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I do not want to ignore these structures when we present our collections on the web."
(DigiCULT ERT, Stockholm, June 14, 2001)
This situation clearly points to the need for actively facilitating co-operation and colla-
boration between the individual domains with the objective of reaching agreement on an
authoritative set of standards that can be used in all the different cultural heritage sectors. As
Warwick Cathro, Assistant Director-General, Information Technology, National Library of
Australia, points out, this process should "bring together all interested parties across a range
of sectors", not just the cultural heritage sector. (DigiCULT ERT, Stockholm, June 24,
2001) This includes all stakeholders that have a potential interest in cultural heritage
information, including, publishers, governments, the educational community, the tourism
sector, the IT data management community as well as all suppliers of cultural heritage
information, including broadcasters.
Given such a large group of diverse interests, it becomes obvious, that the smallest common
denominator should be the goal to avoid frustration rather than reaching agreement on all
issues."What is important is cross-domain co-operation to decide within the sector on a
minimum set of standards in order to allow cross-sectoral searches." (Johan Mannerheim,
The Royal Library, National Library of Sweden; DigiCULT ERT, Amsterdam, September
25-26, 2001)
One of the biggest obstacles is the institutional structures that hamper cross-sectoral
collaboration on various levels:
Fragmented state responsibilities - on the regional and national level, archives,
libraries and museums often fall within the responsibility of different ministries,
which causes an obstacle to common planning and information exchange.
Missing organisational interfaces - internationally, the special interest organisations
of the various domains are very well organised, yet the organisational structures do
not foresee an interface for regular information exchange on common areas of
interest with the other domains.
Fragmented standardisation groups - similarly, the official standardisation bodies are
organised along industry lines, yet common cross-sectoral themes such as
information management issues are dealt with in a range of different standard
committees that have little contact with each other.
Before successful cross-sectoral collaborative work on standards can take place, these
primary barriers need to be removed.
The future of the catalogue?
While many experts during the course of the study stressed the necessity to co-operate
more closely across sectors to reach agreement on metadata standards to describe digital
collections, Paul Miller, Interoperability focus UKOLN, UK, seriously questioned, if the
data structures that have developed over decades (and sometimes centuries) are adequate to
meet the demands of the Information Society:"The different catalogues from different
times have different social and cultural context. (...) Why describe the copies we have in our
collections? Let the original be described once, point to that, and add any extra information
you need.This leads on to quality and trust and authority." (DigiCULT ERT, Stockholm,
June 24, 2001)
In the future, users on the web will be measuring the wealth of offerings especially by
those criteria.The real value-added European cultural heritage institutions are in a good
position to deliver in the future are quality, trust and authority.