The General Principles of Cultural Policy up to 2020 (see chapter 1.1) deals with digital policies in different chapters:
“The more valuable parts of cultural heritage will be digitalised by 2018, so that its long-term survival is ensured in compliance with international standards and quality requirements. The interoperability of culture-related information systems is ensured with harmonised descriptions and web services. Works digitalised by institutions funded and managed by the state are as a rule, if such rights are established, made freely available. The use of digitalised cultural heritage in e-learning and in the provision of e-services in the field of the media and creative industries is promoted.”
“Estonian Film Institute is responsible for the restoration and digitalisation of the heritage in their possession, collects statistics on the topic and carries out activities related to in-service training and raising awareness of filmmaking. Estonian audio-visual heritage is digitalised and made available to the public.”
“The state ensures the opportunities for the foundation Kultuurileht for the flexible use of the new technological potential to digitalise and make public those issues having cultural significance from past years and to reach new readers online.”
“The public broadcasting organisation has an important role in the commemoration of Estonian history and culture in sound and vision and the preservation, restoration and digitalisation of recorded material.”
“The state supports the interpretation of the knowledge that has been accumulated in a museum to bring it to public use, through, amongst other methods, contemporary e-solutions and by digitalising the collections.”
“The Estonian National Library is one of the central institutions for digitalising, storing and making available Estonian cultural heritage.”
During the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2017, in the area of culture the main focus was on the accessibility of culture at a time when digital technologies are developing more rapidly than ever before. Cultural institutions have been created to fulfil public tasks and making culture accessible is one of their most important responsibilities.
The Ministry of Culture has organised so-called theme years since 2000. The year 2020 is dedicated to digital culture. The aim is to make digital culture part of the success story of e-Estonia. The aim is to improve Estonia’s image as an e-state (digital administration with state agencies and local governments, digital recipes, e-tax office, etc.) with various forms of digital culture. It is important that new generations embrace their own living culture and heritage and that digital solutions support it. The activities and events of the year are organised by the National Library of Estonia, the National Heritage Board, the Estonian National Broadcasting and the Estonian Film Institute. Topics that will shape the digital culture year include the re-use and rethinking of the digitised cultural heritage, copyright and open data issues, programmes that bring digital creativity to youth, and the analysis of better policies of cultural data. Attention is also paid to the downside of digital culture, i.e. smart addiction, identity theft, cyber security, etc.
In Estonia, cultural (heritage) objects have been digitised for years already, but currently still less than 10% of it is available for the public. The field of culture will continue to lag behind the private sector and other fields when it comes to the uptake of digital technologies. The problem is that cultural institutions are more traditional and even conservative in the way they operate. However, the lack of resources in the field also has a role.
In February 2018, the Action Plan for Digitisation of Cultural Heritage 2018-2023 was adopted by the Minister of Culture. The main goals and elements of this plan are:
- to make digitally available one third of cultural heritage preserved in memory institutions (libraries, museums, archives);
- to develop the infrastructure for archiving, long-term preserving and backup of data and connected services was adopted;
- the whole cost is EUR 9,16 million, of which EUR 8,28 million comes from the investments of EU structural funds;
- mainly focussed on heritage from 1900-1940 (except film);
- by the end 2023 the goals are – documents 3%, objects 32%, film 60%, photos 60%, art 55%, printed heritage 28%;
- cooperation between public/private sectors, promote the reuse of digital heritage, especially in education and creative industries;
- main coordinator and implementer is the Ministry of Culture, partners are the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication, and the Ministry of Education and Research;
- other partners involved: Estonian Literary Museum, Art Museum of Estonia, Estonian National Museum, National Library of Estonia, Estonian Public Broadcasting, National Archives of Estonia, University of Tartu.
There are certain platforms, developed by the state:
MuIS – a web-based work environment to manage museum collections, to make the information accessible to the public. Sixty museums have joined and it contains information on more than 3,2 million items and 1,2 million digital images.
DIGAR – e-library environment of the National Library of Estonia, which contains books, newspapers, magazines, maps, music sheets, photos, postcards, posters, illustrations, audio books, and music files.
e-Varamu – joint information portal of Estonian museums, libraries, archives, etc.
Other relevant platforms are VAU Virtual reading room and Ajapaik (platform for crowdsourcing geotags and rephotographs for historic view images).