UKOLNThe Value of Digital Cultural Content

Position Statement

drafted by Tony Gill, Research Libraries Group

We, the undersigned, believe that

Cultural memory, which is documented in the collections of museums, libraries and archives throughout the world, is a vital part of the human endeavour. It represents the knowledge accumulated through the generations, and enables humanity to build on the achievements of those who have gone before us. Cultural memory:

  • Benefits individuals, by promoting a sense of identity through shared cultural values and by supporting the quest for lifelong learning;

  • Benefits communities, by promoting economic prosperity and fostering the understanding that leads to a civil and just society; and

  • Benefits humanity as a whole, by promoting the values we share as global citizens and by increasing our capacity to connect with one another to meet universal challenges.

Museums, libraries and archives—often called memory institutions—are trusted organizations that collectively document the entire range of human experience and expression. Memory institutions are engaged in the important work of:

  • Capturing, authenticating, and making sense of cultural memory;

  • Preserving the human record for future generations; and

  • Sharing knowledge to support education and learning.

Digital communications networks offer new opportunities for providing equitable access to the global cultural record for the widest possible audience. However, the full realization of this potential will require:

  • Significant quantities of high quality digital content; and

  • Cooperation among content providers to identify and promote practices that extend the usefulness, portability and longevity of digital resources, while preserving materials with intrinsic historical value in their original form.

This group shares the goal of providing, for the citizens of all nations, networked digital access to the global cultural record, and it seeks to reach that goal through mutual information sharing and cooperation.


Canadian Heritage (Canada)
Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN, Canada)
Coalition for Networked Information (CNI, USA)
Consortium for the Interchange of Museum Information (CIMI, Canada)
Cultural Heritage Unit, European Commission (CEE)
Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS, UK)
European Museums Information Institute (EMII, UK)
Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS, USA)
Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC, UK)
National Archives of Canada (Canada)
National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH, USA)
National Library of Australia (Australia)
National Library of Canada (Canada)
National Library of New Zealand (New Zealand)
New Opportunities Fund (NOF, UK)
New Zealand Digital Library Project (New Zealand)
Online Computer Library Center (OCLC, USA)
Research Libraries Group (RLG, USA)
Resource (UK)