Project CESTSince February 2010, CEST stands for 'Cultureel ErfgoedStandaarden Toolbox' (Cultural Heritage Standards Toolbox), a project with the purpose of helping Flemish cultural heritage institutions select the right standards for the creation, management and dissemination of digital collections. The CEST website and consequently all of the links mentioned below are only available in Dutch. For more information, visit www.projectCEST.be.
A standard can be defined as ‘a set of agreements, specifications or criteria applied to a product, service or method.’ A broad definition indeed, but then again standards exist in many different shapes, such as the standards that apply when creating, describing, managing and distributing digital heritage. First of all, they ensure the readability and exchangeability of digital information. Furthermore, standards are based on the expertise of a large group of professionals. Using standards therefore means using the best practices present. Read more about standards in the CEST brochure (pdf, 4,24 MB).
The CEST project
The CEST project started off at the beginning of 2011. CEST was commissioned by the Agency for Arts and Heritage of the Flemish Community and executed by PACKED vzw and eDAVID vzw. The main objective of the project was to clarify “which standards should have priority when archiving, disseminating and exchanging digital archival, documentary, audiovisual and museum objects and representations of objects.”
In this stage of the project, CEST composed a shortlist of standards. This list establishes the basic criteria to which a digital heritage project should apply. These criteria are also used by the Agency for Arts and Heritage in order to evaluate the projects realised with its support.
The first stage was completed with a final report that included concrete recommendations for the application of digitisation standards in heritage projects in Flanders. At the end of 2010 a feasibility study was conducted to investigate how these recommendations can be executed practically. For each recommendation, costs were calculated and a concise execution plan was made.
PACKED vzw and CEST
Since 2011, some of the actions proposed have been adopted in the structural operations of PACKED vzw. As the Centre of Expertise in Digital Heritage, PACKED vzw considers CEST as an ideal framework for the development of various activities. CEST also fits within the mission statement PACKED vzw has agreed upon with the Flemish Government as part of the management agreement. The main focal points today are the elaboration of the basic CEST guidelines and the development of expertise, in close cooperation with the heritage sector. The wiki http://www.projectcest.be will hereby continue to function as the central platform.
The execution of CEST will be based to a large extent on the contributions of different partners from the network organisation, such as the Agency for Arts and Heritage, the interface centre FARO and DEN (Digital Heritage Netherlands), and on partners with whom PACKED vzw will team up for specific actions. In its turn, DEN will make use of findings in Flanders in order to improve its own DEN-knowledge database.
During the project’s first steering committee meeting it became clear that both DEN and CEST were in favour of engaging in a more formal partnership. A partnership agreement between DEN and the project officers of CEST was signed on 26 April 2010. It stipulates amongst others that a CEST representative will be included in the advisory council of the DEN ICT-register.
CEST: guidelines, tools and standards
The recommended standards are introduced by means of use cases: concrete scenarios of a digitisation project or one of its components. Each use case leads to a number of necessary or recommended standards. The use cases have been classified according to three themes:
To be able to apply the recommended standards, certain instruments are also required: registration software, software to convert or analyse documents, software to install an eDepot, etc. The section CEST tools offers a continuously growing overview of software tools available to facilitate the life of the digital collection manager. As is the case for many wikis, every visitor is free to add comments and/or suggest alternative solutions.