NCD : About NCD

National Center for Digitization

Recently, important efforts have been made to digitize, preserve, describe and index the cultural and scientific heritage all over the world. This project will study interdisciplinary topics that arise during such a process. Multimedia scanning and organizing (for every kind of relevant objects), storage and retrieval methods will be investigated, evaluated and applied. Our aim is to design models and construct prototypes of information systems that should be used in Yugoslav cultural and scientific institutions having in mind that their goals include offering easy access to cultural heritage to large populations of public users, as well as experts.

Digitization of the cultural and scientific heritage means creating multimedia databases containing images, movies, sounds, factual data, etc., and descriptions of items (paintings, sculptures, monuments, old texts, scientific journals and books, …) that constitute the heritage. Moreover, digitization consists not only in collecting and storing, but provides also the opportunity to much better organize the data using meta data, and to display, preserve and access the resulting information. It is well known that making digital representation is of use in the full sense of those words only if indexing of items is done at the same time. Finally, digitized data themselves become a new value and allow further processing using advanced software tools, like experts systems, data mining and the other artificial intelligence products.

Numerous institutions of our region are in possession of a large number of scientific journals and rare books, archive documents, textual and image data, as well as the other cultural and scientific values. Many of these items are of the global interest. The contemporary technology permits efficient organization in the form of multimedia information systems, and opens new possibilities in building archives and devices for searching, retrieving and presenting of the heritage to general audience and scientific community. There were several attempts to present digitalized parts of the cultural and scientific heritage in Yugoslavia. However, the obtained presentations suffer from incompatibility (and sometimes incompleteness) caused by different approaches and different formats that were used.

In order to analyze the above problems properly and to obtain satisfactory results we have decided to form a consortium, which contains most of the leading Yugoslav cultural and research institutions. The consortium, called National Center for Digitization, includes Mathematical institute Belgrade, National Library of Serbia, National Museum Belgrade, Archaeological Institute Belgrade, Archives of Republic Serbia, Serbian Institute for Monument Protection, and Mathematical faculty Belgrade. However, collaboration with other Yugoslav cultural and research institutions as well as the similar projects from abroad is expected.

1. Subject of research

  1. Coordinating efforts of Yugoslav institutions involved in the cultural and scientific heritage digitization,
  2. Establishing and promoting a national strategy for the cultural and scientific heritage digitization in Yugoslavia,
  3. Exploring, adapting and applying international standards and protocols for the cultural and scientific heritage digitization and preservation, as well as developing the new standards in the areas where none exist,
  4. Launching the cultural and scientific heritage digitization in Yugoslavia and making plans for possible migration process to new formats and technologies for already digitized data.

2. Planned activities

  1. Forming expert groups for specific fields of interest (groups for museums, libraries, archives, monument protection, standardization, data protection, etc.),
  2. Establishing a basic set of standards for:
  3. Developing models of the corresponding distributed information systems and specific software for the realization of the standards specified above. The models should allow dissemination and wide access over Internet to cultural and scientific values that presently are not easily accessible. Those systems should be mutually compatible as much as possible.
  4. Connecting Yugoslav cultural and research institutions included in the digitization project into a particular Internet subnet and developing a network of information and WWW-servers.
  5. Securing long-term storage and maintenance of the digitized heritage.
  6. Organizing continuous, persistent and systematic work on the cultural and scientific heritage digitization.
  7. Training collaborators from Yugoslav cultural and scientific institutions to use the developed software systems both as end-users and as expert who define meta-data for corresponding objects and enter information into databases.
  8. Collaboration with the similar institutions from abroad.

3. The main phases of the project

  1. Establishing the infrastructure and analysis of the current state of affairs.

    During the first year of the project the main tasks will be:

    • To identify the groups involved (institutions, owners, researchers, funding organizations)
    • To establish organization of National Center for Digitization,
    • To determine the current state of the affairs in Yugoslav cultural and research institutions,

    As a result of this phase we expect that a global strategy for the cultural and scientific heritage digitization in Yugoslavia will be defined. Also, a general time table for the further activities will be prepared.
  2. Particular digitization subprojects

    According to the above mentioned global strategy for the cultural and scientific heritage digitization, we shall determine the most important collections of cultural and scientific values that should be digitized first. In the phases following this one, the chosen collections will be digitized depending on the available recourses.
  3. Development of Yugoslav cultural and scientific heritage information system

    Parallel to the digitization process we shall design a model of a global information system for the cultural and scientific heritage. The model of the system should guarantee that the parts of the system are as compatible as possible. Also, the model should allow users a uniform interface and access to the relevant data from different sources having in mind different restrictions. In the next stage the corresponding software should be implemented. We expect that the main communication infrastructure of the system would be Internet and WWW.