Culture Minister David Lammy speaking at an event earlier in 2005. © 24 Hour Museum.
UK Culture Minister David Lammy has unveiled plans to make Europe's cultural heritage more accessible through the Internet.
Speaking at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery on November 16 2005, the minister outlined what has been described as a major landmark in collaborative working by European member states.
"The Action Plan will guide the future coordination of digitisation activity within European member states, with the vision of creating a European Cultural Information space," explained the Culture Minister.
"This will provide rich and diverse cultural resources to support education and research, tourism and the creative industries, and to enable digital access by all citizens to the national, regional and local cultural heritage of Europe."
The Culture Minister launched the plan at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. © 24 Hour Museum.
The launch comes at the end of two information technology conferences in Bristol, which took place on Monday November 15 and Tuesday November 16.
Efforts to co-ordinate the digitisation of cultural heritage across Europe began in 2001 when experts from a number of member states met at Lund in Sweden to produce an action plan.
A National Representatives Group was established and meets at least every six months. At meetings digitisation practices are identified and compared, pan-Europe technical standards are set and best practice guidelines developed.
The new action plan has been developed by the DCMS as one of its priorities for the UK Presidency of the EU and is the result of work by the previous Netherlands and Luxembourg Presidencies.
Among the objectives outlined are providing strategic leadership in a time of rapid technological change and strengthening co-ordination to forge stronger links between digitisation initiatives, EU networks and projects.
The Internet has added an extra dimension to the work of museums, libraries and archives. © 24 Hour Museum.
The plan also aims to avoid fragmentation and duplication of digitisation activities and identify appropriate models, funding and policy approaches to sustain development and to ensure digital content is preserved.
Furthermore it will promote cultural and linguistic diversity through digital content creation, as well as generally improving online access to European cultural content.
MLA has carried out the UK part in the plan’s development: "Digitised cultural resources are essential to help transform teaching and learning in our schools," explained David Dawson, Head of Digital Futures at MLA.
Paul Barnett, Head of Cultural Services for Bristol City Council, felt it was particularly appropriate that the plan should unveiled in Bristol.
"Digitisation of cultural resources is vital for providing improved access to culture for everyone," he commented.
"Bristol and the south-west are renowned for their strong, leading roles in the digital and creative industries and we are delighted that the DCMS and MLA have decided to bring these conferences to Bristol."