
strategy. Instead, they should develop sound principals and policies for the creation and
acquisition of digital material. In addition, national and regional policy makers need to take
immediate action and formulate strategies for digital preservation as part of a national
information policy.
Immediate political action is also needed with regards to the ever increasing volume of
born-digital material. Born digital material are resources that have been created with the
help of information technologies and demand particular hard- and software for reading and
viewing.The explosion of electronically published material currently puts enormous
pressure on cultural heritage institutions, as they lack the regulatory framework that entitles
them to properly collect, store, make accessible and preserve these resources that are
published on the World Wide Web. Given the fact, that many web resources disappear
within a short time period, without such legislation or other mechanisms that allow cultural
institutions to collect these data, a vast amount of our future cultural heritage will inevitably
be lost.
Methodological and co-ordinated approach to digitisation
Today, the volume of material to be digitised is the most pressing digitisation issue, and
related to that, the need to select.With growing scale, the nature of object digitisation
changes considerably and poses problems to cultural institutions that are not yet solved,
such as mass digitisation, integration of metadata at the point of digitisation, the internal
transfer and storage of huge amounts of data and, of course, the exploding costs related to
all these tasks.Volume and scale of future digitisation highlight the need for automated
processes and integration of object digitisation into the overall workflow within cultural
heritage institutions.
This requires the establishment of comprehensive selection policies that are driven by a
clear understanding of the why and for whom material should be digitised. Organisational
policies for digitisation should be directed by a national digitisation programme to set
priorities and avoid the duplication of work.
As Erland Kolding Nielsen,The Royal Library, Denmark, points out:"I could see that
unless we started from above discussing what should be digitised - what are the objectives,
what are our responsibilities and what are not - then you could spend a lot of money on
small projects everywhere and commit the Danish sin, as I call it: a little bit of everything,
for everybody, everywhere." (DigiCULT Interview, June 28, 2001)