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DigiCULT
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Info
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tion using material from various sources and
institutions, in a co-ordinated and standardi-
sed way. Participants in this initiative are
supplied with digitisation guidelines and
management models.
Recent actions
In 2002, a first and full-grown policy frame-
work was elaborated.
31
The policy states that
digitisation, whatever its rationale or purpo-
se may be, has to secure a steady increase of
a national collection of digital surrogates,
which can be re-used and hence should
conform to certain standards, demands of
durable management and accessibility.
Recently the Dutch government has
announced its intention to increase invest-
ments in infrastructure programmes and
quality assurance for digitisation.The need
for clear standards, implementation scena-
rios, management models and innovation
certainly also guides the identification of
research objectives. A parallel approach, in
which the development of new environ-
ments of knowledge transmission is paired
with the creation of digital resources, is
expected to characterise this promising policy
period in the history of Dutch digitisation.
Later this year, an IT research programme
for digitised cultural heritage will be laun-
ched with the support of the Netherlands
Organisation for Scientific Research (now,
http://www.nwo.nl). A consortium of IT
research institutions, leading cultural heritage
institutions and a number of commercial
parties in the Netherlands will collaborate in
this ambitious so-called DPL
32
Light pro-
gramme. DPL Light will develop new
methods and techniques in the domain of
multimedia and agent technology to support
the cultural heritage sector effectively in
their interaction with (among others) resear-
chers and the general public. Much is
expected from this initiative which will run
until 2009.
(NIBG), and the National Institute for Art
History (RKD) and the National Institute for
Cultural Heritage (ICN) formed the board
of this organisation and were to guarantee its
impact and secure its vanguard position.
Government funding
Meanwhile a slightly growing government
budget was allocated to the cultural heritage
field, directly, and through subsidies distribu-
ted by the Mondrian Foundation
(http://www.mondriaanfoundation.nl/), a
private organisation with strong government
ties, managing a range of funds designed to
stimulate and support high-quality cultural
production in the Netherlands. Its Fund for
Public Oriented Digitisation is closely moni-
tored by a committee consisting of members
from heritage institutions with a long expe-
rience in digitisation, and other experts in
the field.
Another important body in this regard is
SURF, the higher education and research
partnership organisation for network services
and ICT. SURF acknowledges the added
value of using digitised cultural heritage for
education and research and earmarked funds
to support a vast array of projects.They
include studies on Digital Rights Manage-
ment and the construction of the SURFnet
Video Portal
(http://www.surfnet.nl/en/innovation/
surfworks/svp/), providing the academic
community with seamless access to hundreds
of hours of archive material.
Major joint initiatives
Collection management information was the
first logical choice of many institutions when
confronted with the task of creating public
access to digital assets. One of the first insti-
tutions that approached the matter from a
different angle was the National Museum of
Natural History, Naturalis (http://www.
naturalis.nl/). Based on Web site users' feed-
back, staff at Naturalis reasoned that a focus
on knowledge, rather than on collection
management information, should be the cen-
tral concern of public-oriented digitisation.
Together with the National Museum of
Anthropology, the National Museum of
Archeology and a recently founded technolo-
gy company, Naturalis initiated the `Leidse
Poort' project (http://www.leidsepoort.nl), a
knowledge-oriented experiment to create an
interoperable knowledge base, fed by the
three different institutions, their knowledge
and collections. Naturalis also used this
model to connect a variety of organisations
in the field of nature, the environment and
natural history into a nature-oriented know-
ledge infrastructure.The potential of this
initiative, which could be of general interest
within the context of the emergent know-
ledge economy, has led the Ministry of
Economic Affairs to invest successfully in
three more experiments with this organisa-
tional model and its technological base.
The vast and ever growing collection of
Dutch audiovisual heritage is safeguarded by
The Netherlands Institute for Sound and
Vision (NIBG, http://www.nibg.nl/).With
financial support from the government,
NIBG started an ambitious project that will
eventually support flexible online access to its
holdings of legacy material and the daily bro-
adcasts on radio and television. In the iMMix
project, NIBG co-operates with the public
broadcasters and also seeks ties with com-
mercial broadcasters. Central to iMMix is the
IFLA-FRBR metadata standard, modelled to
meet the demands of the audiovisual domain.
In the two years following its inception, the
Netherlands Digital Heritage Association has
created a `reasoned' portal on an increasing
number of collections, supporting queries,
but also offering virtual exhibitions, an agen-
da and an intuitive fuzzy query tool.The
main strength however lies under the surface,
because this portal, Cultuurwijzer
(http://www.cultuurwijzer.nl), `plugs into'
the infrastructure that also supports the inno-
vative experiments initiated by Naturalis.
Furthermore, in 2000, a large government-
sponsored project, `Memory of the
Netherlands', initiated and managed by the
Royal Library, was launched as another
attempt to create an extensive digital collec-
31See http://www.cultuurtechnologie.nl/policy.htm
32DPL = Digital Production Line. It is called `Light'
because an earlier, more extensive programme, did not
receive the support needed.