Digitisation and other technical developments in Romania are supported by a number of new projects.
4.2.11 New technologies and digitalisation in the arts and culture
The National Culture Fund is an organisation founded in 2005 for granting support to cultural projects, as well as the development of cultural activities. Through this Fund, development projects and the implementation of new technologies in cultural life should gain momentum. Cultural operators have been consulted in order to develop various focused policies. E-operators were also included in the planning and have been consulted regarding the initiatives included in the programme. In the last few years, the Fund has introduced a chapter for the funding of projects focused on visual arts and new media.
"Better off with a book" is a strategy initiated in 2005 by the Ministry of Culture to increase reading levels. One of the programme's aims is developing a nationwide IT network of public libraries that would include both rural and urban areas. It is composed of:
Starting with the year 2007, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage initiated a proposal for developing a public policy related to the digitisation of the national cultural resources and the realisation of the Digital Library of Romania.
The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage identified the following projects for digitisation: the virtual library of The Metropolitan Library of Bucharest, Wiki source – a Romanian collection realised and updated by volunteers (over 5 900 articles); Scriptorium.ro: Digital Library; Romanian Library - a project of the Association for Cultural Initiatives on the Internet; Digital Brukenthal Project: the collection of the Brukenthal Museum (almost 50 000 pages). Starting in November 2009, The Romanian Society for Broadcasting began to develop a programme for digitisation of written documents and recorded sound archive since 1928, which can be accessed on the Internet at a low cost.
A current programme initiated by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Partnership with IREX Foundation, EOS Foundation (Educating for an Open Society) is Biblionet project which aims to develop a modern system of public libraries in Romania. Through training and technological development, the Biblionet project will ensure the development of integrated technological services in national and local libraries, with the help of the National Association of Public Libraries and Librarians in Romania and the above- mentioned foundations.
Related to new technologies and recent developments in this area, another important programme is INFOCARTE (Romanian Books in Print) - the first online catalogue for the publishing market in Romania released in March 2010. The project was initiated by the Association of Publishers of Romania and received high praise form the Fund for Central and East European Book Projects (CEEBP) in Amsterdam, and also from the Romanian Cultural Institute through the National Book Centre and the financial support of the Erste Foundation Vienna. The Romanian online catalogue Books in Print is the first source that provides essential information regarding all books with ISBN publishers in Romania and displays which ones are available. It also contains reviews and information on authors, translators, publishers, booksellers, antique shops, distributors, importers and exporters of books, libraries, links to relevant sites (literary agents, literary festivals, book fairs, magazines, etc.).
Since 1996, the Institute for Cultural Heritage runs a website (http://www.cimec.ro) which is the main access portal to various sources for Romanian cultural heritage: museums, mobile cultural heritage, archeology, historical monuments, rare books, history, numismatics, ethnography, performance arts, the digital library for manuscripts and rare books, electronic books, cultural legislation, digital maps, etc. The website has a capacity of 16.2 GB on a dedicated server. The website is written in Romanian, being partially accessible in English and with some web pages also translated into French, Hungarian and German. In 2010, there were 1.5 million individual visitors.
Internet access in Romania
According to Eurostat, between 2006 and 2010 internet access in Romanian tripled, but it is still one of the lowest in the European Union member states with 42% of households having access to an internet connection while only 23% have broadband access in 2010, the lowest in the EU27. The percentage of people using the Internet to make phone calls and video calls is higher than the percentage the country shows for other Internet usage categories, probably due to the fact that a significant part of its population works abroad. In addition, in Romania, the usage of social media websites among Internet users is lower than in other EU countries. (http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/4-14122010-BP/EN/4-14122010-BP-EN.PDF)