representatives from research institutions. Such a national policy, however, is not yet
operational, but only exists as a digitisation plan in the Royal Library, which began
discussing digitisation criteria in 1998 and which has now created a catalogue of selected
material to be digitised as soon as funds become available.
Erland Kolding Nielsen,The Royal Library; DigiCULT Interview, June 28, 2001
As the primary funding bodies, national governments are in a strong position to require
cultural institutions to follow particular guidelines.This position should be used to promote
as best as possible the use of coherent guidelines and models.Yet, on the other side, this
authority, should not be overextended. As Phillippe Avenier, of the French Ministry of
Communication and Culture, stresses, the state should not be perceived as an entity that
imposes rules on cultural institutions but as someone to offer help to cultural institutions
with regards to defining their missions, long-term action, and requirement specifications.
(DigiCULT ERT,Vienna, June 25-26, 2001)
A co-ordinated approach to digitisation: The Lund Principles
A methodological and systematic approach to the creation of a critical mass of digital
cultural heritage resources also requires national governments to co-ordinate and synchronise
initiatives and projects that are already operative. Otherwise, resources will be wasted due to
the duplication of work or to a lack of understanding of how digitised resources will be used
in the future.The Belgian experience serves as a good example to demonstrate the need to
co-ordinate digitisation programmes regionally as well as across sectors.
Overcoming language community and regional barriers the Belgian experience
Cultural policy in Belgium relies on a decentralised model where the responsibility for
culture and art is split between the three language communities, the Flemish, the French and
the German speaking community.While some matters such as the arts, letters and the audio-
visual production are community matters, others such as monuments for example are within
the responsibility of the three regions the Flemish, the Wallonien and Brussels-Capital.This
federal approach that distinguishes between the language communities on the one side, and
the various regions on the other side, poses an essential barrier to a co-ordinated approach to
cultural heritage and digitisation programmes.Thus, any initiative which has bearings on the
other domains raises competence issues between the different communities and regions.
Taking into account that certain matters are within federal responsibility, e.g. the museum for
fine arts, the Cinémathèque Royale, etc., this scenario and the chance for a more effective
implementation of policies becomes even more complex.
So far, any attempts to gain an overview and draw a complete picture on Belgian initiatives
and policies in the area of cultural heritage, have been extremely difficult because of the lack
of co-operation between the regions and the language communities. In 1999, the Royal
Institute of the Artistic Heritage (IRPA), launched a similar study, yet found it problematical
to obtain answers, even more so as the study contained questions related to budget issues.
The requirement to conduct a survey on national digitisation policies within the frame-
work of the eEurope initiative so as to allow benchmarking between the Member States, has
again caused severe difficulties. Initiated by the French community, today there is a collabora-
tion process on its way to bring together experts from the different communities and regions,
and to conduct a survey that will form the basis for an inventory of digitisation policies and
related Internet activities in Belgium. Nevertheless, without ongoing co-operation, it remains
difficult to draw a complete picture of all initiatives within the Belgian cultural heritage sector.
VI NATIONAL POLICIES & INITIATIVES
The Lund Principles: Conclusions of the expert meeting, Lund, Sweden, April 4, 2001.The initiative to create a coordination mechanism for
digitisation programmes feed into the eEurope Action Plan, and is directly related to Objective 3(d) of the Action Plan, to stimulate European content
in global networks.