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qualification of staff is not considered a
central issue that needs to be addressed for
the success of any digitisation activity. It
could be said that education in this field is
often poor and the problem was discussed
in Parma at the First International
Conference of Employers and LIS teachers
It is worth highlighting the international
collaboration of the University of
Northumbria and the University of Parma
to provide criteria and methods for the
management of a digital programme.
Training courses on digitisation issues are
periodically made available from the IEI-
CNR Institute at Pisa.
In conclusion, there is significant interest in
digitisation projects both within Italy and
for the impact of international and
European Union projects. Much effort has
been expended on building digital collec-
tions but the accessibility and availability of
digital library services is still poor. The
emphasis on benchmarking of digitisation
projects and quality evaluation of cultural
content could provide a positive stimulus in
improving the existing experiences.
Information literacy is still relatively neglec-
ted and few users are able to access digital
collections easily. The user is considered
important in research community projects;
however, university consortia have not fully
considered the potential of digitisation in
the evolution of scholarly communication.
The situation is dynamic and quickly
improving with the push of eGovernment
and eLearning strategies.
at an institutional level.
Digital collections
and digital libraries have often been created
for supporting eLearning, examples being:
E-Form ( and
CTIONID=02). The most innovative educa-
tional experiences, including lesson plans, are
collected from INDIRE, a research Institute
on education, in the GOLD project
Over the past two years central government
and local governments have responded to
the challenge of modernisation through the
implementation of many eGovernment initi-
atives designed to improve the services deli-
vered to the customer (citizen or business).
In this process of eGovernment, many chan-
ges are being introduced to the ways public
service staff work, and fundamental to these
new ways of working is sharing the work-
flow of digital documents. This will have a
particular impact in archives, and a standar-
disation programme is under way for the
realisation of the informatic protocol, the
digital signature and other important factors
involved in the Information Society. In 2002
the Minister for Innovation developed the
Guidelines for Development of the Information
Society in legislation and a number of pro-
gramme and administrative documents for
the reorganisation of information and com-
munication flow in the public sector.
Accessibility, benchmarking and quality
The lack of a discovery tool is the biggest
weakness of many digital collections already
built. It is a strong barrier to accessibility,
together with limited user skills. It should be
stressed that most of the digitisation projects
in Italy are concerned with developing a
digital collection and not a digital library
service for particular user needs. Information
literacy is not considered a priority, and is
not usually taught.
Efforts to look into benchmarking and qua-
lity evaluation have started recently. An offi-
cial working group on benchmarking within
MiBAC has been established (under the
impetus of the NRG in the European
Minerva Project) in order to coordinate eva-
luation activities at national level. The group
is made up of representatives from both cen-
tral and local administration and demonstra-
tes a shared interest in improving digital col-
lection services. The first benchmarking
questionnaires (devised by the European
Commission within the eEurope initiative)
were sent to a number of Italian institutions
in March 2002. The questionnaire was divi-
ded into two parts: the first regarding quality
aspects, the second oriented to the quantity
of data collection. Data collection was seen
to increase in 2003. This benchmarking
model will form a basis for creating a natio-
nal network for evaluating digitisation pro-
Research activities on digitisation
Research communities in universities and
research institutions have been heavily invol-
ved in research projects about digitisation at
international level. The problem is that disse-
minating and communicating research results
to the communities involved in digitisation
projects has been limited. It should be said
that most of the research activity is at tech-
nological and interface level and not at user
level, for example investigating user beha-
viour and use of existing digital libraries.
An important role could be maintained in
the future by the Osservatorio dei Programmi
Internationali per le Biblioteche (Observatory
for International Libraries Programmes,,
whose mission is the dissemination of infor-
mation about international research pro-
grammes. It acts as a link between institu-
tions through participation in CULTIVATE-
EU (Cultural Heritage Applications
Network, http://www.cultivate-
The most evident weakness of digitisation
projects in Italy is that the training or re-
26It is worth mentioning the sites of the UniversitÓ di
the UniversitÓ di Milano regarding publications out of
sale of the Metid of the Politecnico di Milano
(,, the UniversitÓ di Bologna
( and the University of
Parma (