Cultural Heritage

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Around the World in 80 Gigabytes

Posted by guestblogger on 21st February 2011

About this Guest Post

Alexandra Eveleigh is an archivist with a background working mostly within the local authority sector. She has a long standing interest in the impact of digital technologies upon archives, and her PhD research at University College London seeks to evaluate the implications for professional theory and practice of user collaboration initiatives using Web2.0 tools.

She can be contacted via her blog Around the World in Eighty Gigabytes or follow her on Twitter.

Around the World in 80 Gigabytes

Web 2.0 is here to stay. This blog is as good evidence as any of the enthusiasm with which a whole variety of online tools designed to encourage audience participation are being adopted and adapted across the cultural heritage sector. In his recent book, Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirky argues that increased experimentation is a defining feature of this brave, new technological world. But as public sector cuts begin to bite, there is a real need to begin to evaluate existing initiatives, to map current trends in the use of Web2.0 tools, and to find out what has worked and what hasn’t within our sector. Are some participatory models more successful than others, and why? What outcomes do Web2.0 projects aim to achieve, and how can these be measured? Are these kinds of initiatives sustainable – that is, are the results sufficient to warrant the effort that organisations put into the development and maintenance of such projects? For example, are wikis merely going out of fashion or are there specific structural constraints which make this particular model of online collaboration especially challenging to design and sustain in professionalized heritage contexts?

Advocates for the use of Web2.0 technologies in archives (and I’d be one of them) tend to make much of the opportunity to reach new and different audiences, to expose archive collections to the world, even to democratize the archive. But even if as professional archivists we aspire to a transformation of the civic function of archives in our use of Web2.0 tools, we cannot achieve this on our own. As Stuart Macdonald commented in his guest post about the AddressingHistory project, the success of these types of initiatives will “ultimately be measured by continual and extended use within the wider community”. Encouraging two-way engagement is not like the usual kind of organizational development project, in that there’s no fixed end point at project launch. Web2.0 experiments are easy to start up, but hard to pull the plug on, even if only a few people are contributing, without adversely affecting community trust in your organization and their willingness to participate in the future.

image of Old Weather home page

Old Weather project home page

My research is focused upon those initiatives which depend upon the skills or knowledge of members of the public to supplement or create new information about archival collections (as opposed to platforms like facebook which primarily enable passing comments or indications of approval on content submitted by archivists). This incorporates a wide spectrum of participant behavior from the small, atomized contributions required to take part in the Old Weather transcription of ships’ logs or to tag archival photographs on flickr commons, right through to the sustained effort and specialist knowledge needed to make a substantive contribution to The National Archives’ wiki Your Archives.

Flickr commons home page

I’m particularly interested in what motivates people to participate online, so that we can establish what social and technical structures best support user participation, and feed this knowledge back into the design of future initiatives. Do online collaborative tools genuinely open up archives to crowds of ‘new’ users as is often claimed, or can the expertise of those with a prior interest and awareness of archives be more easily or usefully tapped? What mechanisms can be put in place both to encourage contributions and to establish the trustworthiness and relevance of submissions? I’m also interested to find out how potential contributors find out about online participation opportunities in the first place, and the interplay between different Web2.0 tools in promoting such projects. Some of the initial data I’ve collected suggests that although social media like twitter and facebook can play an important role in raising awareness amongst fellow professionals of new projects, and in sustaining enthusiasm amongst the participant community once established, traditional press coverage still packs an unrivalled punch in terms of making initial contact with would-be participants in cultural heritage contexts.

image of milkyway project home page

Milkyway project homepage

Certain trends are already becoming evident within the (broadly defined) archives domain. 2010 was definitely the year of the transcription platform, as organisations seek to strike a happy balance between motivating participants to contribute and maintaining adequate organizational control over the content created. Some distinctions are also now becoming evident between different styles of project. Some aim to ‘crowdsource’ lots of small contributions from as many people as possible, yet the commitment required and connection established between each individual participant and the archives may only be fleeting. More community-focused initiatives, on the other hand, bear a close resemblance to traditional volunteering opportunities or outreach work, specifically aiming to capitalize on participants’ emotional attachment with the subject matter in hand. But this is a dynamic field, and sometimes its hard to keep up with all the new projects unveiled: I wonder what new ideas 2011 will bring?

Posted in archives, Guest-blog, Web 2.0, wikis | 1 Comment »

Places still available on Social Web workshops

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4th January 2011

In Spring 2011 UKOLN will be running further workshops for the cultural heritage sector on using the Social Web. Attendance is free. Booking is now open, see links below.

The Social Web: Opportunities in Difficult Times
Ann Chapman will facilitate a 1-day workshop The Social Web: Opportunities in Difficult Times to be held at Discovery Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne on 26th January 2011.

The Social Web: Opportunities in Difficult Times
Ann Chapman will facilitate a 1-day workshop The Social Web: Opportunities in Difficult Times to be held at University of Manchester, Manchester on 3th February 2011.

The Social Web: Opportunities in Difficult Times
Ann Chapman will facilitate a 1-day workshop The Social Web: Opportunities in Difficult Times to be held at Museum Studies Building, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, Leicester on 22nd February 2011.

Posted in archives, Blogs, Libraries, Museums, Twitter, Web 2.0 | Comments Off

Help Develop Culture Grid Application Profile

Posted by Brian Kelly on 30th October 2010

This message was posted by Nick Poole on the MCG email list on 19 Oct. 2010.

As you will be aware, the Collections Trust is responsible for developing the Culture Grid as an aggregation/syndication service for museum, archive and library metadata.

The Culture Grid serves object and collections metadata, and works alongside Culture24 as the aggregator of institutional and events data. Collectively, our aim is to maximise museum audiences by increasing the profile of the sector’s digital output through a variety of mainstream digital and mobile channels.

We now need to enlist your help to make some choices about the evolution of the Culture Grid’s Application Profile to ensure that the web services we are offering both increase participation by museums and enhance the value of the services and connectors we can offer to 3rd parties.

Neil Smith of Knowledge Integration (the company that designed, built and now manage the Culture Grid’s technical and operational architecture) has posted a discussion paper on the Museum API Wiki which outlines a number of possible options. Please go to to read and respond to his post.

We need to ensure that the Culture Grid continues to evolve and to add value for museums, so we would hugely value your comments and ideas about the options we are presenting.

If you are interested in making your content available through the Culture Grid, please contact the Grid Manager, Phill Purdy at Also, if you are interested in discussing the future direction of the Culture Grid, you should join the Culture Grid Users Network on Collections Link.

Finally, if you are interested in seeing what you might be able to create using the Culture Grid data, register for the Culture Grid Hack day, 3rd December at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle.

Many thanks for your help!
Nick Poole, Chief Executive, Collections Trust
Follow us on Twitter: @collectiontrust

Posted in archives, Libraries, Museums, Web 2.0 | Comments Off

An Archive in the Palm of Your Hand

Posted by guestblogger on 27th September 2010

About this Guest Post

Emma Faragher is an Education & Outreach Officer, at the National Library of Scotland (NLS), where she works on learning and interpretation for The John Murray Archive project. Emma can be contacted at

An Archive in the palm of your hand: The John Murray Archive app at the National Library of Scotland

The John Murray Archive exhibition at the National Library of Scotland exhibition highlights the archive of publishers John Murray. The archive records the business of the John Murray publishing firm, widely regarded as one of the world’s most important publishing archives. It comprises over 150,000 papers, manuscripts, letters and other documents representing many of the world’s most celebrated writers, thinkers, politicians, explorers, economists and scientists. The exhibition is an innovative interactive space which uses a mix of technology and theatre to bring a unique archive collection to life.

NLS iPhone app showing text from John Murray Archive

Originally the exhibition had an introductory film. However this was presented in a separate room and evaluation revealed that it was not well-used or understood by visitors. Therefore in 2009 NLS took the decision to remove the film and seek an alternative way to introduce the archive, deciding that this was a good opportunity to pilot the use of new technologies and handheld guides in our exhibition spaces.

Following a period of research and evaluation of existing handheld guides used in museums in the UK and further afield we decided to develop an ‘app’ for iPhone and iPod. At the time of our research this was still relatively unusual, though the popularity of apps as guides in the cultural sector has grown significantly since this project began, in tandem with the rapid growth of the mobile internet.


The app was built with an external developer, Screenmedia. We built the app over a period of four and a half months. The team at Screenmedia worked with our Learning and Public Engagement team to develop a structure and content plan. We developed a themed structure which complements the archive’s website. Each theme includes an audio-visual introduction and access to a selection of documents. Content was developed with liaison from the curatorial team for the John Murray Archive.

Access & promotion

Image of Iphone app interactive

NLS iPhone app - interactive state

The app is available to the public in a number of ways:

  • Remote users can download it from the Apple iTunes store, links have been provided to the store from John Murray Archive and main NLS websites.
  • Visitors to NLS with an iPhone or iPod have the option to download to their own devices using our public wifi network.
  • Visitors to NLS without their own device can borrow an iPod during their visit.

We have promoted the app using social media, including Twitter updates and Facebook and news streams on our website.

In addition we have used more traditional means of promotion, including a press release to local and national newspapers and more specialist press, receiving good coverage. We are also promoting the app in our public areas, including posters, café table tent cards and inclusion on information screens.

To date there have been almost 900 downloads of the app.


We receive monthly updates on downloads of the app which we map against promotional activity. This has already revealed that though social media promotion is valuable, traditional media still has its place – one of the greatest peaks in downloads was following the press release and subsequent publication of stories about the app in newspapers.

NLSiPhone app image

NLS iPhone app - rollover

We track star-ratings of the app following downloads, and have implemented an evaluation screen within the application itself which is linked to our wi-fi system so that people who use the app in the library can send feedback direct.

We are currently surveying visitors to NLS who use the app; initial returns have been very positive.

Some key learning points from the project

Our app began life as a project focussed on providing a service to exhibition visitors, but as soon as we selected our format it became apparent the service would also be of great potential interest to remote users. Therefore as the app developed we ensured that it would be interesting and relevant even if you are not physically at the Library. This has been borne out by the popularity of downloads for the app.

When this project was developed, iPhones dominated the smart phone market, but recent figures suggest that Google Android (the operating system used by a number of other smart phones) is likely to have an equal market share in the future. Further, the, advent of the iPad and tablet computers is likely to change the mobile internet market further in the next few years.

Remote users are increasingly important in our sector and as the popularity of mobile internet, smartphones and other tools develops they will offer many opportunities and tools for the cultural sector to engage with new audiences.

Image of NLS iPhone app

NLS iPhone app - video screen

Posted in archives, Guest-blog, Libraries, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Making Time for Web 2.0

Posted by guestblogger on 30th August 2010

About this guest post

Kiara King is the Archivist for the Ballast Trust, a charitable foundation that provides a rescue, sorting and cataloguing service for business archives with an emphasis on technical records such as plans, drawings and photographs. She can be contacted at:

Making Time for Web 2.0

Hopefully you now have a good idea about what web 2.0 can do for your archive and are convinced of the benefits of web 2.0. But if you are unsure if you can spare the time to get involved, then fret no more! Fortunately there is an entry point to web 2.0 for everyone, even if you can only spare an hour a week and don’t know what html is.

image Web 2.0 tool logos

The world of Web 2.0

As this diagram shows, web 2.0 activity can be broken down into three different types that require varying levels of commitment and time.


  • Investigate your organisation’s web presence by googling yourself and see if you can amend or add to the information that is available.
  • Comment, amend, tag anything relevant to your collections that you find on sites like Wikipedia, Flickr and Youtube with your expert knowledge about the collection or item and link back to your own website.
  • Start a Twitter feed and see what others are saying about archives on twitter by using the #archives tag.
  • Join Flickr and post your own images.

Create and share content

  • Start a blog, make sure you can commit to regular posting (at least 1-2 posts a week) which should only take an hour of staff time.
  • Create podcasts, if you are already doing talks then this just means recording them and creating an audio file for download.
  • Create some videos to show how to handle documents or a behind the scenes look at the archives and put them up on youtube.

Build communities

  • Consider starting a facebook group for your archive.
  • Create a social network group using a site like ning to build an online community for your users.
  • How about opening up your catalogue in a wiki for users to amend and contribute to? This will require moderating but is a great way to harvest the knowledge users have about collections and share it with others.

Finally, work smartly and make the Internet work for you by creating a personalised start page. This acts like a personal web portal so that when you open up your browser it will push content to you from other sources for you to engage with. This could be recent activity in your flickr account, blog posts to read and comment on from other sources, news results for certain terms relevant to your archive as well as your emails.

screenshot of start page

screenshot of start page

Posted in archives, Guest-blog, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

The Benefits of Using Web 2.0 Tools in Your Archive

Posted by guestblogger on 23rd August 2010

About this guest post

Kiara King is the Archivist for the Ballast Trust, a charitable foundation that provides a rescue, sorting and cataloguing service for business archives with an emphasis on technical records such as plans, drawings and photographs. She can be contacted at:

The benefits of using Web 2.0 tools in your archive

In my last guest post I talked about some of the ways you can use web 2.0 tools to share your collections, communicate differently and find a wider audience for the resources you have developed. In this post I’m going to expand on the potential benefits gained by using web 2.0 tools to do this and my own experience of using web 2.0 tools at work.


Engaging with web 2.0 offers many benefits but the main one is that it gives you multiple ways to get the message about your archive and collections out to lots and lots of people. Considering that 70% of UK households have the Internet (Office for National Statistics), there is the potential to reach a much wider audience by using these tools and maximising your online presence. Some of the benefits this approach can result in are:
• Increased awareness of collections among existing and new users
• Diversification of users
• New opportunities for collaborative working
• The ability to capture additional information about collections
• Varied access points to your collections
These all sound like good things but what do they really mean for an archive?

Share your collections – open them up using flickr, wikis, youtube

Putting content from your collections on other websites allows you to push that content to users through sites that they are already using. You can also take a “shop window” approach and showcase a limited number of items through these avenues and then direct people back to your main site if you prefer.

Sharing content will increase awareness and help reach different users but it can also give back by providing new information and content for your collections. The Great War Archive project used flickr as one way to gather digitised items from the public. Although the project is now finished, the flickr group continues to receive contributions and now has 2,423 images from nearly 300 members.

screenshot Great War flickr group

Screenshot of Great War flickr group page

Web 2.0 tools can also enable an archive to allow additions to existing content to be made with ease. Images in flickr can be tagged with user subject terms, youtube videos can receive comments and a wiki version of your catalogue can be edited and added to while preserving the original. By allowing the user to participate in the descriptive process, archivists can obtain detailed and informed descriptions of their collections that they themselves would not have the knowledge or time to produce. The National Archives have developed a wiki version of their catalogue called Your Archives which allows users to contribute their knowledge of archival sources to the site by adding to the catalogue and research guides or submitting transcriptions of documents.

The benefits of sharing collections via other websites are:
• Various online profiles for your archive – allowing you to tailor content for different audiences.
• Multiple ways to access your content – lets you bring content to the user.
• Increased awareness of the collections – raises the profile of collections.
• Capture of user knowledge – allows you to improve and enhance your finding aids.
• Engaged users – can provide mew content for collections and further information about them with ease

Communicate differently – by blogging

Blogging and/or tweeting provides a regular, informal way to communicate news and information about your archive service, its collections and events. The popularity of smartphones with 11 million users in the UK (comScore study means that more people are accessing web content on the move which gives this form of communication even greater impact and immediacy than traditional ‘news’ pages.

image of blog software and twitter logos

Blog software and twitter logos

The benefits of using these methods of communication are that they allow for engagement with what you do by allowing people to comment and reply to information you post, this can generate conversations between the archive and its users.

Different communication channels give you:
• Regular contact with a different audience – you can reach different people with an immediacy that traditional news sections on a website don’t have.
• Improved understanding about ‘what you do’ – by blogging about the day to day aspects of being an archivist.
• The ability to react quickly to current media topics and connect with them – make your content relevant by picking up on news items and anniversaries.
• Engagement by providing users with a way to give you feedback – people can comment on blog posts, reply to or retweet your tweets.

Share your resources – reach a global audience with podcasts

Giving talks to family and/or local history groups, schools or within your organisation about the archive and its collections is a great way to promote your archive and raise awareness of the collections. If you have taken the time to prepare a talk or presentation, wouldn’t it be great to reach as wide an audience as possible? By recording your talks and making them available online you can. This also allows you to build a resource up of past talks that users can access when they wish.

image of podcast logo

Podcast logo

The National Archives has a very successful and varied podcast series with over 150 episodes. According to podcast alley the TNA series is in the top 10% of podcasts downloaded out of over 85,000 other podcasts and on iTunes, 11 of the 20 bestselling government podcasts are TNA ones.

The benefits of a podcasting are:
• Potential global audience – 19% of the 222 million Americans who use the Internet have downloaded a podcast (Pew Internet Research Centre)
• Better informed users – recorded talks can also be used by visitors before they come to your archive to provide audio guides about certain collections and give basic information about how to use an archive and its resources.
• Flexible access to your resources – users can choose when to listen to your talk.
• Improved listening figures – in a three month period during 2007 TNA podcasts were downloaded 8,000 times.

My experience at the Ballast Trust

I’m the archivist for a small charity called the Ballast Trust which provides a rescue, sorting and cataloguing service for business archives with an emphasis on technical records such as shipbuilding, railway and engineering plans, drawings and photographs. It has been working for over twenty years to help archives understand their technical records and make their collections available for the public.

When I started, the Trust didn’t have a web presence so I created a website and also a blog to provide information about us and our activities. In time we have also joined flickr to allow us to share the small photographic collections that we have with a wider audience.

screenshot Ballast Trust blog

Screenshot of Ballast Trust blog

My experience with these three sites, created at no financial expense using blogger and flickr ( has been a very positive one. Together all three have helped to give the Ballast Trust a higher public profile, create new connections and share what we do with a global audience. The blog consistently gets higher statistics compared to the website, in the first year the website received 554 visits from 20 countries compared to 1,212 visits to the blog from 64 countries. Since we started a year ago; our flickr pages have had nearly 3,000 views, we’ve received comments and information about some pictures and an enquiry about volunteering with us.

For a small organisation this has been a great way to extend our network and put ourselves and what we do out there. It has required only basic technical knowledge and an small investment of my time but nothing else and given us great results to build on.

Examples and experiences from other organisations

Don’t just take my word for it! There are plenty of other archives out there using web 2.0 and seeing the benefits. There is an excellent selection of case studies available on the Interactive Archivist website covering a wide selection of web 2.0 tools, including some of the following:
• Using a blog to market your archive at Northwestern University Archives
• Using podcasts to increase access at the Kansas Historical Society

Lots of archives have a presence on flickr, there are 198 organisations in the ArchivesOnFlickr group and these two reports from early adopters about their flickr pilots are a great resource for more information:
For the Common Good, is the 2008 report on the Library of Congress’ Flickr Pilot Project.
Lessons from the National Library of New Zealand’s Flickr pilot

Posted in archives, Blogs, Guest-blog, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Archives 2.0

Posted by guestblogger on 28th June 2010

About this Guest Post

In this guest blog post Kiara King talks about web 2.0 for archives and the blog she maintains on the subject called ‘web watching for archivists’.

Kiara King is the Archivist for the Ballast Trust, a charitable foundation that provides a rescue, sorting and cataloguing service for business archives with an emphasis on technical records such as plans, drawings and photographs. She can be contacted at:

Archives 2.0

Web 2.0 and me

I first began dabbling in web 2.0 stuff in a personal capacity, with a little bit of facebook at University, some photo sharing and then a few blogs. When I came to decide on a subject for my archive masters’ dissertation in 2007, I wanted to explore how Web 2.0 could work for archives and their users and what the benefits were.

My dissertation looked at how archives could use four of the main Web 2.0 tools – blogs; photo-sharing sites; podcasts and wikis. I researched and found many exciting examples of innovative use of Web 2.0 in archives across the world and I included case studies to illustrate the benefits that using these tools brought to repositories, with a focus on UK examples where possible.

After I graduated, I continued to take an interest in “Archives 2.0” and when I was asked to give a presentation at the 2008 Society of Archivists conference on Web 2.0 I thought it would be useful to start a blog to give me a space to pull together and share the examples I’d found.

Web 2.0 word cloud

Web 2.0 word cloud

Web watching for archivists

I use my blog to share those examples I find and like of archives and archivists using Web 2.0 technologies today. I try to concentrate on UK examples as I think that Kate Theimer of Archives Next already does an excellent job of showcasing the good work that happens everywhere, particularly in North America as well as writing thought provoking posts and generating discussions on web 2.0 and archives.

I originally started my blog by writing up my presentation as a series of blog posts, with one on blogs, one on flickr, etc. Since then I’ve added example to these categories and expanded its scope with posts on new technologies like twitter and youtube, open source software, how to find advice and resources for learning about web 2.0 and even a new category on whimsy for things like the blog Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century!

Web 2.0 and archives

How do I think web 2.0 can help your archive? In exactly the same way it helps museums and libraries – to create new opportunities to connect with your users and raise the profile of your collections. Essentially Web 2.0 represents opportunities for archives. Opportunities to reach wider audiences, use collections in different ways, engage with users and improve the web presence of your repository. Web 2.0 allows you to:

Share your collections

Using a photo-sharing website like Flickr allows you to reach a potential audience of 40 million members. Archives can use Flickr to share digital images of their collections and encourage comments about them like the British Postal Museum and Archive has done. Or you can collect new images from the public like the Great War Archive project at Oxford University did.

British Postal Museum and Archive photostream screenshot

British Postal Museum and Archive photostream

Communicate differently

Starting a blog allows you to share news, promote events at your archive, host small online exhibitions, share the progress of a cataloguing project and generally update readers with any items of interest. Blogs are an easy and free way to provide a secondary public face for your organisation, one that may be more accessible and less formal than the official website.

Some examples of UK repository or collection blogs include the Orkney Archive blog, Special Collections at the University of Bradford and the Bartholomew Archive blog at the National Library of Scotland. There is also the excellent Archives Hub blog.

Orkney Archive blog screenshot

Orkney Archive blog

Twitter is blogging on a smaller scale with a maximum of 140 characters per ‘tweet’ and because of that lends itself to more frequent updates and informal commentary on your collections, linking back to your website or blog for the full story. Examples I like include Strathclyde Archive and Wiltshire Archive’s list of documents being consulted.

You can also use twitter or a blog to repurpose archival content by tweeting or posting diary entries or other collections like the War Cabinet papers being tweeted by the National Archives or George Orwell’s diaries.

UK War Cabinet on twitter screenshot

UK War Cabinet on twitter

Share your talks

Recording talks as podcasts or even digital videos is a great idea if your archive regularly hosts talks and presentations. As these are available online it immediately expands the potential audience and also gives the audience control about when they view or listen to your content. The National Archives Podcast Series is very successful and regularly updated with a variety of topics.

The National Archives Podcast Series screenshot

The National Archives Podcast Series

What next?

If you are interested in using web 2.0 tools in your organisation then take a look at what others have already done to give you some ideas. I’ve pulled together lots of examples of Web 2.0 in action in the UK on my blog and there is a more comprehensive wiki directory called ‘Archives 2.0’.

Web Watching for Archvists blog

Web Watching for Archvists blog

Finally, bear in mind these five guidelines before you start:

  • Think about what you want to do. Have a clear plan about what the tool will be used for and what content it will contain.
  • Experiment. These tools are very flexible and it should be easy to think of ways you could use existing content in new ways.
  • Engage with your potential audience. Find out what your users know about your collections and how you could capture this knowledge.
  • Learn from other sectors. Find out what has worked for museums and libraries.
  • Enjoy it!

Posted in archives, Guest-blog, Social Web, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments »

How to Run a Community Collection Online

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24th June 2010

Spotted on the Museums Computer Group email list – sounds an interesting event so here are the details as posted by Alun Edwards, Manager of RunCoCo.

Registration is now open for the free RunCoCo/Culturenet Cymru workshop: How to Run a Community Collection Online, which will take place on Tues 27 July 2010 at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

Community collections help to harness the collective resources of a wider community and spread the costs of creating and contributing to a collection across the education and public sectors. These include The Great War Archive and Community Archives Wales. A community can also be harnessed to enrich an existing collection with tags or comments (like Galaxy Zoo). The organisers would like to invite anyone from the education/public sector who is interested in such projects to take part in this free RunCoCo workshop. As a taster, presentations from previous workshops held by RunCoCo are available online.

The RunCoCo workshop has a number of purposes:

  • This is a chance for managers and others from community collection projects to share best practice and exchange knowledge
  • This will be an opportunity for projects with some shared interests to meet face-to-face. The JISC-funded project, RunCoCo, has also launched an online ‘community of interest’ for those involved in community collection or working to harness a community to enrich an existing collection with tags or comments ( – follow the link on the right of that Web page to Join This Group)
  • Be an opportunity to hear from a number of projects such as Galaxy Zoo and Community Archives Wales, as well as Culturenet Cymru and new initiatives like Citizen Science and The People’s Collection.
  • RunCoCo will disseminate the processes, CoCoCo open-source software and results of the Great War Archive, a pilot community collection.

Places are limited, and similar events in Oxford have been over-subscribed. Please register at no later than 1200pm on 12 July 2010. We will confirm your place as soon as possible.

Posted in archives, Events, Libraries, Museums, Web 2.0 | Comments Off

Local authorities and digital continuity

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21st June 2010

Working with local authority IT departments is often cited as a problem by libraries, archives and museums wanting to use Web 2.0 tools and services, so here is a timely report.

The press release states:

Archives Sector Development at The National Archives has recently published a report on the digital continuity risks of large local authorities in England, accessible from:

Digital Continuity requires strategic alignment, senior understanding and commitment and effective working relationships between Senior Information Risk Owners, ICT Managers, information assurance and governance officers and those responsible for business processes as well as records and information management.  This report is not part of the central government-funded Digital Continuity project but was commissioned to provide an evidential basis for future dissemination of that project’s findings to the wider public sector.

The main findings are:

  • Varying degrees of senior engagement exist in the authorities concerned;
  • A few authorities have information management strategies capable of delivering continuity but only one of the 35 respondents appeared to be addressing it at the strategic, board level;
  • Many information management programmes are partial and disconnected, indicating significant continuity risk; and
  • Many authorities appear to be struggling with coordinating the main internal players in information management.

The underlying survey, analysis and report writing were conducted by our contractors, Richard Jeffrey-Cook of In-form Consult and Philip Lord of the Digital Archiving Consultancy.

In addition to our contractors, we’d like to thank Socitm, the Records Management Society and the Association of Chief Archivists in Local Government (now part of the Archives and Records Association [UK & Ireland]) for their cooperation and facilitation in running the survey.  We hope that the report will be useful not just to us but also in providing levers for local authority information managers to influence their senior management.

Please address any comments or queries to:

Malcolm Todd
Digital Archives Advice Manager

Archives Sector Development
020 8392 5330 ext. 2192

Posted in Addressing Barriers, archives, Libraries, Museums, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

The Commons on Flickr

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2nd June 2010

Many collections have photographs of unidentified places and people and have thought that they had little chance of ever getting the information needed about specific images.   Now the Flickr Commons initiative offers a place to show these images from public photograph archives; people can then comment on the photographs, perhaps identifying locations and people, as well as adding their own photographs. So that seems a good idea, but how is it going?

Several UK institutions – the National Library of Wales, the National Galleries of Scotland, the National Archives UK, the Imperial War Museum and the National Maritime Museum – have uploaded images to the Commons.

So how are they doing? They are getting comments – but it seems not the useful ones they had hoped for.  One of the NMM images is titled ‘Cat on Steam Yacht ‘Morning‘ – although it’s had three responses, no-one has provided any further information. And that seems to be the case with the other images I looked at.

Are we expecting too much from these initiatives? Is it that the people who did have the knowledge are now dead? Recently I’ve been working my way through some unlabelled family photographs dating back to 1890 to 1930 and all the people in my family who would have known the details are no longer around. Would uploading these to Flickr achieve anything?

If your institution has uploaded images to Flickr Commons, please add a comment to let us know what you put up and what response you’ve had.

Posted in archives, Libraries, Museums | 1 Comment »

Find people, build networks, share ideas

Posted by guestblogger on 22nd April 2010

About This Guest Post

In his role as chair, Martin Bazley introduces us to the Digital Learning Network (DLNet). The group was formerly known as the E-Learning Group for Museums, Libraries and Archives and has much to offer cultural heritage professionals looking to expand their knowledge in technical areas and make contact with peers with similar interests.

Martin can be contacted on using the DLNet email (

Find people, build networks, share ideas

The ELG has become the Digital Learning Network – DLNet for short.

DLNet has been created by the group formerly known as the E-Learning Group for Museums, Libraries and Archives. The idea is to go back to basics and get people talking about technology and learning. There are so many people whose job involves some kind of educational/digital role, but who don’t have a network and really depend on colleagues and informal relationships to share information about new developments.

It’s all about connecting people and sharing ideas

The Digital Learning Network arranges events, meetups (called ‘ThinkDrinks’) and tries to encourage people to come together – whether it’s 3 people in a pub or 100 people at a conference.

Have a look at a short video from the first London ThinkDrink:

YouTube Preview Image

So we are changing our name from the E-Learning Group to the Digital Learning Network – DLNet for short – and putting more effort into getting people talking and sharing ideas, as well as doing all the stuff we used to do.

Just created, and growing fast

In the first few weeks more than 65 people have registered, and 15 local groups created.

Have a look at how the site works, in this short introductory video:

YouTube Preview Image

Find people, build networks, share ideas

  • Do you want to find people working in digital learning in your local area?
  • Do you want to build networks?
  • Do you want to exchange ideas, experiences, and best practice?

We can help. We’re getting conversations going about using digital technology to support learning:

  • online – through the website or Twitter
  • face to face – all over the country, in networked groups

Here’s what you can do:

  • get a few people together for a ThinkDrink – at the pub, out for tea, at the zoo – wherever you like
  • let us know what you talked about – Tweet it, post pictures on Flickr, write a blog post, or post a short video on YouTube
  • form your own Digital Learning Network group

And don’t worry, we are still:

  • exploring how technology can help deliver inspiring and creative learning in museums, libraries, archives and the heritage sector
  • running our highly popular events such as conferences and seminars
  • hosting the email list, which is now (instead of

You can be a member of DLNet Online for free.

Or become a full member of DLNet – and receive discounts on bookable events and other benefits. Costs £12 individual, or £40 corporate (up to 3 member discounts per event)

If you’re already a paid-up member of the ELG, you are now automatically a full member of DLNet.

Have a look around the Digital Learning Network website and let us know what you think:

Posted in archives, Guest-blog, Libraries, Museums, Social Web | Comments Off

Virtual Speakers at Events

Posted by Brian Kelly on 20th April 2010

The recent CILIP Executive Briefing Days on RDA (at which I was one of the speakers) included one presentation by video from a speaker based in the US.

This could have been done in a variety of ways. It could have been a ‘talking head’ with the person simply speaking to camera; initially that may feel more interesting but there is an obvious disadvantage of no slides to refer back to after the event (unless these were supplied either in the delegate pack or made available after the event). Another way is for the speaker to be filmed giving the presentation so you see them and the slides. Thirdly, the speaker could simply do a voice-over narration while we watched the slides. We got a combination with a five-minute introduction of the speaker talking to camera followed by voice narration while viewing the slides. This meant that we got a feel for the person and an image of them we could hold in our heads during the slide section. For me, that worked well.

Why do this? Cost is an obvious factor – paying the travel expenses from the US for a fifteen-minute slot is not realistic, especially if this has to be re-couped via the delegate fee. It can also help provide a balanced programme, especially if it is not possible to get a specific viewpoint from UK-based presenters or the video presenter is particularly known and well-regarded.

Do delegates feel cheated by including video presentations? I think that depends on various factors. For example, how many video presentations are there within the programme? In this case there was just the one video presentation alongside four longer face-to-face presentations, which seemed to work well. In the context of a whole day event, I think that two short video presentations would have been acceptable (e.g. one in the morning and one in the afternoon) but for a shorter half-day event better to have just the one. And of course, there can be no face-to-face interaction: delegates cannot ask questions of the speaker or speak to them during the breaks and the speaker cannot join in panel discussion sessions.

Could one have an entire event by video presentation (or video-conferencing)? Yes, but this turns it into a different type of event and delegates would have different expectations. The Collections Trust Museum Development Officers Support Day in Nov. 2009 filmed the presentations on the day and then made these available on YouTube after the event. Have a look at these and you’ll get a feel for how wathcing an entire event via video might feel. So, if you have experienced individual video presentations or virtual events using video presentations or video-conferencing, please add your comments.

Posted in archives, Events, Libraries, Museums | Comments Off

Summing up the UKOLN/MLA Web 2.0 Workshops

Posted by Marieke Guy on 29th March 2010

The last in the series of thirteen MLA/UKOLN workshops on Web 2.0 and the social Web took place last week.

The UKOLN/MLA Web 2.0 Workshops

The workshops were funded by the MLA to enable museums, libraries and archives staff to get up to speed on the concepts behind Web 2.0, the challenges it presents and the opportunities it offers to cultural heritage organisations, including small organisations with limited budgets and technical expertise.


Thirteen workshops took place in venues all over England. An online map of the location of the workshop venues is available.

Links for the main page for each workshop are given below:

  1. Preston Workshop (the Gujarat Centre) – 13th November 2009
  2. Devizes Workshop (Wiltshire Heritage Museum) – 16th November 2009
  3. London Workshop (Clore Learning Centre, Museum of London) – 3rd December 2009
  4. Leeds Workshop (Leeds Discovery Centre) – 9th December 2009
  5. Leicester Workshop (School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester) – 18th December 2009
  6. Dulwich Workshop (Dulwich Picture Gallery) – Friday 29th January 2010
  7. Newcastle Workshop (Discovery Museum) – Monday 8th February 2010
  8. Chelmsford Workshop (Goldlay Gardens) – Wednesday 17th February 2010
  9. Birmingham Workshop (Central Library) – Monday 22nd February 2010
  10. Sheffield Workshop (Millennium Gallery) – Monday 1st March 2010
  11. Bath Workshop (Kingston Room) – Monday 8th March 2010
  12. Nottingham Workshop (E-Learning Centre) – Wednesday 17th March 2010
  13. Cambridge Workshop (Central Library) – Monday 22nd March 2010

Thank you to all our host venues!

Two hundred and forty-two

242 delegates attended the workshops. The workshop programme included: presentations introducing and discussing Web 2.0/social Web, case studies from local practitioners, (if the venue allowed) a chance for delegates to try the tools out for themselves on laptops and PCs, an opportunity to discuss the issues and time for delegates to chat to their peers over a free lunch.

One hundred and twenty-seven

While the workshops were running we managed to take quite a few photos (127 in total) of the venue and delegates at work. These photos are now available on Flickr.

Why not have a look at the slideshow or the selection used in an Animoto slide video (now on YouTube).


We were lucky enough to have 19 case studies given by local practitioners during the workshop series. Most of their presentations are online and out there for you to use – have a look on the corresponding workshop page.

  1. Preston – Web 2.0 at Huddersfield: Dave Pattern, University of Huddersfield Library
  2. Devizes – Wiltshire Heritage Museum Case Study: Google Books, David Dawson, Wiltshire Heritage Museum
  3. London – Museum of London Social Software, Bilkis Mosoddik, Museum of London
  4. Leeds – Artspace and Artspace Online – Attempting to support users in the practical space with the virtual space, Dominique Attwood, ELearning Leeds Museums and Galleries
  5. Leeds – Follow Alex – Facebook and engaging with young people about culture, Dominic Burton, Marketing Officer, Libraries, Arts and Heritage, Leeds City Council
  6. Leicester – Using Social Networking on the Museum Studies distance learning course, Ross Parry, University of Leicester
  7. Dulwich – Dulwich OnView Case Study: Ingrid Beazley, Steve Slack, Angie Macdonald, Yang-May Ooi, Dulwich OnView
  8. Newcastle – Making Heritage More Engaging, Janet E Davis, Museum Consultant
  9. Newcastle – Democracy, Jim Richardson, Sumo
  10. Newcastle – Geek inside and BALTIC, David Coxon and Craig Astley, BALTIC
  11. Chelmsford – The Essex experience, Janice Waugh, Essex Libraries
  12. Birmingham – Birmingham Libraries 2.0, Jen Bakewell and Matthew Jelfs, Birmingham City Library
  13. Sheffield – Web 2.0 at Sheffield Library, Karen Wallace Sheffield Library
  14. Bath – Communicating with the Facebook generation, Nicola McNee, Librarian, Kingswood School
  15. Bath – Me and my blogs, Ann Chapman, UKOLN
  16. Bath – Twitter at Reading, Peter Barnes, Corporate Information Systems Group, University of Reading
  17. Nottingham – Confessions and Lamentations: Social Web at the University of Leicester Library, Gareth Johnson, Document Supply & Leicester
  18. Cambridge – The UL on Twitter, Emma Coonan, University of Cambridge
  19. Cambridge – To ‘fb’…. or not to ‘fb’, Libby Tilley, University of Cambridge

Thank you to everyone who came and presented!

One hundred and ten…and counting

Over one hundred URLs have been bookmarked on Delicious that are relevant to the workshop subject area. More are being added by the day.

To support the workshops a number of complementary materials were created and utilised. All materials are available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 licence. The workshop materials are available from the individual workshop pages.

Please do use the materials available with your teams and pass on details to any one interested.


After the workshops had taken place we solicited feedback from delegates using a Google docs evaluation form. Thank you so much for your constructive comments, we really appreciate the positive feedback and did our best to take on board the suggestions made.

We hope we helped people feel positive in a practical way about what Web 2.0 can offer them. As one workshop delegate said:

I was inspired and several days later am still excited about the web 2.0 possibilities opening up for my organisation. It was one of those training days where you reflect and say “that made a difference“.

We will be running a new series of workshops for the MLA on related areas.

Keep an eye on this blog, the Cultural Heritage events RSS feed and the Cultural Heritage Twitter feed for details.

Posted in archives, Libraries, mla-social-web-workshops, Museums | 5 Comments »

What’s in Scottish Collections

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3rd January 2010

There is a new service for people interested in finding out what Scotland’s libraries, museums and archives holds. The service uses a geographical interface using a Google mashup, showing location of services, collection descriptions, tag clouds for people and subjects and much more.

Check it out at:

Is your library, museum or archive on the map? If not, email:

All comments and feedback can be blogged at:

Posted in archives, Libraries, Museums | Comments Off

Learning about Web 2.0 – the 23 Things plan

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17th December 2009

The November 2009 issue of CILIP’s journal Library + Information Update has two pieces on staff Web 2.0 development programmes, both well worth a read. The first piece by Jenny Evans and Lynn Barrett compares and contrasts the programmes developed at Imperial College London and the University of Huddersfield, while the second piece by Leo Appleton and Alex Spiers reports on the programme at Liverpool John Moores.

All programmes ran over an extended period of time, with individual ‘lessons’ on specific aspects of Web 2.0. An integral part of all the programmes was the requirement to try out various Web 2.0 tools and services. The reports also include useful information on what worked and what didn’t.

Imperial College London and the University of Huddersfield both used the 23 Things programme created by Helene Blowers as the basis for their staff training programmes. Blowers invited people to re-use her work by licensing it under Creative Commons and it’s since been adapted by more than 350 libraries across the world. But there’s no reason it shouldn’t be equally useful to museums and archives. So why not have a look and see whether it could work for you?

Posted in archives, Libraries, Museums, Web 2.0 | Comments Off

Free workshops on Web2 and the social Web

Posted by Marieke Guy on 21st October 2009

Web 2.0 and the Social Web are terms which are now being used widely. But what do these terms mean? And what, if anything, can Web 2.0 and the Social Web offer to museums, libraries and archives, especially small organisations with limited budgets and technical expertise?

A one-day workshop sponsored by the MLA and entitled ‘An Introduction to Web 2.0 and the Social Web’ will be touring the country in the next few months. The workshop will attempt to answer the above questions. It is free to attend but places are limited. Bookings are now open so why not sign up!

More workshops in other areas will take place after New Year.

Posted in archives, Libraries, mla-social-web-workshops, Museums | 1 Comment »