P1. Developing digital platforms
This panel explores projects that seek to enhance the accessibility of collections and enrich the way users engage with digital material. These papers speak to the ways in which the digital shift is changing both how we approach collections and collecting practices.
Eating the elephant: tackling the Express & Star photograph archive one bite at a time
Scott Knight, Business Development Manager, University of Wolverhampton
Heidi McIntosh, Senior Archivist, Wolverhampton City Archives
This paper will explore how a partnership of the Express & Star newspaper, the University of Wolverhampton, and Wolverhampton City Archives is approaching a project to digitise, catalogue, preserve and make publicly available a million photographs capturing daily life in the West Midlands over the course of the 20th century.
The GDD Network: towards a global dataset of digitised texts
Paul Gooding, Lecturer in Information Studies, University of Glasgow
Many research libraries are undertaking mass digitisation programmes, but there exists no single discovery platform for discovering either single texts for reading or large corpora for digital scholarship. The AHRC-funded GDD Network will address the feasibility of a global dataset of digitised texts through collaborative outputs including a prototype dataset of digitised texts, and expert workshops to inform a study of the impact of a global dataset. This paper addresses the following key questions: what impact might such a global dataset have upon scholars, libraries and readers? And what might a sustainable, scalable dataset, and related services, look like?
Manchester Digital Collections
John Hodgson, Head of Special Collections, University of Manchester Library
Ian Gifford, Digital Library Applications Development Manager, University of Manchester Library
Manchester Digital Collections is a collaborative project run by the University of Manchester with Cambridge University’s Digital Library Team and including colleagues from the University of Manchester Library, John Rylands Research Institute, IT services and leading academics from the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures. The aim is to launch a new Digital Image Viewer to showcase the University’s digital collections presenting ultra-high-quality images alongside extensive research content. This presentation will describe the collaborative approach taken to the development of the application and the challenges this has led to and will include a demonstration of the viewer.
P2. Digital inclusion
Digital technology offers new and exciting ways for audiences to access and engage with collections and to help shape the stories that are held within them. This panel will explore how to broaden the reach of collections and connect with new or overlooked audiences.
‘Unexpected audiences’: unanticipated uses of digital collections and planning to support the unknown.
Stephen Brooks, Digital Content Product Manager, Jisc
Owen Barden, Senior Lecturer in Disability & Education, Liverpool Hope University
Those involved in the digital dissemination of cultural materials increasingly look to extend their reach and inclusivity through engagement with new audiences. This paper will explore how digital collections have been put to good use by unexpected groups and/or in unexpected ways, with particular focus on Dr Owen Barden’s work to engage often-marginalised users with historical texts relevant to their experiences. This paper will also address how best to enable the flexible use of collections and how to embed this in their design and planning.
Accessibility and immersive experience? Building equitable experiences with disabled communities
Hannah Smith, Community Learning Officer, The Postal Museum
This paper will explore the way in which The Postal Museum engaged with audiences with physical, visual and sensory disabilities to develop immersive prototypes for providing equitable experiences for museum attractions that are not fully accessible.
‘It’s Their Life’: designing participatory recordkeeping systems for children and young people in care
Victoria Hoyle, Research Associate, UCL
Anna Sexton, Lecturer, UCL
Children and young people living in care are the subjects of extensive detailed records, the majority of which are born digital. Recent research has shown that these records are critical to their sense of self, identity and memory, both while in care and later in life. However, records rarely include their voices and feelings or take account of their needs. They are designed for social workers and service providers. Our paper introduces a project to develop a participatory digital record keeping system for child social care, in partnership with young care leavers, to enable them to shape their own life stories.
P3. The digital workforce: navigating the skills shift
This panel will explore how cultural organisations are navigating the shift in skills, practices, and professional culture in the digital age.
The everyday (digital) archivist
Jo Pugh, Digital Development Manager, The National Archives
Digital work became part of the mainstream work of archivists almost two decades ago and today our work of preserving, accessing and engaging audiences with collections invariably has a digital dimension. Where has the profession reached in terms of its digital skills? How can The National Archives help build digital capacity for the future? This session will report on a large scale digital survey of the sector carried out with Jisc and discuss The National Archives’ digital capacity building strategy formulated in response.
Keepers of manuscripts to content managers: navigating and developing the shift in archival skills
Rachel MacGregor, Digital Preservation Officer, University of Warwick
Digital preservation is a complex and rapidly changing field that can best be tackled with a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach. Traditional archival practice which establishes provenance and authenticity in an age of fake news and unreliable sources is a key part of an effective capture of our digital legacy but there are further technical challenges to support the long-term access to digital resources. New skills and approaches are required and much can be learnt from best practice in library disciplines and beyond.
Archives West Midlands: New skills for old? The shift from analogue to digital
Joanna Terry, Head of Staffordshire Archives & Heritage and AWM Trustee
Mary McKenzie, Shropshire Archives Team Leader and AWM Trustee
In 2016 Archives West Midlands (AWM) launched as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). AWM has been successful in delivering two grant funded projects focussed on digital preservation. The first project established ‘digital preservation readiness’ across member services in the West Midlands. The second project built on this to establish model policies and guidance to enable members to navigate the skills shift from analogue to digital. This paper outlines the two projects, the challenges, and how members are learning new digital skills together in a collaborative and supportive network across the West Midlands.
P4. The power of storytelling
Our collections illuminate the lives of people and their histories through the stories they have to tell. This panel will showcase three case studies that have harnessed the power of storytelling for reinterpretation, education and re-engagement with collections.
RAF Stories – telling stories, the Royal Air Force story from outside of the Museum
Kevin Carter, Head of Digital Experience, Project Manager for RAF Stories, RAF Museum
Jess Boyden, Community Engagement Officer for RAF Stories, RAF Museum
RAF Stories is an innovative four-year-long digital project that comprises both contemporary and historical interpretations of the Royal Air Force (RAF) from around the world. The project consists of a website (rafstories.org) and story collecting mobile app (https://www.rafstories.org/participate/get-the-app), extensive outreach and lecture series. Content is created by the Museum and the public and is hosted in the gallery and online (http://www.rafstories.org). RAFS employs new ways of engaging diverse audiences with the RAF story and provide a means of collecting and sharing digital content that challenges the orthodoxy of the overarching narrative of the Royal Air Force.
Changing the digital literacy of Scotland one story at a time: how creating and sharing personal stories through digital storytelling can foster greater digital inclusion
Marge Ainsley, Freelance Evaluation & Research Specialist (Museums, Libraries, Archives)
Chris Leslie, Digital Storytelling Residencies Manager, Scottish Book Trust
More than one in five adults in Scotland lack basic digital skills. In response, Scottish Book Trust coordinated a Digital Storytelling Residencies programme funded by the Scottish Government. A collaboration with library services, community and cultural partners, the project used a digital storytelling methodology to engage participants who were not digitally-confident. Digital storytelling is an audio recording of a personal story, accompanied by pictures, created using digital tools. This paper shares the inclusive methodology used and explores its impact on participants, community partners and library staff. It also reflects on the benefits of taking an iterative learning approach through formative evaluation.
War and conflict beyond the news cycle: deeper engagement with digital
Gill Webber, Executive Director of Content and Programmes, Imperial War Museums
Information about war and conflict is everywhere, but people can feel desensitised to stories in the news and media. In an age of information overload and compassion fatigue, how can museums use digital to build empathy and engagement with past and contemporary conflict? From curation and interpretation to exhibitions and live events, digital is now fundamental to how IWM tells the story of war and conflict. Gill Webber, Executive Director of Content and Programmes, will explore how IWM uses digital media to develop experiences that build empathy and understanding of how conflict has shaped the contemporary world.
P5. Value and the digital archive
How do we assess the value of digital archives? These papers question how we assign value to archives, and what competing notions of value mean in the digital space.
The end of value? Digital archives as cultural property
James Travers, Cultural Property Manager, The National Archives
A public market in digital archives is yet to emerge. What does this mean for the for the status of archives and what are the implications for the tax incentive schemes, grant-awarding bodies and export licensing system, that currently work together to secure archives for the public alongside other forms of cultural property? Does the shift in medium fundamentally alter our perception of the value of heritage as it becomes intangible? James Travers recently took a three-month sabbatical from his post to research these questions. Here he shares his initial findings and outlines further areas for research.
Can digital archives be emotive? Developing a digital platform for the Manchester Together Archive
Jenny Marsden, Project Coordinator and Digital Archivist, Manchester Art Gallery
Kostas Arvanitis, Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Museology, Institute for Cultural Practices, University of Manchester
The Manchester Together Archive is a collection of 10,000 tributes left by members of the public following the Manchester Arena attack of 2017. A project led by Manchester Art Gallery in partnership with Archives+ and the University of Manchester aims to digitise the material and create an online platform where people can access the archive. This paper will explore our developing understanding of the collection as an extension of the memorial process as well as an archive, and will report on investigations into whether and how the experience of visiting the physical archive can be translated into a digital space.
Touching the past through digital skin: communicating the materiality of written heritage via social media
Johanna Green, Lecturer in Book History and Digital Humanities, University of Glasgow
Dot Porter, Curator of Digital Research Services in the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Public access to written heritage presents innumerable challenges. Whether accessed via an exhibition space, or digitally via a manuscript viewer, both involve material losses of some kind. Once immobile behind glass, or disembodied as digital pages, manuscripts are transformed from sensory, material, texts into fixed or partially-fixed exhibits. This paper will examine the potential of social media to unlock the archive for public audiences and communicate aspects of item materiality often lost in traditional exhibitions or when using digital viewers. Using both personal and institutional examples, it seeks to assess the value of social media beyond ‘edutainment’ and questions if social media can provide a meaningful, alternative, digital ‘hands-on’ with written heritage as lived objects.
P6. Immersive experiences
This panel will explore three projects that have adopted immersive media and the potential for mixed reality technology to reimagine how audiences experience collections.
Magical reality: designing AR apps with children and young people
Tom Schofield, Senior Lecturer in Digital Cultures, Newcastle University
How can cultural organisations collaboratively develop immersive digital experiences with children and young people? This case study presents a seven-month long project exploring the links between magical realist children’s literature and augmented reality (AR) applications. We will discuss how a series of creative design workshops, involving young people, informed the development of an AR app, Magical Reality, based on the archive of children’s author David Almond. By collaborating, we drew in different kinds of knowledge – from the museum, designers, researchers and children. We will describe the advantages and challenges of this design approach, and recommendations for future practice.
Unlocking Special Collections: using VR to teach critical thinking and digital literacy to remote audiences
Jane Gallagher, Digital Engagement Manager (Special Collections), University of Manchester Library
Padma Inala, Teaching and Learning Librarian, University of Manchester Library
Special Collections materials are increasingly accessible online, whether born physical or digital. However, while access is possible, it is still difficult to digitally mimic the inspirational qualities of engaging with physical materials in a Special Collections setting. Access to physical collections is usually restricted to a narrow group of individuals, but opening up these collections to wider audiences could open up a wealth of untapped potential. In our paper, we outline a pilot project developed from a PGCHE assignment in which we have used virtual reality tools to create a digital taught session which engages with a broad audience to promote critical thinking and enable access to special collections.
Digital Creativity Week – Augmenting the Archives
Tom Smith, IT Advisor, University of York
Siobhan Dunlop, IT Advisor, University of York
Digital Creativity Week was five days of intensive hands-on workshops learning how to work with data, image manipulation, audio editing, coding and visualisation. Students worked with the Borthwick Archives team to incorporate the Yorkshire Historic Dictionary data into their work. They created an immersive presentation in our 3Sixty space which contained audio/visual augmented reality trigger images that showcased their creative explorations during the week. We will discuss this experiment looking to provide real world digital skills and ascertain demand.
P7. Digital engagement
Digital approaches to collections open up new possibilities to enrich the audience experience and to engage with people in new ways. This panel showcases projects that have embraced digital methods to draw out new voices, and increase access and engagement.
‘To speak powerfully to the public mind’: renegotiating Prince Albert’s vision for a new industrial era
Helen Trompeteler, Senior Curator of Photographs, Royal Collection Trust
Andrew Cusworth, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The Bodleian Libraries
Since 2018, Royal Collection Trust has been working on the Prince Albert Digitisation Project, which will unite online some 23,500 items from the Royal Archives, Royal Collection and Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. In this presentation, Helen Trompeteler, Senior Curator of Photographs, Royal Collection Trust, and Andrew Cusworth, postdoctoral research fellow for the project, will discuss how this undertaking has introduced significant shifts in institutional and curatorial working practices, and how emergent digital practices of the third and fourth industrial eras might help to widen inclusion and functionality through remediating collections to enrich audience understanding and engagement.
Women in Northern Ireland Archives: women’s history, digital preservation and audience engagement
Lynsey Gillespie, Curator at Making the Future, PRONI
Laura Aguiar, Community Engagement Officer and Creative Producer at Making the Future, PRONI
Women in the Archives is bringing forward female voices from the archives through a programme of exhibitions, events and creative media workshops in 2019/2020. This presentation explores how the project, led by the Public Record Office Northern Ireland (PRONI) and the Linen Hall Library, is using digital technology to increase engagement with women’s history as well as promote discussions about born digital records and the challenges of preserving them. Women in the Archives is one of the strands of Making the Future, a PEACE IV-funded project led by PRONI, Linen Hall Library, The Nerve Centre and National Museums Northern Ireland.
Visitors and Volunteers: The Forces Canteen Transcription Project
Lydia Dean, Archives Assistant, Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York
Sally-Anne Shearn, Rowntree Project Archivist, Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York
The project to transcribe and digitise York’s Priory Street Forces Canteen visitors’ book is the first of its kind at the Borthwick Institute, providing a unique, free internet resource. It represents an evolution in our approach to digital inclusion and accessibility that draws on the functionality of our new AtoM-based online catalogue, the utilisation of free web-based tools, and, crucially, the engagement of remote users in the UK and overseas. This paper will discuss the project’s aims, methodology and outcomes as an exemplar of how a flexible approach to ‘navigating the digital shift’ can produce innovative and replicable results.
P8. Digital transformation: organisations and practices
This panel will look at how the digital shift is transforming our organisations: from our organisational cultures, structures, and staffing, to our relationship with users and audiences.
Ask your users. Then ask them again: embedding user research in a big organisation
Jenn Phillips-Bacher, Product Manager, Digital Experience, Wellcome Collection
This paper will outline how and why Wellcome Collection moved away from disconnected digital projects to an approach to product development that puts user research at the heart of it all. Moving from end-of-project user evaluation to ongoing user research throughout the digital lifecycle, this model has a number of implications, rewards and challenges. Covering topics from advocacy, staffing, recruitment and budgeting to the development of a user research toolkit, the presentation will prompt attendees to think about how to embed-user centred approaches in their organisation.
Life before and beyond the ‘absolute unit’
Kate Arnold-Forster, Director of University Museums and Special Collections Services
Guy Baxter, Associate Director Archive Services and Advisor on AHRC The Legacies of Stephen Dwoskin Project
The Museum of English Rural Life went viral for its ‘absolute unit’ tweet in 2018. Did we catch lightning in a bottle or can deeper lessons be applied elsewhere? Since around 2014 the University Museum and Special Collections Services team at the University of Reading have been piloting projects and building digital strategy into the way they work. This paper reflects on this process and asks how university collections can build capacity and work strategically to meet the aims of their home institution. The paper will examine the ACE funded #digiRDG project and the challenges behind developing a digitally literate collections staff with a relevant digital infrastructure on a small budget. Finally, it will explore engagement with research council funded digital humanities projects and highlight the opportunities and challenges around collaboration with academic research.
The Wobbly Stool: same goals, new roles
Joanna Finegan, Assistant Keepers, Digital Collections, National Library of Ireland
Digital preservation has been conceptualised as a three-legged stool. How does a small national library with a big mission evolve to ensure the critical elements of organisation, resources and technology are balanced to enable collection development in the 21st century? This presentation examines how the digital shift has impacted on the collecting practices of the National Library of Ireland from an organisational, policy and practitioner perspective and looks at lessons learned in relation to what has, and hasn’t, worked so far. This presentation discusses these elements in an Irish context.
P9. A sustainable future: is digital the solution?
Can the digital shift help to ensure the sustainability of archives? Does keeping up with emerging technologies represent an impossible challenge? This panel explores the relationship between the digital shift and sustainability, addressing both the precariousness of digital technologies and the survival of the archive itself.
Unplanned obsolescence? Can small archives meet the digital challenge in times of austerity?
Kate Jarman, Trust Archivist, Barts Health NHS Trust
We are all operating in financially constrained and uncertain times. For many smaller archive services the resources available for digital preservation, access and engagement are increasingly limited. How can such services take the opportunities afforded by digital, to increase access to and engagement with our collections, when delivering business-as-usual services is often already a challenge, and business cases for innovation are seen as secondary for delivering cost savings? This paper suggests that without clear answers to these questions, smaller services risk falling behind as user expectations of digital discovery increase and researchers prioritise digitally accessible collections.
The Little American Library that Could: how a public library in the USA digitally saved the history of its rural, Southern community
Julie Warren, Digital Archive Manager, Georgetown County Library
A small public library in the southern United States has, since 2007, led a unique, highly-productive collaboration of ten cultural entities to create the Georgetown County Digital Library. Partners include museums, historic gardens, and civic groups. Monthly, on average over 7,000 persons worldwide access this free, online collection of more than 50,000 historic photos, newspapers, maps, and videos. Begun by grant funding, its achievements persuaded local government to fully fund the site with full-time staffing and unlimited storage capacity. Its success in the hinterlands has even helped to shape the Digital Public Library of America.
Curating the historic environment: promises, challenges and sustainability of digital technologies
Susan Fielding, Senior Investigator (Historic Buildings), Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
Reina van der Wiel, Executive Assistant, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
The Royal Commission has been the national creator, curator and disseminator of the historic environment in Wales for 111 years. After 90 years of producing paper plans and publications, the Commission turned digital in the early 2000s. Digital technology has come with the promise of making surveys more accurate and efficient, while offering greater accessibility to heritage, its interpretation and value for a wider range of audiences. Using case studies, this presentation will discuss the challenges and sustainability of keeping up with emerging technologies and whether we have really improved what we are offering the public.
P10. Changing formats, evolving practice
The challenge of preserving continually changing formats is causing collecting practices to evolve. This panel explores strategies for ensuring different formats are accessible now and secured for future audiences.
Processing email in the Archive of Wendy Cope
Callum McKean, Curator of Contemporary Literary Archives and Manuscripts, The British Library
From acquisition and appraisal through to preservation, authentication and access, email presents specific problems for born digital workflows in collecting institutions. This paper uses the case of the papers of the poet Wendy Cope, containing c.25,000 messages, to examine some of the technical and curatorial problems which the British Library has faced when trying to integrate email into its born digital offer.
The Emerging Formats Project: taking a user-centric approach to shaping collecting practices for complex digital publications
Giulia Carla Rossi, Curator of Digital Publications, The British Library
How does the emergence of new types of digital publications affect libraries’ collecting practices? In order to respond to innovation and represent the changing nature and diversity of the UK digital publishing landscape, the UK Legal Deposit Libraries must understand how they would adjust existing policies to accommodate publications that are more complex than those currently found in their collections. The Emerging Formats project is set to help libraries build their knowledge and capability in order to manage these new complex digital objects, adopting a user-centric approach to inform decisions around collection, discoverability, preservation and access.
Transferring and Preserving Google Docs – The National Archives (TNA)
Paul Young, Digital Preservation Researcher/Specialist, The National Archives
A number of UK Government departments have adopted the use of GSuite and Google Docs (Suite of collaborative web-based office software). Google Docs are compiled from data in real time for browser based rendering, differing from traditional digital documents.
This paper summarises TNA investigations of the implications that Google Docs have on current practice for transfer, preservation and presentation. Including understanding how Google Docs are structured and metadata that can be captured. This will enable TNA to work toward new processes which ensure they are able to preserve, contextualise and enable use of Google Docs selected for transfer to TNA.
P11. Enabling digital scholarship
Digital scholarship is enabling new possibilities for researchers across the cultural sector, breaking down disciplinary boundaries and challenging established modes of study. This panel will focus on how digital scholarship is facilitating and supporting innovative research.
Shaping the market: developing scalable, researcher-oriented TDM services
Mike Furlough, Executive Director HathiTrust
John Walsh, Director, HathiTrust Research Center, Indiana University
Text and Data Mining’s (TDM) importance is well recognised, but the market for TDM services is emerging and not well-defined. Better capitalised publishers deploy services using licensed resources, allowing them to condition user expectations and reinforce product lock-in. To counter these factors, libraries and researchers should take active roles in shaping the systems, tools, and services available to support TDM using licensed, acquired, or locally digitised resources held by libraries. We will draw upon our experience developing services through the HathiTrust Research Center to engage the audience in identifying steps we can take to develop a more ideal TDM ecosystem.
Living with ‘Living with Machines’: navigating the digital shift at scale
Mia Ridge, Digital Curator/Co-Investigator, Living with Machines, British Library
How does running a large-scale data science project and providing collections for use in digital scholarship challenge a library’s understanding of professional practices and audience expectations? A partnership between the British Library and Alan Turing Institute, the Living with Machines project is collaborating to develop data science methods to ask historical questions using digitised collections at scale. This talk will discuss some very early lessons learnt from working with an interdisciplinary team to apply AI methods for research questions in areas as varied as computational linguistics, human computing/crowdsourcing, historical analyses of space and time, data science and software engineering.
Providers, partners, pioneers: the development and diversification of Digital Scholarship services within Research Libraries and the potential for cross-sector collaboration.
Matt Greenhall, Deputy Executive Director, Research Libraries UK
Libraries, archives, and museums are increasingly engaged with a variety of initiatives in support of Digital Scholarship. Used as an umbrella term, Digital Scholarship is the increasingly diverse application of digital technology to scholarly activity, with a particular emphasis on openness, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and challenging traditional and established methodological norms. This paper will showcase the results of RLUK’s recent Digital Scholarship survey and will explore the current landscape of services and initiatives within research libraries, how these may open up new frontiers of cross-sector collaboration, and how the situation in the UK compares to that elsewhere.
P12. Digital collections: measuring impact
The digital shift presents new challenges for understanding the impact of collections. These papers explore models for measuring impact and address the larger question of how we understand and assess the impact of digital collections.
Using the City of Culture as a catalyst for change
Simon Wilson, University Archivist, Hull University
UK City of Culture has had a transformational effect on the reputation and outlook of the City of Hull and its people – creating an archive to reflect this has been a huge challenge. The City of Culture archive has itself become a catalyst for change: the entire archive team is now engaged with born-digital archives in their day-to-day role and the service has begun to provide access to born-digital archives for the very first time. The paper focuses on changes (not the technology) the lessons learnt (so far) and the impact on individuals and the service.
Let’s be visible. Putting the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw online
Karolina Tabak, Digitisation and Visual Documentation Department, National Museum in Warsaw
In 2015 National Museum in Warsaw started a cooperation with Wikimedia Foundation. This presentation will discuss the benefits of opening a digital repository and working with wikipedians. This experience helped the National Museum in Warsaw not only in promoting their collection but also in organising a community of enthusiasts and amateurs who are helping to create open knowledge. Wikipedia provided measurement tools that have helped the museum to track interest in their collections. This presentation will explore data from Google analytics and Wikipedia and will answer questions about the interests of the museum’s users and the real impact of putting their collection online.
Discovery and impact of digital collections: working toward academic engagement with digital materials
Karen Colbron, Digital Content Manager, Jisc
Peter Findlay, Digital Portfolio Manager, Jisc
Jisc actively supports resource discovery and academic engagement with digital collections through the ‘Making your digital collections easier to discover’ online guidance and training. This session will focus on practical measures that collection owners can take to make their materials more discoverable online, and strategies to engage scholars and academics with those materials. We will discuss how to measure engagement through the balanced value impact model and highlight a range of case studies of resource discovery in action in UK Higher Education.
P13. Blockchain: the future for collections?
We are only beginning to understand how blockchain can be utilised by, and bring value to, the cultural sector. These papers explore the potential of blockchain technology from authenticity and trust in the digital record, to enabling access and implementing collective ownership.
ARCHANGEL – trusted archives of digital public records
Alex Green, Senior Digital Archivist, The National Archives
The National Archives has collaborated with the University of Surrey and the Open Data institute to research the potential of blockchain technology to underscore trust in digital records. The combination of blockchain’s distributed nature and its cryptographic enabled immutability allows archives to provide evidence that the records in their custody have not been altered. We are currently testing the prototype blockchain with other national archives (including Estonia, Australia, the US and Scotland) and will report on our findings.
Blockchain and the Museum: turning digital fragmentation into social value
Frances Liddell, PhD Student, Institute for Cultural Practices, University of Manchester
Since 2008, we have seen the rise in the hype around blockchain technology, the digital infrastructure behind cryptocurrency. Blockchain has been coined as the fifth disruptive computing paradigm of the modern world (Swan, 2015), and yet many people have little understanding of what the technology is and how it works. Cutting through the hype, this research examines what blockchain can do for the cultural sector. Collaborating with National Museums Liverpool, the research questions to what extent blockchain can implement collective ownership, and thus a shared authority, between the museum and its audiences.
Introducing Project Arbour, a digitisation and cultural blockchain catalogue access project
Anne Barrett, College Archivist and Corporate Records Manager, Imperial College London
Geoff Blissett, Commercial Director, Max Communications
The Centre for Scientific Archives, (CSA) Max Communications and Cognizant have collaborated on a project to digitise approximately 200 catalogues of the manuscript papers of scientists, and apply to these linked data technology for cross searchability, and blockchain technology for verification purposes. The impetus is to open up the catalogues of the CSA and its predecessor body, the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists (NCUACS), to new audiences.
Poster presentation: The National Archives and Research Libraries UK Professional Fellows 2018-19
In October 2018, The National Archives and Research Libraries UK (RLUK) launched a Professional Fellowship Scheme to enable staff from both organisations to gain experience and insight from one another, strengthen and diversify the relationship between them, and to overcome some of the collective challenges facing research and cultural organisations. In this presentation, the first cohort of professional fellows share their research projects.
Chris Grygiel, Digital Archivist, Leeds University Libraries
Curating, mapping and presenting modern hybrid collections – view the poster
This presentation will focus on the outcomes of an investigation into the role of traditional archival practices in the curation, cataloguing and presentation of hybrid paper and digital collections at Leeds University Libraries. Working with The National Archives, Chris has developed workflows, processes and documentation to address issues with the use of traditional archival processes when dealing with digital and hybrid donations, deposits and accruals, implementing changes which could help not only LUL, but the wider archival community as well.
Melinda Haunton, Programme Manager (Archive Service Accreditation), The National Archives
Towards principles for historical collections in public engagement – view the poster
This presentation draws on research into the academic practice of public history to understand its approach to broadening audiences and understanding impact, aiming to translate these into guidance for collections institutions working to engage wider audiences with their holdings. The underpinning research has highlighted the extent of public engagement activity across archives and special collections institutions, which contributes substantially to public understanding of history. This activity is, however, rarely considered from a conceptual or ethical standpoint. This presentation seeks to explore a number of principles for ethical and impactful public engagement with collections.
Rosalind Morris, Education Web Officer, The National Archives
Improving accessibility to historical collections for School Aged learners – view the poster
This presentation will focus on the findings of research into the accessibility of Medieval and Early Modern documents for Primary and Secondary School aged students. Working with the 4Schools team at Durham University’s Palace Green Library, Rosie has been investigating methods of scaffolding and support to allow students and teachers to build the skills necessary to gain confidence in using original documents and enjoy the challenge of learning from historical items.