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2 minutes to read Posted on Wednesday June 7, 2017

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

ENUMERATE Core Survey 4: make the case for investments in our digital activities!

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Distributed among thousands of institutions and available in 11 languages, ENUMERATE is a survey collecting information related to digitization efforts for heritage collections across Europe. As the 4th Core Survey is open for participation until June 30, we thought you might want to know more about the learnings of the previous ones led in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Wietske van den Heuvel tells us what the results say about investments in digital heritage activities so far, and what we can expect in the future.

What are these surveys trying to understand?

ENUMERATE is currently the only survey that looks at the digitization efforts of cultural heritage institutions in Europe: we gather statistical informations about digitization activities, costs, access and preservation of digital heritage materials in the EU. We then use this data to understand the progress that has been made in the EU since the former ENUMERATE Core Surveys and the NUMERIC survey. Our goal is to achieve a situation in which informed decisions about national and EU policies are possible.

Who benefits from this data?

The DEN Foundation (Digital Heritage Netherlands) will analyse the data and publish a report - the raw data will also be available for download and free reuse afterwards. This is important for various stakeholders. Cultural heritage institutions can use the ENUMERATE indicators as KPIs and track their progress over the years. In the future, we would like to create a benchmarking tool, so institutions can easily compare themselves with others. Policymakers can use the data to evaluate their policies regarding digital heritage, or identify issues that need more attention. A number of ministries in Europe are very supportive of ENUMERATE. Researchers have used our data to back up their own research. For Europeana, ENUMERATE shows the potential of adding more collections: the survey is also available to institutions that have digital collections but which are not (yet) connected to Europeana.

What were some of the previous key learnings?

To me, one of the main findings is that there is still so much to do. For example, institutions are asked to indicate how much of their collection is already digitized, still needs to be digitized and doesn’t have to be digitized. In 2015, 50% still needed to be digitized. This data helps to understand that preserving and opening up digital collections is never ‘finished’ as some of our policymakers want to believe. I really hope we see some progress on that!

What is the current status of the investments in digital heritage activities?

From Core Survey 3, led in 2015, we learned that the estimated average budget for digital collections is €276,471. On average, eight people are involved on a full-time basis in digital collection activities: six being paid staff and two volunteers. This figure is the same as in Core Survey 2 (2013), but the ratiowas then different, with five paid staff and three volunteers. Digital collection activities are funded by internal budgets for 88% of the institutions. About 52% of the costs are qualified as being incidental costs and 47% are structural costs. In Core Survey 3, 74% of the costs were in-house costs, and 26% out-of-pocket costs for external service providers. National public grants are available to 35% of the respondents, and 21% receive regional or local public grants. These results are very similar to the ones from Core Survey 1 and 2.

Has there been much progress since 2015, and are you positive about the 2017 survey results?

I can’t say anything just yet, but I would like to see some progress. For instance, less than half of the institutions has a written digitization policy. It would also be great if more institutions published their collections on various channels, like Europeana!

All European cultural heritage institutions are encouraged to contribute to Enumerate Core Survey 4: don’t forget to take part before 30 June! You can also download reports containing key findings of the first Core Surveys. For more information, please contact Wietske van den Heuvel or Gerhard Jan Nauta through