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Path: Home | Publications | Quality criteria  |  Table of contents  | Preface


Handbook for quality in cultural Web sites
Improving quality for citizens

Preface and background


The web has promoted an increasing proliferation of on-line cultural applications. Almost every cultural institution or initiative today wants to be on the web, and to promote itself, to disseminate its content, and its activities through the Internet.

Quality must be ensured for the delivery of cultural content.

Yet quality is a very broad, generic and sometimes subjective concept.

Therefore the goal of quality framework is to break down quality into a series of criteria which are specific to cultural web sites.

A quality framework in this domain can only be developed at a multinational level, involving cultural institutions and actors from different national cultures and acting from various professional backgrounds.

The framework is an evolving structure, which needs to be extended and improved along the time as experience and case studies are carried on. The framework can evolve only as a result of European co-operation.

As such, the MINERVA project provides a perfect environment where such a framework can be developed.


Genesis of the European Quality Criteria

European Quality Criteria have their origin in the Lund Principles adopted on 4 April 2001, where the European Commission was invited to collaborate with Member States, in particular to "Optimise the value and develop shared visions of European content, by developing criteria and a framework for an EU collaboration plan for digital cultural and scientific content, together with appropriate implementation means...( ) through identifying added value conditions for European content.

This reflection continued, during the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, in a wide-ranging debate of experts on the theme of the Culture and the Knowledge Society to lead to the Resolution " Culture and the Knowledge Society " adopted during the European Council of Culture Ministers the 5th November 2001. The Resolution more specifically invites the Commission and Member States to encourage "quality-initiatives" in cultural web sites.

The first European document on quality criteria for cultural web sites, the Brussels Quality Framework, which originated in the Principles adopted at Lund, was presented during the first meeting of the National Representatives Group held in Brussels on the 11th December 2001. Its aim was to make quality more objective, applicable and measurable.


The Minerva Quality Working Group

Starting from the conclusions of this discussion document, in the frame of the activities carried out by the Minerva Quality Working Group, some steps have been gone through, with the pitfalls that a similar process usually meets.

The working group defined "10 Principles", guide the development of cultural access points that celebrate European cultural diversity by providing high quality access for all to digital cultural content. The working group will carry on in the coming months to draft the explanations of these principles.

The Minerva Quality Working group worked on the present Handbook for Quality of cultural Websites and into this Working Group, a genuine, highly motivated European Editorial Committee has been set up. This to the benefit of the work's activities.


Handbook for quality in cultural Websites: improving quality for citizens

The Handbook for quality of Cultural web sites should be considered as a working document, in need of further developed.

This Handbook is not only a working document but also a "work in progress" ; this work is carried out in the context of all Minerva Work Packages, of the documents that they produce, and of the principles and guidelines they formulate.

It creates a FRAMEWORK that can guide the process of formulating quality issues on the CULTURAL level.
In other words; the structure is now there and the complex task of giving it cultural relevance can now start. This job should be a collaborative effort, lead by the European Editorial Committee, but very likely with the solicited input of other experts who are closely monitored.

This Handbook needs also to accommodate a range of conditions that may differ substantially from member state to member state. Specific concerns of all European communities will be included during the course of the on-going substantive and editorial revision and are expected to be published during the course of the Irish Presidency of the European Union.

Arduous labour is still necessary, but it is certain that a very important result has already been achieved: the debate on such a relevant theme has started, with the full awareness that the way to achieve an exhaustive Handbook, ready for adoption at a European level, is not easy, but necessary.


Copyright Minerva Project 2003-11, last revision 2003-11-23, edited by Minerva Editorial Board.
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