16 Feb 2015

Democratisation of Collections through Digitisation by Simon Tanner Trinity College Dublin 5th February 2015

Guest post by Siobhan McGuinness / MLIS

Trinity College Dublin hosts a series of Lunchtime Lectures that are pretty handy for anyone in the Library and Information profession helping to build on their Continuing Professional Development. I would suggest to everyone to check out their blog for further details.

Simon Tanner is an academic within the department of Digital Humanities in Kings College London and maintains a blog called ‘When Data Hits the Fan’. For an insight into Simon’s work check out his SlideShare collection.

Simon began the lecture with an overview of his own work at Kings and provided some examples for a closer look at his area of research interest.

The below statement encapsulates the purpose of digital conversion:

“Through digitisation, we are creating a valuable and enduring resource for scholars and the public alike” (http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/stratpolprog/digi/digitisation/)

Throughout the presentation Simon gave many examples of how the scholar and the public can become part of the digitisation process. From historians studying disability in Eighteenth Century England, to a musicologist helping to solve the missing notes on a music score. Efforts in digitisation also open up academic libraries not only to their constituent users, but to individuals beyond space and time and across disciplines.

When you take the context of a public library and digitisation you begin an engagement and collaboration with your community. This is most exciting since public libraries have the ability to bring together young and old to investigate and discover together, for example, the town in which they live, through local history rooms and archives.

All elements of a digitisation project require careful consideration and analysis. The bottom line is the footprint that digitised collections leave behind: do they fully reflect the needs of the envisaged target audience and how do they relate to individuals' research activities? To what extent does digitisation offer value to future research? Essentially, how does a target audience (scholars, students, librarians, lay community and future online users) benefit from the costly process of digital conversion?

Many within the library profession will surely have an interest in the topic of digitisation, but not everyone will have the opportunity to study digital curation or be part of a digital humanities team. Simon’s presentation provided me with a valuable insight and an opportunity to explore this topic further within my own professional context.


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