In 2011 the European Commission released the Recommendation on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation. It has been calculated that the reuse of such cultural wealth will optimise “economic growth, job creation and the quality of life of European citizens.”
Slovene Ministry of Culture has used this opportunity to mobilise the experts in order to identify the issues and receive recommendations for a common strategy. Better late than never. In March 2013 three working groups were formed to discuss the processes of digitisation (coordinated by National University Library), accessibility (coordinated by Ljudmila Art and Science Laboratory), and permanent preservation (coordinated by Archives of the Republic of Slovenia).
After the interim reports on a plenary session in June 2013 it became clear that we are participating in a unique cross-disciplinary and cross-sector endeavour that has united different stakeholders as ‘brothers in digital arms.’ The discussions have enjoyed the attention of the Minister of Culture, and have attracted also scientists, copyright experts, and ARNES, the academic IT infrastructure provider. This unusual list of synergies includes also the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration, responsible for the implementation of the Directive 2003/98/EC on the reuse of public sector information.
These cross-disciplinary working groups have prepared draft proposals for recommended formats, basic common metadata, copyright licences etc. on a national level and are still open for new participants to join in. Till September, when the final document will be presented, the groups will also work on a common Terminology Vocabulary and on a proposed survey on the current state-of-the-art of infrastructure. All documents are available on the working groups’ wiki (in Slovenian).
This working model has enabled the experts from the private non-profits to contribute on an equal basis and the general positive experience gave all the participants a tremendous boost. It is expected that this process will be complemented by the National Culture Programme for 2014-2017 (currently under public discussion) and will result in a set of support mechanisms and programmes that will sustain the complex processes of digitisation, online accessibility and digital preservation. How symptomatic that this clever initiative for a better management of the cultural heritage as a digital public good has grown in the shadow of a generous calculation of its commercial potential.