background image
essentially a co-operative enterprise, based on partnerships and collaboration on all four
layers distinguished by the DigiCULT four-layer model.
"Raw content" is not good enough
The DigiCULT four-layer model distinguishes different ways in how cultural heritage
institutions can create value. On the first two layers there are databases that contain
descriptions of their holdings (layer 1) and digital surrogates of objects as well as objects that
have been born-digital (layer 2). Providing networked access to information about holdings
has long been a domain of library co-operations (e.g. library OPACs), and today also the
other cultural heritage institutions are heading towards making their registries or collection
catalogues accessible online. Furthermore, many institutions already provide access to digital
surrogates of objects.
These online resources are of course of high value for scholarly and professional uses.Yet,
based on the experiences made in recent years, experts doubt whether making huge
volumes of object descriptions and digital images accessible provides value to broader, lay
audiences. Especially in museums that traditionally cater to these audiences with exhibitions
and educational programmes there is a growing awareness that providing merely "raw
content" is not an adequate way of fulfilling their mission. Even if they provide their raw
content to various projects that aim to display it and somehow add value, curators may
doubt whether this is something that shows that they do their job well. As Oliver Watson,
Head of Digital Projects,Victoria and Albert Museum, London, describes the situation:
"I am interested in the issue of where added value lies. It is certainly our experience that
as a large institution full of content - not much of it digitised, but we are working on that,
what we see are lots of institutions and partnerships elsewhere coming to us for our raw
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VII ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE
Unlocking the value: core functions
of cultural heritage organisations
Core functions
New types of
cultural
heritage
organisations
Some
Museums
Libraries
Archives
Museums
Analogue
Digital
+ VALUE
Contribution,
exhibition,
manipulation
Recommendation,
explanation,
narration
Paintings,
sculpture,
records,
books, ...
Finding aids,
catalogues,
registers
Provide access
Provide objects
Provide expert knowledge
& creativity
Provide user personalisation
& community
Databases
Digitised
objects /
born-digital
resources
Context
Transaction /
interaction
environments
Provide long-term access
(preservation of digital objects)
Source: Salzburg Research, 2001