UKOLNCultural Content Creation

DRAFT Strategic Policy Research Background Paper

prepared by David Dawson (Resource), with John Perkins (CIMI) and Paul Miller (UKOLN)


At the July meeting the following were identified as actions for reporting at the March 18 Washington meeting

  • National content creation policies to identify common pan-national issues
  • Objectives, criteria and results of major content creation programmes

This paper reviews the existing activity undertaken in Europe to achieve some of these objectives, and suggests a model for identifying key practical guidance for the delivery of content creation programmes.

This paper relies heavily on the Survey of Major Technical Research Programmes in Support of Digital Cultural Content Creation paper, and is intended to be read in conjunction with that paper.

Observations include:

  • No requests for information have been made
  • Building a comprehensive picture of Content Creation programmes and guidance documents will require a significant commitment of time and resources
  • A simple, common, method for describing ongoing projects by the major research agencies and a commitment to exposing guides or directories of projects and guidance would be valuable.


The July 2001 meeting in London identified a number of areas [1] where it was felt that information gathering and sharing will help inform the articulation of further position statements or identify issues for possible further coordinated effort. Two of the key areas of Strategic Policy Research named in London were

  • Objectives, criteria and results of major content creation programmes
  • National content creation policies to identify common pan-national issues

What specifically was meant by this or its application was not well defined but subsequent discussion identified that the EU activity on the Co-ordination of National Digitisation Policies provided a useful framework to begin discussing how to share information about Content Creation Programmes. The discussion also highlighted the need for guidance in the development of projects and programmes, and that this guidance was often difficult to find amongst a plethora of documents. These two issues are explored in the sections below.

Results of Content Creation Programmes

EU Co-ordination of National Digitisation Policies

This initiative recognises the critical roles for content creation in

  • preserving Europe's collective cultural heritage
  • providing improved access for the citizen to that heritage
  • to enhancing education and tourism
  • the development of eContent industries

This was recognised in the eEurope 2002 Action Plan endorsed by the EU Member Sates at the Feira European Council in June 2000.

A meeting of Representatives and experts from the Member States gathered in Lund (Sweden) and identified ways in which a coordination mechanism for digitisation programmes across the Member States could be put in place to stimulate European content in global networks (Objective 3(d) of the eEurope Action Plan). The meeting also identified many obstacles to the success of these initiatives. These hurdles include the diversity of approaches to digitisation, the risks associated with the use of inappropriate technologies and inadequate standards, the challenges posed by long term preservation and access to digital objects, lack of consistency in approaches to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), and the lack of synergy between cultural and new technology programmes.

The Lund Meeting concluded that these obstacles could be tackled and the objectives of the eEurope Action Plan could be advanced if the Member States were to

  • establish an ongoing forum for coordination
  • support the developing of a European view on policies and programmes
  • develop mechanisms to promote good practice and consistency of practice and skills development

[text slightly adapted from]

An intial survey of Content Creation Policies, Programmes and Projects was undertaken, and the results indicated that this was a useful activity, but that more work was required, particularly on the surveying of projects. Key issues here are the lack of a co-ordinating body in many countries, and therefore the difficulty of recording information about projects funded by institutions themselves, as well as by a range of private bodies, local and national government and through collaboration with industry.

As a result, some initial work on a metadata framework for project resource discovery was begun, and centred upon investigating two complementary approaches:-

At the time of the London meeting, it was anticipated that additional work in this area would be undertaken in the Autumn of 2001, and that this might prove a valuable framework for discussion at the Washington meeting.

In the event, further work in this area will be undertaken shortly, under the leadership of the French Ministry of Culture, in the Minerva Project, funded by the European Commission. The Minerva project, led by Italy and also including partners in the UK (Resource), Sweden, Spain, Finland and Belgium, is a mechanism for tackling the issues identified in the Lund Action Plan.

The objectives for this work are:-

Increasing the visibility and accessibility of European cultural and scientific content by setting up inventories of on-going digitisation projects based on national observatories;

  • definition of a sustainable technical infrastructure for coordinated discovery of European digitised cultural and scientific content;
  • analysis of possible solutions to the technical and cultural constraints deriving from multilingual problems;
  • proposal of a common platform (XML and open source) for accessing distributed information in Europe.

In addition, the UK New Opportunities Fund is in the process of investigating the creation of a portal for the project funded under the £50million NOF-digitise programme. This may take the approach of harvesting Collection Description records using the Open Archives Initiative protocol.

Points for discussion and debate include:

  • Is there other work going on in this area?
  • Is it practical to think of a common international approach?
  • Who would the users be? What might the impacts be?
  • Is there value in creating a demonstration of a directory/registry/guide?
  • How can an international approach be accomplished and resourced?


At a practical level, those running funding programmes and projects rely on a range of documents that identify and promote best practice. However, there are a plethora of publications, and it is often difficult to identify the best sources within one’s own country, let alone those published in other countries. As part of the sharing of best practice, it is proposed to take a similar approach to that undertaken for the Survey of technical Research, by identifying key categories, and then selecting documents that provide best practice guidance.

The structure proposed is based upon the Business Plan model adopted by the UK New Opportunities Fund. This required the projects bidding for funding to develop structured business plans. The applicants found this approach helpful, and it has made it easier to assess the proposals and to manage the roll-out of the projects.

As an example of this approach, the following table indicates a view of the best practice guidance published in the UK. It is highly selective (and no doubt incomplete and, idiosyncratic!) but aims to highlight key documents. I am grateful to Nick Poole of Resource for his assistance with drawing up this table.

Similar tables could be produced by each programme, or by agreement within a country, encouraging the sharing of information. This will be particularly important in that it will enable people to look at material in languages other than their own.

Digitisation Information Framework – a view from the UK

Business Plan Heading


Resource title






Project management


NOF-digi Project Manual


Skills development

IT Challenge Fund Guidelines


Change management




Putting practitioners together







Audience research

Audience research

Culture Online research report



Building Digital Content report





Risk assessment

Risk assessment

SOPSE Risk Assessment report





Content creation


Full Disclosure



NPO software tool






IPR Clearance

Patent Office IPR portal


Rights management

Earl Issue Paper



Library Association Copyright







Cedars Guide to IPR



MCG Copyright in Museums and









Preservation strategy

Digital Preservation

Digital Preservation Workbook



AHDS Good Practice Guides incl.



 - Historical Documents








- VR (forthcoming)




- Visual arts




 - Electronic texts







Benchmarking costs

HEDS Matrix





Technical standards

Programme guidelines

NOF-digi technical standards



DNER technical standards





Content Creation


NOF programme guidance







HEDS Issue Paper



TASI (Image digitisation)










Government Category List





Learning Resource Creation

Learning Resource Creation

BECTa Guidelines



Museum Learning Online





Service Delivery


UKOLN QA Focus (URL to be confirmed)


Quality Labelling




Resource discovery/distributed

DNER architecture









Publicity and promotion

Publicity and promotion







Monitoring and evaluation

Measuring use

Performance indicators for websites


Impact evaluation








Economic/ business models

UKOLN NOF support issue paper






Points for discussion and debate include:

  • Given the resources required and the need for other work, is a Digitisation Information Framework a priority work item to pursue?
  • Can we identify the applications and use of such a framework?
  • What constitutes good guidance? Who decides what is good?
  • How should the guidance be organized and presented for maximum benefit and reuse?
  • If the work is a priority how can it be accomplished and resourced?

Notes and References

[1] Action items from the Tate 2001 meeting.

Lund Action Plan

French database