Digital scholarship blog

Enabling innovative research with British Library digital collections

Introduction

Tracking exciting developments at the intersection of libraries, scholarship and technology. Read more

16 January 2023

Join us at the National Museum of Scotland for the Repository Training Programme for Cultural Heritage Professionals

First of five training events will kick off with an in-person session at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh on Tuesday 31 January.

The British Library’s Repository Training Programme for cultural heritage professionals is funded as part of AHRC’s iDAH programme to support cultural heritage organisations in establishing or expanding open scholarship activities and sharing their outputs through research repositories. You can read more about the development of this training programme in this blog post.

What will you learn?

This one-day training session is designed as a starting point to a broader set of knowledge that will help you to:

  • Understand research landscape in cultural heritage organizations, benefits of openness for heritage research, basic concepts of open principles and influencing decision makers.
  • Lay foundation for repository services including stakeholder engagement, policy development, technical overview and project planning.
  • Adopt common principles and frameworks, technical standards and requirements in establishing repository services in a cultural heritage organisation.
  • Explore basics of scholarly communications ecosystem in the context of cultural heritage practices.

Who is this training for?

This programme is intended for those who are working in GLAMs (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums), specifically a cultural heritage institution or a collection-holding organisation in roles where they are involved in managing digital collections, supporting research lifecycle from funding to dissemination, providing research infrastructure and developing policies. However, anyone interested in the given topics are welcome to attend.

Prerequisites

No previous knowledge of topics is required. However, an understanding of open access will maximise the benefit of the taught content for attendees. We will provide pre-readings for the basics prior to the event.

Training outline

Trainers will cover topics of following four modules through a mixture of regular presentations, recorded/online content, engaging activities, breakout sessions and self-directed learning materials.

Module 1 Opening up heritage research
This module covers the topics of understanding research landscape in GLAM organizations, benefits of openness for heritage research, basic concepts of open principles and influencing decision makers.

Module 2 Getting started with heritage GLAM repositories
This module covers the topics of stakeholder engagement, policy development, project planning and technical overview of research repositories

Module 3: Realising and expanding the benefits
This module covers the topics of adopting common principles and frameworks, compliance with publisher policies, types of research objects and outputs in cultural heritage, rights management, technical requirements, and engagement with researchers, usage and reporting.

Module 4: Exploring the scholarly communications system
This module provides an overview on the topics of scholarly publishing, research data management, persistent identifiers, rights management and copyright, responsible research, and digital preservation accompanied with a breakout activity to discuss challenges and prioritize topics for an online follow up session.

Duration and programme

This is a one-day programme takes place from 10:30 to 15:30 GMT with a lunch break for an hour. A detailed programme will be provided to the attendees prior to the event.

10:30 – 12:30 Module 1 and 2 with 10 min. break

12:30 – 13:30 Lunch break

13:30 – 15:30 Module 3 and 4 with 10 min. break

Members of Research Infrastructure Services Team at the British Library will be delivering the training programme. The team has over ten years of broad experience and extensive knowledge in supporting open scholarship across the sector and with international partners. They also provide a Shared Research Repository Service for the cultural heritage organisations.    

Book your place

In-person sessions are planned for a maximum of 35 people per event and registrants from cultural heritage institutions will be prioritised. Registration for the event is free. Please fill this form to book your place by 25 January. Confirmation and event details will be sent to the registered email address.

Further face-to-face sessions will be held before July 2023 in York and Wales. We will be providing more information about upcoming events in the coming months. 

Please contact openaccess@bl.uk if you have any question or comments about this training programme.

13 January 2023

Digital Storytelling in 2023: A New Year of New Media

Here in Digital Scholarship we are looking forward to the Library’s upcoming exhibitions in 2023, including Digital Storytelling (2 June – 15 October 2023), which we are curating with colleagues in Contemporary British Collections and Digital Preservation. This display will explore the ways technology provides opportunities to transform and enhance the way writers write and readers engage. Drawing on the Library’s collection of contemporary digital publications and emerging formats to highlight the work of innovative and experimental writers. It will feature interactive works that invite and respond to user input, reading experiences influenced by data feeds, and immersive story worlds created using multiple platforms and audience participation.

A number of the selected works for this exhibition have been previous shortlisted and winning entries of the New Media Writing Prize (NMWP). An annual international award, which celebrates exciting and inventive born digital stories and poetry that integrate a variety of formats, platforms, and media. In recent years the Library has been working with the prize organisers to collect and preserve entries in the UK Web Archive (UKWA) New Media Writing Prize collection, which is the topic of this recently published Electronic British Library Journal article:

G.C. Rossi, T. Pyke, J. Pope, R.L. Skains and S. Wisdom, ‘The New Media Writing Prize Special Collection’, Electronic British Library Journal (2022), art. 8, pp. 1-19, https://doi.org/10.23636/kw7j-0274

New Media Writing Prize logo of a lightbulb with a smartphone, a pot of pens, a pair of headphones and a microphone inside the outline of the bulb

The NMWP UKWA collection is an ongoing initiative with works added from each year’s prize. To hear more about the 2022 shortlist entries, Library curators will be virtually attending the upcoming Awards Evening on Wednesday 18 January 2023. This online event is free and open to all, if you would like to attend please book a place here. Writer Deena Larsen will give a keynote lecture and winners will be announced for the 2022 Chris Meade Memorial Main Prize, the FIPP Digital Journalism Prize, the Writing Magazine Student Prize and the Wonderbox Opening Up (People's Choice) Prize, which celebrates all eligible entries submitted to the Main and Student Prizes. Opening Up does not affect the shortlist/winners in the other categories, but provides an opportunity for a public vote for a favourite; you can browse entries and vote for your favourite here, the deadline is 11:59pm GMT on Sunday 15 January 2023.  NMWP organisers are also holding a virtual two day Digital Literature for Social Good Unconference on 17-18 January 2023.

Image of the MIX 2023 conference partner organisation logos, these are Bath Spa University's Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries, The Writing Platform, British Library and MyWorld

Looking ahead to summer, we are collaborating with Bath Spa University to host the MIX 2023 Storytelling in Immersive Media conference at the Library on Friday 7 July 2023. This event will provide an opportunity for scholars and practitioners to share current research and practice in the rapidly developing field of storytelling in immersive environments.

MIX 2023 themes include storytelling with AI, interactive and locative works, digital and film poetry, narrative games, digital preservation, archiving, and enhanced curation. The call for presentations and papers is open until Monday 13 February 2023. Proposals are invited for 15 minute papers or presentations and 6 minute lightning talks from technologists, artists, creative writers and poets working in the digital realm, as well as academic researchers and independent scholars, submissions focused on teaching and pedagogy are also welcome. After the conference there will be an opportunity to publish papers on The Writing Platform, an online magazine for sharing knowledge and expertise around digital innovation in publishing and storytelling. If you have any questions about the MIX 2023 conference please email MIX@bathspa.ac.uk for more information. 

30 November 2022

Skills and Training Needs to Open Heritage Research Through Repositories: Scoping report and Repository Training Programme for cultural heritage professionals

Do you think the repository landscape is mature enough in the heritage sector? Are the policies, infrastructure and skills in place to open up heritage research through digital repositories? Our brief analysis shows that research activity in GLAMs needs better acknowledgement, established digital repositories for dissemination of outputs and empowered staff to make use of repository services. At the British Library, we published a report called Scoping Skills and Developing Training Programme for Managing Repository Services in Cultural Heritage Organisations. We looked at the roles and people involved in the research workflow in GLAMs, and their skills needs to share heritage research openly through digital repositories in order to develop a training program for cultural heritage professionals.

 

Making heritage research openly available

Making research openly available to everyone increases the reach and impact of the work, driving increased value for money in research investment, and helps to make research reusable for everyone. ‘Open’ in this context is not only about making research freely accessible but also about ensuring the research is shared with rich metadata, licensed for reuse, including persistent identifiers, and is discoverable. Communicating research in GLAM contexts goes beyond journal articles. Digital scholarship, practice-based and computational research approaches generate a wide range of complex objects that need to be shared, reused to inform practice, policy and future research, and cannot necessarily be assessed with common metrics and rankings of academia.

The array of research activity in GLAMs needs to be addressed in the context of research repositories. If you look at OpenDOAR and Re3data, the global directories of open repositories, the number of repositories in the cultural heritage sector is still small compared to academic institutions. There is an increasing need to establish repositories for heritage research and to empower cultural heritage professionals to make use of repository services. Staff who are involved in supporting research activities, managing digital collections, and providing research infrastructure in GLAM organisations must be supported with capacity development programmes to establish open scholarship activities and share their research outputs through research repositories.

 

Who is involved in the research activities and repository services?

This question is important considering that staff may not be explicitly research-active, yet research is regularly conducted in addition to day-to-day jobs in GLAMs. In addition, organisations are not primarily driven by a research agenda in the heritage sector. The study we undertook as part of an AHRC funded repository infrastructure project showed us that cultural heritage professionals are challenged by the invisibility of forms of research conducted in their day-to-day jobs as well as lack of dedicated time and staff to work around open scholarship.

In order to bring clarity to the personas involved in research activities and link them to competencies and training needs later on for the purpose of this work, we defined five profiles that carry out and contribute to research in cultural heritage organisations. These five profiles illustrate the researcher as a core player, alongside four other profiles involved in making research happen, and ensuring it can be published, shared, communicated and preserved.

 

A 5 column chart showing 'researchers', 'curators and content creators', 'infomediaries', 'infrastructure architects', and 'policy makers' as the key personas identified.
Figure 1. Profiles identified in the cultural heritage institutions to conduct, facilitate, and support research workflow.

 

 

Consultation on training needs for repository services

We explored the skill gaps and training needs of GLAM professionals from curation to rights management, and open scholarship to management of repository services. In addition to scanning the training landscape for competency frameworks, existing programmes and resources, we conducted interviews to explore training requirements relevant to repository services. Finally, we validated initial findings in a consultative workshop with cultural heritage professionals, to hear their experience and get input to a competency framework and training curriculum.

Interviews highlighted that there is a lack of knowledge and support in cultural heritage organisations, where institutional support and training is not guaranteed for research communication or open scholarship. In terms of types of research activities, the workshop brought interesting discussions about what constitutes ‘research’ in the cultural heritage context and what makes it different to research in a university context. The event underlined the fact that cultural heritage staff profiles for producing, supporting, and communicating the research are different to the higher education landscape at many levels.

 

Discussion board showing virtual post its stuck to a canvas with a river in the background, identifying three key areas: 'What skills and knowledge do we already have?', 'What training elements are required?', and 'What skills and knowledge do we need?' (with the second question acting as a metaphorical bridge over the river).
Figure 2: Discussion board from the Skills and Training Breakout Session in virtual Consultative Workshop held on 28/04/2022.

 

The interviews and the consultative workshop highlighted that the ways of research conducted and communicated in the cultural heritage sector (as opposed to academia) should be taken into account in identifying skills needed and developing training programmes in the areas of open scholarship.

 

Competency framework and curriculum for repository training programme

There is a wealth of information, valuable project outputs, and a number of good analytical works available to identify gaps and gain new skills, particularly in the areas of open science, scholarly communications and research data management. However, adjusting and adopting these works to the context of cultural heritage organisations and relevant professionals will increase their relevance and uptake. Derived from our desk research and workshop analysis, we developed a competency framework that sets out the knowledge and skills required to support open scholarship for the personas present in GLAM organisations. Topic clusters used in the framework are as follows:

  1. Repository Service management
  2. Curation & data stewardship
  3. Metadata management
  4. Preservation
  5. Scholarly publishing
  6. Assessment and impact
  7. Advocacy and communication
  8. Capacity development

The proposed curriculum was designed by considering the pathways to develop, accelerate and manage a repository service. It contains only the areas that we identify as a priority to deliver the most value to cultural heritage organisations. Five teaching modules are considered in this preliminary work: 

  1. Opening up heritage research
  2. Getting started with GLAM repositories
  3. Realising and expanding the benefits
  4. Exploring the scholarly communications ecosystem
  5. Topics for future development

A complete version of the competency framework and the curriculum can be found in the report and is also available as a Google spreadsheet. They will drive increased uptake and use of repositories across AHRC’s investments, increasing value for money from both research funding and infrastructure funding.

 

What is next?

From January to July2023, we, at the British Library, will prepare a core set of materials based on this curriculum and deliver training events in a combination of online and in-person workshops. Training events are being planned to take place in Scotland, North England, Wales in person in addition to several online sessions. Both the framework and the training curriculum will be refined as we receive feedback and input from the participants of these events throughout next year. Event details will be announced in collaboration with host institutions in this blog as well as on our social media channels. Watch this space for more information.

If you have any feedback or questions, please contact us at openaccess@bl.uk.