In its Digitisation in Cultural Heritage Institutions Survey 2014 report eNumerate surveyed over 1400 libraries, museums, archives, and other institutions, across the UK and 32 European countries, to assess the current state of digitisation in Europe.
The 54-page digitisation report is very in-depth, so to save you time, we’ve summarised what we think are the five most important highlights below…
64% of Institutions have no written Digitisation Strategy
Only 36% of heritage institutions surveyed had a written digitisation strategy. Although this represents a slight increase of 2% from eNumerate’s 2012 survey, this still reveals that a vast majority of 64% have no written strategy for digitising their collections.
In a world of limited time and resources, few organisations are able to digitise all of their physical collections. So a written digitisation strategy is invaluable in prioritising the order of collections and materials to be digitised; whether they be prioritised by level of risk to the collection, value to the institution, demand from stakeholders, or a mixture of these approaches.
17% of Collections surveyed have been Digitised
It was found that, on average, approximately 17% of analogue collections held by the institutions surveyed had been digitised, with an average of 52% of collections still needing to be digitally reproduced. Museums were revealed to be the heaviest adopters of digitisation, with on average 24% of their collections already converted to digital format.
Further data from the report shows a strong relationship between budget available and level of digitisation, so it follows that one reason for such a large proportion of materials awaiting digitisation may be budgetary limitations.
Digitisation and Metadata creation account for 56% of incidental costs
Conversion of analogue collections to digital format and the creation of associated metadata are the largest costs involved in the initial creation of digital collections; with digitisation and metadata creation accounting for 37% and 19% of costs, respectively.
28% of costs are for outsourcing External Digitisation Suppliers
This may reflect the specialist nature of many digitisation projects, where it is necessary to outsource to specialist external suppliers to adequately handle and scan fragile and timeworn heritage collections.
Academic Research and Preservation key motivations for providing digital access
Institutions surveyed, perhaps unsurprisingly, cited academic research/education and minimising wear on physical materials as the main reasons behind providing digital access to their collections.
Interestingly, in these economically difficult times where heritage budgets are being squeezed, participating institutions cited Sales/Commercial Licensing as the least important reason to make digital collections accessible to the public. This suggests an opportunity to generate revenues from digitised collections is perhaps being missed, though often projects funded by grants (such as HLF) require free, open access to be provided as a condition of the funding.
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You might also want to read our Eight Key Insights from the Culture24 report on Digital Engagement and Getting Started in Digital Preservation Key Takeaways posts.
Or click to download the full eNumerate Digitisation Survey 2014 report.