The Estonian E-Varamu portal is part of the Estonian Research Infrastructure Roadmap what is founed by European Regional Development Fund. The Estonian e-repository is an integrated e-environment created for long-term preservation and availability of digitized resources of the Estonian memory institutions: libraries, archives and museums; raising digitization capability; ensuring the preservation of memory institutions’ collections. The e-repository enables to link national heritage collections with the Pan-European library Europeana.
Estonia has a fairly good ICT knowledge-base and is known as a successful IT solutions pioneer (ID-card, e-elections, e-health, Skype, mobile parking etc.). The objective of the Research infrastructure Roadmap is to ensure preservation of the existing national heritage objects, currently at risk of loss, in physical form, as source materials for future generations, establishing a guarantee for researchers regarding the preservation of reference materials. Digitization devices at use are of various standards and limited capability. Users lack an environment with integrated data; an appropriate user interface has not been created either.
The shared online catalogue of libraries called ESTER is accessible for everyone. Tens of thousands of science journals and databases have been made accessible for members of the Consortium of Estonian Libraries Network (ELNET). The Estonian National Library has created a digital archive called DIGAR, digital repositories have been launched by the University of Tartu Library and the Academic Library of Tallinn University in order to collect digitized materials of these universities and libraries. The Estonian State Archive conducts large scale digitization of records. A joint project of memory institutions titled “The Red Book of Estonian Printed Publications” is in progress. Every major memory institution has to some degree the capability for digitizing their holdings and preserving electronic data. These institutions usually employ a preservation and restoration unit.
A prerequisite for creating the infrastructure is joint coordination, as the prime objective is to create an integrated e-environment. This will allow access to various resources through a single internet gateway. These resources include: scientific literature, Estonian national printed matter, Estonia-centered cultural history and national poetry collections, early printed books, holding items of museums and archives, and other national heritage materials not listed here that have to this date existed only in physical form or scattered around various sites on the internet. The infrastructure creates the capability to digitize, there, by making the data more accessible for potential end-users. It also supports long-term preservation of the national heritage resources of Estonian libraries, archives and museums. This includes holding items in their original form and in electronic format. The main improvements of the e-environment under preparation are its semantic interoperability and cross-reference capability across the new and existing databases. In creating the database, information quality is the primary objective. The environment must maintain an imminent threshold between authoritative science-based information and the user-provided content. In the future millions of books, periodicals, manuscripts, e-periodicals and e-books are made available for public use; thus allowing worldwide Access to Estonian cultural heritage.
Project partners include libraries of public universities in Estonia, the Estonian National Library, the Estonian State Archives, other major archives and museums.