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DigiCULT
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Info
37
eign versions are usually limited to around
70 per cent of the information from the
Polish language page. A little poorer are
Web pages of church archives. Only five
archdiocesan and 15 diocesan archives exist
on the Internet; just one has a multilingual
Web site in English and German. Only
five university archives have their own Web
sites, three of them in English. Just four
central archives have Web sites, none of
them including a foreign language version.
All archives have Web sites of similar qual-
ity. The arrangement of information is most
often coherent, and content is similar, such
as information about organisation, resourc-
es, access policy, and current events. Some
of the sites provide information about pub-
lications and archival services.
A
bout 500 Polish museums have Web
sites; among them are seven nation-
al museums, 14 district museums and 22
regional museums. About 450 are state, city
or small local museums, managed by soci-
eties, private citizens, or churches. Again,
information presented on these sites tends
to be similar. Visitors can find out when a
museum is open, the ticket costs, policy, and
current exhibitions. More elaborate pages
present the museum history and educa-
tional, publishing or research activities. One
museum has incorporated attractive visuali-
sation techniques within their site; however,
most simply present pictures of their most
precious artefacts. About 60 museums have
foreign versions of their Web pages, with 20
catering to more than one European lan-
guage: 55 in English, 20 in German, five
in French and one in Italian. Again, it was
found that foreign language pages hardly
ever include all of the information on the
original Polish language page; more often it
is around 80 per cent.
T
his simple analysis of the Web sites
of Polish libraries, galleries, archives
and museums leads to a few conclusions.
First, the quality of the Web pages of a cul-
tural institution depends on its institution-
al activities. Secondly, museums are more
active on the Internet than other institu-
tions, since 80 per cent of all Polish muse-
ums have Web sites. Thirdly, the state
institutions tend to have more profession-
al-looking pages, as their better financial
situation permits the appointment of spe-
cialists and the implementation of more
advanced technologies. Fourthly, most of
the institutions are not prepared for con-
tact with non-Polish speaking users, as only
7 per cent of them have multilingual ver-
sions. Finally, a standard is lacking in Web
site design; however, a logical arrangement
and a convenient search mechanism are the
most important advantages of Web pages.
Search mechanisms can be found only in
ten of the Web sites surveyed (mostly a sim-
ple free-text search). Just three Web sites
used controlled vocabulary search through
keywords, thematic phrases, and lexicon.
T
o address some of these issues and
improve Web site design, in 2003 the
Polish Library Association established a
competition for the best library Web site.
The first competition had no specific rules,
but for this year's competition a list of
mandatory component qualities has been
established including formal information
(institution name and address, Webmaster
and editor names), as well as informa-
tion about updates. Layout and graph-
ics are evaluated, along with completeness
of information and its relevance, editori-
al issues such as grammar and information
style, and fonts. A couple of technical issues,
for example, interface, navigation, search
mechanisms, user-friendliness, online cata-
logues, multilinguality, help mechanisms,
and communication with users are also
assessed. Other issues concerning the Web
sites such as portal or gateway elements and
educational possibilities are welcome and
yield additional points during evaluation.
Even though the agreed competition rules
are not always coherent and often give too
much flexibility to the evaluators, it is a big
step forward towards assuring the quality of
cultural institution Web sites.
T
he possibility of improving cultur-
al institution Web sites through the
establishment of a European Certificate for
good quality Web sites that meet the agreed
criteria has also been discussed with the
Ministry of Culture. Such criteria should
be based on those presented by the Quality
Principles group of the MINERVA con-
sortium. The Certificate would be of the
highest value for the cultural institution if
awarded jointly by the MINERVA
40
con-
sortium in the name of the European
Commission. Such an action would cer-
tainly improve the quality of electronic
images of all cultural heritage institutions,
and would encourage others to build their
own Web sites. For those without appropri-
ate staff and technology, ICIMSS (http://
www.icimss.edu/) could build a standard
Web site, including translation into a few of
the major foreign languages, and co-operate
with those institutions on maintaining and
updating their information.
TURKEY
T
his is the first Regional
Correspondent's report from Turkey;
therefore, it will summarise what has been
achieved in the last few years in the digital
culture arena in Turkey.
DIGITAL APPLICATIONS IN THE
HERITAGE SECTOR
W
ith an estimated 150 million doc-
uments dating from the imperial
period, Turkish archives are one of the rich-
40 See http://www.minervaeurope.org/publications/
qualitycommentary_en.htm for a commentary on the ten Quality
Principles.