In this impact assessment, we wanted to know more about how the national workshops supported a journey of change towards higher quality digital cultural heritage data in national heritage landscapes. We assessed the outcomes experienced by participants, primarily through pre- and post-workshop questionnaires and questionnaires that were sent at least six months after the workshop. We compared data from eight different workshops in 2018 and 2019. Regrettably, as a result of COVID-19 and insufficient response rates to one survey, we have been unable to collect further longitudinal data and insights from 2019 workshop participants, and the overall sample from 2018 is very small. We complemented our research by interviewing a participant of one of the 2018 national workshops, a national aggregator and the Europeana Foundation member of staff responsible for national workshops.
National workshops support digital transformation to some degree. The workshops under review mainly reach an audience of those who are aware of Europeana but who are not part of the Europeana ecosystem and who do not provide data to Europeana. Participants learn both about Europeana’s mission and goals and its frameworks and standards. This knowledge could be, and in many cases, has been, applied practically in a cultural heritage institution’s work. We see that as a result of attending a national workshop, participants take some action to improve their data. In the Lithuanian case, the data is visibly improved (though the national workshop is only one of a number of influences that led to this).
The national workshops do not seem to support attendees to become more involved in the Europeana initiative, e.g. few attendees appear to join the Europeana Network Association. Some participants were encouraged to take part in Europeana projects, but to catalyse a feeling of inclusion as part of a bigger community around digital cultural heritage, more emphasis on achieving this outcome is necessary, as well as understanding what this looks like when it happens.
We see a need for more practical training on areas relating to the publication of digital heritage. We can see other barriers to change in terms of where Europeana can contribute directly and indirectly. Europeana is not able to directly help with additional funding, increasing capacity and entrenched mindsets, but by identifying direct areas where Europeana can help (e.g. advocacy and the development of case studies) it may be better able to address some of these barriers. Case studies emerge as a way to both promote providing data to Europeana and for promoting a more innovative approach towards digital cultural heritage.
Change in data quality can be better supported at a national level with a policy focus on better quality data. The relationship between Europeana and the national aggregators is strengthened by holding a national workshop, and this is also critical to delivering impact on a local level e.g. by understanding the local context and needs. In this vein, developing relationships with their national aggregator was an outcome for some workshop attendees. We understand this as one of many steps that form a journey towards ‘digital transformation’. Europeana’s task is, therefore, to consider, in tandem with aggregators, how gaps in capacity development and skills amongst Europe’s cultural heritage institutions can be met at different stages and at scale.
This research creates a baseline against which to increase the strength of the outcomes Europeana creates. We have found that the structure of pre-, post- and longitudinal surveying is effective and should be further improved, when being implemented in all future training events. The findings we present are, however, informed by relatively small samples of data and would be strengthened by a larger data set.
The national workshops unearthed a need for more practical training, which Europeana can support but not deliver at scale on a national level.
National workshops could be structured better to meet the needs of those at different levels of digital maturity and on the journey towards digital change.
Closer partnership working with aggregators is recommended.
For documentation purposes, it would be valuable for the organisers of national workshops - or indeed any activity - to document any outcomes they have identified and to capture the impressions and potential next steps of the participants.
Further work could be done to introduce the question of attributing economic value to Europeana’s services (in total or regarding discrete services).
Europeana should improve communication about its data collection / impact assessment expectations. Good relationships with event organisers and national aggregators are key to good data collection around national workshops. It is important to also explain how the data will be used to encourage participation.
Validation and next steps
The draft report was shared with aggregators involved in delivering national workshops. It was also shared with the Europeana Aggregators’ Forum. No feedback was given. The report will inform the work of both the Europeana Aggregators’ Forum and Europeana Foundation in terms of further supporting capacity building in digital cultural heritage.
You can download and read the full report through the link below.