background image
However, experts in the DigiCULT study agreed that cultural institutions should strive
for the highest quality possible, to keep options open for future use of material.The US-
based Mellon Foundation, a cultural heritage funding body takes a very clear position on
this: the best quality is just good enough to guarantee the usefulness for future scholarship.
As Don Waters, Programme Officer at the Mellon Foundation, USA, states:"There are
certainly certain purposes for having thumb nails or small views that can help it finding, but
for scholarly purposes the highest quality image needs to be made available.What we want
to see this need in any system that we fund rather than low-resolution access copies.The
motivation for people to provide lower quality images tend to be connected to these issues
of economic and intellectual property. If you provide a protected environment, you protect
the intellectual property, and if you have a mechanism for distributing that protected
environment to the right users then you eliminate both of those rationales for keeping low
quality images." (DigiCULT Interview, June 5, 2001)
Thus, the choice of quality always needs to be accompanied by other measures to secure
that the content owner's rights are maintained. Cultural heritage institutions need to
provide for these additional measures too, through the negotiation of user agreements and, if
necessary, the technologies such as watermarking to control unauthorised use.
The DigiCULT navigator to digitisation
Today the volume of material to be digitised is the most pressing digitisation issue, and
related to it, the need to select.With growing scale, the nature of cultural object digitisation
changes considerably and poses problems to cultural institutions that are not yet solved, such
as mass digitisation, integration of metadata at the point of digitisation, the internal transfer
and storage of huge amounts of data and, of course, the exploding costs related to all these
tasks.Volume and scale of future digitisation highlight the need for automated processes and
integration of cultural object digitisation into the overall workflow within cultural heritage
institutions.
This requires the establishment of comprehensive selection policies that are driven by a
clear understanding of the why and for whom material should be digitised. Organisational
policies for digitisation should be directed by a national digitisation programme to set
priorities and avoid the duplication of work.
National governments and regional authorities should formulate clear
digitisation programmes that can guide cultural heritage institutions to
formulate organisational digitisation policies. (see also the chapter: National
Policies and Initiatives).
Anchored in national digitisation programmes, cultural heritage institutions
should formulate organisational digitisation policies that transparently state the
selection criteria based on:
user demands,
the quality of the source material (fragile material, etc.),
future management of digitised material, and
conservation and preservation issues.
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