Emphasising the importance of digitalization
Modern technologies create the opportunity to multiply different ways how to preserve the cultural heritage and legacy for the future generations. Estonia has developed several digital platforms to meet these possibilities and integrate the modern IT solutions with the cultural services and databases. For instance, there is a special IT tool “MUIS” (http://www.muis.ee/en_GB/) created for museums to digitalize the collections and also make these resources more easily accessible. There are similar developments in action also in the field of cultural heritage and libraries (including the interfacing models to link with worldwide databases, e.g. services provided by Europeana).
The period 2013-2015 was covered by the National Strategy for Digital Cultural Heritage 2011-2016. The main aims of this strategy were:
- ensuring that digitization becomes a routine, daily activity in memory institutions,
- improving the nationwide co-ordination of digitization and preservation of digital cultural heritage,
- developing a shared framework of services based on digital cultural heritage.
New operational programme for the national digitization strategy of cultural heritage has been prepared for the period of 2016-2020. A national funding programme will be opened in 2017 using the EU structural funds. Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications will announce the first call for proposals which will have to be based on the operational programme developed by the Estonian Ministry of Culture.
The Museums Act (2013) stipulates a deadline for state museums to digitize all their collections by 2018. However, several museums have already applied to prolong this deadline. Individual domains – libraries, archives and museums – are collaborating for defining their own digitization strategies that set targets for the 2-3 year horizon. For archives, standards for formats were established in the Archive Act (2011) and these were implemented during the 2013-2015 period.
The Estonian Ministry of Culture together with the Conservation and Digitisation Centre Kanut developed digitization guidelines for museums in 2015. Implementation of these guidelines has started as best practice. Libraries have agreed on digitization standards for most types of publications and the National Digital Archive DIGAR at the National Library has developed its own guidelines for digitization.
In Estonia digitization has concentrated into larger memory institutions, therefore the number of organisations the Estonian Ministry of Culture works with has narrowed down. This facilitates co-ordination of reporting activities. There are five digitization competence centres for different types of heritage. National Library is the competence centre for printed heritage, National Archives for archival material, photography and video material, the Conservation and Digitisation Centre Kanut is a centre for artefacts, art and photography, Estonian Literary Museum for manuscripts. Collaborative projects between centres do exist. No cross-border initiatives have occurred thus far.
There is a general target to digitalize Estonian cultural heritage by 2018 in order to make it more easily accessible and reusable. Estonian Ministry of Culture has conducted regular surveys (2010, 2012, 2013) on the progress with digitization and for preparing the operational programme of heritage digitization (2014). The survey covered all memory institutions regardless of their ministerial subordination. Estonian Ministry of Culture encouraged memory institutions to fill in the ENUMERATE surveys and the ministry is highly interested in continuing its participation in the ENUMERATE and other surveys on the European level.
Initial resources from EU structural funds to be allocated for digitalization of cultural heritage during the period 2014-2020 was 10 million euros. Currently the operational programme will be made for 6 million euros of which 3 millions will come from EU structural funds.