THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Digital scholarship blog

3 posts from February 2017

27 February 2017

British Library resources on digital scholarship for PhD students

C5453-02a_Arundel_74_f.2v croppedFinding your way around the vast collections of the British Library can be daunting at first, but there are lots of resources and staff keen to help doctoral students get started in this post from Digital Curator Mia Ridge (@mia_out).

These resources were compiled for the digital scholarship sessions at the British Library's doctoral open days. We'd love to hear from you with questions or comments at digitalresearch@bl.uk.

Learning about our collections

Help for researchers - a great place to start with general collections queries

Collection guides

Subject pages

Discovering digitised content

Catalogues: http://explore.bl.uk for printed materials ('I want this' will list digitised items); http://searcharchives.bl.uk for archives and manuscripts

Digitised manuscripts, Illuminated manuscripts and Hebrew manuscripts

British Library sounds for music, drama and literature, oral history, wildlife and environmental sounds

Flickr - particularly rich in images from 19th century books

Wikimedia Commons

International Dunhuang Project (IDP) - manuscripts, paintings, textiles and artefacts from Dunhuang and archaeological sites of the Eastern Silk Road

Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) - international digitisation projects

data.bl.uk - text, images and catalogue 'metadata' datasets available for research and creative re-use

British National Bibliography metadata

Learning about digital scholarship

The British Library's Digital Scholarship pages list digital datasets, staff, case studies and projects

BL Labs Awards and Competitions are a great source of inspiration

The British Library's Digital Scholarship blog (you're reading it right now!) and twitter account @Bl_DigiSchol

Humanist mailing list

Events with online / in-person sessions include IHR Digital History Seminar and Digital Classicist

The Institute of Historical Research offers training courses or there's the Programming Historian

Finally, your university may be a member of a training consortium (CHASE, White Rose, etc) that offers specialist digital scholarship courses

24 February 2017

Library Carpentry: software skills workshops for librarians

Guest post by James Baker, Lecturer in Digital History and Archives, University of Sussex.

Librarians play a crucial role in cultivating world-class research and in most disciplinary areas today world-class research relies on the use of software. Established non-profit organisations such as Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry offer introductory software skills training with a focus on the needs and requirements of research scientists. Library Carpentry is a comparable introductory software skills training programme with a focus on the needs and requirements of library professionals: and by software skills, I mean coding and data manipulation that go beyond the use of familiar office suites. As librarians have substantial expertise working with data, we believe that adding software skills to their armoury is an effective and important use of professional development resource that benefits both library professionals and their colleagues and collaborators across higher education and beyond.

In November 2015 the first Library Carpentry workshop programme took place at City University London Centre for Information, generously supported by the Software Sustainability Institute as part of my 2015 Fellowship. Since then 21 workshops have run in 7 countries across 4 continents and the Library Carpentry training materials have been developed by an international team of librarians, information scientists, and information technologists. Our half-day lessons, which double up as self-guided learning materials, now cover the basics of data and computing, using a command line prompt to manipulate data, version control in Git, normalising data in OpenRefine, working with databases in SQL, and programming with Python.

What distinguishes these lessons from other learning materials are that the exercises and use cases that frame Library Carpentry are drawn from library practice and are based on data familiar to librarians: in most cases, open datasets of publication metadata released under an open licence by the British Library. Library Carpentry then is as much about daily practice as it is about novelty, about dealing with what is front of us today as much as about preparing us for what is coming.

These lessons and everything we do is in the commons, for the commons, and are not tied to any institution or person. We are a community effort built and maintained by the community. For more on Library Carpentry and our future plans, see our recent article in LIBER Quarterly (Baker et al. Library Carpentry: software skills training for library professionals. 2016. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/lq.10176) and our website librarycarpentry.github.io.

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James Baker, receiving the BL Labs Award for Teaching and Learning 2016 on behalf of the Library Carpentry community 

The Learning and Teaching Award given to Library Carpentry at the 2016 British Library Labs Awards has enabled us to extend this community. In November we launched a call for Library Carpentry workshops seeking financial support. We were humbled by the volume and diversity of the responses received and are delighted to be able to fund two very different workshops that will reach very different communities of librarians. The first is a collaboration between Somerset Libraries Glass Box Project, {Libraries:Hacked}, and Plymouth Libraries for a Library Carpentry workshop that will target public, academic, and specialist librarians. The second workshop will take place at University of Sheffield and will be coordinated by the White Rose Consortium for the benefit of university librarians across the region. Details of these events will be advertised at librarycarpentry.github.io in due course, along with four or five Library Carpentry workshops that were unable to fund but that will still enjoy logistical support from members of the Library Carpentry community.

Library Carpentry has taken great strides in a short period of time. We continue to maintain and update our lesson materials to ensure that they fit with library practice and we are working closely with Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry to map out a future direction for Library Carpentry that meets the needs of this valuable community. We are always looking for people to bring their expertise and perspective to this work. So if you want to get involved in any capacity, please post something in our Gitter discussion forum, raise a issue on or suggest an edit to one of our lessons, contact us via Twitter, or request support with a workshop. We'd love to hear from you.

 

13 February 2017

Map Games and Odyssey Jam

This post is by Digital Curator Stella Wisdom, on twitter as @miss_wisdom & BL Labs collaborator Gary Green, on twitter as @ggnewed. Gary and Stella are interested in many things including games and interactive fiction.

Last Friday it was Late at the Library: You Are Here! an event celebrating all things cartographic to coincide with the current exhibition Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line.  So we thought it was a perfect excuse to bring out our mappy boardgames and set up a pop-up games parlour similar to the games area that we run in the British Library for International Games Day at Your Library in November. Fortunately many games use maps and we had great fun playing Carcassonne, Pandemic and Ticket To Ride Europe. Big kudos to the awesome Ben O'Steen, Sarah Cole and Jason Webber for all their help on the night. Also deserving a mention is BL Labs resident artist Michael Takeo Magruder, whose stand was opposite us. Michael was demonstrating the new Oculus version of his A New Jerusalem, a really cool immersive virtual reality art installation, you can see a video about the work here.

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Ticket To Ride Europe

In addition to playing boardgames, Gary has been busy setting up an online interactive fiction game jam; the theme of which is Homer's The Odyssey - an ancient tale of Odysseus’ journey home across the seas after the Trojan War, with a mix of fantastical mythical creatures, gods and mortals.

The aim is to encourage participants to create an interactive text based story based on this work. If you're not sure what interactive stories are, the IFDB site will give you a good idea. All text based digital works are welcome, including interactive fiction, text games and visual novels.

Even though the focus is on creating a written interactive story, it can include other media too – images, sound, video etc. If you’re looking for visual inspiration we’ve identified many images from the British Library's Flickr gallery, which you can use freely in your story if you want to. If you do use them, it would be lovely if you can give the British Library a mention in the credits of your game. Links to the collections of images appear on this page.

This writing challenge is tied in with Read Watch Play, a partnership of libraries worldwide encouraging themed discussions of books, films, music and games, each month they have a theme and for March it is #waterread. 

Odysseyjam

The #OdysseyJam challenge runs 11th – 27th March 2017,  it is hosted on the itch.io game site (https://itch.io/jam/odysseyjam) and anyone at all in the world can submit an entry… whether you’ve written interactive fiction before or not.

The Odyssey was epic, but your entry into #OdysseyJam doesn’t have to be a long piece of work. It also doesn’t have to cover the whole of the Odyssey – you could create something that focuses on a small part of the tale, and you don’t even have to set it in ancient Greece, just use The Odyssey for inspiration. You can also work as part of a team, or it can be a solo effort.

Want to join in but never made an interactive text based story before? Why not try using free software, such as:

If you post about your story on social media please use the hashtag #OdysseyJam, we can't wait to see the entries.