2020 in brief: expertise

Gathering and sharing expertise remained one of our core tasks in 2020. Anyone who is active in the world of culture can always come to us (virtually) for advice or support. Find out below what efforts we made in the year of the coronavirus pandemic to ensure we could keep our expertise mill running and offer digital archiving support to organisations.

Requests for advice and guidance

We received a record number of helpdesk requests in our digital inbox: 297 to be precise. The majority (almost three-quarters) of the 156 people who made these enquiries work in the heritage sector. One-tenth of the enquiries came from people in the arts sector, with a smaller proportion coming from educational and research institutions, governments, broadcasters, businesses and private individuals. They covered a variety of topics, with the most popular themes being:

  • accessibility (74 questions);

  • digitisation (50 questions);

  • hardware and software (45 questions).

In addition to the enquiries received by our digital helpdesk last year, we also tidied up some issues left over from 2019.

What’s notable? Almost a fifth of our helpdesk enquiries came from organisations that meemoo supervises a registration project for – although their requests were mostly unrelated to this issue. These projects are part of a movement to deal with a backlog of digital collection registrations. And because there is still a lot of work to be done in this area, last year the Department of Culture, Youth and Media launched a tendering procedure for grants to help catch up.

Eleven projects were ultimately awarded grants, with guidance provided by us.

Project work

In 2020, we entered into 23 collaborations with various partners from the world of culture. For example, we launched the ambitious Collections of Ghent collaborative project, in which we have a supporting role and are sharing our expertise about linked (open) data, among other things. We’re also helping with pilot projects to develop good practices for archiving social media and have completed an intensive project with Archiefbank Vlaanderen. Hungry for more? You can read all about the projects we collaborated on last year here.

Training activities

The themes covered in the helpdesk enquiries are perfectly in line with our training activities. And we also see this reflected in the participants, with almost half of the requesters taking part in one or more of our training courses last year. As a result of restrictions put in place because of the pandemic, we organised the vast majority of our events online. Apart from the postponed Digital Repair Café and the cancelled information session on the Digital Sustainability Scoring Model, we managed to run all our other scheduled training sessions.

The virtual version of the Open Cultural Data Bootcamp was, just like the previous physical editions, a great success! And the archive audit sessions for musical organisations in collaboration with CEMPER also went ahead as planned. We even managed to get started with supervising a second group in November.


We’re meeting demand from the sector with our personal advice and training offer, and developing useful tools to relieve organisations and individuals of some of their workload. For example, we’ve done a lot of work on the Public Domain Tool, which we launched just after the turn of the year. Together with several Dutch colleagues, we also launched a Dutch version of rightsstatements.org. These standardised rights statements help you to communicate the copyright status of your digital objects to the public.

Peer groups

In collaboration with Flanders Heritage Library, we set up the new Digitisation of Periodicals Peer Group (in Dutch only), which met once before the lockdown, giving participants the opportunity to share their experiences of digitising newspapers and magazines. We also co-organised online meetings for the Cultural Heritage and Copyright User Group and Digital Collection Registration Peer Group.

Partner in a digital future

Restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic caused us all to shift up a few digital gears. And the importance of digital transformation was further highlighted for the cultural sector. We’re always happy to share our expertise in this area with the wider cultural field.

In 2020, for example, we spoke with the Flemish Government and the Department of Culture, Youth and Media about the digital transformation of the cultural sector. We took part in events such as De Zaak Cultuur (‘The Culture Case’) and Media & Culture Fast Forward, where we put our heads together with all kinds of organisations and people from the world of culture to discuss the sector’s digital future. We also took some digital leaders of the future under our wing as co-organiser and coach in the Digital Leadership in the Cultural Sector training programme.