Cultural Heritage

A UKOLN Blog for the Cultural Heritage sector (now archived)

Archive for the 'General' Category

Farewell for Now

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28th March 2011

It’s time to say goodbye to all our readers.

For several years now, UKOLN has been funded by the MLA to provide support to people working in the cultural heritage sector. For the last few years the Cultural Heritage Web site and this blog has been an integral part of our work in this area. But the times they are a changing … and UKOLN’s funding to work in this area will end on 31 March 2011.

As you will probably have noticed, the last few posts on this blog have mostly reviewed the support we have provided for the cultural heritage sector: the Cultural Heritage Web pages, this Cultural Heritage blog and our Web 2.0 and Social Web workshops.

From this point on we won’t be making significant posts to this blog and the blog will be closed to comments.  However, UKOLN will continue to host the Cultural Heritage Web pages – this means that there will still be access to the topic pages, to our successful series of Briefing Papers (‘IntroBytes’) and to the content of this blog.

So it’s goodbye from us for the moment. But we don’t know what the future holds, so we could be back at some point. Thanks for being with us on the journey.

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UKOLN’s Involvement With The Cultural Heritage Sector

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21st March 2011


UKOLN has a long history of engagement with the cultural heritage sector. It dates back to its launch in 1977 when the British Library became the original and sole funder of UKOLN (funding from JISC started in 1992). In UKOLN’s early days our work focussed on library bibliographic data – in particular monitoring the accuracy and availability of catalogue records created by the British Library, and the development of Online Public Access Catalogues (OPACs).

From 1977 to 1996 UKOLN reported to the British Library Research and Development Department (BLRDD) and then, following changes at the British Library, to the British Library Research and Innovation Centre (BLRIC) from 1996 to 1999.

Those official links with the British Library changed in 1999, when the Library and Information Commission (LIC)  became UKOLN’s co-funder. Following changes in Government departments and in Government policies, the LIC and the Museums and Galleries Commission (MGC) were merged in 2000 to form Re:source, which was then renamed the MLA in 2004. The MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives Council) was established  to coordinate policies across the cultural heritage sector, including libraries, museums and archives.

Work Funded by the MLA

The establishment of the Re:source followed by its renaming to MLA marked the beginning of UKOLN’s involvement with the wider cultural heritage sector.

The post of Public Library Networking Focus was funded between 1996 and 2004. The post was held by Sarah Ormes and then Penny Garrod, with Sally Lewis also working as a research officer. Early work included the development of the popular Treasure Island Web site and the subsequent Stories from the Web initiative which was designed to encourage children’s reading and creative writing skills. UKOLN carried out the LIC-funded public library Internet survey in 1995 and worked on the initiatives that saw public access to the Internet offered in all public libraries and the development of the People’s Network. UKOLN also ran four Public Library Web Managers workshops between 1999 and 2004.

From 2000 UKOLN started working more actively with the museum and archive sectors: for example, staff participated at a number of the international Museums and the Web and the UK-based Museums on the Web conferences.

Recently UKOLN has also run three workshop series for the MLA on Web 2.0 and the Social Web for practitioners working in the cultural heritage sector. The first series was held in 2008-9 and delivered by Brian Kelly. The second was delivered in 2009-10 by Marieke Guy while the final series took place during 2010-2011 and was delivered by Ann Chapman.

The Cultural Heritage Blog was started in January 2009. Initially most of the content was written by UKOLN staff with occasional guest posts. Since April 2010 most of the posts have been contributed by people working in the sector willing to share their experiences.

UKOLN also supported the sector through its Cultural Heritage Web site. This was designed as a source of information on digital information matters for the sector.  An major element of this was the IntroBytes briefing papers series, which provides quick introductions to a wide range of topics; more than 80 papers are now available.

Although the core work for the MLA was delivered by Ann Chapman, Marieke Guy and Brian Kelly, UKOLN’s work for the sector was also supported by members of our Research and Development Team. Michael Day, head of the R&D team, for example, contributed to the MLA’s Principles Paper on “Supporting long-term access to digital material“. Other members of the R&D team contributed to the DPC (Digital Preservation Coalition) What’s New newsletter between 2002 and 2005.

Additional Work for the Cultural Heritage Sector

From June 2001 to March 2004 UKOLN, in conjunction with the AHDS, provided technical support and advice for the NOF-digitise Programme. This work included development of the technical standards document which described the key standards relevant to funded projects. We also organised several workshops covering various areas of best practices; provided technical support to projects and hosted the NOF-digi Technical Advisory Service Web site.

UKOLN also received funding from the EU and other sources to support R&D and dissemination activities for the wider cultural heritage sector. This included the EU-funded Exploit Interactive ejournal (with seven issues being published between May 1999 and October 2000) and the Cultivate Interactive ejournal (eight issues from July 2000 to November 2002) with research activities funded by the EU including the ARCO (Augmented Representation of Cultural Objects) Project.

Significant areas of work which helped to inform developments in the cultural heritage sector arose from activities which were funded from several agencies. The RSLP (Research Support Libraries Programme) was a national initiative which ran from 1999-2002, funded by the four higher education funding bodies. UKOLN’s RSLP Collection Description work developed a collection description metadata schema and associated syntax together with a simple Web-based tool to enable projects to describe their collections.

The CD (Collection Description) Focus post was subsequently funded from 2001-2004 to support the NOF Digitisation of Learning Materials Programme, Peoples Network Programme, Resource Regional Cross-Domain research projects, British Library Co-operation and Partnership Programme and a range of JISC projects. This work helped to improve coordination of activities on collection description methods, schemas and tools, with the goal of ensuring consistency and compatibility of approaches across projects, disciplines, institutions, domains and sectors.

Currently the JISC-funded LOCAH Project is engaging with the archives and libraries sector. This project aims to make the Archives Hub and Copac data available as structured Linked Data, for the benefit of education and research.  Adrian Stevenson, the LOCAH project manager, is a member of the organising and steering committee for the forthcoming International Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives and Museums Summit (LODLAM).

Another current activity to mention is UKOLN’s involvement with the RDTF (Resource Discovery Taskforce), a significant initiative funded by the JISC and Research Libraries UK  for which ”The purpose of the Taskforce is to focus on defining the requirements for the provision of a shared UK infrastructure for libraries, archives, museums and related resources to support education and research“.

UKOLN has provided the JISC representative to the W3C Library and Linked Data Incubator group. This group aims to help increase global interoperability of Library data on the Web by bringing together people involved in Semantic Web activities – focusing on Linked Data – in the library community and beyond, building on existing initiatives and identifying collaboration tracks for the future. A report on this work will be published by June 2011.

The Future

UKOLN’s core funding from the MLA officially finishes on 31 March 2011. We have been pleased to have such a long-standing involvement with the cultural heritage sector over the past 34 years.  But despite the announcement of the abolition of the MLA our engagement with the sector will continue including our involvement with the Strategic Content Alliance, the LOCAH Project and our shared research interests with the British Library.

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Looking back at the UKOLN/MLA Social Web Workshops

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28th February 2011

The last in the 2010-2011 series of UKOLN/MLA workshops on Web 2.0 and the social web took place recently, so here’s a quick look back at what happened.

Seven workshops took place at venues all over England: Birmingham, Exeter, Leicester, London, Manchester, Newcastle and York.

image of map with workshop locations marked

UKOLN/MLA workshops 2010-2011 series

One Hundred and One

The number of delegates who attended. Of these, nearly two-thirds were from libraries, a third from museums and art galleries and the remainder from archives, plus some students on museums and tourism courses. It was great to have a mix of people and everyone enjoyed the networking opportunity.

We were lucky enough to have 1o case studies given by local practitioners during the workshop series. These talks illustrated a wide range of examples and ideas. Most of their presentations are online and out there for you to use – have a look on the corresponding workshop page listed on past events for 2010 and 2011.


The Building a Business case group activity resulted in twenty-eight ideas for using social media to address a particular aim. Notes about each idea were reported on the on the wiki pages for each workshop and have now been brought together on extra wiki page.

One hundred and ten … and counting

To support the workshops a number of complementary materials were created and used. 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.


Delegates were asked to complete an evaluation form after each workshop and most people did. Thank you so much for your constructive comments, we really appreciate the positive feedback and your suggestions will be helpful in future event planning. We hope we helped people feel positive in a practical way about what Web 2.0 can offer them, like this delegate who said “It introduced me to lots of new sites and aspects of the social web. I have got at least 3 ideas for promoting aspects of our service from this.”

What we used – Registration

We used Eventbrite for as our booking system – it’s free to use if your event is free. It also allows you to send emails to everyone registered for the event: we sent out emails to (a) confirm that the event would take place and a link to the final programme, (b) to let them know about the wiki and (c) to thank them for attending and to remind them of the resources available on the event Web page and in the UKOLN Cultural Heritage Web site.

What we used – The Wiki
We set up a wiki for the workshops, with a separate page for each workshop. Delegates were contacted the week before the event and encouraged to add some information about their role and what they hoped to get out of the event. We also used the wiki pages to record the ideas that participants came up with in the group activity.

We used Wikispaces for this – it was easy to set up, the public view was nice and clear and delegates were able to add information easily.

Final thoughts

Thank you to everyone who came along, either as a delegate or as a speaker. You all made the event more than just a series of talks. Hope you are able to take some of the ideas forward back at the workplace.

Posted in Events, General, mla-social-web-workshops | 1 Comment »

Support For Museums Galleries Scotland

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24th September 2009

UKOLN’s support for the cultural heritage sector is funded by the MLA. Since the MLA’s remit is cultural heritage organisations in England the focus of our work with by institutions based in England. However the expertise we have and many of the resources we have developed are likely to be beneficial to a wider community.

The value which UKOLN can provide to a wider community has been identified by Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS). We are now providing a support service for MGS member organisations. The service will be informed by the various resources we have available, including our Introbyte briefing documents and this blog.  In addition an email service (  is available for use by the MGS member organisations.

As described on the MGS Web site the Digital Advice service for the MGS community is provided by UKOLN in conjunction with the Collections Management Network in order to support the  MGS Digital Content Action Framework.

Our intention is that key areas of interest to MGS member organisations will not only be dealt with by our email support service but will identify areas of wider interest which may be addressed by additional briefing documents or blog posts.

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Introduction: Marieke Guy

Posted by Marieke Guy on 6th January 2009

My name is Marieke Guy and I have been at UKOLN for almost 9 years now.

Marieke Guy

Marieke Guy

After getting an English Literature and Psychology degree I completed my Information Management MSc at Manchester Metropolitan University. My background means that I have always been interested in aspects of my work that relate to the museums, libraries and archives sectors.

I have been involved in a number of cultural heritage projects from early eLib days (Electronic Libraries Programme). Probably the most significant one for me was when I worked as a NOF-digitise Advisor and co-ordinated technical support and advice services for the New Opportunities Fund national digitisation programme. The programme was a landmark one for digitisation in the cultural heritage sector and is still referred to today.

I currently work as a research officer in the Community and Outreach Team at UKOLN. Much of my work involves exploring Web 2.0 technologies and their relevance to the communities we work with. I have also recently been involved in the JISC Preservation of Web Resources (PoWR) project providing advice on best practices for the preservation of Web resources. This has allowed me to write a number of intobytes on Web preservation for the Cultural Heritage Web site. At the moment I am working on a project looking at the use of APIs in academia, I hope to be able to transfer some of the lessons learnt to the cultural heritage sector. The reuse and sharing of data through APIs and newsfeeds is a fast moving and interesting area offering much potential for libraries, museums and archives. I recently attended Mashed Library event and was enthused by what people were experimenting with.

I’m looking forward to posting on the UKOLN Cultural Heritage Blog!



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Introduction: Ann Chapman

Posted by Brian Kelly on 5th January 2009

Ann Chapman

Ann Chapman

My name is Ann Chapman and I am part of the UKOLN Community and Outreach Team. As I joined UKOLN in 1987, my work areas and interests have developed and changed over the years.

As a qualified librarian, initially my work focused on the quality and availability of library catalogue records and the extent of and need for retrospective conversion of non-digital library catalogues. Later, working on the Revealweb project to develop an online digital catalogue of materials in accessible formats for visually impaired people inspired my interest in the whole area of accessibility. Other work as part of Collection Description Focus, describing physical and electronic resources at collection level, provided opportunities to work with musems and archives as well as libraries. I also contribute to the development of national and international standards, chairing the CILIP/BL Committee on RDA.

In addition to a continuing awareness role for Collection Description Focus, and work on cataloguing standards (MARC 21, RDA and Dublin Core Collections AP), I am also responsible for creating and maintaining the UKOLN Cultural Heritage web pages. This is providing me with the challenge of identifying which Web 2.0 technologies and tools can be used to deliver UKOLN content for the culture heritage sector – and learning how to use them. I recently attended an inspiring talk by Seb Chan about the potential uses of Web 2.0 in the cultural sector which gave me some useful ideas.

As a new blogger, I’m looking forward to contributing posts to the UKOLN Cultural Heritage Blog – and seeing your comments.


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Introduction: Brian Kelly

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2nd January 2009

Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly

My name is Brian Kelly and my job title is UK Web Focus.  As you might gather from this title, my main area of interest is the Web – which, for the past few years, has related to Web 2.0 technologies (such as blogs, wikis, social networks, etc.) and approaches (e.g. a culture of openness).

I have been involved in Web development since January 1993, when I helped to established a Web service at the University of Leeds – probably the first institutional Web service in a UK university (at that time there were only 50 organisations around the world which had registered their Web site). I have been employed at UKOLN since November 1996 and my responsibilities include monitoring developments and innovations on the Web and promoting and embedding best practice.

Over the past few years much of the emphasis of the work has focussed on supporting the cultural heritage sector.  I have established and delivered a series of workshops which have provided advice for staff in museums, libraries and archives on ways in which the Social Web can be used to enhance the services they provide.  I am also one of the main authors of UKOLN’s IntroByte series of documents.

In December 2007 I was awarded the Information World Review’s prize for the Information Professional of the Year.  In addition my main UK Web Focus blog was awarded a prize by UCISA for its effectiveness in communicating with users.

I am team leader of UKOLN’s Communication and Outreach team and, together with a number of my colleagues, am looking forward to using this blog as a way of further extending our links with the cultural heritage sector.

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Welcome to UKOLN’s Cultural Heritage Blog

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1st January 2009

Welcome to UKOLN’s Cultural Heritage blog. This blog has been set up to support UKOLN’s work for the cultural heritage sector by providing a forum for dissemination, discussion and debate related to innovation and the networked environment.

We will use the blog to inform our readers of developments in this area, speculate on the implications of a rapidly changing environment and encourage discussion on emerging best practices.

The blog is aimed primarily at practitioners and policy-makers in the UK’s cultural heritage sector. We will seek to publish a regular series of posts, with ideally at least one post per week.

We will also aim to publish a number of guest blog posts, in which members of the cultural heritage sector can provide views from their own perspective.

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