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Dh2016 dstp

  1. 1. Digital Scholarship Training @ British Library Aquiles Alencar-Brayner Digital Curator #bldigital
  2. 2. www.bl.uk 2 The British Library is the national library of the UK. By law we receive a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland. If you saw 5 items a day it would take you 80,000 years to see the whole collection
  3. 3. www.bl.uk 3 Over 150 Million items are stored in London and in Yorkshire But…as we digitise and collect born-digital, the Library is becoming as much a place full of data as it is a place full of physical stuff, and there is a growing community of users who see it that way. http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/quickinfo/facts/
  4. 4. www.bl.uk 4 Meet the Digital Research Team The Digital Research Team is a cross- disciplinary mix of curators, researchers, librarians and technologists supporting the creation and innovative use of British Library's digital collections.
  5. 5. www.bl.uk 5 What we do… • We work with staff and researchers operating at the intersection of academic research, cultural heritage and technology to support new ways of exploring and accessing our collections through: – Getting content in digital form and online – Collaborative projects – Offering digital research support and guidance – Running events, competitions, and awards (BL Labs) http://www.bl.uk/subjects/digital-scholarship
  6. 6. www.bl.uk 6 Encoded in the Job Description • To encourage, support and assist curators in Collection areas to realise their vision of integrating a variety of formats into a seamless research experience or of digitising particular parts of the Library’s collections • To train staff throughout the Library in the opportunities for and practices of digital scholarship.
  7. 7. www.bl.uk 7 How to define Digital Scholarship? Using computational methods either to answer existing research questions or to challenge existing theoretical paradigms…. (list courses here?) Geotagging Data Visualisation Data Mining Georeferencing Digital Mapping Crowdsourcing Text mining Collaboration
  8. 8. www.bl.uk 8 Example: Political Meetings Mapper How many Chartists meetings were held from 1838 to 1850 and where were they held? 5,519 meetings discovered in 462 towns and villages across the UK! Sources: • BL digitized 19th century newspapers • BL geo-referenced historic maps • BL playbills collection “I was able to do in minutes with a python code what I’d spent the last ten years trying to do by hand!” -Dr. Katrina Navickas, BL Labs Winner 2015
  9. 9. www.bl.uk 9 The Training Programme The Digital Scholarship Training Programme is an internal staff training initiative by the Digital Curator team that launched in November 2012. Developed 19 bespoke courses to help us situate our collections and expertise in the realm of digital research, exploring opportunities and challenges. Delivered 88 courses to over 400 staff members so far!
  10. 10. www.bl.uk 10 Some courses • 101 What is Digital Scholarship? • 103 Digitisation at British Library • 104 Communicating our collections online • 105 Crowdsourcing in Libraries, Museums and Cultural Heritage Institutions • 107 Data Visualisation for Analysis in Scholarly Research • and Digital Mapping • 109 Information Integration: Mash-ups, API’s and The Semantic Web • 110 Managing digital research information • 114 Foundations in working with Digital Objects: From Images to A/V • 115 Metadata for Electronic Resources: Dublin Core, METS, MODS, RDF, XML • 118 Cleaning up Data • 119 Programming in Libraries
  11. 11. www.bl.uk 11 • Staff across all collection areas are familiar and conversant with the foundational concepts, methods and tools of digital scholarship. • Staff are empowered to innovate. • Collaborative digital initiatives flourish across subject areas within the Library as well as externally. • Our internal capacity for training and skill-sharing in digital scholarship are a shared responsibility across the Library. Training programme: goals
  12. 12. www.bl.uk 12 • Hands-on, practical exercises • Time to explore innovative digital projects • Trying new tools, particularly with BL or similar collections • The expertise and enthusiasm of instructors • Meeting colleagues and learning about BL projects Participants most appreciated...
  13. 13. www.bl.uk 13 • Case studies / real world examples help • Articulate learning outcomes, expected results for exercises • Provide clear, printable instructions • No more than 15 people in hands-on courses • Allow time for all to complete exercises • Build in optional activities for advanced participants Practical Best Practices/Tips Gleaned
  14. 14. www.bl.uk 14 Inspired…Big Data History of Music How can vast amounts of bibliographic data held by research libraries be unlocked for music researchers to analyse? Can this data be interrogated in ways that challenge the traditional narratives of music history? Analyses and visualisations exposed previously uncharted patterns in the history of music, for instance the rise and fall of music printing in 16th- and 17th- century Europe (huge dips in output in Venice were down to plague and war).
  15. 15. www.bl.uk 15 2016/2017 Priorities courses will reflect • Digitisation pipeline - keen to understand and help improve • Crowdsourcing support – start-up, design & promotion • OCR/HTR – development and application (transcription) • Digital publishing – interim, strategic and external platforms • Data wrangling – support for retro conversion • Semantic enrichment - TEI and other mark-up • Programming/scripting – tips for making work easier • Digital Scholarship – better understand landscape to reach new users
  16. 16. www.bl.uk 16 Opportunities for improvements: • Reaching staff who are keen and could most make use of the information but have not yet engaged • Providing guidance and support to staff who are looking to implement what they have learned • Addressing more explicitly the challenges and opportunities for doing digital research with complex collection materials, particularly our vast non-Western materials
  17. 17. www.bl.uk 17 Reaching staff who have not yet engaged • Offer shorter (One/Two hour) teasers for popular subjects • Describe courses so they more clearly articulate relevance to daily context • Offer informal drop-in Hack & Yack Style events • Arrange DH talks relevant to collection area, followed by how-to/hands on workshops • Continuously and closely engage with our collection areas to ensure courses are always filling a need/relevant.
  18. 18. www.bl.uk 18 Guidance and Support for Implementation • Digital Curators now represented on all major Infrastructure Projects • Getting started guides on internal wiki • Monthly Hack and Yack • Monthly Digital Scholarship Reading Group
  19. 19. www.bl.uk 19 Bettering our understanding of DH opportunities in non-Western contexts • Digital Curators are being hired specifically as part of new digitisation projects • Hebrew Manuscripts • Two Centuries of Indian Print • Look to appoint folks for brief periods of time to investigate and report on priority content areas • PhD Placement: Profiling the Digital Humanities Landscape in China • This information will feed back into development of courses for future.
  20. 20. www.bl.uk 20 Digital Curators in Digitisation Projects Digital Curator, Hebrew Manuscripts, exploring and experimenting with different types of digital tools on the Hebrew collection, e.g. 3D modelling, annotations, data visualisations, image processing, spatial representation and others. Digital Curator, Two Centuries Indian Print, exploring OCR technologies for Bengali Print and digital research approaches to Book History.
  21. 21. www.bl.uk 21 Identify key individuals, institutions, and major centres of activity in this area, both in East Asia and globally Identify notable and representative Digital Humanities projects and research being undertaken in this area Articulate how cultural /societal/ technological/ governmental policies may be having an impact on the adoption of computational methods in humanistic studies in East Asia Suggest where possible opportunities/barriers and current trends in this area may lie, particularly in light of the Library’s services and collections. PhD Placement: Profiling the Digital Humanities Landscape in China
  22. 22. www.bl.uk 22 Getting in touch Web: http://www.bl.uk/subjects/digital-scholarship Blog: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digital-scholarship/ Email: digitalresearch@bl.uk @BL_DigiSchol #bldigital

Editor's Notes

  • Set up in 2010 the team was formed as a way of dedicating focus on the changing research landscape in the digital realm. Now embedded in collection areas, and as you’ll see later, joining the library explicitly as part of major digitisation projects.

    Main activities:

    Getting content in digital form and online
    Collaborations, Competitions & Awards
    Digital research support and guidance
  • Clockwise from top Left:

    Aquiles Alencar-Brayner, European & Americas
    Nora McGregor, Asian & African Collections
    Stella Wisdom, Digital Curator, Contemporary British
    Mahendra Mahey, Project Manager, Mellon funded BL Labs Project
    Ben O’Steen, Technical Lead, Mellon funded BL Labs Project
    Mia Ridge, Digital Curator, Western Heritage
  • Video: http://www.bl.uk/case-studies/political-meetings-mapper

    Research Question:

    Chartism was the biggest popular movement for democracy in 19th Century British history. They campaigned for the vote for all men. The Chartists advertised their meeting in the Northern Star newspaper from 1838 to 1850.

    The question is, how many of the meetings took place and where? We started with 1841-1845.

    Source Collections:

    19th Century Digitised Newspapers, specifically Northern Star newspaper
    Digitised and Georeferenced Map of Oxford Street


    Digital/Computational Techniques:

    The images of the relevant pages of the Northern Star were run through an Optical Character Recognition program (Abbyy Finereader 12) and the resulting text was checked manually.

    We developed a set of Python codes to extract and geo-code the place of meeting, using a gazetteer of places, and parse the date of the meeting.

    Outcome: 5,519 meetings discovered in 462 towns and villages across the UK! http://politicalmeetingsmapper.co.uk/maps/

  • In 2012, the Digital Scholarship team had an ambitious plan to design and deliver a bespoke internal training programme in digital skills for staff across the Library. The programme is the result of an extensive consultation exercise and survey of the digital scholarship landscape to determine what defines the practice today and the skills we need to facilitate digital research, particularly digital humanities research. The courses were designed to complement each other and were written specifically to link curatorial expertise to digital scholarship. Other instructors came from institutions on the leading edge of digital scholarship such as King’s College, Oxford University and University College London.

    In terms of raw numbers - over 400 individual British Library staff members have come through the programme, on average attending two or more courses each; over 1000 cumulative learning opportunities. I'll discuss the goals shortly...

  • Evaluation found that participants enjoyed the hands-on, practical elements of courses, backed by lectures and discussion. They appreciated the opportunity to explore innovative digital research projects, particularly those which used British Library or similar collections, and to try out new tools and methods for themselves. They also enjoyed the expertise and enthusiasm of the trainers.
    People appreciated the opportunity to meet others across the organisation, and to find out more about their expertise and interests. They also had the chance to find out more about the Library's work and projects. Some commented that they found it useful for future career plans.
  • •             Case studies and real-life examples - particularly BL-based ones - are essential
    •             Make sure the learning outcomes and expected result for exercises is clearly articulated
    •             Limit courses with any kind of hands-on element to no more than 15 people and allow ample time in order to ensure all levels have time to work through them
    •             Provide exercises for beginners and advanced and always have directions printed out
    It's difficult to design a course that suits a nervous beginner and a confident explorer.
  • We met the first goal of getting staff familiar with digital scholarship concepts, tools and methods. Internal capacity has increased, and many courses are now taught by internal instructors. We're also looking to work with doctoral students to offer courses based on their work with our collections.

    A particularly cogent example inspired by a course is curator Dr. Sandra Tuppen who attended one of our courses on cleaning up data for data analysis in scholarly research using Open Refine and went on to secure a £79,000 grant towards a research project which enriched and cleaned British Library catalogue data in support of a big data approach to the history of music. 
  • Our work being embedded with the different areas flagged up these priorities for 2016/2017. We’ll focus on delivering the courses relating to these and build new ones where we don’t currently offer them.
  • •             Providing clear guidance and support for getting started in the context of current Library policy and infrastructure. We might be able to help people devise projects, but this can be time-consuming.
    •             Reaching staff who are keen and could most make use of the information but cannot attend because of complex scheduling and rotas
    •             Addressing more explicitly the challenges of working with non-Western materials within digital scholarship as well as non-manuscript based digital collections such as the UK Web and Sound Archives
    Due to demand after the first semester, particularly from those responding to researcher enquiries directly in the reading rooms, we opened up registration to anyone in the Library with an interest. As roles can vary hugely across the Library, this can prove a challenge in tailoring course content and exercises to meet the specific interests of such a wide range of interests.
  • Three particular areas which the feedback has highlighted as opportunities for improvement and which we will address in the future delivery of the programme, are:
    •             Providing clear guidance and support for getting started in the context of current Library policy and infrastructure. We might be able to help people devise projects, but this can be time-consuming.
    •             Reaching staff who are keen and could most make use of the information but cannot attend because of complex scheduling and rotas
    •             Addressing more explicitly the challenges of working with non-Western materials within digital scholarship as well as non-manuscript based digital collections such as the UK Web and Sound Archives
    Due to demand after the first semester, particularly from those responding to researcher enquiries directly in the reading rooms, we opened up registration to anyone in the Library with an interest. As roles can vary hugely across the Library, this can prove a challenge in tailoring course content and exercises to meet the specific interests of such a wide range of interests.

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