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Lithuanian Cultural Heritage in the Virtual Environment

Innovations and Significance of the project "Development of the Virtual Electronic Heritage System"

  The project consolidates efforts by diverse memory institutions to achieve a common goal – providing the broadest possible access to the cultural heritage for Lithuanian and worldwide users. The Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania received financial support of 12.4 million LTL from the European Union Structural Funds for implementation of the project "Development of the Virtual Electronic Heritage System" (hereafter, VEPS) in line with the implementation measure No.VP2-3.1-IVPK-04-V-01-001 "Lithuanian culture in the information society". This project is a follow-up of the 2005–08 project "Creation of the Integrated Virtual Library Information System".

Project duration: 30 months after signing the agreement (the agreement signed on 3 February 2010).

Project's basics: The accomplishment of the project "Creation of the Integrated Virtual Library Information System" resulted in building a system for the electronic heritage based on a common approach to cultural heritage objects and establishment of an integrated database and the web portal (www.epaveldas.lt). Thus all possible conditions have been created in Lithuania for the development of digitization and creating the content of digital cultural heritage and access to it. The data bank of the established integrated virtual system now contains over 3 million pages of most valuable old books, newspapers, artworks, manuscripts and church registers. The following goals will be reached after the project's accomplishment: the number of project partners will increase; digitization activities will continue: 2 295 506 pages of documents preserved in archives, libraries and museums, 17 500 images from the Lithuanian Art Museum and 11 000 musical works (sound recordings with the total duration of 71 580 minutes) are intended to be digitized and delivered into the data bank and onto the portal www.epaveldas.lt. There will be further improvement of electronic services.

The project's accomplishment will solve the following issues:

•  Cultural heritage objects preserved in memory institutions will be transferred to the electronic space, thus preventing their deterioration;
•  Preservation of information and better access to it;
•  Increased currency and visibility of cultural heritage objects;
•  Provision of convenient access to digital heritage objects within the data bank of the Virtual Electronic Heritage System.


Project goal: ensuring continuity of the creation and access of Lithuanian cultural heritage content by developing the virtual electronic heritage system.

Project tasks:

•  Expansion of the network for the creation of digital content by establishing new digitization centres and units;
•  Expansion and development of the virtual system for digital cultural heritage;
•  Ensuring digitization of cultural heritage objects and access to them.

The 2005–08 project "Creation of the Integrated Virtual Library Information System" and the VEPS project under implementation have impacts on the following aspects:

•  Lithuanian cultural policy. The project's goals have led to political decisions. A Concept for Digitization of the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage adopted by the Lithuanian Government in 2005 consolidated a new paradigm for partnership between memory institutions; on 20 May 2009, the Strategy for Digitization of the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage, Digital Content Preservation and Access was adopted by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania;
•  The methodology for partnership between archives, libraries and museums based on shared metadata, digital object archiving, preservation and access standards;
•  Technological solutions ensuring integrity of Lithuanian cultural heritage content by providing convenient and flexible access to users as well as long-term preservation within the virtual system and the web portal;
•  Content of the digital cultural heritage. Rich and diverse content of the cultural heritage provides opportunities for comprehensive expression of the national culture within the global community of cultures.

Key economic and social aspects of these innovations:

•  A data bank for digitized cultural heritage data from libraries, archives and museums has been created; its virtual services are now available for Lithuanian and worldwide users on the integrated portal www.epaveldas.lt. The data bank enables convenient and broad access to objects of Lithuanian culture, art, folk art and published documentary heritage;
•  The established electronic public services have been updated and improved;
•  Access to digital heritage preserved in libraries, archives and museums: access to catalogues has been enabled, and a mechanism for digital document search is in place;
•  Open and free access to the virtual library system ensures equal opportunities for all users;
•  The VEPS software has been improved, which is now ontology-based (CIDOC CRM and its extension CRMdig). This ontology and its extension as well as semantic web technologies and the thesaurus of Lithuanian personal names, geographical names and historical chronology (BAVIC) provide favourable opportunities for aggregating digital content and providing convenient access to it by means of semantic search.

 
 
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