In the European Union the digitization of cultural heritage resources has been promoted though various initiatives, such as the Lund principles, which resulted in a European wide framework for the digitization of cultural heritage (e-Europe 2001), the Information Society Technologies (IST) programme, which funded research on the digitization and access to cultural heritage collections through several projects (IST, 2006), and the European Library initiative, which developed a network of digital cultural heritage resources among the members of the European Union (The European Library, 2006). The digitization of cultural heritage resources (CHRs) has significant implications for the developing economy of digital cultural tourism in Europe. It implies the development of:• the online availability and accessibility of digital CHRs• the development of a network of digital CHRs• the promotion of CHRs to a geographically dispersed audience of educators, learners and tourists• the marketing and promotion of CHRs across the globe.
On the other hand, several factors can impede the development of digital cultural tourism in Europe, such as the shortage of technical infrastructure, the absence of a coherent cultural policy and the lack of innovation and knowledge transfer mechanisms, as well as the ignorance of users’ needs and budget constraints (Manzuch and Knoll, 2005; Tanner and Deegan, 2003).
The Central Public Library of Veria (CPLV), a major provider of online information services to the Greek public, has convinced cultural heritage institutions of the city of Veria:• to rethink their role in the society in the new electronic era• to make their rich collections of CHRs easily accessible to the public via the internet and other technologies, such as laptops and mobile phones• to compile an inventory of digital CHRs and other instruments useful to the public.
In particular, the CPLV, through the LIGHT project (www.light-culture.net), developed the ‘VeriaGrid’, an online digital cultural map of the city of Veria to bring to light the cultural resources managed by local museums, libraries and other cultural organizations of Veria. The VeriaGrid system provides users with the opportunity to navigate across the map and visit various cultural sites, such as churches, museums, libraries and archaeological sites (see Figure 15.1).