“For centuries, libraries, archives and museums from across Europe have been the custodians of our rich and diverse cultural heritage. They have preserved and provided access to the testimonies of knowledge, beauty and imagination, such as sculptures, paintings, music and literature. The new information technologies have created unbelievable opportunities to make this common heritage
more accessible for all. Culture is following the digital path and “memory institutions” are adapting
the way in which they communicate with their public.

Digitisation breathes new life into material from the past, and turns it into a formidable asset for the individual user and an important building block of the digital economy. We are of the opinion that the public sector has the primary responsibility for making our cultural heritage accessible and preserving it for future generations. This responsibility for and control over Europe’s heritage cannot be left to one or a few market players, although we strongly encourage the idea of bringing more private investments and companies into the digitisation arena through a fair and balanced partnership.

“Digitising our cultural heritage is a gigantic task that requires large investments. According to a study, in total some €100bn will be necessary over time to bring our complete heritage online. This type of effort needs time and the investment will need to be carefully planned and co-ordinated in order to get the best results.

We think that the benefits are worth the effort. These benefits are in the first place related to the wider access to and democratisation of culture and knowledge, as well as the benefits for the educational system – both schools and universities. Other major benefits lie in the economic sphere
and concern the development of new technologies and services for digitisation, for digital preservation and for interacting in innovative ways with the cultural material. The digitised material can in itself be a driver of innovation and be at the basis of new services in sectors such as tourism and learning.”