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Minimal requirements for digital heritage services - The Dutch approach. Marco de Niet Digital Heritage Ne therlands. Digitales Kulturerbe – Gemeinsam Vernetzen Berlin, 28 April 2008. ‘Gemeinsam vernetzen’. Why share data and knowledge?

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minimal requirements for digital heritage services the dutch approach

Minimal requirements for digital heritage services-The Dutch approach

Marco de Niet

Digital Heritage Netherlands

Digitales Kulturerbe – Gemeinsam Vernetzen

Berlin, 28 April 2008

gemeinsam vernetzen
‘Gemeinsam vernetzen’
  • Why share data and knowledge?
  • Quality assessment for the Digital Collection Netherlands
  • Agreements on minimal ICT-requirements
ict in heritage institutions
ICT in heritage institutions

Digital services are mostly created to raise the profile of specific collections of the heritage institutions.

Use of ICT is mostly determined in separate services, not by an overall institutional policy.

Most smaller institutions lack the means to use ICT on a professional level.

Knowledge about ICT-standardsis scattered.

Implementation of standards is mostly determined by convenience for the institutions, not by public interest.

Result: too many isolated information services, with an uncertain lifespan.

current national policy
Current national policy
  • Main features of Dutch government policy regarding digitisation are:
  • Decentralised approach
  • Quality assessment based on self regulation
  • Various funding measures on a national, provincial, local and/or individual level


The government would also like to strengthen the national profile of cultural heritage on the internet: the Digital Collection Netherlands.

why share data in a national collection
Why share data in a national collection?
  • Cultural heritage is not just a set of locally defined collections, cared for by professionals. It is an essential part of society, and is, or should be, very much in the public domain.
  • Heritage not only has a historical value in itself, it provides an essential contribution to a society as a whole in which ‘cultural citizenship’ is appreciated.
  • The origins of historical sources do not match with the way they are kept in institutions. Modern technologies provide options to connect again across institutions what was historically related.
w hy share ict knowledge
Why share ICT-knowledge?


Information processes

Collection descriptions

Digital preservation

Complex objects



Creative front-ends

Exploitation / re-use

Legal issues

Educational tools

Geographic systems

Concepts vs. objects

Geographic systems

Local target groups


IT-backoffice / Retrieval

Digital preservation

International standards




Business models

Multimedia / AV


Audiovisual archives

national infrastructure
National infrastructure

To support the emergence of a Digital Collection Netherlands,

a national infrastructuur is needed:

Bottom-up approach:

The infrastructure is based on the best practices of several frontrunners among the heritage institutions (e.g. the national library, the national archives, the Rijksmuseum, Sound and Vision, ICN, RACM, a.o.)

Top-down approach:

Smaller organisations are expected (but not forced!) to comply to these ‘building blocks’ and the quality control that results from their efforts.

what is den
What is DEN?

Digital Heritage Netherlands is the national knowledge platform for ICT and cultural heritage.

Commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Cultural Affairs and Science, DEN promotes the use of standards for digital services and (mass) digitisation.

This way, DEN supports the cultural heritage institutions to build towards a national Digital Heritage Collection, in a professional, future-proof, and public-oriented manner.

quality assessment
Quality assessment

Three main actions:

  • Maintain a registry of relevant ICT-standards that enable heritage institutions to build new services
  • Monitor the use of these standards as best practices in services and projects (Project Bank).
  • Stimulate innovation and co-operation across the boundaries of each sector (museums, archives, audiovisual archives, libraries, archaeology and monuments)
s tandards

“The nice thing about standards is

that you have so manyto choose from.

Furthermore, if you do not like any ofthem,

you can just wait for next year’s model.”

Andrew S. Tanenbaum

professor Computer Science, VU

s tandardisation

Standardisation is not a process that can be

forced by the government entirely.

It can only last if the institutions support the

decisions on standardisation and make them

their policy.

best practices
Best practices

+ Approval -

- Use +

ict regist ry

Selecting instruments that improve the quality of ICT in institutions:

  • both for policy and implementation

Documenting the standards

  • White papers, guidelines, manuals, checklists etc.

Linking to relevant other sources

  • Owners of standards
  • Best practices within heritage

Setting the norm

  • Self regulation: self imposed obligations
  • Basic requirements

Two cycles to classify the Registry: DEMING and EPSINET






C - DO







Digital preservation

quality assessment system
Quality assessment system
    • standards  services/projects  institutional profiles
  • Linking and sharing ICT-knowledge within the cultural
  • heritage sector is an efficient and effective way
  • to raise the quality of the use of ICT on a national scale.
  • Connecting and comparing projects and best practices is an important step towards building shared services.
  • In principle, heritage institutions contribute voluntarily to this information system.
  • Some funding agencies support the information system, and require registration with DEN.
self regulation
Self regulation

Self regulation can only lead to results when institutions

invest in knowledge and participate actively, based on policy.

A sound ICT-policy strengthens the position

of an institution in the debate on how to achieve a national,

a European or a world digital collection.

DEN supports this process by advising on ICT-policy,

but also by stimulating agreement on minimum standards.

the basics goal

Agree on a set of standards

  • that is considered basic practice, so all institutions can apply them
  • that support the entire cycle of digitisation
  • that can be used for all digital heritage
  • that assures quality, interoperability and efficiency

These basic standards will be important building blocks for

the national infrastructure for digital heritage.

first results
First results

2007: The user perspective comes first!

Focus on findability (‘Findbarkeit’) of digital heritage

through access and interoperability.

first results1
First results

A national set of 7 standards for findability:

  • HTTP
  • XML
  • UTF-8
  • Dublin Core
  • SRU
  • URI
how did we get here
How did we get here?

Process of self regulation

(based on the Request for Comments (RFC) procedure 2026)

  • Inventory of possible standards by an expert group
  • Expert meeting to discuss the inventory
  • Documentation on the standards
  • Publication of the proposed set of standards on a wiki
  • Discussions with stakeholders (e.g. working group Technical Interoperability of Europeana)
  • Modifications in the wiki
  • Case studies: interviews with several institutions
  • Final modifications
  • Publication and promotion of The Basics set
  • Negotiations with funding agencies
the basics 2008
The Basics 2008

Basic requirements for the creation of digital data

  • Text
  • Image
  • AV-collections
  • Geospatial data

Basic requirements for digital preservation

  • Preservation policy
  • Responsibilities within the institutions
  • Participation in national repositories
vernetzt euch bitte auch mit euren kollegen aus den niederlanden
Vernetzt Euch!(bitte auch mit euren Kollegen aus den Niederlanden...)

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