background image
Archives, Budapest) lined up not only to
sponsor the project, but to offer their own
services and know-how in order to bring the
catalogue into being. For example, the
Library of Congress carried out the translite-
ration of 173,000 personal names into Latin
script and translated into English the institu-
tional and subject descriptors.The proofrea-
ding of the transliterated names alone requi-
red half a year.
In each of the eight Partner Organizations a
standalone workstation was installed, where
the 20,000,000 entries and the 1,000,000
images are freely accessible.The organisations
make photocopies of the images on request
but under the agreement the workstation
may not form part of any external network
system. Organising free online access to the
database is under consideration.
From December 2003, as a result of this
exemplary international project and the out-
standing work of computer technologists, the
database, an indispensable tool for research
into the history of the twentieth century, is
freely and publicly accessible in the Open
Society Archives, Budapest
Cultural Heritage Digitisation in Italy:
An Overview
Policy Scenario
The Italian cultural heritage sector is one of
the richest in Europe for collections and hol-
dings of libraries, museums and archives.
However, the policy scenario for digitisation
has been characterised by fragmentation of
initiatives, due to the many projects and per-
sonnel involved.The principal actor in cultu-
Project in this period and resulted in the
Chart of Parma.This document has the
objectives of consolidating the position of
the NRG group at European level and of
obtaining political recognition within natio-
nal governments, through the adoption of
Minerva Project results and recommenda-
Digital collections
While the MiBAC and Regions have been
engaged in digitisation projects for conver-
ting print-based collections into digital ima-
ges, Universities and Public Administrations
have been stimulated to enhance their insti-
tutional services and activities through digi-
tisation. An up-to-date list of digitisation
projects can be found at http://www.miner-
taly.htm, some of which are summarised
The national digitisation programme under-
taken by the MiBAC is called Italian Digital
Library (BDI)
and is led by the Central
Institute of Union Catalogue (Istituto
Centrale Catalogo Unico, ICCU, It aims to digitise
and put online a selection of the Italian
libraries' heritage collections.The project
started on the basis of a feasibility study
funded by MiBAC at the end of 1999, con-
cerning digitisation initiatives at national and
international levels.The first collection to be
digitised is the hand-written historical cata-
logues of 29 Italian libraries, which will
make available bibliographic information
regarding ancient works held in Italian libra-
ries but not yet in an online catalogue.
ral heritage is the Minister of Cultural
Heritage (Ministero dei Beni Culturali
MiBAC includes all the operative sections of
the Ministry itself, i.e. the eight General
and the four Central Institutes
that deal with different aspects of Italian cul-
tural heritage.
Other important actors are
the Regions and the local governments
(Provincie, Comuni).They are autonomous
in the framework of State legislation, and are
responsible for the management of most cul-
tural resources.The Universities and the
Minister for Innovation (Ministero
dell'Innovazione,, involved
respectively on important change factors
such as e-Learning and e-Government, are
also active in promoting digitisation projects.
The European Minerva Project
( has been
extremely influential in the last two years
and its Coordinator is the General
Secretariat and the Cabinet of the MiBAC.
Its focus is on the Lund principles
and the
resulting Lund Action Plan. In order to
implement the Action Plan in Italy, the
Minister has developed:
a National Commission
, chaired by the
Italian Representative of the National
Representative Group (NRG), Rossella
Caffo, for harmonising policies and pro-
grammes on digitisation of State and
regions and to constantly update the
National Policy Profile;
three Italian working groups
, working
in close co-operation with the European
workgroups within Minerva, on:Web site
quality; benchmarking and good practice;
and metadata and inventories/accessibility.
During the Italian Presidency of the
European Union, the Minerva project orga-
nised a series of digitisation events that were
important for stimulating co-operation in
Italian digitisation projects and programmes.
The Parma conference on Quality of
Cultural Web sites constitutes the most
important event carried out by the Minerva
18Libraries and Cultural Institutes, Archaeology, Archives,
Museums, Cinema, Performing Arts, Architectural and
Landscape Treasures, Contemporary Architecture and Art.
19Restoration, Union Catalogue of the Italian Libraries,
Cataloguing and Documentation, Book Pathology.
20The Report on Lund principles is available at:
21The BDI was financed with more than 5 M funding
for the period 2001-2003.
22An English summary of the feasibility study is available at or for the full study, visit