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V I . 2
M e t h o d o l o g i e s f o r d i g i t i s a t i o n
"Policy makers need to understand the relationship between methodology and cherry-picking as
general trend: Commercial companies pick what is important to them."
Seamus Ross, HATII, University of Glasgow (DigiCULT ERT,Vienna, June 25-26, 2001)
Which leaves us with the question:Who is taking care of those remaining cultural
heritage resources that are ignored by commercial companies because of their inability to
promise an immediate profit? In the Information Society, in the long run, only the digital
will survive in the memory of a nation as it is more readily available and accessible than
analogue cultural heritage resources.This may sound provocative at a time when museums
and libraries are still centres of communication, yet there are already examples that prove
that usage of resources is directly related to ease of access. For example, it was only around
1961 that flagship world newspapers moved from microfilm storage of back issues to
computerised access. As a result, today, searching of back issues rarely delves into the world
before 1961. In addition, we are facing changing trends in media consumption especially
among the younger generations, that primarily focus on digital media, the Internet and
mobile phones as primary information and communication channels.
To deliver to them and following generations the richness of our cultural heritage by
building a critical mass of digital resources that reflect the richness, diversity and plurality of
a society's memory is one of the primary responsibilities of national governments with
regards to cultural heritage. However, governments who want to live up to this claim are
not in the position of cherry picking neither can they afford a universal approach to digitise
everything. Instead, facing an increasing volume of cultural heritage material that waits to
be digitised on the one side, and limited financial and human resources on the other side,
they need to be highly selective.Therefore, national governments are challenged to develop
a sound methodology with regards to digitisation that offers both transparent criteria for
content selection as well as guidelines for memory institutions on how to do it best. Only
thus can national governments reach their goal in the most cost-effective and resource-
efficient way.
The 5 most fatal digitisation myths*
Digitisation is cheap to do and does not cost a lot.
A whole library can be digitised.
You do it once and that is it.
Digitisation is for preservation.
Digitisation does not need government attention.
(* Statements from experts participating in the DigiCULT study)