I X . 7
Th e w i d e n i n g t e c h n o l o g y g a p
Archives, libraries and museums that have already become hybrid institutions have deve-
loped a good understanding of what the technological challenges of the digital domain are.
Although they still struggle to solve the problems involved, they have at least entered the
digital value chain by making cultural heritage resources more readily accessible.
However, experts involved in the study estimated that less than 10 % of all cultural
heritage institutions in Europe are actually in the position to participate in the digital era.
The big majority of memory institutions, - the local museum focusing on the history of a
village, the community or church library or the highly specialised historic archive - do not
even possess the human, financial and technological resources to accomplish the most basic
things, such as digitally cataloguing their holdings or establishing a web presence. As they are
still in the pre-digital age they cannot participate in the Information Society.
In fact, we can sense a growing gap between the highly specialised, technology-focused,
new types of cultural organisations that function as intermediaries between the traditional
"content holders" and the public, and the traditional archives, libraries and museums. As
Edmund Lee, Data Standards Supervisor at the National Monuments Record Center, UK,
put it:"There is perhaps, an increasing gap between `service providers' that facilitate access
to cultural information (held by others), and who see dynamic and exciting new techno-
logies as key to attracting new audiences, and "content providers" who place priorities on
solutions that can be applied to very large databases and archival holdings within very
limited resources" (DigiCULT Delphi, June 26, 2001)
Instead, what became obvious during the field phase of the study is that traditional
archives, libraries and museums have developed a kind of technological "radar" that very
selectively focuses on the technological issues and problems related to especially three areas:
providing access information, digitisation and long-term preservation.There is less aware-
ness among experts in the cultural heritage sector for the technological problems of, for
example, managing customer relationships or handling copyright.
As archives, libraries and museums are not commercial businesses, they are not at all
prepared to take the risk involved in implementing, testing and experimenting with
technology prototypes for new and innovative services.As a matter of fact, the majority of
institutions is not in the position to take any risk at all, due to their limited resources.
In addition, by focusing research and development efforts exclusively on technological
innovation, the threat of technology becoming the essential separator between those cultural
institutions that are publicly visible while others are not, is growing.This would further
widen the gap between those institutions working with technology and those who do not.
Therefore, it needs the combined support of both the European Commission and national
governments to counteract this widening gap through targeted support measures for less
developed cultural heritage institutions.
The DigiCULT navigator to reducing the technology gap
Experts estimate that less than 10 % of all cultural heritage institutions in Europe are in a
position to participate in the digital era.The great majority of memory institutions - the
local museum focusing on the history of a village, the community or church library or the
highly specialised historic archive - do not even possess the human, financial and technolo-
gical resources to participate in the Information Society.There is a risk of widening the gap
between the leaders in the cultural heritage sector and the technologically less developed