Since February 2010, CEST stands for 'Cultureelerfgoedstandaarden-toolbox' (Cultural Heritage Standards Toolbox), a project with the purpose of helping Flemish cultural heritage institutes select the right standards for the creation, management and dissemination of digital collections. The CEST project was executed by PACKED vzw and eDAVID vzw and it was commissioned by the agency Kunsten en Erfgoed(Arts and Heritage). Since 2011, CEST has become a structural part of PACKED vzw.
The CEST website functions as a wiki platform. In this way, any person can share their expertise and help develop a broad vision with regard to digital heritage management in Flanders.
A standard is a set of agreements, specifications or criteria applied to a product, service or method.
Exchange files and information
Libraries, archives and museums each have their own elaborate traditions in developing standards to describe publications, objects, archiving material or audiovisual files. By using standards, they can easily exchange information about these documents. Access to digital heritage is increasingly cross-medial, which is why generic standards gain ever more importance. Choosing the right software is important in order to be interoperable, i.e. to be able to exchange data with external systems.
In a strict sense, digitisation means 'transferring data from an analogue to a binary representation'. In practice, 'digitisation' covers an entire process, from the creation, description and management of a digital collection to making it available to the public. When you create a digital object, it is important to choose a format which will remain accesible in the long term and will store the data in the highest possible quality.
Standards are based on the expertise of a large group of professionals. Using standards therefore means using the best practices available.
Read more about standards in the CEST brochure (Only available in Dutch, pdf, 4,24 MB).
At the outset of a digitisation project several choices need to be made, both by large institutions and local history groups. An abundance of standards, directives and manuals can be found online and this is where the shoe pinches: due to the excess of information it is hard to see the wood for the trees. CEST's main purpose is to serve as an instrument to help you select the right standards and directives for your digitisation project.
Next to that, the subsidising governments make use of the CEST-directives in a normative way, to test and evaluate projects. The Heritage Decree provides that "all digitisation initiatives should be executed according to the generally accepted international standards and in certain cases standards imposed by the Flemish Government." These standards are defined by CEST.
Why a wiki?
The purpose of this CEST-wiki is to serve as a dynamic and interactive medium to CEST for the publication and dissemination of its standards, directives and other advice, and to experts and users who wish to share their expertise, opinion, add supplements and pose questions. This wiki is therefore not just the end product of a project: it is a tool which you can use actively to participate in the development of widely supported recommended standards to the heritage field. Conclusions of roundtable discussions with different agents from the heritage field are also published by CEST on this wiki.
The CEST project (2010)
The CEST project started off at the beginning of 2010. It was commissioned by the agency Kunsten en Erfgoed and executed by PACKED vzw and eDAVID vzw. The main objective of the project was to provide Flemish cultural and heritage institutes with clear advice as to "which standards should have priority when archiving, disseminating and exchanging digital archival, documentary, audiovisual and museum objects and representations of objects.”
The project team was supported by a steering committee which included representatives from organisations that take part in large digitisation projects within the field of cultural heritage en can be considered as central agents within their field: Faro, KMKG, VVBAD, IBBT, Erfgoedplus.be and the Kunsten en Erfgoed agency. The steering committee also included a representative of Digitaal Erfgoed Nederland (DEN), an organisation engaged in a project similar to CEST in the Netherlands.
The CEST-team first composed a shortlist of standards. This list established the basic or minimal standards which a digital heritage project should meet. These standards are used as a reference by the agency Kunsten en Erfgoed to evaluate projects that were realised with its support.
- The first phase of the project was concluded with a final report (only available in Dutch) that included recommendations with regard to digitisation standards. After that, a feasability study was conducted to investigate which preconditions are required before the recommendations can be executed practically. For each recommendation, cost were calculated and a concise operational plan was made.
- overview of partners (only available in Dutch)
- overview of documents regarding the project (only available in Dutch)
- CEST final report (only available in Dutch, pdf, 6,23 MB)
CEST embedded in PACKED vzw (2011)
Since 2011 the objectives of the CEST project have been adopted structurally by PACKED vzw. These objectives fit within the mission statement PACKED vzw, as the Centre of Expertise in Digital Heritage, has agreed upon with the Flemish Government. The main focus today is to develop further the CEST-directives and expertise regarding digitisation standards, in close collaboration with the heritage field. The wiki http://www.projectcest.be will hereby continue to function as the central platform. The wiki enables any person to share their expertise with others and help build a broadly supported vision on digital heritage management in Flanders.
The further execution of CEST will be based to a large extent on the input of different partners from network organisations, such as the agency Kunsten en Erfgoed, the support center FARO and DEN(Digital Heritage the Netherlands). These partners gather on a regular basis in expert meetings that discuss the minimal and recommended standards within a certain field of expertise.