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As Andreas Bienert, Prussian Heritage Foundation, State Museums of Berlin, brings it to
the point:"There will be network services or no services at all. ... If we do not achieve a very
new quality of information by using information and communication technologies, then we
cannot legitimise expensive and very time consuming efforts in this field. ... It is absolutely
necessary to achieve this kind of co-operation." (DigiCULT ERT, Berlin, July 5, 2001)
Ultimately, what it comes down to is the need to not only integrate technological
systems but people.
Strengthening small cultural heritage institutions by increasing their
competence and capacity
Looking at Europe's memory institutions from the viewpoint of their awareness of new
technologies, we are confronted with a wide spectrum with regards to the adoption and
exploitation of the benefits information and communication technologies offer to these
organisations. On the one end, there are the pioneer institutions and early adopters of
information technologies among libraries, archives and museums.These institutions have a
clear plan for digitising their collections and spearhead market development by thinking of
innovative ways of how to better exploit their digital collections also commercially on the
world wide web. On the other end of the spectrum, we find mostly small archives, libraries
and museums, which are neither aware of the new technologies and their possibilities nor
do they possess the financial as well as human resources to actively participate in the new
development.
In the future, it will be a challenge for the European Commission as well as national and
regional governments to increase the capacity and competence in small cultural heritage
institutions and create the conditions that allow those under-resourced organisations to
participate in the Information Society.
"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 policies 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 employed."
(Geoff Barker, University of Sydney, Macleay Museum, Australia; DigiCULT Delphi,
May 22, 2001)
Long-term preservation and born-digital objects as key drivers of
technological development
As ever shorter technological innovation cycles replace existing technologies at a
breathtaking pace of 2-5 years, the urgency to address long-term preservation to avoid the
inevitable loss of our cultural heritage becomes ever more pressing. Current methodologies
of long-term preservation such as technology preservation, migration and emulation are
regarded as insufficient methods to preserve digital objects over the long term. In fact, they
are considered short-term solutions to a long-term problem.As Greg Newton-Ingham,
British Universities Film & Video Council, describes this disadvantage of digital techno-
logies:"It is a technology with the minus that it self-combusts." (DigiCULT ERT,
Stockholm, June 14, 2001)
II INTRODUCTION
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