As a result, the situation in Belgium concerning cultural heritage policy can be compared
to the "chicken-and-egg-principle". On the one hand, the lack of reliable data on the status
quo of digitisation policies and initiatives at the various levels makes it difficult for the
Belgian government to draft and implement a balanced and well-structured policy for
digitising cultural heritage resources. On the other hand, while there is the wish on the part
of cultural institutions and some parts of the administration to digitise their collections, there
are also complaints about lacking the resources and the qualified experts to do so.
However, the situation may change in the future as the need to co-operate more closely
for the benefits of all has been realised and born fruit in projects that bring the various
players closer together. For example, the Ministry of Culture for the French Community has
recently signed an agreement with the Association Musées et Societé in Wallonia for a
project which aims to put the collections of all the museums of the French community on
the Internet by the year 2004.
Philippe Allard, Consultant to the Belgian Ministry of Culture,
DigiCULT ERT,Vienna, June 25-26, 2001
At the national level, co-ordination of digitisation programmes could be facilitated in
various ways, for example through central national help desks, as practices in France, or
organised decentralised, through cultural heritage competence and research centres or
centres of excellence that are located within traditional institutions. Providing the necessary
information on projects and ongoing initiatives should be part of the funding requirements
of projects, and could be solved by using new technologies to accumulate information in a
central national repository. Again, France already has such a database in place where infor-
mation about digitised collections is stored to avoid duplicating the effort.
However, in the age of digital global networks, the need for a co-ordinated approach to
digitisation is not restricted to the national level, but crosses national boundaries.
Realising, that the promise and potential economic, social and cultural - of digital
heritage resources is being threatened by the fragmentation of current digitisation initiatives
and by a lack of synergies, a group of representatives of the cultural Ministries of the various
Member States and other cultural decision makers are currently discussing the possibility of
establishing a pan-European co-ordination mechanism. Known as the Lund Principles, the
group has published a set of recommendations to be implemented throughout the Member
States in the coming year in order to effectively address current barriers limiting the
delivery of e-contents over global networks.
These barriers are related to:
highly fragmented digitisation programmes,
inappropriate technologies and standards,
the lack of simple, common forms of access for citizens,
the unclear intellectual property rights situation, as well as
the lack of synergies between cultural and new technology programmes.
Therefore, national governments should commit to:
creating an ongoing forum for co-ordination with one representative of each member
state to develop a framework for ongoing discussions and exchanges, as well as foster
the communication from member-state level to the European level and vice versa,
supporting and developing a European view of policies and programmes by
establishing web sites with current, publicly accessible and easily understandable
information on the various governments' policies and programmes; these web sites
VI NATIONAL POLICIES & INITIATIVES