Images for the Future interim evaluation

The implementation of the Images for the Future project is progressing according to schedule: this is the conclusion reached by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) in its interim evaluation of the project. Progress in terms of restoration, conservation and digitisation is largely on schedule and several activities have proved less expensive than planned. The project is also making a significant contribution to innovation and knowledge development in the heritage sector. Indeed, the project is actually an international pioneer in this area. In addition, the project has had a demonstrable social impact.

The intention to conduct an interim evaluation was announced when Images for the Future was launched in 2007. TNO was approached in 2010 by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to conduct the evaluation. Overall, the TNO is positive in its assessment of the project.

 However, TNO also highlights a number of challenges. The costs involved in digital storage have proved higher than expected and will continue after the project. There could also be better public recognition of the project. Although a range of services 1are available, these have been insufficiently developed.

The researchers also feel that the obligation to raise revenue from the project is unrealistic, in view of the problems with copyright and current market trends. Since the emergence of such platforms as YouTube, it has become customary for digital audiovisual services to be available free of charge. Within the world of education, there is little willingness to pay for services, partly because the government has now focused its policy on the free availability of publicly-funded learning resources.

Despite the disappointing economic returns, TNO does see demonstrable social benefits and recommends that these be made clearer.

Below is a brief summary of the main conclusions from TNO’s interim evaluation.

 

  • Images for the Future is an international pioneer and a unique project
  • Progress in terms of restoration, conservation and digitisation is largely on schedule
  • The costs of various activities have been lower than planned, but the costs involved in storage have been higher
  • A range of services are available, but these have been insufficiently developed
  • The project is making a significant contribution to innovation and knowledge development in the archives sector
  • It is having a major impact on the working methods and the role of archival institutions
  • There is still only limited public recognition of Images for the Future
  • Cooperation has been successful in terms of knowledge sharing, conservation and digitisation, but disappointing in terms of communication and the development of services
  • The obligation to raise revenue is placing disproportionate pressure on the project and its consortium partners
  • The project has a demonstrable social impact