background image
and rules only hold or "work out" as long as the supporters or partners fit together;
otherwise the co-operation will fail, bringing with it a negligible value, or even being
counterproductive, for instance increasing the workload etc., without increasing the
competitive advantage.
Key role of new intermediary cultural heritage organisations
With regard to the co-operation capital of cultural heritage institutions, this study in
particular highlights the role of intermediary organisations. Such organisations play a key
role in providing support, services and networked environments for the institutions.This
might include e.g. supporting digitisation projects, offering a portal to digital collections of
many different institutions, or building an integrated and protected environment for
scholarly or educational uses of digital objects and documentation derived from cultural
institutions. Such organisations are extremely valuable in bringing cultural heritage to
certain interest groups (e.g. scholars, learners, tourists) and the public at large. Basic
indicators for the success of cultural heritage in the Information Society will be, the
number of such organisations in existence and the intensity of use.Therefore, beside the
traditional memory institutions, these organisations will also be a main focus of the
User capital
In comparison to the co-operation capital the user capital is much more volatile. User
demands put a heavy pressure on the institutions, yet, user permanence and loyalty cannot
be taken for granted. As Sigrun Eckelmann, German Resarch Council, Bonn, summarises
this fact:"Where the pressure comes from for change in the future, I think first comes from
the user.The users, at least the scientists, search for information based on their specific
needs, using the most convenient, reliable and complete source, maybe even deciding on the
basis of cost.They are not concerned with the place of origin of the source, whether it is in
Germany, Europe or in the States. (...) There is a growing competition between libraries,
archives, museums, and I think those institutions who are not aware of this situation of
competition, which is a new situation, will lose out. Because, the providers of funds look to
who is using the institution they are funding. If it's not being adequately used, but the
neighbours institutions are used, then they will probably lose their funding, to their
neighbours." (DigiCULT ERT, Berlin, July 5, 2001)
Furthermore, institutions must meet the growing and expanding expectations of users.
The DigiCULT Online Delphi points to a considerable gap between these expectations
and what most institutions will be able to provide online.
What users expect
Immediate access to everything,
provision of integrated services,
applications to be user friendly, multilingual, providing full cultural information
about the stored objects,
core information written simply and accessibly, without using jargons or making
assumptions about prior knowledge,
quality and pertinence of the content,
"processes" rather than static artefacts,
increased interactivity,
fully documented collections presented in engaging ways,