background image
them to UNIMARC format and adding
them to the electronic catalogue.
This first Dutch contribution to the
DigiCULT regional reports provides a brief
sketch of the current cultural heritage lands-
cape and its major landmarks, including the
emergence of digitisation policy, the major
institutions, and new initiatives.
Towards a Coherent Digitisation Policy
The potential of digitisation as a means to
open national collections of cultural heritage
to the general public as well as professionals
and special interest groups was fully recogni-
sed by the Dutch government in the close
of the last century.The need to proceed in a
coherent and co-ordinated manner, in other
words to start developing policy, was disco-
vered when the first wave of `digitisation'
initiatives yielded a plethora of incompatible
collection management databases, CD-
ROMs,Web sites and scattered collections of
digital images in a wide variety of formats
and other digital manifestations of objects,
or information about objects.
In 1999, a new centre of expertise, the
Netherlands Digital Heritage Association
( was set up to co-ordi-
nate digitisation initiatives in the heritage
field, transcending different sectors.
Important heritage institutions, the National
Archives, the National Library, the
Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
EU Structural Funds
In May 2004 Lithuania joins the European
Union, so the most relevant topic in recent
times has been EU Structural Funds and
their administration. A seminar (held in
Utena on 28 November 2003) aimed to
bring together national authorities and the
library community and was organised jointly
by the Communication faculty of Vilnius
University ( and Utena
M. Miskiniu public library, and sponsored by
Open Society Fund Lithuania
( organisers perfor-
med an extensive study on the opportunities
to benefit from European funding.The report
included a description of the main priorities
of the Single Programming Document for
2004-2006 in Lithuania and potential niches
for the participation of the library communi-
ty. Analysis of the funding strategy had shown
that, on the one hand, there are multiple
options for libraries to participate with pro-
jects on the promotion of information litera-
cy, creation of Lithuanian electronic content
and services, and solutions to increase social
cohesion. On the other hand, the challenging
aspect of the document is the absence of
focus on culture or cultural institutions.The
formulations of priorities are very broad, so
there is a danger for libraries `to fit everyw-
here or nowhere'. Seminar discussions high-
lighted a number of problems and possible
solutions such as complicated project admini-
stration procedures and the need for the
smaller libraries to collaborate with local
authorities, and the lack of communication
and consultations with the representatives of
government bodies. Productive meetings
with authorities were not the only outcome
of the event; the organisers developed a Web
site for the library community with all the
necessary information (including the study of
opportunities and challenges for libraries) on
Structural Funds, which can be found at (in Lithuanian).
Virtual Library Portal
The Virtual Library Portal (http://www. was launched by the Lithuanian
Academic Library Network in autumn 2003.
The portal is powered by MetaLib software
(, which
provides users with a unified, friendly interfa-
ce and enables them to perform searches
across diverse resources (e.g. library catalo-
gues, databases, subject gateways, newspapers,
and images) that are normally accessed from
a wide variety of institutions.The portal
offers personalisation tools such as saving of
search results, tracking history of searches,
and setting display options.
The Virtual
Library is one of the initiatives of the
Lithuanian Academic Library Network
(LABT,, which consists of
the libraries of sixteen universities, nine col-
leges, 29 state research institutes and the
Library of the Lithuanian Academy of
The organisation aims to provide
users with easy and unified access and search
facilities by promoting library automation,
electronic services, and further development
of the academic libraries network.
On 22 January 2004 the joint presentation of
the Lithuanian (MetaLib) and Russian
(SIGLA, virtual library
portals and possibilities for data interchange
was held in the Library of the Lithuanian
Academy of Science (
The Russian virtual portal Sigla is a joint
project of the Moscow M.V. Lomonosov
State University Scientific Library
( and
the Library Computer Network
( Sigla performs
searches in over 1000 Russian and world
library catalogues.The event was of practical
benefit to the participants who were mostly
library professionals working with electronic
catalogues every day. It was demonstrated that
both Russian Sigla- and Lithuanian Aleph-
based library systems were capable of exchan-
ging bibliographic records by converting
28For more information, see MetaLib: the library portal:
29See LABT projektas:
30Information was kindly provided by Audrone
Steponaitiene, Information Systems Department,The
Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences,