4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies
The digitalisation of national cultural heritage involves the documentation of all state-owned collections regardless of the medium used: ancient manuscripts, maps, plans, paintings, drawings, films, regional stories and songs, etc. Nearly 5 million documents and over 2 000 hours of sound recordings have been digitised. Since 2000, the Ministry of Culture and Communication has also provided support for the digitalisation projects of local and regional authorities and associations.
A great deal of research work was carried out to improve digitalisation processes, document indexing and digitised content. The adoption of rules governing the description of documents is aimed at guaranteeing the compatibility of different information systems. As the internet is a world-wide network there is a need for a firm policy on the multilingualism of the sites that diffuse digitised cultural heritage documents (50% of connections to the Joconde database are from outside of France).
Lastly, the availability of interactive sites (Web2.0) is actually transforming the conditions for the creation of music, literature and visual arts.
In France, national heritage visits is the second most popular cultural activity after viewing / listening to television / video / radio, and it has been said that the French have a "great passion" for national heritage. Thousands of heritage associations have been set up since the 1980s (nearly 3 000 in 2004) for the preservation, protection and development of cultural heritage at the local level and have proved to be active independent partners of municipal town councils.
The Ministry does not intend to classify everything as "heritage" in an illusory exercise to make time stand still: rather, it seeks to offer access to information and data to all and to present this data - as is now possible - via information technology. The Ministry seeks to make available, to the general public and to future generations, a wide range of books, archives, art works, objects, films and monuments from which this knowledge is derived, and which can be considered as material evidence of the nation's cultural diversity. The first step in this direction has been the recent efforts of the Ministry with regard to 20th century heritage. Their policy of surveying and protecting industrial heritage is being reinforced to develop this aspect of France's social history and living heritage that transcends local socio-economic concerns and is of interest to the nation as a whole.
Government policy is also oriented toward developing France's written heritage and to make it available to as many people as possible; the National Library is, for example, setting up a network with the regional municipal libraries for this purpose. The National Archives are also being restructured in an effort to redefine its assignments and facilities for researchers and the general public. The proposed law on the information society stipulates that public records will be made fully accessible to all persons on request, thus reinforcing the role of the national archives as a disseminator of the nation's memory.
The "Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine", a museum relating to the history of architectural heritage in France was opened to the public in April 2007 within the Chaillot Palace, in Paris.
For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile France