In countries around the world, significant amounts of money are being spent on
making a range of cultural heritage resources available online. In the United
Kingdom, some £50,000,000 has been committed to successful applicants to the New
Opportunities Fund's (NOF) Digitisation Programme. In Canada, the Federal
Government's Canadian Digital Cultural Content Initiative, too, is spending
millions of dollars on content digitisation programmes in libraries, museums,
and archives. These two programmes are not unusual, and most countries can now
point to similar developments. In the United States, federal funding for digital
library research and content creation is distributed among a number of agencies,
raising issues of coordination and communication.
All of these programmes have several aspects which are clearly common, not least their remit to bring cultural heritage resources to a wider audience by means of online dissemination. How far the similarities between programmes go, and whether there are advantages in a more integrated approach to their formulation and delivery, remains to be proven.
This programme of meetings is intended to examine the lessons to be learned from some of the most significant established programmes, exploring the likelihood that there is value in greater synergy between programmes, whilst of course maintaining their own unique qualities. These synergies might include such aspects as a shared view of technical standards, or greater flexibility in allowing cross-programme applications for funding. If successfully realised, these ought to result ultimately in a financial saving to the grant giver but also, and more importantly, in the creation of a resource which is more accessible to the end user, more likely to be comparable or 'interoperable' with related resources created under other programmes, and which has greater longevity in the fast-changing Internet environment.
Invitees have included key staff and decision makers from a broad range of grant giving bodies and content creation programmes, drawn from Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia.