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Evaluation criteria for digitisation projects
Yet such models can only be effective if they are supplemented by a set of criteria and
mechanisms that allow national governments to measure the success of implemented
actions.Therefore, national governments need to define criteria that supplement models and
guidelines of best practice to:
monitor and measure the impact of implemented projects;
have users evaluate projects (user evaluation strategies);
evaluate the accessibility of e-content produced;
monitor the use of suggested standards;
assure quality.
Depending on the overall objectives of a national cultural heritage policy, such evaluation
mechanisms measuring the impact of national action could be further extended to other
areas, for instance, to include impact measures for regional development, know-how transfer
to small institutions, or any other targets that a national policy might want to achieve.
In many European Member States, such mechanisms supporting a systematic and
methodological approach to digitisation are already in place. In France, for example, the
national government has clearly defined priorities of what should be digitised first.These
priorities are centred around the question of "Why digitise?".When applying for project
funds for digitisation, cultural institutions need to provide a business plan that answers the
question of why certain materials should be digitised.With regards to developing
methodologies for organisations, the French government runs a central help desk to support
cultural institutions in developing digitisation policies, and to ensure a methodological
approach is followed also at the institutional level.To implement cultural policy on a
national level, a common methodology offers a clear advantage.
Spain, on the other hand, has various mechanisms in place to measure the impact of
cultural heritage projects. Publicly funded projects are evaluated, if project objectives have
been achieved.The Spanish digitisation plan, for example, clearly focuses on future access
and use, and funded projects are evaluated, if they have reached their goals in terms of
meeting user needs.The Archivo de Cinde, a documentary archive in Sevilla consulted mostly
by researchers, for example, digitised only 8% of its collection, yet is able to satisfy 60% of
the user requests. In the case of the Archivo, former lending statistics of the library helped to
reach such a high user rate.
Yet in other countries, such as Denmark, digitisation guidelines that also set clear
selection priorities have been developed at institutional level, but are not operational at the
national level.
Developing selection criteria for a digitisation policy
The Royal Library, Denmark
Convinced that the approach to digitisation has to be synchronised at the national level
to avoid a duplication of effort, Erland Kolding Nielsen, Director General of the Danish
Royal Library in Kopenhagen, has drafted guidelines for a national digitisation policy,
including selection criteria on what should be digitised.
As a first step, a national digitisation policy needs to justify and make transparent, the
reason for digitising analogue resources. Kolding Nielsen identified five criteria to select
material for digitisation:
the use of the documents you want to digitise: the focus is on number of users or
number of hits on the web,