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V I I . 5
C h a l l e n g e : D eve l o p i n g t h e h u m a n c a p i t a l
"As a curator in a small institution I feel the lack of employee expertise in technological areas is
one of the most pressing problems for adoption of new technologies. Definitions of work practices are
focused on exhibition and research development placing technological expertise low on the list of
qualifications for employment. In a small institution where no staff are hired specifically to perform
these functions the responsibility falls on individuals to develop policy and programs often with
scant knowledge of development in other cultural institutions. Individual achievements are all
wrought in the face of either instructing and training other staff members while at the same time
needing to keep abreast of technological developments and carrying out the duties for they are
An institution needs to have an understanding of how technology will impact on the different core
business areas, and ensure staff training and employment guidelines are adapted to fit these needs.
Technological standards are often notoriously slow in their development: metadata standards outside
the Dublin core, and thus small institutions need to have a resource which they can approach which
will outline the best direction when adopting these standards."
Geoff Barker, University of Sydney, Macleay Museum,
DigiCULT Online Delphi, May 22, 2001
Today, memory institutions are forced to adjust to the digital environment and imple-
ment new technological solutions at a speed rate that puts enormous pressure on the
personnel to acquire new knowledge and skills. But, becoming part of the information
society is not just about implementing technologies, there are also many changes with
regard for example to organisational and financial issues.Therefore, human resources
development will be a major challenge and key task for cultural and memory institutions.
Adapting all human resources to meet the challenge
For cultural and memory institutions to be successful in the information age will call for
vision, leadership and high management standards. It must be recognised that the personnel
at all levels will be decisive for success (or failure) in the digital economy.Therefore,
adapting the competencies of all human resources in cultural institutions, not only with
regard to IT experts, is necessary.
Part of this is that the institutions more then ever need people, management and
personnel, that care, are committed, are able to move things,"infect" others within the
institution as well as external partners with new concepts or solutions:"It depends on the
people. If you are interested, personally, you can move it, and if you're only depending on
your institution, your institution will not do anything. It comes from the people first of all. I
think the personal resources, what we can give in from ourselves, this is important. For
example: if you are able to interest the ones who are giving the money, if you really are able
to infect them with your ideas, you will perhaps get something in reward." (Elke Freifrau
von Boeselager, German Foreign Office, Political Archives and Historical Service;
DigiCULT ERT Berlin, July 5, 2001)
The interplay of infrastructual and human capital is decisive
There is a not uncommon viewpoint, that "the real value" of memory institutions is in
the librarian, archivist, and curator and not in the collections. For example:"Is it not
possible that the value of libraries is not in the collections, but in the librarians? In a