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the value of the material, including the share value:"When we bought an unknown
manuscript of H.C. Andersen (...) we digitised it very fast because there was such a
great public interest in the manuscript and the way we acquired it (...)",
the research interest of the documents: the focus is on the content,
the cultural heritage interest:The focus is on the symbolic, historical, political
interests in the documents,
the preservation situation of the individual material: Using digitisation to preserve a
particular object that is too fragile to allow direct access to the original.
In addition, there are several other criteria that need to be considered when selecting
material for digitisation which are closely related to the question of what constitutes a
nation's cultural heritage.Those secondary criteria are:
Provenance: Should national governments digitise and preserve only the nation's
cultural heritage or also resources of foreign provenance? As Kolding Nielsen
explains the approach of the Danish Royal Library:"Normally we will answer that
we are only responsible for Danish documents.We cannot expect others to digitise
those.The Inca Chronicle is an exception because it's a unique document and it is
only published on paper, so we have considered it to be a responsibility of the Royal
Library towards the world." Otherwise, the definition of what is Danish cultural
heritage is based on a historical interpretation and comprises also materials from
areas that formerly belonged to Denmark.
Digitisation at different levels of abstraction:Whether one should digitise the
contents alone for instance through OCR-scanning techniques or the object as
such, so to give an impression about the look and feel of the original cultural
object.The level of abstraction influences the scanning technique.
Digitisation scope: Do you digitise the whole object or selected parts?
Description of digitised objects: How or at what level will the scanned material be
commented and described (metadata)? Should it be catalogued, should it be
described, which indexes are used, how "deeply" should the digitised
material be described?
Finally, in addition to those selection criteria, a national policy should also function as a
tool for prioritising what should be digitised first. Kolding Nielsen outlined five areas or
types of collections and documents, with clear priorities for the different collection types:
Collections and documents of national provenance should be more important and
should come first compared to material of foreign provenance;
Material for which you could expect a high frequency of use should be given
precedence over collections that will be used less;
Collections or documents which have a high interest of larger target groups should
be prioritised over material that only draws a small number of users;
Collections which could be used for several purposes have to be given precedence
over material that can be used only in a narrow context;
Material within the other four criteria that could be used after being digitised using
mass digitisation methods should be given precedence over material that needs to be
handled individually.
Based on those criteria and priorities, a sensible national digitisation policy should be
In Denmark, such a national digitisation policy is now discussed within the Danish
library community together with the Board of the National Electronic Library, consisting of
representatives from the Ministries of Education, Culture and Research, as well as