The Digital Scholarship team was set up in 2010 to enable innovative research with the Library’s digital collections and data. It is a cross-disciplinary group supporting the creation and innovative use of British Library's digital collections. We might help negotiate copyright for a researcher, collaborate on a funding bid, work with university students on collections-based projects, consult on making digitised data available online, advise on computational methods to suit a curator or researcher's needs and discuss exhibition spaces. We also devise and run training courses, write blog posts and run events as well as doing talks like this.
BL Labs Mellon-funded. Interesting dynamic - able to move more quickly than the rest of the library, their 'brand' is able to push things further than other departments, ask 'what if'. We're seated together, work closely together to support each other's work. EAP - hugely important work digitising international heritage at risk.
Staff across all collection areas need to be familiar with the foundational concepts, methods and tools of digital scholarship in order to support it. 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. Began 2012, updated 2016.
Two hours, once a month. Finding tutorials and working through them is a form of horizon scanning, feeds back into training programme. Allows us to be more responsive to requests for specific training. Hack and yack is a play on old digital humanities debate about whether DH scholars need to code or not... We say, both are good. LHS image is from session where we tried data mining tools on images - results actually pretty good, but lots of guesswork.
DS reading group to help us keep up and as a way to involve people who want more discussion on the implications of digital scholarship. Helps us get to know interested people in other departments and forces us to make time to read in-depth. Image used in posters part of setting the tone - informal, quirky. Discussion really enjoyable. Can't choose anything too long as people probably won't get through it, mightn't come. #image credit ?
Collecting together datasets under data.bl.uk. Lots of different projects - images on Wikimedia Commons, Flickr Commons; linked open data with BBC Research and Education Space, British National Bibliography; OCR text and digital images from data portal; UK web archive, thesis data, research datasets... Support computational, data-driven research.
Competitions seem effective way to motivate participation - time-limited, clear expectations re what to submit, clear rewards and recognition. Off the Map, run by colleague Stella Wisdom, explores how British Library digital collections can be used in creative ways. Opportunity for game, design students in the UK to showcase their talents to industry; hopefully lead to engagement with new audiences.
BL Labs Awards recognise work done with digital collections (in research, commercial, artistic, teaching/learning categories); Competition winners got to work closely with Labs team for several months to make their DS project idea a reality.
Great thing about competitions is they help create case studies. Dr Katrina Navickas was a Labs Competition winner whose story particularly resonates with 'traditional' historians.
Katrina's research investigates Chartism, the biggest movement for democracy in 19th century Britain. Used text mining techniques to map weekly meetings as advertised in the Northern Star newspaper between 1841 and 1845 - thus the quote. http://politicalmeetingsmapper.co.uk/maps/methods
Labs team, usually with a digital curator, run workshops and activities at universities around the country, to encourage re-use of digital collections
From undergraduate group projects, MSc dissertation projects, to PhD supervision. Can be very time-consuming but provide opportunity for targeted application of specific technologies or methods to specific collections. Relies on infrastructure of university, which has positives and negatives, but means we're not held back by need to fit into BL infrastructure and busy IT schedules. Screenshot is MSc project by Thomas Evans, who was asked to create a more browseable interface to search-focused DigCIM, Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.
Partnerships are another way to explore application of new technologies. This is a screenshot of Transkribus, part of the READ project. They're working on handwritten text recognition, which has huge potential for our manuscript collections. We've signed a Memorandum of Understanding with them to make it easier to share records and learn from their research.
Crowdsourcing enables us to engage new audiences while making our collections more discoverable. Working with metadata services to ensure results can be incorporated into catalogue at some level of granularity; will also offer as dataset.
LIBER DH Working Group Workshop: Raising Awareness by Neil Fitzgerald
LIBER DH: Raising Awareness
Head of Digital Research
Six core purposes
Custodianship – we build, curate and
preserve the UK’s national collection of
published, written and digital content
Research – we support and stimulate
research of all kinds
Business – we help business to innovate
Culture – we engage everyone with
memorable cultural experiences
Learning – we inspire young people and
learners of all ages
International – we work with partners
around the world to advance knowledge
and mutual understanding
101 This is Digital Scholarship
103 Digitisation at the BL
105 Crowdsourcing in GLAM
107 Data Visualisation
108 Geo-referencing & Digital
116 Metadata at the British
118 Cleaning up Data
Skills: digital scholarship
Help people succeed:
outcomes, expected results
Provide clear, printable
No more than 15 people in
Allow time for all to
Build in optional activities
for advanced participants
Training: lessons learnt
Time to explore innovative
Trying new tools,
particularly with BL or
Case studies and real world
The expertise and
enthusiasm of instructors
Meeting colleagues and
learning about BL projects
Releasing open data
From ancient manuscripts to web archives, as RDF/XML, CSV,
TIFF/JPEG, MARC21, PDF, 3D...
BL Labs Awards:
with digital collections
BL Labs Competition:
winners work with Labs
team to make their digital
scholarship project idea a
"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' Political Meetings
Mapper, BL Labs 2015
Importance of case studies