NOTE:–– this document comprises notes of the event, taken during the meeting. A more polished and contextual report of the outcomes has been prepared and published in Issue 5 of Cultivate Interactive. It is recommended that those not in attendance at the meeting be directed to that document, rather than to these notes.

If you have any queries, please address them to Paul Miller <>



Notes from an international seminar on
National Digital Cultural Content Creation Strategies

Tate Modern, London

17–18 July 2001


Event organised by UKOLN’s Interoperability Focus, CIMI and Resource


Notes taken by Nick Poole of Resource, with input from David Dawson and Paul Miller



DAY 1 – 17 July 2001




Chris Anderson, New Opportunities Fund

Mandy Barrie, DCMS

Chris Batt, Resource

Rosa Botterill, EMII

René Bouchard, Canadian Heritage

Louise Edwards, JISC

Kati Geber, CHIN

David Green, NINCH

Tony Gill, Research Libraries Group

Susan Haigh, National Library of Canada

Cliff Lynch, CNI

Liz Lyon, UKOLN

Paul Miller, UKOLN

Sarah Mitchell, New Opportunities Fund

John Perkins, CIMI

Nick Poole, Resource

Joyce Ray, IMLS

Ian Witten, New Zealand Digital Library Project



1.0 Chris Batt, Resource – Introductions


Intro to Resource/ People’s Network


‘Landscape of networking is changing fast’  - 4 ages of networking:


  1. Age of independence – projects inventing their own systems

Eg NGfL originally just about wiring up schools, nothing on content.


  1. Age of exploration – discovering similarities/ standards between projects


  1. Age of concordats – talking/ agreeing things to the level of generality. Govt standards outlining a framework for standardised content creation/delivery.


  1. Age of integration – not there yet, but Resource/ Forum for Network Coordination is helping to get there. £300m to be invested in nr future, one time only opportunity. Got to get it right.


Not sure how this group is to pan out, but lots of possibilities.



1.2 John Perkins, CIMI


(*Info kit about CIMI distributed)


Bringing together libraries, archives & museums in a forum for international collaboration. Making information more widely available to their audience in a user-focussed way – for almost 10 years.


Era of convergence – technical standards can be the easiest thing to do. There are subsequent barriers/challenges:


·         Awareness

·         Education

·         Training

·         Dissemination of ideas

·         Creating understanding – changing the way organisations think


Getting some sense of what needs to be done in those areas between differing but overlapping areas of interest and mandates – reaching convergence.


1.3 Liz Lyon, UKOLN


Timing – opportunity at the inception of large-scale programmes to share experiences & lessons.


UKOLN welcomes everyone & thanks them for coming.



1.4 Paul Miller, UKOLN – Setting the scene


Talking through powerpoint presentation – distributed in pack


More people go to heritage institutions than pop concerts - we’re in a popular world here.


4,000 public libraries in the UK – getting networked


Lots of money being spent on content creation – fortnight ago, press launch of NOF-digi - £50m allocated to the creation of content


SCRAN – 1m records online, and still going strong.


Basic assumptions


-          access to digital surrogates is useful & desirable to a range of people.

-          we have a role to play as cultural institutions

-          metadata is key

-          distribution is better than centralisation.

-          Portals are a good thing

-          Thick portals are a better thing. A thin portal is just a set of links. A thick portal takes you straight to content – Mona Lisa rather than the Louvre

-          Shared middleware services play a key role – not reinventing wheels


Is there scope for a common approach?


e.g Mandating a common approach as a condition of grant?

Ie. All projects should have a website

Nof-digi technical standards one example of this


DNER – similar approach with learning & teaching programme.


e-GIF – basic building blocks that the UK public sector is mandated to follow. All data interchange should be in XML.

An open approach – based on emerging of established standards.


Consensus building is essential to getting the solution right. Can’t be top-down if we want buy-in. Eg NOF projects need to feel part of the broader nof programme.


Future-proofing – has to be an evolutionary approach.


New standards to accommodate new user requirements


Digital preservation – taking the long view.


Big issues:


-          Language. Technical  vernacular. Content has to be intellectually accessible to a broad public.


-          Terminological controls – got to have standardisation


-          Certification & authenticity – how do you recognise authoritative content?


-          Not just doing it for ourselves. Need to be doing it for users. Who are the users? Research/ academia? Not just putting content online for ourselves




2.0 Introductions


2.1 Susan Haigh – National Library of Canada


Digital library programme, digitising collections, educational materials, reference resources etc.


Creating access for a popular audience.


Educational resources on the digitised collections – not entirely successful.


Objective – fostering a cohesive national approach.


Development is similar to Britain in some regards, but a little behind.


Access is good, central national union catalogue for libraries – creating finding aids for archives across Canada.


The global idea is sound but they need to be able to identify a local business case for digitisation.


Not yet a central govt. coherent mandate to digitise content. Therefore the Nat Lib is collecting born-digital material but is doing it for themselves.


Hasn’t yet managed to articulate a national vision or to coordinate national funding. Ie the Nat Lib cannot operate as a commissioning agency – this role is to be taken by the Govt.


Have used other models to create guidelines for digitisation – particularly UK initiatives & Picture Australia.


Key role of metadata is largely unrecognised in Canada – Images Canada was a good example, but they are few and far between.


Creating a central Canadian cultural portal but are confronted by issues of collection vs object level descriptions.


Dept. of Canadian Heritage – the only coordinating body for digitisation – no equivalent body to Resource. They are keen to see more cross-sectoral coordination but haven’t really put anything in place to move it on.


Issue; there is a need for more research into what content actually needs to be digitised, whether for preservation, to fill a gap in available digital content, or to meet a stated market requirement.


Where does Canada lie between the UK & the US.


2.2 Kati Geber – Canadian Heritage Information Network


Recently launched the virtual museum of Canada. Launched 3 months ago, 600,000 unique visits since then.


Kati created the interfacing system architecture – looking at interoperability – what is convergence really?


Mission – engage audiences of all ages in Canadian cultural heritage via a freely-available portal. Access to branded high-quality content resources.



Quality content



$90m Canadian over 3 years. Investing in museum content development. To connect Canadians with content via portal & search engine. Skills development. Fostering a sense of national identity.


Over 650 museums have provided content – with more all the time – ongoing investment programme to which museums can apply – contractual process – museums present a proposal with all technical details and this is considered by a panel of 12 people incl. Museums, libraries and archives.


Like a competitive tender. This process ensures quality content.




-          Creating the virtual museum as a distributed service. Identifying a model.

-          Identifying the boundaries – what are the priorities, what are the steps to ensure quality content.


Clear collective identity for distributed Canadian virtual museum content.

How to facilitate resource discovery/navigation.


Began with a global search to identify content.


Thesaurus integrated into the search architecture, standards have been applied. Standards as part of brand identification for the virtual museum.




-          More sophisticated search needed.

-          People want the right search result, not a million options.




-          12 groups to identify what the mission of the virtual museum should be

-          Focus group to  test the architecture

-          3rd round to test the interface


Research to identify audiences – public, teachers, learners etc


There is a greater need to manage interoperability as the way forward for growth for the virtual museum – which is where the thick/thin portal becomes important. Looking at resource discovery/aggregation through metadata.


D Green – (q.) Single database?


(a)   No, huge variety of content/ platforms. Virtual museum harvests metadata which is embedded in museum sites, so does not hold actual content.


2.3 Rosa Botterill – EMII


Was an EC project (Raphael), now funded as EMII by partners and are currently negotiating a contract with IST for the distribution of content across Europe.


-          Cooperation

-          Consensus

-          Distributed access to information

-          Rights

-          Language


How do we address these?


Main remit is the European Union.


2.4 Paul Miller


Introducing UKOLN – Interoperability Focus.


2.5 Louise Edwards – JISC


Introduction to JISC/DNER


2.6 Sarah Mitchell – NOF


NOF-digi – fund was set up just 3 years ago. Was a new concept at the time – in response to looking at what were the popular areas for projects – education, environment etc.


Work closely with other cultural bodies.


Decided to support a range of ICT programmes – which is where nof-digi sits, working with the Peoples Network and to an extent NGfL. NOF-digi part is about creating content.


NOF-digi set up in August 1999 – v open, no preconception about what content would emerge. 3 key strands:


-          Cultural enrichment

-          Citizenship

-          Reskilling the nation


Open process – no constraints on who could apply




-          Content had to be freely available for the life of the grant

-          Technical conditions


Oversubscribed by 100%. Budget was £50m.


Initial expressions of interest – who? what? why? how? – interesting process to identify what content was out there and available.


Stage 1 proposals – cut by a third

Stage 2 proposals – inclusive approach, encouraging collaboration. People helping each other, convergent skill sets – identifying synergies partly by sense of place. Ie. Location. Issued technical standards to try and ensure convergence/ interoperability

Stage 3 – 154 projects supported throughout the UK. Ongoing support service is being provided to content creators (partly to ensure the application of technical standards)


Not ongoing – this is it for NOF-digi, but there are other things on the horizon – ie Culture Online.


HLF also does some work, as does the Community Fund.


Tony Gill (q) – how hard is it to work across sectors? Is advice sector-specific?


(a)   It’s a problem, but there has to be a work-round it….


Chris Batt – joint public/private sector task force looking at viability for broadband – the only way to create a market was for govt. to bear the risk, which is what NOF-digi is partly about. We’re at the start of the journey. Got to find ways round sector silo mentalities. Talking to JISC re a memorandum of understanding.


Culture Online is being backed by Curriculum Online. Nof-digi is the first step along the way.


Sarah - NOF-digi is exploring the valency of bonds between cultural orgs, and it remains to be seen whether collaborative approaches stand or fall & outlive projects.


Kati Geber (q) – parity with the VM only on a smaller scale. Is there an integrating principle across all 154 NOF-digi projects? Are they creating an entity?


Sarah (a) – No, but we encouraging them to make as many links as possible. They operate within the broad content strands.


CB – strands are emerging – eg sense of place. Database of people giving legal advice. Book Forager – looking for a book by it’s mood rather than authors or publishers. In other words, a whole range of different things going on, all united by digitisation.


Sarah – still time to use the NOF-portal as a more interpretative function, but projects will expect to fulfil some of that function themselves.


Tony Gill (q) – Are NOF expecting people to license content on?


Sarah (a) – Not at the moment,


2.7 David Green – National Initiative for Networked Cultural Heritage


90 members, from associations to individual institutions – most of the key players in networked cultural heritage, museums, libs, archives, learning societies, contemporary arts.


Created in response to the absence of a centre – Clinton administration agenda to create a National Information Infrastructure from which cultural orgs were omitted, hence the creation of NINCH.


3 areas of activity:


-          Information sharing – needs, research etc

-          Production of current tools

-          Future environments


A. Info sharing via open ninch-announce listserv - particularly on copyright. IPR is a crucial issue. 3 years of Copyright Town Meetings around the US to let people know what the digital implications are. Now has a more proactive role in advising people in how to be able to do want they want with material legally.


Policy creation in IPR. Working group on creating an IP action agenda – what areas can we actually do something about (ie permissions)


B. Tools – international database of humanities digital projects. Humanities computing services in universities running a DC database of projects – aimed at making data recyclable.


Prototype in development.


Working in UK w Kings College, OU Computing Centre & HATTI & AHDS to bring in AHRB projects. Also looking at developing EU angle.


Not a catalogue of projects, but an ongoing database of humanities projects as a source of reference with "deep data" on software developed and methodologies used.


Working on a comprehensive and expandable guide to good practice in museums, libraries & archives, with a working group of around 12 people.


Survey of Current practice being conducted at Uni of Glasgow – looking at 25 sites incl. Text, image, VR etc etc. Coming out online in the autumn.


C. Future Developments: New business models in the non-profit sector, looking at public/private partnerships & new economic models in the digital age


Also looking at how humanists & computer sciences can work together to exploit opportunities presented by technology.


Developing international relationships, particularly in the area of IPR. Copyright is being defined by WIPO and the WTO hence there is an international perspective.


2.8 Liz Lyon – UKOLN


Strategic think-tank funded by Resource & JISC


3 areas:


-          High-level policy issues

-          Technical standards to a variety of audiences (ie technical advice to NOF-digi)

-          Picture of the architecture for the DNER – ie standards and protocols and identifying important areas ie. Collection Description.


R&D programme incl some European projects incl DigiCult, Cultivate, Arco (3-d surrogates of museum objects).


Areas we need to think about:


-          Preservation

-          Rights

-          Commercial value in metadata as well as primary content.


2.9 Cliff Lynch, Coalition for Networked Information


Intro to CNI – not Govt. and not a funder.


C. 200 members – HE, FE, Public Libraries, Public Agencies, Scholarly Orgs, International members etc


Broad agenda of issues around web-publishing, management, infrastructure, etc


Straddling IT & content management areas. Particularly interested in:


-          Metadata

-          Distributed searching

-          IP

-          Open Archives metadata harvesting initiative (OAI)


Situation in the States – a number of federal depts funding stuff, but without an overall guiding principle.


Original IT grants did not focus on content creation.


Lots of money going into digitisation from state government, ie to capture local history & from foundations/private sources.

This situation makes standardisation difficult. They are an extremely distributed model with lots of autonomous participants.


Sustainability – one-off money for projects but no money to sustain the operation. V precarious situation – building a bigger base of stuff without funding to support it. Need new economic models, some talk of limiting access by subscription.


Digital preservation.


Aggregation of content – we have the ability, but there is too large a base of discrete objects. How do we use the technology to aggregate descriptions. It has been approached from a number of angles but not resolved satisfactorily.


Question of authenticity & provenance – public key infrastructure, how does this match up with traditional ideas of authenticity  provenance.


2.10 Tony Gill, Research Libraries Group


164 members across 15 different countries. Arose from 4 large research libraries wanting to collaborate with each other.


RLG has expanded its catchment to include cultural institutions (‘memory institutions’).


Involvement in preservation.


3 areas of focus:


-          Next gen resource sharing (ie. Interop between lending systems)

-          Long term retention of digital resources

-          Access to cultural materials (policy advisory group looking at IP & rights management, interface advisory group, description advisory group incl metadata standards, surrogates advisory group presenting guidelines, content development advisory group)


Involved in standards initiatives, incl getting CIDOC Reference Model published as an ISO standard.


2.11 John Perkins, CIMI


Membership organisation. Going for 11 years.


C. 30 members, incl museums, libraries, private companies etc from Australia, Asia, North America & Europe. A problem-solving organisation.


Solving problems through information sharing. Formed around an information interchange format.


Distributed searching

Structural standards for content structures, beginning with SGML & now XML

Working with institutions to build up collections info & now adding metadata.


Basically anything that contributes to the foundation for interoperability.


Trying to combine committee & community discussion with hands-on testing.


Groups will work together to trial & implement a new system/idea rather than just talking about it. Currently working on a rich description XML system using Spectrum as a model.


Released to membership a toolkit for an OAI repository which includes a system for harvesting aggregated content.


Also working on understanding how pieces of metadata fit together – how DC could be used for resource discovery & developing beyond that into how it is applied to descriptions.


Working with the Harmony group in USA, Australia & the UK to understand the differences between metadata schema.


Also involved in advocacy – encouraging discussions with a longer term applicability to the community.


CIMI institute – learning/training/ education. Skills gaps have been identified, particularly in the museum world. Using the institute to disseminate new ideas and information to the museum community. End-to-end – a product tested through CIMI & then rolled out through the institute to museum staff…..


Co-sponsoring the Museum Computer Network conference in Cincinatti – info in the pack.


D Green (q) – Training? Aggregating resources like training – one size fits all for some requirements of large-scale digitisation programmes.


Cliff Lynch (q) – How widespread do you want digitisation capability? Should individual organisations be funded, or should skills be centralised (or limited to regional digitisation centres)? Do we really want to create a lot of redundant capability in lots of distributed places.


Sarah Mitchell (a) – Wide range of skills out there, and individuals want to have ownership of the skills for their projects. NOF tried to encourange people to buy in expertise rather than just creating new posts within individual organisations.


Tony Gill (a) – Need to identify economies of scale


Cliff Lynch (a) – And it’s a useful impetus to standardisation.


CB – We need to think about reinventing what we already have – fixes for now and models for the future.


Sarah Mitchell – not just the technical area where skills are needed, but also in the project management area. 


Tony Gill – Elib addressed this when their money went out through a series of workshops for project managers.


2.12 Joyce Ray – Office of Library Services at the Institute of Museum & Library Services


IMLS was created by Congress in 1996 in response to the library community being unhappy grouped in with education.


Museum programme has $22m, library programme has $150m but this is distributed at a state level.


Have funded about 100 digitisation projects since 1998, not all of which are content creation.


How much do we focus on content development, how much on infrastructure & how much on research?


Content from IMLS-funded projects is sitting on different databases across the states and there are concerns about sustainability.


Collaborating with the National Science Foundation to talk about how cultural collections organisations could participate.


It was envisaged as an distributed OPAC, but other people had come to think of it as more of a distributed public resource with all the associated issues of sustainability.


Issues of persistence and purpose?

What makes a good digital library?

How do you select content – does it have to be a complete collection, or can it be an aggregation of different resources?


2.13 Ian Witten – New Zealand Digital Library project


Project is mandated to develop technologies associated with digital libraries as opposed to content creation.


They have done some work on content creation –


-          on a collection of Maori newspapers – bringing them into non-english language databases and interfaces.


-          Project to develop oral history collections.


-          Project to develop digital access to 300,000 MIDI files in innovative ways – thematic extraction & resource discovery.


-          Developing the Greenstone software for digital library management.


-          Russians have created a russian-language interface to digital library collections.


-          Digital library of social history in New Mexico.


Creating information collecting systems for developing countries. Also interested in non-web publishing for people who can’t access the Internet – ie. CD-roms.


UNESCO are looking at distributing the software to developing countries to enable them to develop their own collections.


Also working on key phrase extracting of metadata as a way of pulling collection descriptions out of metadata.


2.14 Rene Bouchard – Canadian Heritage


New Media Content.


Canadian Heritage is the cultural dept, including broadcasting, films, music, sports (ie. DCMS in Canada).


Involved in new media since 1998. Looking at developing network connectivity, but also at developing content for schools.


1998 – Creation of a specific section to look at New Media, 3 strands:


-          New Media Content from the private sector.

-          Looking a dev of cultural content in the not-for-profit sector including museums, libraries, and archives  - initiative launched in 2000

-          Programme looking at new types of activity….


Supporting digitisation of content – with a range of key players in Canada


Creating a portal to Canadian cultural content called Canada Place – to be launched next spring.


3 objectives:


-          Critical mass of content

-          Increase audiences & provide access (through things like canada place)

-          Facilitate transition to a creative environment


R&D to create broadband content

Facilitate copyright clearance

Holistic approach in order to create more Canadian content online.

Department of Industry are investing in infrastructure.


D Green (q) Copyright clearance?


R Bouchard (a) – Facility is in place. Two routes, legislative or funding – 37 copyright collectives in Canada, Canadian Heritage is trying to aggregate their ability to clear rights collaboratively. Objective is to create one copyright clearance centre per medium (music, film etc) online.


Don’t know where this is going to lead – copyright collectives believe they are there to negotiate creators’ rights, not government’s, so they had to be brought on board.




2.15 Further points for consideration


CB – possible areas for discussion:

Policy –


-          sustainability, how can we work out what to do in the long run?

-          supply & demand – where is the demand coming from?

-          Impact evaluation


Impact of ICT on the cultural institutions themselves – what do we believe the impact will be, are we radical or peripheral?


Where are the hooks with the commercial world? How does it all tie together?


Will a museum be a broadcast agency – user focussed and creating heritage ‘products’ having identified a need in the user group?



Break for lunch.





3.0 John Perkins – Learning Lessons – Programme Visions


Why are we doing what we’re doing?

Laying the foundation for constructive work tomorrow by examining the choices made…


Why are we interested in collaborating? What do we stand to gain? We have to identify concrete and useful reasons for collaborating.


Benefits of collaboration in leveraging resources – united we stand.


Constructing an ongoing agenda for collaboration :-


How is the ‘why’ affected by the funding/executive nature of the organisation:


CB – Importance of exchanging experience, without just focussing on the successes. Finding a mechanism for sustaining the exchange of experience.


Lots of European organisations are now working together, partly because of funding streams like IST, and we need to identify how we can position ourselves as a fund of experience for them to draw on. Brokering connections


Susan Haigh – funding of research by nationally-focussed organisations can create artificial national boundaries in that research.


Cliff Lynch – considerable need for social/impact research takes precedence over technology Research. It’s a relatively fresh field, and we need to find a way of supporting technological development internationally.


D Green – conference of new economic models, pulling together research on user needs (ie. Demand). Seeing whether user-based models can identify synergies between services.


Joyce Ray – trying to do research/info gathering to demonstrate impact on a social level.


Chris Batt – Report on neighbourhood renewal. Can only be done successfully in partnership with other public sector institutions. Looking at the wider picture of, for example, skills development in public libraries, in partnership with other levels of funding.


Rosa Botterill – multiculturalsim – museums have and enormous role to play in supporting cultural diversity.


K Geber – research is being done into multiculturalism & computer interaction –


D Green – global trend towards convergence of preservation groups. Is it too early?


Paul Miller – we are addressing parts of the problem of sustainable preservation of born digital material. Australia is probably the furthest along.


Issues – do you preserve content or do you preserve the experience.


Joyce Ray – nobody wants to take responsibility for maintaining digital content?


Paul – one of the most obvious areas where there is convergence of interest.


CB – we aren’t even that good at non-digital archiving, so there are issues to be unravelled in advance of sorting all this out. We need to recognise that we have to establish priorities and approaches to ensure that people can use contemporary digital materials as a document of our society in 100 years time.


Cliff Lynch – there are some projects which do capture the more ephemeral stuff, eg the Internet Archive (but not database-driven content)


Business models have to include preservation along with content creation.


Tony Gill – working with OCLC to establish a minimum standards scheme for a digital archive including a digital acquisitions policy.


Rosa Botterill – difficulty of tracking the history of projects once they are completed. Projects are a lot more oriented towards distributed management – there is no longer a single point with ongoing responsibility for holding information about the project. Where do the documents go at the end of it all?


Rene Bouchard – how do you apply technical standards to the creation and preservation of content.


Liz Lyons – How about National Programme Infrastructure Guidelines – moving beyond technical guidelines – guidance/coordination at a higher level.


Sarah – NOF is guided by govt. funding, which is rarely sustainable. (ie nof-digi is monitored for 3 years)


RB – Do we need something like a national digital resource centre?


PM - The British Library has a potential role in taking over the work of the AHDS, which serves as one model for how project/service outputs might be preserved after funding ends.


CL - The Library of Congress has $25M to look at planning for digital preservation, but needs to come up with matched funding to get hold of more money.  Archiving in the US is all over the place. Some people have a stated commitment to it, others do not. Library of Congress is doing substantial work on digital archiving. Essentially, lots of players with lots of angles.


Universities are wary of becoming involved in digital archiving because they see it as a potentially ‘bottomless’ commitment.


Some formats lend themselves to archiving (eg static HTML) where others do not (eg 3-d VRML reconstructions).


4.0 John Perkins – summary


-          Putting practitioners together on an international basis.

-          Sharing of expertise in an informal way

-          Division of labour for research & development projects

-          Preservation & maintenance issues

-          National Programme Guidelines

-          Distinction between material being archived for future reference and those being used as an active resource of working documents.


SM – digitisation should be accompanied by interpretation & development.


Manipulation & repurposing of content – you have to provide digitised materials in context linked to other resources around a similar theme.


PM – Domesday Project in the mid-80’s to put social data from schools onto laserdisc using a BBC Acorn Micro. Do we want to preserve the experience of using a BBC Acorn Micro? Could we do that  anyway? Or is it better to find a way of pulling off the data?


When funding sources provide money for content, they imagine they are creating them forever, whereas the digital instances have a shelf life like anything else. Perhaps the answer lies in packaging? IMS content packaging involves  zip file of the content along with a metadata file describing it.


Can the outcome of collaboration be used to influence policy-makers? Using the example of what other countries have done to leverage influence.


Is there potential for collaboration on IPR issues? Even if only on the level of wider policy concerns. We can learn from what we are all doing on the level of rights clearances, but at finer grain levels, too many regional idiosyncracies begin to appear.


This work is being done by the World Intellectual Property Organisation. They can establish an international base, from which domestic groups can build their local approach. There is a push from multinational companies towards global harmonisation of IPR terms & conditions, but they tend not to cover the areas required by digitisation. (np, isn’t there a argument for information sharing on legal precedents, eg Bridgeman/Corel, even where not legally binding internationally, they have a significant impact….?)


Sharing/ harmonisation of technical standards should be relatively simple, though…


5.0 Learning Lessons 2 – Technical Standards


What exists at the moment? e–GIF. What is the significance of it’s role as a framework? It is sketching a high-level view of information sharing between government departments.


How the DNER has approached the e–GIF as a practical guideline for the development of the architecture of a service. Used end-to-end, from design to implementation.


The development of the NOF guidelines involved looking across the different available guidelines, and finding broad areas of commonality between them which could be parlayed into standardisation. But would need to be careful to draw the distinction between guidelines for preservation-quality digitisation and base-level for public access.


Low level guidance on how to go about a digitisation project – aggregating international experience. (np – a document of the digitisation lifecycle?)


Canadian Heritage are building compliance with their new technical guidelines in as a condition of grant.


(np – there’s quite a lot of convergence on technical standards to create an interoperable environment. What has been done on the barriers to interoperability? Perhaps we could approach this from the other end?)


Standards have to be evolving & flexible. Projects have individual sets of circumstances & requirements which have to be met.


Distinction between standards for resources to be retrieved by machines, and those to be retrieved by humans, and each group has its own requirements.


What are the pegs that can be established internationally, whereby terminology is different but refers to the same thing?


A profile of the application of different sets of guidelines internationally could be useful.


Looking at how we can move forward on bringing the guidelines together – work for tomorrow.


Where do guidelines for best practice fit with the technical guidelines? They include the digital lifecycle, but don’t go into a real depth of detail. Guidance needs to be kept simple so that project managers and non-technical people will read & understand it. Looking at some of the questions that have come back about the NOF guidance, they have decided to expand on the original project management guidelines. Ie. It is necessary to strike a balance.


Joyce Ray – original guidelines have grown organically to keep pace with the development of the projects/ applications.


People aren’t resistant to guidance, on the contrary, they are often just waiting for guidance to come through so they can get going.




Afternoon – 2nd session:


6.0 Learning lessons, funding & management issues.


Looking from the perspective of the funding organisations – thinking particularly about:


-          Issues around sustainability

-          the ability to fund consortial projects (particularly where consortia cut across particular mandates, eg international consortia).

-          Training

-          Funding projects with several funding sources.


Also what barriers/restrictions are funding agencies operating under?


6.1 Joyce Ray


Only funding agency in the US with statutory authority for digitisation.


Can fund multi-institutional partnerships involving international partnerships, either full partnerships or subcontracted arrangements.


Have a category for education and training as part of their work on Library and Information Science. Various interdisciplinary courses of study centred around library and information management


Have a forthcoming survey to address sustainability to identify project concerns.


Funding a repository of information on IMLS projects separate from the public interface to enable peer-to-peer information exchange.


For research projects, matched funding is not required. If it is not research, or has a value over $250,000, they require in the region of one third matched funding which can be in kind.


Eligibility requirements specify that the lead organisation has to be American. Where foreign participants are subcontractors, funding is available for them.


In the process of making first funding decisions, but they are looking at spending $5m on digitisation for the libraries, $2m for the museums programme. There is a third category of library/museum collaboration of around $1-2m. This is out of a total of $15-17m.


Archives are eligible under the library category.


National Historical Publications & Records Commission funds archives specifically, but is not prepared to issue grants for digitisation.


Annual deadline for library projects involving digitisation is Feb 1st. Museum projects March 1st and collaborations April 1st. One round per year.


There aren’t calls for specific subject areas, just that the funding is available for competitive bidding. There is a reasonable geographical spread.


There is no control over the balance of content & digitisation within individual subject domains.


They didn’t map existing content before the funding began.


Applicants have to prove that there is a need for their project, but they haven’t done a full needs analysis.


2-tier assessment - Reviewers of applications are essentially volunteer expert advisors. These reviews are put through a statistical filter to eliminate the problem of inconsistent application of criteria.


2nd tier is a peer review conducted by experts in the area covered by the project.


6.2 Chris Anderson


NOF run a range of programmes across environment, education and health sectors. Digitisation programme has been the most complicated of these.


Why are we doing it in the first place? – NOF are doing it because they are directed by govt. agenda towards e-government.


What is it we are funding? What is it going to be used for? Who is the audience? Who is the funding for? – digitisation was an entirely open programme – open eligibility criteria.


2- stage open application process – resource intensive, but does encourage diversity. Not just funding the usual suspects.


There are agencies which have adopted a commissioning model, but NOF wanted to avoid the risk of creating ‘bland product’.


Other option – open tender model – ie based on a brief.




-          Compliance

-          Support mechanisms

-          Encouraging applicants to come up with the right level of proposals

-          Business planning pack issued to potential applicants.

-          Balance between funders requirements and applicants resources

-          How do you maintain technical standards

-          IPR –  we know more about what we don’t know – risk of legal action against a given project

-          Procurement – broking through Gcat to short circuit procurement processes to reach approved contractors

-          Access – what level? Accessibility? Age-levels? Charging?




-          Nature of programme necessitates partnerships.

-          Roles, responsibilities, boundaries need to be set & clear


-          Process of matchmaking projects and proposals in the second round to bring them together into constructive partnerships.

-          Roughly 85% of funded projects are working in consortia

-          Reduction of duplication, shared expertise, the strong handholding the weaker

-          Consortia represent a continuum of collaborative models – ie fully integrated, partially, etc


Content mapping – impossible to avoid duplication of effort completely. But a content map could go a long way towards avoiding this.


Evaluation of the product that NOF is funding – considered Peoples Panels as a general focus group, but didn’t go with that.


Process maps – standard step approach to the whole process.


Technical standards – can they only be a snapshot? No consensus even among experts.


Single central body at a National level to coordinate this kind of activity. Who will police the growth of digital services.


Why fund this type of projects:


-          Intangible in asset value

-          Success can’t be measured until the grant has been spent

-          Can’t even retrofit/ look at stages in content development

-          How can the value of the content be measured?

-          How can you measure success? Impact assessment?

-          Are we about funding what people want, or should we be creating demand by the type of project we fund?


Aim of the project is to digitise existing analogue material.


Projects must have some product up and running within 2 years of the grant – extensions can be agreed where circumstances require it.


6.3 Rene Bouchard – Canadian Heritage


Sustainability – not being addressed right now. Will be addressed soon.


Ability to fund consortia projects – strongly encouraged – partnership is a key theme, particularly cross-sectorally.


Training is only dealt with indirectly. Some proposals partly include training, but this is not a focus.


They avoid funding infrastructure if possible, focus is on content


Encourage applicants to obtain funding from other sources. They have a budget of £35m, most of which goes to digitisation, but they are aiming to trigger projects, not fund them single-handedly.


IPR – rights have to be cleared.


There is a 1st assessment of the eligibility of the proposal. 2nd assessment by expert panel. At this stage, they are given money for rights clearance if necessary, so they can proceed.


Administration is centralised within Canadian Heritage. Agreements with 3rd party contractors for some components, but they are keen to bring skills in-house.


Memorandum of Understanding with 3rd parties where they are better equipped to cope – ie R&D.


Looking to create capacity to digitise canadian reference material online – they have identified that those resources do not currently exist & there is a need for them.


Some partnering, but complete focus on Canadian cultural content, which may stand as an obstacle to international partnerships.


Impact assessment – every time a programme is created, an accountability framework is created to assess in advance the criteria for impact assessment. The projects may be asked to report back on the uses made of their materials.


D Green (q) Plans to track projects over time?


RB (a) – Everything created will be deposited on a central website so Canadian Heritage can track impact.


6.4 Mandy Barrie – DCMS


Culture Online – still in development. Bid going to treasury in the next few weeks.


Inspired by NOF-digitise.


Culture Online will be a funding programme – aimed at enabling the whole cultural sector to created digital content for education and lifelong learning.


It will be a small central organisation – materials and services targetted towards clearly defined audience needs. Part of CO’s work will be with arts oganisations to identify areas of need.


Commission agency – they are currently considering a range of commissioning models to avoid suppressing creativity.


CO will set technical standards for the material that it funds and advise on IPR issues.


It will encourage consortia working.


Culture Online’s material will support education, as opposed to lifelong learning as in the case of NOF-digitise.


Interactive services – masterclasses, live interaction etc.


Taking risks with the technology and be experimental – within reason.


The audiences:


-          Younger users – classroom applications

-          Older children – material to help with homework

-          Adults – with an existing interest in cultural materials


Meeting the social inclusion agenda to draw in new audiences. Tying in with the creation of UK Online centres.


Funding models have yet to be worked out.


Culture Online wants to work with a range of different institutions, and the funding models must not act as an obstacle to this. Several different models, depending on the organisation type.


CO has requested £100m over 3 years from Treasury, but this has yet to be confirmed.


Culture Online has to be up and running by 2002 – manifesto commitment.






DAY 2 – 18 July 2001




Chris Anderson, New Opportunities Fund

Chris Batt, Resource

Rosa Botterill, EMII

René Bouchard, Canadian Heritage

David Dawson, Resource

Kati Geber, CHIN

David Green, NINCH

Tony Gill, Research Libraries Group

Susan Haigh, National Library of Canada

Liz Lyon, UKOLN

Paul Miller, UKOLN

Sarah Mitchell, New Opportunities Fund

John Perkins, CIMI

Nick Poole, Resource

Joyce Ray, IMLS

Bernard Smith, European Commission



Bernard Smith; EU IST Framework


EC has no mandate for a policy on culture; this must be driven by member states. Amsterdam Treaty however gives mandate for actions, the most relevant of which are probably Culture 2000 (€167,000,000) and Media+ (€450,000,000). Both do little about content creation, concentrating far more on use. Also, both specifically exclude audio visual heritage, thinking that the other programme would do it.


Another source of money are the €16.6 Billion Framework Programmes, currently at Framework Programme 5, with FP6 under development. Within FP5, the IST Programme has a budget of some €3.6 Billion.


Cultural heritage resides in two areas within IST:


City of Tomorrow & cultural heritage

Cultural heritage in the IST programme – the digital arm.


But the commission does not fund digitisation. They do support some things which may be ancillary, but not digitisation specifically.


They’ve spent c. €80,000,000 so far.


e-Europe initiative – 22 themes. Does not include learning.


Concurrent programme called Info 2000


One action called content on global networks including:


-          Multilingualism

-          Exploitation of public sector information


Added coordination mechanisms for member states digitisation programmes.


Developed the Lund programme in partnership with experts from all over Europe.


Forcing the member states to contribute to the programme – ‘naming & shaming’.


Surveyed member states to find out what their policies were for digitisation. Of the 10 member states that replied in advance of the deadline, there were 40 national policies, because of the multiplicity of sectoral policies. Member states have used this information to go back & refine their policies.


Looking at standards:


-          Moving to benchmarking – somebody has created a benchmark called millions of pages digitised. Benchmarking will highlight whether member states have digitisation policies & if so, whether they have missed anything.


-          Standards –


-          Multilingualism – (issue with ‘standards’. When translated into French, for example, it implies something much more prescriptive and controlling. ‘Interoperability’ translates better.)


-          Quality labelling – how do you highlight quality in a website.


-          Training/ skills development – all over the place, no real coordination. Possible emergence of competence centres across Europe. How do you make training reach across institutions/ sectors.


(EU estimate: 2005 the skills gap in ICT will be between 1.5-2 million.)


They are reviewing the new recommendations and looking at putting networks into place to look at this issue. The networks alleviate the workload of the EC by passing effort back to the member states.


Positioning ourselves in relation to the sixth framework programme. Putting projects into place that act as content infrastructures which could be allowed to develop autonomously.


Research projects currently need to involve both research and involvement with a cultural institution. Content infrastructure can commission & create content in support of research.


There are similar things happening already so the content model is there.


Frees them up to fund pure content creation without the overarching principle of research.


D Green (q) Will the material be publicly available?


IST (a) – Nothing to prevent public access. Researchers may need to license content for what they are going to do with it, but there is an opportunity for the public to have access too.


400 Terabytes of data coming through the NASA Earth Observatory & they need a way of structuring it.


BBC estimate 10 million hours of programming in their film archives.


Ie. Lots of huge things happening..


Several projects with US partners – particularly a digital library programme with the NSF.


They surveyed the member states to find out what they had going on, 9 questions adopting a very pragmatic approach to the whole thing – ie funding, material digitised etc. By ‘policy’ the approach was mapping programmes.


How do we identify the difference between policy action and programme action.


Getting member states to put down on paper explicitly what they are doing, either policies or programme. Also creating an inventory of digitised content – harvesting, not top-down.


In some countries, they have no legal right to have a digitisation policy, which makes life difficult.


Most people have taken this as an impetus to work out what they want to do about digitisation.


In the sixth framework, organisations can take over some of the budget, and use that to commission research.


The digital library is a federator theme. Interest has been shown by the broadcasters in the digital library.

There are applications from a whole range of organisations, both public and private.


Letters of invitation were sent out to appropriate orgs to apply under the digital libraries initiative.


DELOS is an EC centre of excellence for digital libraries – they act as an incubator for digital projects.


Does it encompass access? Yes, in the sense that the funding enables organisations to improve access to digital content. They do not get involved in the access issues around infrastructure.


How do you map available infrastructures – how do you know what they next big thing is going to be in terms of the technology?


There’s an e-europe action on fast internet access – haven’t seen anything concrete yet. There was a report produced for Small & Medium Sized Enterprises as a spin-off, but nothing central.


How do you map within countries let alone across Europe?

Where does G8 fit in? Are they doing anything on this?


The IST people face towards constituencies eg national libraries, public libraries etc, defining a small group for each one.


Partnerships internationally: Russian partners – russian participation is welcomed in EU projects. There are also lots of other partnerships internationally.



Paul Miller:


How do we deal with good practice requirements. Can we create good practice guidelines which people can actually open up and use? Guidance tends not to point out the things to avoid – it presents a line to follow, but not what to do when you deviate from that line.


How can we usefully work together as a group? At the level of the exchange of information we can share details/ experiences with projects. When we get into the realm of actually doing something, it becomes a v different process – increased complexity. We need to identify at which point the group fits.


There is a small core of 4-5 identifiable standards which everyone can fix on as a basic agreement. Eg:


-          XML


-          Open Archive protocol


-          W3C WAI


UKOLN is going to be having an EC–funded Open Archives Forum from September.


What standards are we using at the moment? –


How do you police the application of standards? NOF does quality checks at various stages & compliance with the standards is built into the funding agreements for the projects. At various stages a process of peer review is a useful way of ensuring the application of standards.


Using the programmes of organisations within the group as comparators in order to draw out general standards.


The European Commission could potentially be in a position, if work is outsourced, to define the standards that their funded content should meet. If not outsourced, if, in other words, the process is close to the Commission, they cannot define standards.


Should we identify things that standards shouldn’t look at? Areas where there are existing standards which are fit for purpose and so shouldn’t be done over again.


Documents from the European Commission need to be pitched not only at the people who are eventually going to be successful, but also at those who are only looking for information.


NOF digi standards have been taken up by organisations and redeployed in non-NOF related projects.


Fitness to purpose – interoperability, sustainability, accessibility – these have to be the focus rather than the more expensive bits of best practice.


How do we coordinate in terms of emergent standards – MPEG7 and others. Do we need a group that will look at these? NINCH is keeping their online guidance regularly updated via an editorial board.


CHIN are tying standards and guidelines to quality labelling. There is no obvious payback for compliance with the standards. What do the projects get out of it? Communities of interest can be cross-sectoral and very beneficial, particularly in the opportunities it presents for networking.


They need some kind of incitation & has to be positive – otherwise we’ll never have buy-in.


What about repurposing content?


Tight thematic communities within the European Commission. Developed to discuss specific areas of various strands.



Break for coffee.



Chris Batt introduces session:


3 issues:


-          Policy approaches

-          Technology

-          The impact of ICT & digitisation on museums, libraries and archives.


What is the government trying to achieve through this funding?


How do we establish an active commercial model for the development of cultural content? Making the most of the coordinating opportunities offered by the ‘cultural industries’ to gain ground in the wider content creation marketplace.


Extrapolate a view from here to what will be happening in 50 years – the main thing would be to think of the impact of different economic models.


The real value of museums could be in 50 years time to act as a kind of broadcast repository of information.


The EC has a couple of projects to look at how you get institutions to work together collectively to create a model where they exchange material and effectively market themselves collecitvely.


What happens when the government agenda changes and the plugs are pulled? How do we ensure that these collaborative projects can stand on their own two feet? Or, how do we parcel up the content to reflect the priorities of government departments (ie. Education content paid for by DfES)? Would we want to do this if it puts pressure on institutions not to stand on their own values, but constantly to chase those of central govt.


We need our institutions to ‘dumb up’ – maximising access by understanding audience needs and presenting them with challenging content. Ie not pandering to lowest common denominator of understanding, but presenting eg Vermeer in a way that presumes a level of knowledge of fine art & techniques.


8.7 million people working in the cultural sector in Europe. Huge growth industry of content creation & digitisation, with links into the private sector. There is a report from the European Commission looking at the impact of cultural heritage on the wider economy.


The group could produce a report outlining a strong justification for government investment in the arts based around a strong economic model.


Institutions are project-driven rather than mission-driven, which causes problems 


Where institutions don’t have project management skills.


There is an absence of a strong digitisation lobby in the Commission, where there are v powerful lobbies for other things eg healthcare. Institutions tend to sell themselves, but not make the powerful vote-winning arguments that they need to.


There is a strong movement to define the museum as an educational institution in the community. But this is strongly Northern American & Northern European.


In Southern Europe, the museums aren’t considered as educational organisations, they’re absolutely about tourism, which is a much more powerful lobby than the educational.


Museums have a strong interest in audience, in diversity and in cultural tourism. They appear to have an antipathy towards the educational role that is being defined for them.


Museums are becoming broadcasters, staff are content creators, the PR & front of house is king and they set the agenda with the curatorial functions supporting the public priorities they are setting. Key thing is this isn’t really education, it’s entertainment. Are the two mutually exclusive?


Research into how museums can use technology to improve the experience of their collections – bringing eg toughscreens, interactives, animations into the visitor experience.


There is political capital in being able to present your museums as having educational value. It’s useful to be able to play the cultural and educational cards in seeking government funding.


New emphasis on digitisation is going to create new skills and new competences, which is essentially learning.


Joyce Ray – 21st century learning project. Report written by Beverly Shepherd. Programme is currently under development – but is looking at developing a usercentric approach.


Learning is process-driven, where previously it was resource-driven.


Royal Society of the Arts has produced research into the value of a knowledge-based curriculum against a competence-based one.


It has to come down to an economic argument for culture because that is what politicians respond to. There need to be business cases and stability. We need to establish figures that demonstrate the value of the sector to politicians or risk being ignored.


American Association of Museums – have touted a report indicating that museums were the most ‘trustworthy’ institutions in local communities. Ie. Content from museums was trusted to be true.


The value of this group could reside in its ability to coordinate experience and knowledge in the development of a winning argument for the cultural sector based on cooperation.


How do you make sure that cooperation sticks?


IMLS do encourage partnerships – wanting to fund programmes, not projects. Trying to build in sustainability of cooperation.


Virtual Museum of Canada is a collaboration of 650 partners in a sustainable partnership. It encourages its participant museums to create partnerships for themselves among each other in order to share knowledge and expertise.


European Commission has a partnership search facility whereby people register their interest in a particular project and the EC matches them up with partners.


Developing network infrastructure as a means to enable partnerships between projects.


Longer-term studies enable longitudinal research/surveying.


World Digital Library Group being assembled by the European Commission to bring together upwards of 60 DL projects.


It is important to draw the distinction between people that think they have collaborated and those who really have. Many of the existing collaborations are really only talking and aren’t genuinely working together (cf. Collaboration for museums, MGC pubs)


Next step in collaboration is actually to shift people from one institution to another. Euro 2bn to research how one would do this.


Erasmus mobility grants.


Sharing Museum Skills Millennium Awards scheme – similar concept, but very undersubscribed. In the case of the Commission, the mobility is institution-led, not individual-led. This kind of working is a challenge to the institutions – letting someone come & work in your organisation for 6 months is not something that sits comfortably with some groups – ie. Broadcasters.



Chris Batt


We need to express our value to the future of society on half a page of A4. Need to summarise, albeit v generally, the areas of common ground that we have.


Moving towards some actions…


Creation of digital content [title as in invite]

Generally – MLAs, heritage – find a form of wording – inc nat hist, science museums etc

Creation = re-purposing


1 putting practitioners together

more meetings

drill down to people who are doing things together – programme and project level -

share experience / collaborations

identify where strong expertise exists – then share – structured and sustainable competence centre



2 sharing of experience information

relevant information

projects funded – share the information – Lund project / programme registry – link to project lists, FAQs, subject matter [audience – funding agencies, NINCH building database – coverage …] ability to have funders post a list of their projects would be generally useful – basis for getting action. Ie eEurope action writ large

what and how people are doing

incorporate best practice sharing in delivering events

encourage the adoption of best practice through events/conferences digitisation of content

moderated membership mailing list for this activity


3 division of labour for r&d / future-gazing

a technical r&d

foster collaborative research, extend parameters

no current action – recognise actions of other groups

b social and impact research, user studies, real and latent demand, focus groups, selecting relevant material for digitisation, accessibility, audience development users. we have, users we don’t have – interested in research into both types of users.

NINCH collecting examples of museum user studies, CLEAR in library community – user needs assessments etc

c economic and business models

conference on new business models – CLEAR report out soon. 5 models presented for dig content creation. .Also paper on arts, new media etc.

d strategic thinking

elevator speech! – what is dig cultural content creation and the why Action: RLG

e sustainibilty


b,c,e Information-sharing at this stage, gap analysis for next time, new research strategies for these areas.

Opportunity to invent new means of service delivery, but need to do market research first, hasn’t been done properly. Need to understand more of demand side. Action: Resource



4 preservation / maintenance of content

Bernard – key issue for investment but actors aren’t vocal about the problem

Pro-active statement of urgency of problem – political / public records, archives

? volunteer/ group to draft something to review next time action: RLG Tony Gill


5 national programme guidelines

technical standards, guidelines, best practice

national digital resource service


6 use of results of the collaboration to influence policy making

a economic models,

b statement of purpose

c reasons to collaborate



agreement that rights - a bigger issue than this group, but could be solved in other areas

models in clearance

pro-active statement about what we wanted draft document [preparatory action for lobbying on implementation of EU Directive] WIPO

? sub-group – if we have a group – Bernard - EBLIDA

basic explanation of issues – awareness-raisinig


8 technical standards

frameworks, guides to best practice, generic high-level model [UKOLN DNER architecture model]

we will gather together guidelines, guides to best practice – ie URL to Paul, need to identify public / in draft documents

aggregate / analysis – similarities, differences, in cope / out of scope action: UKOLN

bring result to another meeting for review and to look at opportunities for harmonisation


national content creation policies – those documents will be brought together. Identify where commonality can be arrived at – tech standards and guidance, Then identify gaps and further work. Modernising Government report may give outline … revisit the issue next time round


9 relationship to funding agencies

Entering into a dialogue with funders. mandation of recommendations, consortial funding of projects, cross-programme funding, recognise importance of training, awareness, training for applicants [extract from notes] recommendations – conversation with funding agency, put together into a package – how to administer the programme. Issue of appropriateness to different funders … Bernard – EU might welcome being told to fund digitisation.

Influence and strengthen national and international policy directions in funding programmes


10 training / development / management of change

who and why, staff in cultural sector, managers, using infrastructure

training, production centres, training centres


11 broadcasting / audiences




selection criteria - material to digitise


idea of lifecycle approach to projects / putting into action

promote idea of funding projects to maximise international co-operation


message to governments

message to funders

message to institutions


Nature of group

De facto decisions

People will do things

Email list

Another meeting

Public face


Who is public? Need for terms of reference – scope of activity. JP – a loose coalition and consider at next meeting what we should be. Need to gather feedback. David – need Africa and Far East couldn’t come. Bernard - EuroChina 2002 event – could be venue / excuse – with culture activity.

Action – expand invitation list, but concentrate on small group. See what happens after feedback, see echo and figure out whether is worth developing. No exclusions, except wish to stay small and focussed.

Target – decision-makers and policy-developers

Time and place of next meeting – say 6 months.

Suggestion EuroWeb – Venice, December, W3C Hawaii May, Florence – March – EVA

Something about meeting in next issue of Cultivate – copy date 3 / 4 September.