Unlocking Culture

The identities and distinctive features of most of societies are settled in their cultural heritage. Cultural heritage is strongly regional, particularly in Europe, comes in many different forms (books, paintings, sculptures, music, buildings) and is often language-dependent. The "Unlocking Culture" use case deals with effective information access to cultural heritage material held in large-scale digital libraries containing data from libraries, archives, museums, and audio-visual archives. Large quantities of cultural heritage objects have been digitized during the past few years in order to provide access to unique, rare or at-risk objects. However, access to these objects still poses several obstacles: the digital objects are provided through the metadata description efforts of the organizations and agencies curating the objects, usually in their national language and with specified technical vocabularies suited for their particular domains. Information systems for digital cultural heritage objects pose special problems related to the heterogeneous media types (texts, but more so images, audio or video files) and the uniqueness of the objects which makes their description difficult. CH institutions have different approaches to managing information and serve diverse user communities, often with specialized needs. The scenario we are facing is to be able to satisfy user information needs by retrieving relevant "cultural assets" irrespective of the media type, location or language in which information objects are expressed. Despite digital libraries are constantly growing and much research is carried out in the field, much less is done to establish standard evaluation criteria and methods. For example, proceedings of the relevant conferences such as ECDL and JCDL contain no more than 5% of all papers related to the evaluation of cultural heritage information systems such as digital libraries.

The CHiC2011 – Cultural Heritage in CLEF: From Use Cases to Evaluation in Practice for Multilingual Information Access to Cultural Heritage workshop at CLEF 2011 will start to investigate these issues by surveying all the evaluation efforts in the cultural heritage field as well as defining user scenarios and identifying possible relevant metrics.