background image
DigiCULT
.
Info
39
C
ONFERENCE
R
EPORT
: "T
OWARDS
A
CONTINUUM
OF
DIGITAL
HERITAGE
,
S
TRATEGIES
FOR
A
E
UROPEAN
A
REA
OF
D
IGITAL
C
ULTURAL
R
ESOURCES
"
E
ELCO
B
RUINSMA
,
D
IGI
CULT R
EGIONAL
C
ORRESPONDENT
(N
ETHERLANDS
)
T
his conference, which was held in
The Hague on 15 and 16 September,
was devoted to the concept of a European
Area of digital cultural resources. Organised
under the Netherlands EU Presidency,
the conference marks a turning point in
the `Lund Action Plan', an initiative of
a number of EU member states to share
knowledge, experience and resources to
arrive at a more unified and co-ordinated
approach to the digitisation of cultural her-
itage information and resources.
T
his initiative, departing from the Lund
Principles that describe the poten-
tial of digital cultural heritage resources
and identify most impediments and prob-
lems, called for the rapid deployment of
national steering groups that co-ordinate
the development of national policy profiles,
assigned experts to working groups dedi-
cated to certain identified problem areas,
and also nominated national representa-
tives to form the National Representatives
Group (NRG). This NRG traditionally
convenes in the country that holds the EU
Presidency to set and follow a revolving
agenda. The meeting of the NRG is nearly
always combined with a conference on an
appropriate subject.
S
peakers at the conference were selected
with an eye for the contribution they
could make to the subject of a European
Area of Digital Cultural Resources. This
area must be seen as a virtual infrastruc-
ture that leaves national digitisation efforts
and existing digitisation programmes intact,
but, by intelligent application of the right
resource discovery technologies and appli-
cation of the right tools, has the power
to pull together relevant, meaningful and
high-quality material, drawn from distrib-
uted resources, and to deliver this materi-
al into the working space of the individual,
whatever this working space may be, who-
ever and wherever the individual may be.
K
eynote presentations
46
by Brewster
Kahle, director of the Internet
Archive, Paul Miller, director of the
Common Information Environment, and
David Bearman, director of Archives and
Museum Informatics, traced a large con-
ceptual circle around the main theme of
the conference. Marius Snyders (Dutch
Ministry of Culture), Arjo Klamer (Erasmus
University) and Seamus Ross (HATII &
DigiCULT, University of Glasgow) treat-
ed the political, economic and broader cul-
tural perspectives. Daniel Malbert (French
Ministry of Culture) and Nigel Pittmann
(Department of Culture, Media and Sport,
UK) sketched the broader European con-
text of the Lund Action Plan and the way
an individual member state is implement-
ing its digitisation stategies through national
programmes and projects. James Michalko,
president of the Research Libraries Group,
painted the American canvas in which pub-
lic funding for digitisation plays a very
insignificant role, and hence the quite dif-
ferent dynamics of institutional policy and
private funding schemes which define the
playing ground. Maurizio Lunghi, co-ordi-
nator of the `Firenze Agenda' on long-term
preservation, dealt with the complex issue
of preservation of digital resources, which,
for all its technical complexity, is at this
stage also a question of creating awareness.
I
n general, the speakers were not afraid
to adopt a critical stance, but in doing
so creatively elaborated aspects of a shared
vision, which was quickly picked up and
appreciated by the audience. The Dutch
Deputy Minister for Culture, Medy van
der Laan, underlined the importance of
the vision of a shared area of digital cul-
tural resources during the Netherlands EU
Presidency, and assured continuing support
for the development of this vision.
T
he pragmatic and unproblematic view
on mass digitisation put forward by
Brewster Kahle met with an amused audi-
ence. He convincingly calculated and dem-
onstrated the feasibility of digitising all the
documents that make up our cultural her-
itage, and hence the possibility of creating
access to `all human knowledge'. An ele-
gant and simple print-on-demand scheme,
which could create that much needed
access to the world's cultural riches in plac-
es where it really matters, showed that we
should not be blinded by a future where
all access means digital access. Whether this
strategy of digitisation will happen on a
large scale or not, the approach demonstrat-
ed by the Internet Archive (http://www.
archive.org/) aroused the interest of many
collection owners.

46 Most papers and presentations are available on the Web at: http://
www.digitaliseringerfgoed.nl/cultuurtechnologie/cultuurtechnolo-
gie/i000264.html