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.
During the last decade significant projects have been developed in the field of digitalisation of memory institutions and developing other services in cultural field. Many of these projects have been co-financed by the EU Structural Funds. 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 4 000 computers to meet an anticipated high demand, and to offer basic computer training for 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. 28 regional libraries have been equipped with computers for blind people.
As the result of the project, the role of public libraries has become also social and information centres. The study on Latvian public libraries and the internet (2013, available in Latvian here) suggests that 17% of respondents use libraries for printing, scanning, copying documents and 15% use the internet on computers at libraries.
Unified Archival Information System
The aim is to launch an integrated system for all the archives in Latvia making them freely available to society.
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 project is implemented with the support of the European Regional Development Fund.
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:
- Multimedia Design Department at J.Rozentals Upper Secondary Art School http://www.jrrmv.lv/?l=1;
- Riga Centre for New Media Culture RIXC http://www.rixc.lv;
- Contemporary Art Museum Project http://www.camp.lv/eng/;
- Multimedia Design Company http://www.dd.lv/studio/index.php?lang=eng; and
- Culture and Art Project "Noass" http://www.noass.lv.
Chapter published: 08-10-2014