This report on Digitisation, Online Accessibility and Digital Preservation of Cultural Material reviews and assesses the overall progress achieved in the European Union in implementing the Commission Recommendation of 27 October 2011 on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation (2011/711/EU), as well as the related Council Conclusions of 10 May 2012.

This Progress report 2013-2015 follows the first progress report issued in 2014 and is based on the second set of national reports submitted late 2015, early 2016 on the implementation of Recommendation 2011/711/EU, which calls on Member States to inform the Commission 24 months from its publication, and every 2 years thereafter, of action taken in response to it. Some countries (BG, HR) report for the first time. All reports received (27 reports at the time of writing) as well as the first progress report are available on the  Digital Culture  dedicated webpage.

Digital technologies and the internet bring unprecedented opportunities to access cultural material for leisure, study or work, reaching out to broader audiences, engaging in new user experiences and reusing it to develop learning and educational content, documentaries, tourism applications, games and other innovative applications.

The Commission Recommendation on digitisation and online accessibility and digital preservation of cultural material (2011/711/EU), endorsed by the Council in May 2012, asked Member States to step up their efforts, pool their resources and involve the private sector in digitising cultural material, in order to increase online accessibility of European cultural heritage and boost growth in Europe’s creative industries. The digitized material should be made more widely available through Europeana, Europe’s digital library, archive and museum.

The national progress reports on the implementation of the Recommendation during 2013-2015 provide a clearer, more comprehensive picture of the situation in the Member States compared to the reports for 2011-2013. Conditions in Member States are more mature overall, though there are still differences across Member States and across the different areas addressed by the Recommendation.

This second reporting period has also witnessed an increase in the number of countries supporting open cultural heritage data and promoting its re-use, by making the data available through API services, or in some cases as linked open data.  

Best practice examples from the digitisation report (2013-2015) include:

  • The British Library Labs initiative established with Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding supports and inspire the public reuse of digital collections and data in exciting and innovative ways, including an annual competition, the release of 1 million images onto Flickr and numerous collaborative projects.
  • The Polish cultural portal Polona allows easy use of its digital resources through social media, mass media, meetings and virtual exhibitions to over 1 million publications including 500.000 press titles and scientific magazines. A new user interface  of the Polish Digital Libraries significantly increases the possibilities to search, share and reuse the digitised collections through an open API.
  • The Dutch Open Cultuur Data  portal promotes open use of digital cultural heritage through hackatons and workshops and the Rijksstudio launched in 2014 by the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam grants an annual Rijksstudio Award for the best creative reuse of content from the virtual studio.
  • In France, the AtlasMuseum initiative makes online accessible cultural heritage in public places ('Musée à ciel ouvert'). Works of public art inventoried through professionals' input (artists, developers, archive professionals, etc.) but also through the crowd are listed, geo-referenced and documented by means of a semantic atlas and a mobile app.
  • In Finland, the latest web service for digitised newspapers, journals and ephemera material enables citizens and researchers to create digital clippings of the digitised content, therefore promoting the reuse and sharing thereof in social media.
  • The Dutch Film Institute EYE has contribute ca. 700 digitised films of its collection to the European Orphan Works Database, making them online accessible  on a pan-European scale.
  • In Greece, the MINT platform for content generation interoperability developed by the National Technical University of Athens has been used in numerous European projects and Europeana to help bringing online digital collections from a variety of fields such as museums, audiovisual, fashion and archeology.
  • The Finnish National Gallery boosts the accessibility and interaction with its digital resources through applications and websites such as Kiasma Tunteella and Online Collection of Finnish State Art.
  • In Sweden, an application based on the National Museums of World Culture (SMVK) links together SMVK's collections that are distributed over different museums databases and makes it possible for them (as well as anyone else) to search information and images, create digital exhibitions and explore the items virtually.
  • Lithuania will use over 35m€ from the EU structural funds in new electronic services based on digital content for users and memory institutions and to adapt digitised heritage for education, tourism, genealogy research and access opportunities for people with disabilities.

The Commission will continue to monitor progress in this area through periodic reports such as the present one and by chairing the Member States' Expert Group.


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