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Europe's cultural institutions face digitisation challenges

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A new survey shows that Europe’s cultural institutions face a massive task in digitising their collections. The ENUMERATE Survey Report on Digitisation in European Cultural Heritage reveals that, although more than three-quarters of them have a digital collection, or are involved in digitisation, only 34 per cent have a written digitisation strategy and just 31 per cent have a policy on use of their digital collections.

The survey found that about 20 per cent of all collections, that need to be, are digitised. Art museums are the most digitised with 42 per cent, but national libraries have only digitised 4 per cent of their collections against a target of 62 per cent.

Among national libraries, 40 per cent of respondents stated there is no national digital preservation strategy, compared with 13 per cent for all institutions. However, by 2014 institutions estimate they will make twice as much of their collections accessible through Europeana compared to today.

On average 3.3 per cent of paid staff in all cultural heritage institutions work full time on digitisation while in national libraries on average 15 staff are involved in the digitisation process. In other types of institutions the “digitisation team” is limited to on average to about 5.5 staff.

Institutions spend around €20,000 to €40,000 on digitisation except audio-visual institutions, which have a digitisation expenditure of €103,000 per FTE (full time equivalent). Funding from internal budgets is a source of funding for 87 per cent of the institutions, while public grants or subsidies are mentioned by 40 per cent.

The survey, which carried out in early 2012 by the ENUMERATE Thematic Network, attracted almost 2,000 responses and was conducted with the assistance of national coordinators in 29 European countries.