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V I . 3
K n o w - h o w t ra n s f e r a n d c o l l a b o ra t i o n :
S t re n g t h e n i n g re g i o n s a n d s m a l l i n s t i t u t i o n s
"Make funders understand that you get double benefit from recognising the synergy and substantial
degree of overlap between the need of institutions to manage their collections effectively and the
need they have to make them accessible."
Seamus Ross, HATII, University of Glasgow, DigiCULT ERT,Vienna, June 25-26, 2001
An estimated 95% of all cultural heritage institutions in Europe are not in the position to
participate in any kind of digital cultural heritage venture.They not only lack the financial
resources to participate, but also have a shortage of staff, essential skills, and the necessary
technologies. Facing this situation, a comprehensive cultural heritage policy that claims to
provide cultural heritage for all would need to address the issue of how to strengthen small
heritage institutions and regions who play an important role on the local level as they are
the holders of materials that is valuable to the community.
Lacking staff, lacking skills, lacking training
On the one side, there is a challenge for policy makers to invest in the technological
infrastructure of small ALMs, yet, on the other side, and regarded even more important by
the experts participating in the DigiCULT study, it demands to invest in people and their
skills. As Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, UK, stressed:"Funding
should focus on building capacity.The biggest impediment in this area is the lack of
capacity in the sector. Project funding on its own does not necessarily achieve the results
advertised if you do not have the core capacity in your organisation. [Cultural heritage
institutions] will not be able to apply for the money in first place or delivering effectively in
the second place." And he concludes:"The consistent failure of organisations (...) to take full
advantage, is not because people are lazy or bad but because they simply have neither the
time nor energy to chase down another source of funding for a project that will be
additional to what they are doing anyway (...)". (DigiCULT Interview, August 9, 2001)
To the experts, the lack of staff in small cultural heritage institutions is the most important
factor that hampers small organisations to participate in the Information Society. Hence, they
advise national governments to invest in raising the capacity of institutions by increasing the
number of staff. National governments should invest in people, and not in projects.
In addition, in the second step that is needed is staff training that allows them to also
handle new technologies.There is urgent need for modern training programmes in ALM
institutions that respond to the lacking ICT skills among the staff of cultural heritage
institutions.To this purpose, the DigiCULT experts suggested setting up regional infor-
mation centres or centres of excellence that would help small organisations develop the
basic skills needed to participate in the digital age. National as well as regional governments
would need to make sure that these information service centres would owe the authority
by granting them the status of an official and "trusted" resource. Running these centres
should be a pronounced responsibility in each member state, and the implementation of this
policy should also be validated. As explained in more detail in the Chapter Technology,
these centres would provide training in areas such as project management, digitisation, life
cycle management of digital resources, and other technology issues.