The National Development Plan will guide national, regional and local planning and investment decisions in Ireland over the next two decades including investment in the digitisation of national collections.
The importance of digitisation was really underlined during the 2016 centenary year, when a number of our National Cultural Institutions made a wealth of material available online for the first time. Digitisation also provides a very important channel to connect with our Diaspora – which is estimated to be up to 70 million people worldwide – and in turn encourages cultural tourism.
We have already seen the transformative effect of making some of our collections available online. For example, the 1901 and 1911 census are digitised, published and freely available at the National Archives website.
My Department also recently announced over €2m for the new cultural Digitisation Scheme which will help our Cultural Institutions, together with a number of other cultural heritage bodies, to build on this work and digitise their rich and varied collections for the benefit of the public.
Funding, for example, is being provided to the National Library of Ireland for three projects over the coming years including “Towards a Republic” which is a project to digitise the personal papers of the signatories of the Treaty. This is a significant project which will take several years to complete. A total of €320,000 is allocated to the project over the next three years and it is planned to complete digitisation of the papers in advance of the centenary of the foundation of the State.
Other examples of digitisation projects to be funded over the coming years include:
- Band Aid Archives – a tribute to Bob Geldof's role in Band Aid and Ireland’s part in this global initiative of charitable donation.
- Digitisation of Church of Ireland Parish Registers, which will greatly complement the exising access to the Catholic Church records.