THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Digital scholarship blog

Enabling innovative research with British Library digital collections

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

17 January 2019

BL Labs 2018 Research Award Winner: 'The Delius Catalogue of Works'

This guest blog is by the winners of the BL Labs Research Award for 2018: Joanna Bullivant and Daniel M. Grimley of the Faculty of Music, University of Oxford; and David Lewis and Kevin Page of the University of Oxford e-Research Centre.

The Delius Catalogue of Works is a new, freely accessible digital catalogue of the complete works of Frederick Delius (1862-1934).

Explore more here: https://delius.music.ox.ac.uk

The Delius Catalogue (DCW) was created as part of a project called ‚ÄėDelius, Modernism, and the Sound of Place‚Äô (https://deliusmodernism.wordpress.com), a collaboration between the University of Oxford, the British Library, and the Royal Library, Denmark, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project as a whole sought to better understand Delius and his music. Delius has been understood as an English portraitist, someone who wrote impressionistic works depicting natural scenes, whose music was strongly linked to the English landscape, and who had little interest in large-scale musical construction or in the details of performance.

However, Delius also lived and wrote music all over the world (in Scandinavia, Florida, Germany and France), and was the friend of many important modern artists, writers and musicians including Edvard Grieg, Edvard Munch, August Strindberg and Paul Gauguin. He also left behind very substantial sketches and other manuscripts that help us to understand his music, the vast majority of which are in the British Library.

Within the project, our aim in creating the DCW was to make a clear and up-to-date catalogue of Delius’s works which was both of a high scholarly standard and accessible to a variety of users (such as scholars, performers and students). We also wanted to integrate the catalogue as far as possible with the British Library’s own manuscript catalogue, to showcase the Library’s Delius collections and enable users of the catalogue to understand and have access to the physical manuscripts. This was a challenge both in terms of research (collecting and presenting information in a clear and concise manner) and web design (presenting it in the best possible manner).

Creating the catalogue was greatly helped by the decision to use MerMEId (Metadata Editor and Repository for MEI Data), specialist software created by Axel Teich Geertinger and his team at the Royal Library, Denmark, originally for creating a catalogue of the works of Carl Nielsen (http://www.kb.dk/dcm/cnw/navigation.xq). MerMEId is built on an eXist XML database with Lucene-based searching, and most of its functionality is implemented using xquery and xslt.

The core catalogue data is stored as MEI, an XML-based standard for the encoding and markup of musical data, inspired by TEI for text. MerMEId’s combination of open-source, standards-based technologies gave great flexibility to customise both the data model and the user interface to suit the application. In the DCW, we adapted genre categories, improved site accessibility, and adapted things like instrumental abbreviations and references to Delius reference works for our purposes. We also adapted the conceptual cataloguing model FRBR (https://www.ifla.org/files/assets/cataloguing/frbr/frbr_2008.pdf) in order to create records for each work that were narrative and hierarchical.

In the case of a work with a straightforward history like Brigg Fair, this meant adopting a standard presentational format in which the catalogue gave catalogue numbers, dedicatee, date of composition, a short introduction, duration, instrumentation, a musical incipit, and information in chronological order on manuscript sources, performance history and documents such as letters or bibliographic items:

Delius image 1

See: https://delius.music.ox.ac.uk/catalogue/document.html?doc=delius_briggfair.xml

In a work with a more complicated history like the Piano Concerto, however, the model may be adapted to show a long compositional process and multiple versions:

Delius image 2

See: https://delius.music.ox.ac.uk/catalogue/document.html?doc=delius_pianoconc.xml

By creating multiple ‚Äúversions‚ÄĚ of the work in MerMEId to reflect its journey through different stages of composition, and by noting extant manuscript and print sources and performances in each case, we can clearly and consistently both narrate the story of each work and show how existing sources and versions fit into it.

The data available in the British Library Archives and Manuscripts catalogue was essential for creating the Delius catalogue. At the ‚ÄėSources‚Äô level of each catalogue record, users can link directly to the manuscript and thus see how to access the physical manuscript, and how extant manuscripts relate to the history of each work, as in the Caprice and Elegy:

Delius image 3

See: https://delius.music.ox.ac.uk/catalogue/document.html?doc=delius_capriceelegy.xml

As well as fostering understanding of Delius’s works and their connection to the British Library’s outstanding manuscript collections, this project has led to exciting ongoing work. A subsequent project involving the same team involved digitising some of the British Library’s Delius manuscripts and other materials and creating a variety of articles, teaching resources and other metadata to showcase them. These are now part of the Library’s new online learning resource Discovering Music: https://www.bl.uk/20th-century-music.

We intend to expand our work to other composers, continuing to explore ways to make their music and manuscripts more accessible to a wide variety of people.

Find out more about Digital Scholarship and BL Labs. If you have a project which uses British Library digital content in innovative and interesting ways, consider applying for an award this year! The 2019 BL Labs Symposium will take place on Monday 11 November at the British Library.

15 January 2019

The BL Labs Symposium, 2018

On Monday 12th November, 2018, the British Library hosted the sixth annual BL Labs Symposium, celebrating all things digital at the BL. This was our biggest ever symposium with the conference centre at full capacity - proof, if any were needed, of the importance of using British Library digital collections and technologies for innovative projects in the heritage sector.

The delegates were welcomed by our Chief Executive, Roly Keating, and there followed a brilliant keynote by Daniel Pett, Head of Digital and IT at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. In his talk, Dan reflected on his 3D modelling projects at the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam, and talked about the importance of experimenting with, re-imagining, and re-mixing cultural heritage digital collections in Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAMs).

This year’s symposium had quite a focus on 3D, with a series of fascinating talks and demonstrations throughout the day by visual artists, digital curators, and pioneers of 3D photogrammetry and data visualisation technologies. The full programme is still viewable on the Eventbrite page, and videos and slides of the presentations will be uploaded in due course.

Composite bl labs 2018 awardees

Each year, BL Labs recognises excellent work that has used the Library's digital content in five categories. The 2018 winners, runners up and honourable mentions were announced at the symposium and presented with their awards throughout the day. This year‚Äôs Award recipients were:

Research Award:

Winner: The Delius Catalogue of Works by Joanna Bullivant, Daniel Grimley, David Lewis and Kevin Page at the University of Oxford

Honourable Mention: Doctoral theses as alternative forms of knowledge: Surfacing ‚ÄėSouthern‚Äô perspectives on student engagement with internationalisation by Catherine Montgomery and a team of researchers at the University of Bath

Honourable Mention: HerStories: Sites of Suffragette Protest and Sabotage by Krista Cowman at the University of Lincoln and Rachel Williams, Tamsin Silvey, Ben Ellwood and Rosie Ryder of Historic England

Artistic Award:

Winner: Another Intelligence Sings by Amanda Baum, Rose Leahy and Rob Walker

Runner Up: Nomad by independent researcher Abira Hussein, and Sophie Dixon and Edward Silverton of Mnemoscene

Teaching & Learning Award:

Winner: Pocket Miscellanies by Jonah Coman

Runner Up: Pocahontas and After by Michael Walling, Lucy Dunkerley and John Cobb of Border Crossings

Commercial Award:

Winner: The Library Collection: Fashion Presentation at London Fashion Week, SS19 by Nabil Nayal in association with Colette Taylor of Vega Associates

Runner Up: The Seder Oneg Shabbos Bentsher by David Zvi Kalman, Print-O-Craft Press

Staff Award:

Winner: The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project: Manuscripts from the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, 700-1200 by Tuija Ainonen, Clarck Drieshen, Cristian Ispir, Alison Ray and Kate Thomas

Runner Up: The Digital Documents Harvesting and Processing Tool by Andrew Jackson, Sally Halper, Jennie Grimshaw and Nicola Bingham

The judging process is always a difficult one as there is such diversity in the kinds of projects that are up for consideration! So we wanted to also thank all the other entrants for their high quality submissions, and to encourage anyone out there who might be considering applying for a 2019 award!

We will be posting guest blogs by the award recipients over the coming months, so tune in to read more about their projects.

And finally, save the date for this year's symposium, which will be held at the British Library on Monday 11th November, 2019.

11 January 2019

Digital Conversations @BL: Data, Place and Digital Economies

As part of our Digital Conversations series, we invite you to join us for an evening discussing the use of place data in understanding politics and economies; this takes place on Tuesday 29 January, 18:30 - 20:30, in the British Library Knowledge Centre, to book a ticket go here.

Drawing upon recent research at the University of Birmingham, which utilises data from the UK Web Archive to understand individual online behaviour, we are opening the discussion around the value of web archives, digital collections and metadata as a means to understand the role of place in politics and digital economies. Our speakers will explore the spatial information included in web archives and other collections, demonstrate innovative uses of these rich datasets, and discuss the challenges, both ethical and technical, that accompany their use. After the presentations, the audience and panel will have a chance to discuss these issues in detail.

 

 

Animated image illustrating the number of domains that reference a postcode per inhabitant distributed within London

Chaired by the Library's Head of Contemporary British Publications Ian Cooke, our panel includes the following speakers: Mark Birkin, Miranda Marcus, Jeremy Morley and Emmanouil Tranos.

Mark Birkin is Professor of Spatial Analysis and Policy in the School of Geography, Director of the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, University of Leeds and also the Programme Director for Urban Analytics at the Alan Turing Institute. He has longstanding interests in mathematical modelling of urban and regional systems including geodemographics, microsimulation, agent-based modelling, and spatial decision-support systems. Mark has a notable track record of collaboration, including ten years as an executive director of Geographical Modelling and Planning Limited, who developed into a market analytics business with 120 employees and global reach, working with household name partners such as Ford Motor Company, Asda-Walmart, HBoS, Exxon-Mobil and GSK. An ethos of collaboration with external partners in business and the public sector continues in his current role as Director of the Consumer Data Research Centre, a national investment within the ESRC Big Data Network. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Miranda Marcus leads the Open Data Institute's research and development programme. She is a digital programme manager specialising in applied research, agile delivery and digital strategy. Her background is in design and digital anthropology and she has worked across the arts, education and third sectors. Her personal research field focuses on the impact of engineering practices on medical artificial intelligence applications. Miranda is also Director of the AXNS Collective, an interdisciplinary organisation bringing together art, neuroscience and technology.

Jeremy Morley is Chief Geospatial Scientist at Ordnance Survey. He has worked in geospatial research since the mid-90s, first at University College London before moving to the University of Nottingham in 2009 as Geospatial Science Theme Leader in the Nottingham Geospatial Institute. His academic career spanned a range of geospatial information topics from radar mapping of ice and terrain, through crowd-sourcing and citizen science to applications of geospatial science in fields from the digital economy to planetary mapping. He joined Ordnance Survey in 2015 where he leads the Research team who carry out research and standards development in conjunction with universities and other research organisations. Their research aspirations include enabling the business' medium-term business plans, plus horizon scanning to identify plausible "unknown unknown" research topics which might affect our future services or role, nationally or internationally. Jeremy will discuss the meaning of place, and how locations and places are represented and described online, and hence their relevance to digital services, online activities and the wider digital economy.

Emmanouil Tranos is an economic geographer focusing on the spatiality of the digital economy. He is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham and Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute. He has published on issues related with the geography of the internet infrastructure, the economic impacts that this digital infrastructure can generate on cities and regions and the position of cities within spatial, complex networks. His current research utilises digital archives as a means to understand cities and the spatial economy. His research aims to generate new knowledge about business activities, the digital economy and its evolution over space and time.

We are looking forward to a fascinating and lively discussion, so please prepare your questions for the panel! If you can't attend in person, please follow #BLdigital for the twitter stream during the event.