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The MICHAEL project in the UK, France and Italy. Kate Fernie, Richard Blandin and Giuliana De Francesco. About us. MLA is the English lead strategic agency for the museums, libraries and archives sector and UK government advisor on digitisation

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The MICHAEL project in the UK, France and Italy

Kate Fernie, Richard Blandin and Giuliana De Francesco

about us
About us
  • MLA is the English lead strategic agency for the museums, libraries and archives sector and UK government advisor on digitisation
  • MCC is the French government ministry responsible for preserving and developing the cultural inheritance. Its remit ranges from encouraging creation of works of art to promoting access to culture and includes galleries, museums and heritage sites
  • MiBAC is the Italian government ministry responsible for preservation of and access to cultural heritage and for promotion and enhancement of cultural activities, performing arts and sport. Its remit includes state museums and galleries, archaeological sites, built heritage, libraries, archives and the intangible heritage.

Launching a European online service to enable the European cultural heritage to be promoted to a worldwide audience

the beginnings
The beginnings

MICHAEL project:

  • Funded by the eTEN programme
  • 36 months to June 2007
  • France, Italy and the UK
    • 33 m euros National investment in digitisation
    • 3.3 m euros from the EU
  • 3 national agencies and
    • Dédale, AJLSM and Amitié
investing in digitisation
Investing in digitisation

Since the 1990s:

  • France - State and local authority programmes involving hundreds of cultural institutions in digitising their collections.
  • Italy - MiBAC, regional and local organisations have invested in the digitisation of cultural collections from across the sectors
  • UK - funding from various sources - NOF, Digitise, Renaissance in the Regions, Designation Challenge Fund, RSLP, AHRB and others – enabling digitisation of collections by museums, libraries, archives

Building a diverse digital offer

revealing collections
Revealing collections
  • In the UK the 1997 Treasures in Trust report called for a way of recognising the richness and diversity of our collections
    • Cornucopia catalogue of physical collections held by museums and public libraries
  • Similar catalogues in France and Italy
digital collections
Digital collections

Shared need for retrieval tools:

  • MINERVA work on Inventories
  • France “Catalogue des fonds culturels numérisés”
    • SDX platform

Building blocks for MICHAEL

  • A common approach for digital cultural heritage inventories
  • A tool for revealing national digital offer
  • Support for multilingualism
a distributed platform
A distributed platform
  • Open source software
  • National instances with national databases
  • Sharing metadata to contribute to European services



  • Implementations in France, Italy and the UK
  • Sharing expertise to prepare system and user documentation
  • National strategies for data collection underway
  • Public interfaces about to be launched!
michael in france
MICHAEL in France

Key dates

2001 Creation of the Catalogue

of digital cultural collections

2004 Start of MICHAEL

2005 New version of the data base

and public interface

some facts about the french catalogue
Some facts about the French catalogue


  • 394 institutions
  • 956 collections
  • 134 services
  • User statistics
    • 10-12,000 visits per month
    • 200-300,000 pages views per month

MICHAEL in Italy

MiBAC is coordinating national activities and implementing the platform in partnership with CASPUR

  • No comprehensive inventory of digital collections
  • A varied landscape:
    • Several dispersed data bases online and offline describing institutions, digital and physical collections
    • Several unpublished data based on local surveys and census

MICHAEL offers the opportunity to give unique public access to all this data


Sharing data

We will share data with ongoing initiatives including:

  • Internet Culturale
    • Digital collections belonging to State libraries
  • Anagrafe delle biblioteche italiane
    • 15,000 libraries
  • Anagrafe degli archivi
    • 137 State Archives (SIAS)
    • Non-State archives (SIUSA)
next steps
Next steps

Migrating data from existing data bases

  • Archaeology DC survey (about 100 digital collections belonging to Archaeology Offices)

Integrating MICHAEL into national initiatives underway

  • National Archival Service (SAN)
  • Italian Culture Portal
populating the system
Populating the system

Bringing together three separate domains:

  • regions, universities and ministry institutions

Tools: bilateral agreements and partnerships.

    • Survey existing inventories and digital collections all over Italy
    • Enter new data into the MICHAEL system
    • Update data regularly
italian regions
Italian Regions

Regions and MiBAC share responsibilities on preserving, cataloguing and enhancing the local heritage

  • 10 Regions are submitting projects:
    • describing digital collections belonging to cultural institutions on their territory from January 2006
  • All 20 Regions will be involved later

77 public and private Universities with both museums and libraries

CRUI is in charge of university libraries and museums census and provides expertise and support

Ministry of Education, University and Research will ensure dissemination of MICHAEL for educational purposes

ministry institutions
Ministry institutions
  • 420 museums, monuments and archaeological sites
  • 134 archives and sections
  • 47 libraries

Significant investments in digitisation over the last 10 years;

All digital collections funded by MiBAC will be described in MICHAEL by the end of 2006

michael in italy
MICHAEL in Italy

Technical Advisory Group

  • Made up of experts and professionals from the three sectors involved
  • Currently dealing with:
    • IT Manual for Collection Description
    • Public interface: functional requirements and design
    • Terminology
michael it access

Public interface: a first draft

michael in the uk1

information services
Information services
  • UK-wide database
    • Implementing standards and agreed vocabularies
    • Working with partners
    • Welsh language interface
  • Multiple information services
    • UK-wide
    • Regional, subject specialist views
    • Libraries, archives, museums views
    • European services
michael in europe
MICHAEL in Europe

Content harvested from France, Italy and the UK

Support for multiple languages

Gives users easy and quick access to content from trusted sources

Future expansion...

any questions
Any questions?