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At the first layer, ALM institutions provide access to databases that contain descriptions
of their holdings, such as digital catalogues, online finding aids, digital registers or other
non-catalogue collection descriptions. Providing this sort of access information is the first
requirement for any further functionality of a hybrid information environment. Yet, it is
not enough to satisfy user needs.
At the second layer of unlocking the value of cultural heritage resources, memory
institutions enable users to get an impression of the object itself. Given changing patterns
and modes of cultural consumption in the Information Society that centre around com-
municating over computer and wireless networks, we assume that only those cultural
heritage resources that will remain valuable in the future will be those readily available in
digital form.This means to not only provide descriptions about cultural objects, but also
providing digital surrogates of the object itself.Thus, if they are not already in digital form,
such as born-digital cultural information, cultural heritage artefacts will need to be digitised
- a time and resource consuming process.
At the third layer, to further increase the value of digital cultural resources, stakeholders
in the cultural heritage sector will be required to build contextualised presentations for new
target groups based on the expert knowledge that resides within memory institutions.
Building context means to increasingly integrate expert knowledge and creativity into
services offered in the hybrid environment, to establish meaningful relations between object
clusters.This process leads to information environments that explain and narrate, offer
recommendations, and create meaningful relationships with user.
Another step forward in unlocking the value of cultural heritage resources expands the
concept of creating narratives and contexts to users of digital cultural heritage resources.
At the fourth level, the hybrid information environment offers the necessary tools and
technologies that enable users to actively participate in the creation of context, to mani-
pulate and interact with cultural heritage resources. By putting future users into the position
of building their own environments and/or to actively contribute and participate in this
process of establishing knowledge communities, they will develop a sense of ownership as
they are involved in creating new cultural heritage.
In such a networked, hybrid information environment the ultimate goal is to leverage the
value of Europe's rich cultural heritage resources by encouraging a shift from information
to knowledge. As Jennifer Trant, AMICO, USA, noted:"As well as integrating data, however,
we have realised that we need to integrate people, institutions and systems." (DigiCULT
Interview, August 8, 2001)