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In the future, these cultural networks and portals will be of growing importance to
provide low-cost access to cultural heritage resources for citizens. However, the demands of
the users will increase too, and hence, these central gateways for culture will feel increasing
pressure from users to provide more and more sophisticated services on their sites. A link list
alone is the best way to create a portal that will soon be abandoned. As will be mentioned
in the Chapter 9,"Technology for tomorrow's digital cultural heritage", there is a great
need to offer personalised and highly interactive cultural services that allow citizens to
contribute their own story to the cultural memory, which is in line with a vision for a
diverse, multicultural and multilingual cultural heritage vision.
The DigiCULT navigator to low-barrier access to cultural heritage
To realise an Information Society for all, digital cultural heritage resources need to be
easily available and accessible for all citizens.Therefore, an effective cultural heritage policy
needs to address the various aspects that determine easy access to cultural heritage
resources, including:
cost of access,
the technical barriers,
intellectual and physical impediments that may prevent citizens to access digital
cultural heritage resources.
Although most Member States advocate the view that access to cultural heritage
resources should be free of charge, there seems to be an increasing pressure from national
governments to charge for cultural heritage resources. Such a trend needs to be evaluated
carefully, as it is a fact that, with increasing costs to receive access, the number of users
drops, while there is marginal return for the institutions. On the other side, there are also
examples in Europe where national governments consider offering access to cultural
heritage resources over the Internet as a universal service, along the lines of public service
broadcasting.
Whatever model national governments select, they need to find the right balance
between fee-based cultural services and free services.
National governments and regional authorities should create favourable
conditions that allow all citizens to gain access to digital cultural heritage
resources.
This implies to:
ensure that the access to resources of general public interest is free of charge,
develop criteria to make transparent why specialised services must be charged for,
lower the technological barriers by offering cheap and fast Internet access for all,
foster equal access by developing and publishing guidelines for creating digital
cultural heritage resources for the visually impaired and persons
with other disabilities,
create central, low-barrier access points to cultural heritage,
co-operate and enter into partnership with other Member States to establish a
network of national access points to culture.
VI NATIONAL POLICIES & INITIATIVES
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