Coordinating digitisation in Europe
Progress report of the National Representative Group: coordination
mechanisms for digitisation policies and programmes 2002
ICT Department, National Archives
National Report: Sweden
Policy scenario for digitisation
Digitisation and ALM co-operation
In Sweden, co-ordination of digitisation policies and programmes
on cultural and scientific content is closely related to a national
discussion on increased co-operation between cultural institutions
like archives, libraries and museums. The purpose of this so called
ALM co-operation is not officially defined, but can in most cases
as an ambition to:
- enhance public accessibility to holdings in archives, libraries
- increase quality in the activities of these institutions;
- stimulate a more effective use of resources.
It is also accepted by most cultural institutions
that ALM co-operation can cover all kinds
of co-ordination like:
- planning and actions in ICT;
- digitisation, including technical quality and standards;
- registration, including authorities for terms, names, subjects
- ethic and legal questions;
- different kind of projects like exhibitions, Web sites and
ALM co-operation is today considered as essential for the possibilities
to get results of long lasting value in digitisation.
The Ministry of Culture
is responsible for such matters as the arts, cultural heritage,
the media and religious communities. The ministry is also responsible
for 25 government agencies, some 40 institutions and foundations,
etc., and four enterprises wholly or partially owned by the state.
The Ministry of Education and Science
is responsible for matters regarding pre-school education and
child care for school children, pre-school classes, compulsory
school and equivalent schools, upper secondary school, independent
schools, adult education, popular adult education, post-secondary
education, universities and university colleges, research, study
support and student social issues.
Cultural institutions in Sweden
The archival sector can roughly be divided into public archives
(state archives and archives of local governments and county councils)
and private archives (archives of companies, societies, unions,
etc). The National Archives and the Regional Archives (http://www.ra.se)
are state archives under the heading of the Ministry of Culture.
The library sector is divided into free public libraries, scientific
libraries, and university libraries. Scientific and university
libraries, including the Royal Library (http://www.kb.se),
fall under the Ministry of Education and Science. The Royal Library
is both a national library and a scientific library. Central public
museums are a responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and organised
as authorities or foundations. Today there are ten national public
museum authorities and four national museums that are run as foundations.
The task of the national museums is to collect, collate and disseminate
knowledge of their particular subject field.
Under the Ministry of Culture, the National Council for Cultural
handles certain matters regarding free public libraries and public
museums at regional level. The Council is responsible for implementing
national cultural policy determined by the government and parliament.
It also carries out studies and compiles statistics concerning
the cultural sphere.
The National Heritage Board (http://www.raa.se)
is the central state authority for matters concerning cultural
heritage and cultural environment. The Board falls under the heading
of the Ministry of Culture and is, together with the county administration
and the county museums, responsible for the use and preservation
of the cultural heritage.
The National Archives of Recorded Sound and Moving Images (http://www.ljudochbildarkivet.se)
collects the Swedish output of audiovisual media: broadcast radio
and TV, film, video, records, CDs, multimedia etc. Since 1979
these media are delivered as legal deposit. This authority falls,
like the Royal Library, under the Ministry of Education and Science.
The Swedish Film Institute (http://www.sfi.se)
is a foundation whose operations are regulated by an agreement
between the Swedish State (Ministry of Culture) and the film industry.
Its tasks are to support the production of Swedish films of high
merit, promote the distribution and exhibition of quality film,
preserve films and materials of interests to cinematic and cultural
history, and promote Swedish cinematic culture internationally.
The Swedish National Collections of Music (http://www.smus.se)
is a central government body for music under the heading of the
Ministry of Culture. The fundamental responsibilities are to document,
collect, maintain, preserve, describe and keep alive the musical
heritage and thereby enhance the interest in music, musicology,
and long term accumulation of knowledge. The Swedish National
Collections of Music keep documentation and collections available
for education, research and other studies through loans, programmes,
exhibitions, and publications.
National initiatives for action
In October 2001, the Government instructed the Royal Library,
the National Council for Cultural Affairs, and the National Archives
to describe steps that have been taken concerning co-operation
in the area of ALM, as well between the different sectors as within
each one of them. The Government also asked for an evaluation
of earlier achievements and lessons learned both at national and
international level. This initiative from the Government has its
roots in a request from the Swedish Parliament’s Committee
on Culture Affairs for an analysis of the conditions for a higher
degree of co-operation between the ALM institutions.
From an administrative perspective the Swedish ICT Commission
earlier that year, in a letter to the Government about the need
for measures to develop society’s information infrastructure,
recommended that the cultural heritage institutions “should
be tasked with devising a strategy for the ongoing digitisation
of information in archives, libraries and museums, in a form that
will facilitate simultaneous searching and closer interaction.”
A report on the ALM task was given to the Ministry of Culture
in March 2002 and has since then been circulated for comments
to nearly one hundred institutions. In this report the cultural
authorities mentioned above propose:
- a national framework on guidelines, recommendations, and standards
common to all ALM sectors;
- a national plan for digitisation;
- a national plan for collecting digital material;
- a national plan for long-term preservation of digital material;
- a national database on names (individuals, families, institutions,
- research and educational activities directed towards the
- a co-ordinating ALM administration built up step by step.
In 2001, the Government called one of Sweden’s County Governors
to conduct an inquiry on archival matters, one being the long-term
preservation of digital material. In his report to the Minister
of Culture in September 2002, the Governor highlights the urgent
need for actions to preserve digital information and proposes
measures to take. The Governar also emphasized that the question
is of fundamental significance not only for the possibility of
preserving today’s cultural heritage but also for the introduction
of e-government in the Swedish public administration.
This archival report will be circulated for comments during the
During 2003 the Government is expected to take some formal decisions
based on both the ALM report and the archival report. It can be
expected that the Government will underline the importance of
improving the accessibility of cultural heritage information in
such a way that new user groups can get best possible benefit
out of it. One of the main points will probably be how to improve
the co-ordination and interaction between the ALM institutions.
Terms of reference and National policy profile
Terms of reference
The Ministry of Culture appoints the national representative for
Sweden and has also accepted the terms of reference for the National
Representative Group. The national representative reports regularly
to an informal working group at the ministry in accordance with
the Swedish regulations for official experts in the European Commission.
National policy profile
The leading cultural institutions in Sweden have hardly more than
started systematic digitisation of their holdings, and smaller
institutions are, if they have started, often focusing on limited
ad hoc projects. Almost every ALM institution has with more or
less eagerness tried to form its own policy, often based on short
term and urgent needs, and today it makes no sense to talk about
a National Policy Profile for Sweden. After the adoption of the
Lund Principles attempts have been made to form one, but it has
not been possible to cover all diversities. However, this situation
has made it obvious that there is a need for increased co-ordination
in digitisation. Consequently, proposals have been made in that
direction, for example in the ALM report mentioned earlier.
The Ministry of Culture has (preliminarily) taken the position
that a Swedish National policy profile should serve the purpose
of an entry point on the Web, where individuals and institutions
interested in digitisation can get an broad overview of the situation
in Sweden. The policy profile should also point to information
publicly available concerning on-going digitisation programmes,
competence centres, officially adopted guidelines, role models
etc. It is also (preliminarily) decided that this entry point
shall be under the administration of CultureNet Sweden.
Co-ordination of national networks
At the moment no formal Swedish network for the co-ordination
of digitisation exists on national level. Before any decision
is made, it is necessary to analyse the comments on the ALM report
and the archival report that are under circulation. The national
representative is for the moment using the reference group of
an ALM-project called “Image databases and digitisation
- a platform for ALM collaboration” as an informal national
network. This joint project involves the Royal Library, the National
Archives, the National Museum of Fine Arts, and the National Heritage
Board, and its reference group covers many of Sweden’s leading
Relationships and co-ordination with other national initiatives
in connection with eEurope, e-government, e-learning
There are several formal and informal national networks of interest
for NRG initiatives. Examples at national level are:
- Kulturnät Sverige/CultureNet Sweden (http://www.kultur.nu),
initiated by the Swedish government to increase access to Swedish
culture through the Internet and since January 2000 a permanent
responsibility for the National Council for Cultural Affairs.
The Website of CultureNet Sweden is the official and national
gateway to all Swedish cultural resources on the Internet.
- “Fotosekretariatet”, a special secretariat at
the National Museum of Cultural History (http://www.nordm.se)
that since 1993 has the task to stimulate co-ordination and
exchange of good practices concerning preservation of photo
material connected to cultural history. The work of this secretariat
is lead by a board representing archives, museums, libraries,
and the Swedish professional association for photographers.
- “Produktrådet” (The National Archives advisory
board on archival products), representing end users of archival
material like scientists, university and high school teachers,
genealogists etc. The Board has for example approved the strategy
for digitisation used by the state archives since mid-90s.
- The Immigrant Institute (http://www.immi.se),
a non-governmental organisation which aims is to be a research
and documentation centre about immigrants and refugees, with
an archive, a library and a museum. Languages: Swedish, English,
Examples of networks at regional level of interest for NRG are:
- “Kulturarv Östergötland” (Cultural heritage
in the county of Östergötland; http://www.kulturnat-östergotland.com).
- “Kulturnät Gävleborg” (Culture net
- “Kultur Öresund” (A calendar on culture
in the region of Öresund; http://www.kultunaut.dk).
One of their working areas is benchmarking. Languages: Swedish
- Dalarna´s Culture. Unity out of diversity (http://www.knd.nu).
Languages: Swedish, English, German.
- “Nordliga Dimensionens Folktraditionsnätverk 2000”
(A project with the aim to enhance the conditions for inhabitants
in the Barents region to protect and inform about their culture,
Languages: Swedish, Finnish, Russian.
The research community has sometimes formed institutions and activities
that are related to the cultural institutions. Examples of that
- Swedish Social Science Data Service (SSD; http://www.ssd.gu.se),
a data archive for machine-readable data in the social sciences
and humanities, placed at the University of Gothenburg. The
main task for SSD is to increase the availability of machine-readable
data for research within Swedish historical and social science
- The Demographic Database (DDB; http://
www.ddb.umu.se), a special unit at the University of Umeå
producing and making accessible databases on historical information
found mainly in church books from the 18th and 19th centuries.
DDB started in 1973 under the heading of the National Archives.
Co-ordination with other European Union initiatives
Each minister in the Swedish government is responsible for handling
European Union related matters in his or hers ministry. Swedish
contacts with the union are co-ordinated by a special under-secretary
of State at the Prime Minister’s Office. National initiatives
in connection with eEurope, eGovernment, and e-learning are therefore
continuously co-ordinated as a part of the normal routine.
European and international co-operation
All major cultural institutions take part in international co-operation
and networks within their own area of responsibility. In many
cases these activities contain elements of digitisation normally
focusing on their respective sector. The Ministry of Culture does
not intend to merge these co-operation and networks with the work
of the NRG. It seems more important to build a common platform
for exchange of information between interested parties.
The benchmarking model has been distributed through the informal
national network used by the Swedish national representative (e.g.
the reference group in the ALM-project called “Image databases
and digitisation - a platform for ALM collaboration”).
The absence of co-ordinated policies and programmes on digitisation
in Sweden (see above) has resulted in a situation where attempts
to implement benchmarking only cover projects. The general opinion
of these projects is that benchmarking as such could be a useful
tool, but the same set of indicators cannot be used to measure
both projects aiming at practicable solutions and policies and
programmes describing objectives and achievements in general terms.
It must also be clarified if the benchmarking model is meant to
- to collect data on sector and/or national level, or
- by the individual programmes and projects to improve their
practices by measuring themselves, or
- both for data collection and self-measuring.
Another observation is that the benchmarking model has changed
too often to give comparable data over time.
It is important that benchmarking is implemented in such a way
that it can serve as a tool for both co-ordinating and improving
practices within as well as between Member States.
Inventories and resource discovery
In 1999 CultureNet Sweden made an inventory on digitising projects
in archives, libraries and museums. About 200 different kinds
of projects were found - some very small, others very big. This
first attempt will serve as a base for a national inventory database
of on-going projects within the Minerva-project.
The National Archives has developed a national archival database
(NAD) which is published both on CD-ROM and on the Internet (http://www.nad.ra.se).
The Internet version contains today information of archival fonds
in state archives, including the National Registry of Private
Archives, but will in the near future also include information
of archival fonds in libraries and museums. From the Internet
version it is possible to reach the National Archives Internet
shop and order microfiche copies, books etc. This service will
also cover digital images.
An example of a more specialised archival inventory is the Guide
to Archival Sources on the Holocaust, Holocaust-Era Assets, and
Related Issues in the National Archives of Sweden (http://www.ra.se/EN/holocaust1.html).
In the cultural environment sector there are several inventories
connected to cultural heritage. One is “Kulturmiljöbild”
(Images of Swedish Heritage), a vast database with digitalised
pictures of historical sites from all over the country (buildings,
ancient monuments, World Heritage Sites, cities and factories
of importance to Swedish cultural history, http://www.raa.se/kmb/indexe.asp).
Maps from early 17th century until now are available to access
and order on the homepage of the Swedish land survey authority
The National Archives of Recorded Sound and Moving Images has
put a number of databases on Internet, among them “Swedish
national discography”, “Swedish national film- and
videography”, and “Swedish folk music”.
Metadata and interoperability for resource inventories
The Royal Library and the National Archives have decided about
common rules for authorities (individuals, institutions, families,
places, administrative boundaries etc.) and data elements in archival
inventories. Therefore, it will soon be possible to do cross-over
searching between the National Archival Database (NAD) and the
National Library Database (LIBRIS).
Good practice and skills
Good practice exemplars and guidelines
There are no standards or national guidelines in use for the
moment. The project “Image databases and digitisation -
a platform for ALM co-operation”, mentioned earlier, has
as a general goal to develop standards and guidelines in digital
Some cultural institutions have on-going projects that can serve
as role models. Knowledge in digitisation is also spread through
contacts and co-operation with international organisations like
the International Council on Archives (ICA), the International
Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the
International Council of Museums (ICOM) etc.
Some of these organisations have decided about standards for their
respective professions like ICA´s ISAD (G) (General International
Standard on Archival Description) and IFLA´s ISBD (International
Standard on Bibliographic Description).
There are no formally appointed competence centres on digitising
in Sweden and no criteria to select such centres. All institutions
working with digitisation have to some extent special competences
in digitising their own material, for example:
- Royal Library
Digitisation of printed material and preservation of Web content;
- National Archives
Digitisation of archival material, long-term preservation of
archival material in digital form, and databases on archival
- The Swedish land
Digitisation and presentation of maps on the Web survey authority;
- The National Heritage Board
Databases on cultural heritage;
- The National Archives of Recorded Sound and Moving IMAGES
Preservation of recorded sound and moving images and databases
on these issues
Main digitisation training initiatives for cultural heritage
There are no organised digitisation training courses on national
level, but in-house courses on ICT/digitisation are conducted
by several cultural institutions. However, in 1997 - 98 a special
foundation for the development of knowledge and competences (KK-stiftelsen)
financed joint ICT courses (Web design, digitisation, preservation)
for archivists, librarians and museum employees.
The University of Uppsala has a special department for ALM studies.
Besides their ordinary programmes they carry out courses on the
Internet (e-learning) about ICT in archives, libraries and museums.
Teaching digitisation on theoretical level is normally
a part of university programmes on archival science, library science
and museum studies.
European added value and content framework
Quality and accessibility for Web sites
Questions on quality are closely related to benchmarking and
good practices. Quality is also an important aspect of the cultural
institution’s mission to support society with knowledge
and to give conditions for citizens to participate in culture
activities. Therefore, the adoption of the Brussels Quality Framework
is an important issue. Plans are made to form a working group
with the task to develop quality criteria for Swedish digitised
cultural resources that are available on the Internet.
Another important issue is to follow the Content Accessibility
Guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium/Web Accessibility
Initiative (W3C/WAI) concerning how to make Web content accessible
to people with disabilities.
In Sweden, governmental electronic records have been continuously
transferred to the National Archives
for the last thirty years. State agencies are required to transfer
their records in hardware and software independent formats together
with documentation containing both metadata (data on data) and
contextual information. Since mid -1990s a rapidly growing part
of the records in public administration
are in an electronic form, and normally integrated in huge systems
or networks based on on-line communication. Therefore, the archival
report (see chapter 1) propose a new solution for preserving digital
content in archives built on (1) Open Archival Information System
(the OAIS model) and (2) XML-related standards.
The earliest time for a decision about changing the strategy is
next year when the report has been circulated for comments.
There are other proposals too in the archival reports: The National
Archives should in co-operation with universities start up technical
research regarding long-term preservation of electronic records.
The National Archives should also, together with public archival
institutions on regional and local level,
make an inventory of older IT-systems in the public administration
and what is left of them in order to make it possible to decide
about their preservation or appraisal.
The Royal Library has acquired, described, preserved and made
available all Swedish printed publications since the 17th century.
Nowadays many documents are published only in digital form and
the number of items increases rapidly. Therefore, the Royal Library
has started a project with the aim to collect, preserve and make
available Swedish documents from the Internet. This lays the foundation
of a collection of the Swedish electronic publishing.
The National Archives of Recorded Sound and Moving Images are
doing a continuous work in preserving their holdings in digital
Research activities on digitisation
The National Archives plans together with Luleå University
of Technology (http://www.luth.se)
to start a joint research unit in the beginning of 2003. The aim
is to create a scientific environment connected to the university
that can serve as a research and competence centre on digital
preservation for institutions and agencies, both public and private,
in Sweden or elsewhere.