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HEADLINE: The NINCH Guide to Good Practice in the Digital Representation and Management of Cultural Heritage Materials

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Introduction and Brief History

A NINCH Working Group was created in October 1998 to organize a review and evaluation of current practice and develop a set of principles and guidelines for good practice in the "digital representation of cultural heritage and for the management of its documentation." (See the "Charge" document.)

At its first meeting, the working group agreed to the general approach of emphasizing principles by extracting generalizable issues from existing documented practice and to aim to produce a "generalizable, universal document, into which specific concerns or instances could be mapped, perhaps using a branching structure." The working group created an initial definition of good practice consisting of six principles with a set of evaluative criteria, by which to judge current practice.

The Group then issued an RFP for a survey of the field to discover and define exemplary practice, including interviews with practitioners and reviews of published guidelines and projects that demonstrate good practice. A team from the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute of The University of Glasgow was hired to conduct the interviews and write the Guide. A press release was issued in October 2000 announcing the award of funding by the Getty Grant Program to complete this work.

The Guide

The First Edition of the Guide is now available online. Minor updates and some suggested changes will be made in several iterative stages. We plan to work on production of a Second Edition that will include a decision-tree interface, which will enable customized pathways through the Guide, and incorporate any substantial changes suggested by users. We are investigating the possibility of a print version of the Second Edition.

Components of the Guide include:

  • Introduction
  • Project Planning
  • Selecting Materials: an Iterative Process
  • Rights Management
  • Digitization and Encoding of Text
  • Capture and Management of Images
  • Audio/Video Capture and Management
  • Quality Control and Assurance
  • Working With Others
  • Distribution
  • Sustainability: Models for Long-Term Funding
  • Assessment of Projects by User Evaluation
  • Digital Asset Management
  • Preservation
In addition, the Guide includes the following resources:
  • Bibliography
  • Reports of Interviews with Digitization Sites
  • Interview Instrument


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