digitisation in Europe
Progress report of the
National Representative Group: coordination mechanisms for digitisation
policies and programmes 2002
Ministry of Culture
National Report: Denmark
Policy scenario for digitisation
The primary activity in 2002 in terms of policy development has been the establishment of two policy level working groups on preservation of physical cultural heritage (amongst others through digitisation) and preservation of the digital cultural heritage, respectively. The groups are describing the present state of preservation in Denmark and developing new policy proposals. Both groups are expected to finish their work in the beginning of 2003.
Especially the working group on digital preservation has been relevant to the meeting of the NRG in Copenhagen in December 2002. The group has contributed to the meeting with a paper on the present situation on digital preservation in Denmark and some suggestions to a national profile. These inputs have also been of relevance to the workshop on day 2 of the meeting.
The Minister for Culture has prioritised the issue of digitisation and content creation in his policies. Thus, the government policy outline specifically mentions the importance of digitisation, and the Minister has followed up by pointing to digital content creation as one of four focus areas in the on-going contract negotiations with the cultural institutions. It is expected that this approach will contribute to a higher degree of co-ordination of digitisation initiatives through the ministerial involvement and attention in the contact negotiations. However, it is important noting that this particular tool is only available for the stately co-ordinated cultural institutions (comprising 43 major institutions). As for the municipal and independent institutions, co-ordination is sought through networking and exchange of information, experience and good practise.
Terms of reference and National policy profile
After agreeing in the NRG on the Terms of reference of the group, the terms have been formally endorsed by the Danish Ministry of Culture. In effect, the ministry has thus firmly committed itself to the Lund principles and the mission of the NRG to monitor progress regarding the objectives stated therein.
Further, the terms of reference have been disseminated to the national co-ordination group described below as one of the means to create widespread visibility and consensus around the Lund principles.
The first Danish national profile was published on the Web page of the ministry in the beginning of 2002.
This was considered as a first step to create awareness around both the diversity and the on-going efforts to create co-ordination of digitisation policies, programmes and projects. The first national profile thus gave an overview of the state of affairs at the time of its publication, pointing both to areas and projects of excellence and areas where the continuous need for co-ordination and development was clear.
Therefore, the national profile served the purpose of increased awareness of strengths and weaknesses in the Danish efforts within digitisation and consequently awareness of the need for increased co-ordination and co-operation.
It quickly became clear that it takes a substantial effort to keep the national profile up to date and relevant. Specifically regarding the section on most significant ongoing projects, this was a problem, as new and relevant projects were (and are) initiated regularly. Further, providing the substantial information required on each project was a considerable effort and often led to the duplication of data already available in other Web pages.
A revision of the national profile was therefore initiated. The new profile should point to the relevant actors and resources rather than contain all the information in itself. As the aforementioned working group on a preservation and digitisation policy had at the same time started its work, the information on the previous work became outdated and was deleted as a consequence in anticipation of the inputs of the working group.
The new national profile therefore became a shorter, but also more
updated and resourceful one, and it remains this way at the time
of writing of this report - awaiting the inputs of the working group
before the next revision is expected.
It is difficult to assess the use and value of the new national profile. There has not been any logging of hits to the pages, and only limited feedback. Nevertheless, it is the opinion of the ministry that the profile at present serves its purpose as a first entry point to and broad overview over Danish policies and programmes in the field of digitisation. This is of relevance to both national and international individuals and institutions working with digitisation, and thus also contributes to co-ordination and overview on the European level.
The Danish recommendation for the future use and development of the national profiles is to continue their publication and regularly update the information. Most relevant (and realistic) are brief descriptions of the relevant themes, pointing to other resources (contact points, other Web pages and written material) where available and relevant.
The Danish national profile can be found at http://www.kum.dk/sw4903.asp.
The contact person for the profile is Jacob Schouenborg (email@example.com,
Co-ordination of national networks
The Danish co-ordination group for this initiative was established by the Ministry of Culture in the fall of 2001. The ministry invited relevant experts from its network and asked these to nominate further participants from their own networks. In this way, an open and broadly covering network was established. There is no limits to participation, and as many experts as relevant from each institution may take part in the network.
At present, the group covers all the primary digitisation institutions in Denmark, as well as a number of related bodies, and comprises 25 individuals to date. Most of the members are digitisation experts with decision-making responsibility, and the ministry throughout has sought this composition as the most relevant, given the tasks and opportunities of the group.
From the beginning, the co-ordination group has interacted electronically. The national representative to the NRG has sent out information mails regarding the on-going work in the NRG and its working groups, and has asked the co-ordination group for feedback where necessary.
Lately, a Web forum is being set up to facilitate the work of the co-ordination group. The idea of the forum is to provide easy access to documents, links, other members, and recent news, as well as to enable the members of the group to debate and contribute on relevant subjects.
The group thus acts as an information dissemination point for the work of the NRG and its working groups. But also information on related initiatives is disseminated, both regarding European programmes (e.g. eContent) and national initiatives (like the working groups mentioned above).
The activity level in the co-ordination group is modest. It serves its purpose as information dissemination point, but has not yet been charged with concrete tasks. One of the members of the group is participating as an expert in the working groups of the NRG. However, due to the continuous development and refinement of the tools of the working groups (the benchmarking model, quality framework etc.), no demands for the application of these have been made.
Due to the open composition of the group, its working methods and its limited mandate, no formal mechanisms for consensus building (for instance around standards) have been put in place. It is the belief of the Ministry of Culture that agreement in the field should be reached as far as possible through voluntary agreement based on the obvious gains from co-operation and co-ordination.
Relationships and co-ordination with other national initiatives in connection with eEurope, e-government, e-learning
Other relevant initiatives, policies and programmes include:
General information about the work of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation
Information about the IST Conference 2002 in Copenhagen. In relation to the initiative of the Danish Presidency (to focus on interactive content for new media), a workshop on this theme has been held and introduced by the Danish Minister for Culture at the conference.
A comprehensive list of bodies with relevance to the ICT, research, universities, and more.
Denmark´s it status 2002. This is an annual publication showing both the present state of development in the Information Society, outlining new policies, and listing relevant on-going projects, including projects within digitisation of cultural and scientific content. The Danish Ministry of Culture contributes to the annual report, thus securing the necessary co-ordination.
European and international co-operation
All the major institutions working with digitisation assert that they take
part in European and international networks within their respective
fields (museums, libraries, archives, broadcasters etc.), many
of these involving co-ordination and exchange of knowledge within
It is the belief of the Danish Ministry of Culture that these
networks are often well-functioning and that there are at times
significant gains from participating in them. As most of the networks
are sectorally focused, it would not make much sense to try merging
the networks with the work of the NRG. Instead, it is important
that the relevant information is distributed to the interested
parties, be they sectoral or national. The members of the national
co-ordination group for NRG have thus been asked to provide information
on activities or networks that could be of interest to the NRG.
Further, relevant information from international networks is also
spread in a number of other existing national co-ordinating bodies.
In this way, the Danish Ministry of Culture expects the relevant
information to be distributed to the interested parties without
unnecessary co-ordination demands being put on the individual
institutions. By having representatives from all the major players
within the field of digitisation in the national co-ordination
group for the NRG, the necessary co-ordination between this programme
and others is hoped to be achieved.
The NRG benchmarking model has been distributed in the co-ordination network
for commenting, improving and use. One of the co-ordination group
members has agreed to contribute to the European working group
on benchmarking, thus assisting in data collection and the refinement
and continuous development of the model.
It is the assessment of the Danish Ministry of Culture that not
least because the benchmarking model has been continuously discussed
and developed, there has only been limited application of the
model in the Danish context. This is for the reason that the benchmarking
exercise obviously needs comparable data, and if the model itself
is changing frequently, re-entering of data may in some cases
be necessary to make meaningful comparisons.
Though it is acknowledged that benchmarking models certainly should
not be static, it is therefore the recommendation of the Danish
Ministry for Culture that a data collection strategy for the benchmarking
model is outlined. This strategy should include a set date after
which the model is not changed for a while, so that comparable
data will be obtained, and the data holders are motivated to contribute.
Further, it is recommended that effort is put into providing clear
and useful information about the model to the recipients - covering
issues such as background, target group, future development of
the model, feedback to data holders, and not least substantial
guidelines for completing the questionnaires.
Finally, to avoid confusion and to get the most out of the resources,
it is recommended that a clear relationship between the NRG working
group (and its model) and the Minerva Work Package on benchmarking
is established. This, of course, is also a discussion that is
of relevance not only to the benchmarking exercise, but also to
the NRG work as a whole. Please refer also to the Danish position
paper for this discussion.
Having mentioned the above reservations, it is the overall assessment
of the ministry that the benchmarking exercise continues to be
an important part of the NRG, and the ministry is continuously
prepared to endorse and promote the model where applicable.
To the knowledge of the ministry, there are no other cross-sectoral
digitisation benchmarking initiatives of relevance to the NRG
Inventories and resource discovery
In the broad definition of inventories used in the guidelines, the purpose
of mapping available inventories is closely related to the purposes
of benchmarking, promoting good practices, developing the Brussels
Quality Framework and identifying competence centres, and referral
is therefore made to these sections.
In the Danish context, an important example is the Culturenet
inventory of existing and on-going digitisation and dissemination
projects. Providing a close-to-complete list of significant projects
to date serves the purpose (apart from pointing the population
to the projects) of enabling interested parties and institutions
to get an overview of and inspiration from existing initiatives,
as well as getting an entry point to more detailed information
about these projects.
Further, all the major digitisation institutions work with open
inventories and communication of projects, resources and experts.
It is therefore the assessment of the Danish Ministry of Culture
that within the Danish context it is relatively easy to draw on
existing expertise, experience and information.
Referring to the question of multilinguality, most projects are
still in Danish only, but with some notable exceptions (please
refer to the list above). Of course, the degree of relevance of
multilinguality depends on the type of content and its context,
but it is the policy of the Danish Ministry of Culture to provide
as much content in foreign languages as is relevant and economically
Digital rights management continues to be a very important issue
in the Danish debate. As the theme is obviously international
it its scope, the Danish efforts have been focused around creating
competencies to manage the situation. Thus, some institutions
have acquired detailed knowledge of the area, and are able to
give advice and guidance in this field (amongst others the National
Library Agency (http://www.bs.dk/english.ihtml)
and the Royal Library (http://www.kb.dk/index-en.htm).
To this should be added that Culturenet Denmark has conducted
seminars and set up discussion fora on the subject.
Regarding metadata, no standards or centralised guidelines have
been developed. However, it is the impression of the ministry
that some de facto standards are widespread and that these often
are shared in the international networks, in which the different
institutions take part. To the knowledge of the ministry, no co-ordination
activities with Minerva on these issues have taken place so far.
Good practice and skills
Good practice exemplars and guidelines
The digitisation community in Denmark is relatively small. For this reason, it is comparably easy to get an overview over existing projects, skills and experiences, as described above. As the relevant bodies are also relatively well connected to each other, there is reason to believe that positive experience and good examples are communicated widely.
This, however, is of course not the same as identifying and promoting good practices. That requires some measurable parameters for digitisation projects, and often a benchmarking exercise first. As described earlier, there has been no centralised effort to develop such measures.
In conclusion there may be widespread knowledge in Denmark of digitisation projects and experiences. But this is not examined systematically and distributed and promoted equally. And because this only relates the Danish experience, and not European or international (which may be of much bigger relevance), there seem to be a need for a more systematic effort to identify and promote good practices. The Danish Ministry of Culture therefore supports the continued efforts in the NRG on this point.
There are no formally nominated competence centres within digitisation in Denmark, and therefore no criteria to select such centres. However, among the major cultural institutions, a certain degree of specialisation has taken place, resulting in a corresponding competence development. A very rough and incomplete outline of these competencies is sketched below. The mentioned competencies are thus also present in other institutions, including the ones not mentioned here:
Main digitisation training initiatives for cultural heritage institutions
Several ICT/digitisation training courses are conducted yearly at the Danish
The courses aim at different groups of primarily library employees,
and are evaluated and developed continuously.
Further, the National Cultural Heritage Agency in co-operation
with the Danish Museum School provide courses in different aspects
of digitisation and use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
in this regard.
The courses have been very well attended, covering almost the
entire population of Danish museums.
In addition to this, there is a substantial amount of in-house
training, especially in the major digitisation institutions, where
the skills are already acquired.
European added value and content framework
Quality and accessibility for Web sites
The Danish Ministry of Culture supports the adoption of Brussels Quality Framework, where applicable and suitable. As is also the case for the benchmarking exercise, the guiding principle for the adoption of such measures should be volunteerism, instead of compulsion. The Ministry therefore endorses the framework and encourages the relevant institutions to apply it to their context.
Further, it is the opinion of the Danish Ministry of Culture that the development of an overall (European) implementation plan along the lines of the suggestions mentioned for the benchmarking exercise would be valuable for the adoption of the Quality Framework.
As reported in chapter one of this text, a working group on preservation of digital cultural heritage is under way with recommendations for a future policy in the field.
It is expected that the policy will address both preservation of digitised and born digital material - including dynamic Web content.
An important research project on digital preservation has recently
been conducted in co-operation between the Royal Library, the State
Library and Danish Centre for Internet Research. This research project
has delivered important inputs to the working group, and has drawn
on both national and international experience. The report can be
found at http://cfi.imv.au.dk/eng/.
Research activities on digitisation
In addition to the above mentioned research project in co-operation with a department of the University of Aarhus, co-operation have been established between the Royal Library and the Institute for Computer Science of the University of Copenhagen regarding technical solutions for concrete text digitisation projects.
Further, the Danish Library Agency has commissioned a report on digitisation policy for research libraries that may be of interest in the context of the NRG. The report may be obtained by contacting the Danish National Library Authority.