4.2.11 New technologies and digitalisation in the arts and culture
In 2003 the State Agency Culture Information Systems was established under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture. The Agency has initiated intense work to stimulate the use of new technologies, especially in museums, archives and libraries. See also the Latvian report on the culture digitalisation network MINERVA - "Progress report of the National Representatives Group: coordination mechanisms for digitisation policies and programmes":
The following activities feature important developments in the field:
Municipal public library development project
In order to hasten the development process of Latvian libraries, a huge project in the field of IT and culture was started in 2006. Within the framework of the Global Libraries Initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Republic of Latvia has received a grant of USD 16.2 million to provide all 874 Latvian public libraries with broadband Internet connections, to build a Wi-Fi network for library users, to provide approximately three computers per library to meet an anticipated high demand, and to offer basic computer training for approx. 7 700 library librarians. Microsoft Latvia has donated the software. For the first time, significant technical investments were made in the Library for People who are Blind. In 2010, the project was continued.
As the result of the project, the role of public libraries has broadened into social and information centres. The number of visitors to public libraries has grown; 74% of inhabitants consider a library as the only free of charge information and culture centre.
Unified Archival Information System
The aim is to launch an integrated system for all the archives in Latvia making them freely available to society. In 2010, digitalisation of documents continued.
This is an integrated technical infrastructure unifying 111 museums in Latvia (74 municipal museums, 25 state museums, 12 private museums). There are about 5.4 million objects in the National Museum Holding, yet 97% of them are not available to the broader public. The project aims to enhance the accessibility of museum holdings for the broader public.
The Culture Mapping Project began in 2005. It is a complex database of cultural infrastructure and services all over Latvia. Since 2010, the statistical data on cultural institutions are collected through this website, although public accessibility of statistics is still provided by the Central Statistical Bureau.
There are other initiatives in the field of digitalisation, such as technical administration of the library information system - Aleph500 and the State Integrate Library Information System. The National Film Centre in collaboration with the state agency "Cultural Information Systems" has made Latvian films available free of charge in 874 public libraries via 4 000 computers all around Latvia. With the support of EU structural funds, the archives of public radio and TV are to be digitalised and made available through the network of public libraries. During the years 2009-2011 an integrated information management system is being elaborated to unify information about cultural institutions.
Many new technology projects and culture related internet portals are supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation. For further information on the new technologies in the arts see also: