Digital scholarship blog

Enabling innovative research with British Library digital collections

226 posts categorized "Events"

15 March 2024

Call for proposals open for DigiCAM25: Born-Digital Collections, Archives and Memory conference

Digital research in the arts and humanities has traditionally tended to focus on digitised physical objects and archives. However, born-digital cultural materials that originate and circulate across a range of digital formats and platforms are rapidly expanding and increasing in complexity, which raises opportunities and issues for research and archiving communities. Collecting, preserving, accessing and sharing born-digital objects and data presents a range of technical, legal and ethical challenges that, if unaddressed, threaten the archival and research futures of these vital cultural materials and records of the 21st century. Moreover, the environments, contexts and formats through which born-digital records are mediated necessitate reconceptualising the materials and practices we associate with cultural heritage and memory. Research and practitioner communities working with born-digital materials are growing and their interests are varied, from digital cultures and intangible cultural heritage to web archives, electronic literature and social media.

To explore and discuss issues relating to born-digital cultural heritage, the Digital Humanities Research Hub at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in collaboration with British Library curators, colleagues from Aarhus University and the Endangered Material Knowledge Programme at the British Museum, are currently inviting submissions for the inaugural Born-Digital Collections, Archives and Memory conference, which will be hosted at the University of London and online from 2-4 April 2025. The full call for proposals and submission portal is available at https://easychair.org/cfp/borndigital2025.

Text on image says Born-Digital Collections, Archives and Memory, 2 - 4 April 2025, School of Advanced Study, University of London

This international conference seeks to further an interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral discussion on how the born-digital transforms what and how we research in the humanities. We welcome contributions from researchers and practitioners involved in any way in accessing or developing born-digital collections and archives, and interested in exploring the novel and transformative effects of born-digital cultural heritage. Areas of particular (but not exclusive) interest include:

  1. A broad range of born-digital objects and formats:
    • Web-based and networked heritage, including but not limited to websites, emails, social media platforms/content and other forms of personal communication
    • Software-based heritage, such as video games, mobile applications, computer-based artworks and installations, including approaches to archiving, preserving and understanding their source code
    • Born-digital narrative and artistic forms, such as electronic literature and born-digital art collections
    • Emerging formats and multimodal born-digital cultural heritage
    • Community-led and personal born-digital archives
    • Physical, intangible and digitised cultural heritage that has been remediated in a transformative way in born-digital formats and platforms
  2. Theoretical, methodological and creative approaches to engaging with born-digital collections and archives:
    • Approaches to researching the born-digital mediation of cultural memory
    • Histories and historiographies of born-digital technologies
    • Creative research uses and creative technologist approaches to born-digital materials
    • Experimental research approaches to engaging with born-digital objects, data and collections
    • Methodological reflections on using digital, quantitative and/or qualitative methods with born-digital objects, data and collections
    • Novel approaches to conceptualising born-digital and/or hybrid cultural heritage and archives
  3. Critical approaches to born-digital archiving, curation and preservation:
    • Critical archival studies and librarianship approaches to born-digital collections
    • Preserving and understanding obsolete media formats, including but not limited to CD-ROMs, floppy disks and other forms of optical and magnetic media
    • Preservation challenges associated with the platformisation of digital cultural production
    • Semantic technology, ontologies, metadata standards, markup languages and born-digital curation
    • Ethical approaches to collecting and accessing ‘difficult’ born-digital heritage, such as traumatic or offensive online materials
    • Risks and opportunities of generative AI in the context of born-digital archiving
  4. Access, training and frameworks for born-digital archiving and collecting:
    • Institutional, national and transnational approaches to born-digital archiving and collecting
    • Legal, trustworthy, ethical and environmentally sustainable frameworks for born-digital archiving and collecting, including attention to cybersecurity and safety concerns
    • Access, skills and training for born-digital research and archives
    • Inequalities of access to born-digital collecting and archiving infrastructures, including linguistic, geographic, economic, legal, cultural, technological and institutional barriers

Options for Submissions

A number of different submission types are welcomed and there will be an option for some presentations to be delivered online.

  • Conference papers (150-300 words)
    • Presentations lasting 20 minutes. Papers will be grouped with others on similar subjects or themes to form a complete session. There will be time for questions at the end of each session.
  • Panel sessions (100 word summary plus 150-200 words per paper)
    • Proposals should consist of three or four 20-minute papers. There will be time for questions at the end of each session.
  • Roundtables (200-300 word summary and 75-100 word bio for each speaker)
    • Proposals should include between three to five speakers, inclusive of a moderator, and each session will be no more than 90 minutes.
  • Posters, demos & showcases (100-200 words)
    • These can be traditional printed posters, digital-only posters, digital tool showcases, or software demonstrations. Please indicate the form your presentation will take in your submission.
    • If you propose a technical demonstration of some kind, please include details of technical equipment to be used and the nature of assistance (if any) required. Organisers will be able to provide a limited number of external monitors for digital posters and demonstrations, but participants will be expected to provide any specialist equipment required for their demonstration. Where appropriate, posters and demos may be made available online for virtual attendees to access.
  • Lightning talks (100-200 words)
    • Talks will be no more than 5 minutes and can be used to jump-start a conversation, pitch a new project, find potential collaborations, or try out a new idea. Reports on completed projects would be more appropriately given as 20-minute papers.
  • Workshops (150-300 words)
    • Please include details about the format, length, proposed topic, and intended audience.

Proposals will be reviewed by members of the programme committee. The peer review process will be double-blind, so no names or affiliations should appear on the submissions. The one exception is proposals for roundtable sessions, which should include the names of proposed participants. All authors and reviewers are required to adhere to the conference Code of Conduct.

The submission deadline for proposals is 15 May 2024, has been extended to 7 June 2024, and notification of acceptance is now scheduled for early August 2024. Organisers plan to make a number of bursaries available to presenters to cover the cost of attendance and details about these will be shared when notifications are sent. 

Key Information:

  • Dates: 2 - 4 April 2025
  • Venue: University of London, London, UK & online
  • Call for papers deadline: 7 June 2024
  • Notification of acceptance: early August 2024
  • Submission link: https://easychair.org/cfp/borndigital2025

Further details can be found on the conference website and the call for proposals submission portal at https://easychair.org/cfp/borndigital2025. If you have any questions about the conference, please contact the organising committee at [email protected].

28 February 2024

Safeguarding Tomorrow: The Impact of AI on Media and Information Industries

The British Library has joined forces with the Guardian to hold a summit on the complex policy impacts of AI on media and information industries. The summit, chaired by broadcaster and author Timandra Harkness, brings together politicians, policy makers, industry leaders, artists and academics to shed light on key issues facing the media, newspapers, broadcasting, library and publishing industries in the age of AI. The summit was on Monday 11 March 2024 14:00 - 17:20; networking reception 17:30 - 19:00 GMT.

The video of the event is on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4muZybkzMU4 and embedded below.

 

Lucy Crompton-Reid, Chief Executive of Wikimedia UK; Sara Lloyd, Group Communications Director & Global AI Lead at Pan Macmillan and Matt Rogerson from the Guardian will tackle the issue of copyright in the age of algorithms.

Novelist Tahmima Anam; Greg Clark MP, Chair Science & Technology Committee; Chris Moran from the Guardian and Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library will discuss the issue of AI generated misinformation and bias.

 

Speakers on stage at the AI Summit
Speakers on stage at the AI Summit. Photo credit Mia Ridge

AI is rapidly changing the world as we know it, and the media and information industries are no exception. AI-powered technologies are already being used to automate tasks, create personalised content, and deliver targeted advertising. In the process AI is quickly becoming both a friend and a foe. People can use AI to flood the online environment with misinformation, creating significant worries, for example, around how deep fakes, and AI personalised and targeted content could influence democratic processes. At the same time, AI could become a key tool to combat misinformation by identifying fake news articles and social media posts.

Many creators of content - from the organisations creating and publishing content, to individual authors, artists and actors - are worried that their copyright has been infringed by AI and we have already seen a flurry of legal action, mostly in the United States. At the same time, many artists are embracing AI as a part of their creative process. The recent British Library exhibition on Digital Storytelling explored the ways technology provides new opportunities to transform and enhance the way writers write and readers engage, including interactive works that invite and respond to user input, and reading experiences influenced by data feeds.

And it is not only in the world of news that there is a danger of AI misinformation. In science, where AI is revolutionising many areas of research from helping us discover new drugs to aiding research on complexities of climate change, we are, at the same time, encountering the issue of fake, AI generated scientific articles. For libraries, AI holds the future promise of improving discovery and access to information, which would help library users to find relevant information quickly. Yet, AI is also introducing significant new challenges when it comes to understanding the provenance of information sources, especially in making the public aware if the information has been created or selected by algorithms rather than human beings.

How will we know - and will we care - if our future newspapers, television programmes and library enquiries are mediated and delivered by AI? Or if the content we are consuming is a machine rather than a human creation? We are used to making judgements about people and organisations that we trust on the basis of how we perceive their professional integrity, political leanings, their stance on the issues that we care about, or just likability and charisma of the individual in front of us. How will we make similar judgments about an algorithm and its inherent bias? And how will we govern and manage this new AI-powered environment?

Governmental regulation of AI is under development in the UK, the US, the EU and elsewhere. At the beginning of February 2024 the UK government released its response to the UK AI Regulation White Paper, signaling the continuation of ‘agile’ AI regulation in the UK, which attempts to balance innovation and economic benefits of AI while also giving greater responsibility related to AI to existing regulators. The government’s response also reserves an option for more binding regulation in the future. For some, such as tech companies investing in AI products, this creates uncertainty for their future business models. For others, especially many in the creative industries and artists affected by AI, there is a disappointment due to the absence of regulations in relation to AI being trained by using content under copyright.

Inevitably, as AI further develops and becomes more prevalent, the issues of its regulation and adoption in the society will continue to evolve. AI will continue to challenge the ways in which we understand creators’ rights, individual and corporate governance and management of information, and the ways in which we acquire knowledge, trust different information sources, and form our opinions on what to buy to who to vote for.

Join us to discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead. You can book your place on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/safeguarding-tomorrow-the-impact-of-ai-in-media-information-industries-tickets-814482728767?aff=oddtdtcreator.

09 October 2023

Strike a Pose Steampunk style! For our Late event with Clockwork Watch on Friday 13th October

This Friday (13th October) the British Library invites you to join the world of Clockwork Watch by Yomi Ayeni, a participatory storytelling project, set in a fantastical retro-futurist vision of Victorian England, with floating cities and sky pirates, which is one of the showcased narratives in our Digital Storytelling exhibition.

Flyer with text saying Late at the Library, Digital Steampunk at the British Library, London. Friday 13 October, 19:30 – 22:30

We are delighted that Dark Box Images will be bringing their portable darkroom to the Late at the Library: Digital Steampunk event and taking portrait photographs. If this appeals to you, then please arrive early to have your picture taken. Photographer Gregg McNeill is an expert in the wet plate collodion process invented by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851. Gregg’s skill in using an authentic Victorian camera creates genuinely remarkable results that appear right in front of your eyes.

Black and white photograph of a woman wearing an elaborate outfit and a mask with her arms outstretched wide with fabric like wings
Wet plate collodion photograph of Jennifer Garside of Wyte Phantom corsetry, taken by Gregg McNeill of Dark Box Images

If you want to pose for the camera at our steampunk Late, or have a portrait drawn by artist Doctor Geof, please don’t be shy, this is an event where guests are encouraged to dress to impress! The aesthetic of steampunk fashion is inspired by Victoriana and 19th Century literature, including Jules Verne’s novels and the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Steampunk looks can include hats and googles, tweed tailoring, waistcoats, corsets, fob watches and fans. Whatever your personal style, we encourage you to unleash your creativity when putting together an outfit for this event.

Furthermore, whether you are seeking a new look or some finishing touches, there will be an opportunity to browse a Night Market at this Late event, where you can purchase and admire a range of exquisite hand crafted items created by:

  • Jema Hewitt, a professional costumer and academic, will be bringing some of her unique, handmade jewellery and accessories to the Library Late event. She was one of the originators of the early artistic steampunk scene in the UK, subsequently exhibiting her costume work internationally, and having three how-to-make books published as her alter ego “Emilly Ladybird”. Jema currently specialises as a pattern cutter for film, theatre and TV, as well as lecturing and teaching workshops.
Photograph of jewellery, hats and clothing
Jewellery, hats and clothing created by Jema Hewitt/Emilly Ladybird
  • Doctor Geof, an artist, scientist, comics creator and maker of whimsical objects. His work is often satirical, usually with an historical twist, and features tea, goblins, krakens, steampunk, smut, nuns, bees, cats and more tea. Since 2004 you may have encountered him selling his comics, prints, cards, mugs, pins, and for some reason a lot of embroidered badges (including an Evil Librarian patch!) at various events. As one of the foremost Steampunk artists in the UK, Doctor Geof has worked with and exhibited at the Cutty Sark, Royal Museums Greenwich, and Discovery Museum Newcastle. He is a talented portrait artist, so please seek him out if you would like him to capture your likeness in ink and watercolour.
A round embroidered patch with a cartoon figure wearing goggles and carrying books. Text says "Evil Librarian"
Evil Librarian embroidered patch by Dr Geof

  • Jennifer Garside, a seamstress specialising in modern corsetry, which takes inspiration from historical styles. Her business, Wyte Phantom, opened in 2010, and she has made costumes for opera singers, performers and artists across the world.

  • Tracy Wells, a couture milliner based in the Lake District. She creates all kinds of hats and headpieces, often collaborating with other artists to explore new styles, concepts and genres.
Photograph of a woman wearing a steampunk hat with feathers
Millinery by Tracy Wells
  • Herr Döktor, a renowned inventor, gadgeteer, and contraptionist, who has been working in his Laboratory in the Surrey Hills for the last two decades, building a better future via the prism of history. He will be bringing a small selection of his inventions and scale models of his larger ideas. (His alter ego, Ian Crichton, is a professional model maker with thirty years experience as a toy prototype maker, museum and exhibition designer, and, most recently, building props and models for the film industry, he also lives in the Surrey Hills). 
Photograph of a man wearing a top hat and carrying a model submarine
Herr Döktor, inventor, gadgeteer, and contraptionist. Photograph by Adam Stait
  • Linette Withers established Anachronalia in 2012 to be a full-time bookbinder, producing historically-inspired books, miniature books, and quirky stationery. Her work has been shortlisted for display at the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford as part of their ‘Redesigning the Medieval Book’ competition and exhibition in 2018 and one of her books is held in the permanent collection of The Lit & Phil in Newcastle after being part of an exhibition of bookbinding in 2021. She also teaches bookbinding in her studio in Leeds.

  • Heather Hayden of Diamante Queen Designs creates handmade vintage inspired, kitsch, macabre, noir accessories for everybody to wear and enjoy. Heather studied fashion and surface pattern design in the 80's near Leeds during the emergence of Gothic culture and has remained interested in the darker side of life ever since. She became fascinated with Steampunk after seeing Datamancer's Steampunk computer, loving the juxtaposition of new and old technology. This inspired her to make steampunk clothing and accessories using old and found items and upcycling as much as possible.
Photograph of a mannequin head wearing a headpiece with tassels, feathers, flowers and beads
Headpiece by Diamante Queen Designs
  • Matthew Chapman of Raphael's Workshop specialises in creating strange and sublime chainmail items, bringing ideas to life in metal that few would ever consider. From collars to corsets, serpents to squids, arms to armour and medals to masterpieces, you should visit his stall and see what creations spark the imagination.
Photograph of a table displaying a range of wearable items of chainmail jewellery and accessories
Chainmail jewellery and accessories created by Raphael's Workshop

We hope that this post has whetted your appetite for the delights available at the Late at the Library: Digital Steampunk event on Friday 13th October at the British Library. Tickets can be booked here.

02 October 2023

Last chance to see the Digital Storytelling exhibition

All good things must come to an end, no I’m not talking about the collapse of a favourite high street chain store beginning with W, but the final few weeks of our Digital Storytelling exhibition, which closes on the 15th October 2023. If you haven’t seen it yet, then this is your last chance to book!

Digital Storytelling showcases eleven different born digital works, including interactive narratives that respond to user input, reading experiences personalised by data feeds, and immersive multimedia story worlds developed through audience participation. From thought provoking autobiographical hypertexts to data journalism, uncanny ghost stories to weather poetry, steampunk literary adaptation to quirky Elizabethan medical comedy. 

Digital Storytelling exhibition image with art from Astrologaster, Seed, 80 Days, and Zombies, Run!

If you want to hear more about this exhibition, Digital Curator Stella Wisdom will be giving two talks later this week. The first of these will be in-person on Thursday evening, 5th October, in Richmond Lending Library for the Richmond Reads season of events, celebrating the joys and benefits of reading. The second will be held online on Friday morning, 6th October, for the DARIAH-EU autumn 2023 Friday Frontiers series.

We are also delighted to share that there is a chapter about interactive digital books written by Giulia Carla Rossi, Curator for Digital Publications, in The Book by Design, which was recently launched by our colleagues in British Library Publishing. Giulia’s chapter discusses innovative Editions at Play publications, including Seed by Joanna Walsh and Breathe by Kate Pullinger, which are both currently displayed in Digital Storytelling.

Before the Digital Storytelling exhibition closes, we'd love you to join us for a party on the evening of Friday 13th October. For one night only, transmedia storyteller Yomi Ayeni will transform the British Library into the Clockwork Watch story world for an immersive steampunk late event.

Genre-bending DJ Sacha Dieu will be spinning the best in Balkan Gypsy, Electro Swing, and Global Beats. Professor Elemental will perform live for us, and we really hope he’ll sing I Love Libraries! You'll also be able to view the Digital Storytelling exhibition, and there will be quieter areas to explore 19th Century London in Minecraft, play board games including Great Scott! The Game of Mad Invention with games librarian Marion Tessier, and to discover poetry with the Itinerant Poetry Librarian.

If you plan to party with us, book your ticket here.

27 September 2023

Late at the Library: Digital Steampunk

Summer may be over, but there is much to look forward to this autumn, including our Late at the Library: Digital Steampunk event on Friday 13th October 2023, where we invite you to immerse yourself in the Clockwork Watch story world, party with chap hop maestro Professor Elemental and explore 19th-century London in Minecraft. If these kind of shenanigans sound right up your street, then book tickets here and join us!

Clockwork Watch by Yomi Ayeni is currently showcased in the British Library’s Digital Storytelling exhibition, which is open until 15 October 2023. Set in a retro-futurist steampunk Victorian England, Clockwork Watch is a participatory story that includes multiple voices and perspectives on themes relating to empire, colonialism, exploitation and resistance, which is told across a range of formats, including a series of graphic novels (there is an overview of these titles here), immersive theatre, role play, and an online newspaper the London Gazette.

Drawing of a a range of people in steampunk clothing,in front of a London skyline
Steampunk Illustration by Brett Walsh

For the evening of Friday 13th October, the British Library will transform into the story world of the next part of the Clockwork Watch narrative. Featuring an auction of the last few remaining properties on Peak B, and the opening of bids for Peak C, new housing developments situated on floating islands hovering over the British Channel. Leggett and Scarper, the estate agents managing these properties, will also be inviting inventors or anyone with a solution to problems plaguing these floating islands, to submit their plans for a chance to win a Golden Ticket to one of the new homes on Peak C.

Illustration of Peak B property development on a floating island
© Clockwork Watch / Graham Leggett 2023

Attendees will be able to explore the streets of Sherlock Holmes’ London in Minecraft created by Blockworks and Lancaster University, visit the Night Market, have a photograph taken with authentic Victorian Dark Box photography, or a portrait drawn by artist Dr Geof, and that’s before the auction begins. But be warned, buying your way into this real estate dreamworld is not straightforward – this night is a golden opportunity for the Clockwork Watch underbelly of pickpockets, rogues and vagabonds.

Dressing up and joining in is heartily encouraged. To prepare for this event, we suggest reading the Clockwork Watch graphic novels, you can order these online, or purchase the first two ominbus editions from the British Library’s onsite shop. Also check out the London Gazette website and this special British Library edition of the newspaper. We hope to see you there!

Cover page of the London Gazette British Library edition
© Clockwork Watch

15 September 2023

London Fashion Week SS24: British Library x Ahluwalia

This year we will be continuing our collaboration with the British Fashion Council running our annual student research competition, which encourages fashion students to use the British Library collections in creating their fashion designs. Once again, we will start the collaboration with a fashion show produced by a leading designer. This year we are delighted to be working with Priya Ahluwalia. Earlier this year Priya worked with the Business and IP centre, contributing to the Inspiring Entrepreneurs’ International Women’s Day event, which discussed how we can best embrace and encourage diversity and inclusion in business.

On 15 September during London Fashion Week Priya will showcase her SS24 collection at the British Library. Following the show, Priya will lead this year’s student competition, focusing on the importance of research in design process. As a part of this competition students across the UK will create fashion portfolios inspired by the Library’s unique collections.

The previous collaborations with the British Fashion Council involved a range of exciting designers such as Nabil El Nayal, Phoebe English, Supriya Lele and Charles Jeffrey.

Photo of fashion event with Pheobe English (2021)
Phoebe English’s fashion installation at the British Library in 2021

 

The previous student work utilised the riches of the Library’s digital and physical collections, with the Flickr collection being especially popular with students. However, the inspiration came from many different directions - from art books, photographs and maps to the reading room bags.

This year’s student competition will be launched in October 2023.

Collage of different images of types of coats at the British Library including a man wearing a traditional Romanian winter coat, and a technical image detailing elements of a winter coat
From the winning portfolio of Mihai Popesku, Middlesex University student, who used the Library collections to research traditional Romanian dress

Update: there's been some great coverage in the fashion press (and social media), including this Vogue article that begins 'Priya Ahluwalia’s show purposefully took place at the British Library. More than just a venue, it tied into the theme of her work: bringing forgotten or untold stories about talented people to attention'.

06 September 2023

Open and Engaged 2023: Community over Commercialisation

The British Library is delighted to host its annual Open and Engaged Conference on Monday 30 October, in-person and online, as part of International Open Access Week.

Open and Engaged 2023: Community over Commercialisation, includes headshots of speakers and lists location as The British Library, London and contact as openaccess@bl.uk

In line with this year’s #OAWeek theme: Open and Engaged 2023: Community over Commercialisation will address approaches and practices to open scholarship that prioritise the best interests of the public and the research community. The programme will focus on community-governance, public-private collaborations, and community building aspects of the topic by keeping the public good in the heart of the talks. It will underline different priorities and approaches for Galleries-Libraries-Archives-Museums (GLAMs) and the cultural sector in the context of open access.

We invite everyone interested in the topic to join us on Monday, 30 October!

This will be a hybrid event taking place at the British Library’s Knowledge Centre in St. Pancras, London, and streamed online for those unable to attend in-person.

You can register for Open and Engaged 2023 by filling this form by Thursday, 26 October 18:00 BST. Please note that the places for in-person attendance are now full and the form is available only for online booking.

Registrants will be contacted with details for either in-person attendance or a link to access the online stream closer to the event.

Programme

Slides and recordings of the talks are available as a collection in the British Library’s Research Repository.

9:30     Registration opens for in-person attendees. Entrance Hall at the Knowledge Centre.

10:00   Welcome

10:10   Keynote from Monica Westin, Senior Product Manager at the Internet Archive

Commercial Break: Imagining new ownership models for cultural heritage institutions.

10:40   Session on public-private collaborations for public good chaired by Liz White, Director of Library Partnerships at the British Library.

  • Balancing public-private partnerships with responsibilities to our communities. Mia Ridge, Digital Curator, Western Heritage Collections, The British Library
  • Where do I stand? Deconstructing Digital Collections [Research] Infrastructures: A perspective from Towards a National Collection. Javier Pereda, Senior Researcher of the Towards a National Collection (TaNC)
  • "This is not IP I'm familiar with." The strange afterlife and untapped potential of public domain content in GLAM institutions. Douglas McCarthy, Head of Library Learning Centre, Delft University of Technology.

11:40   Break

12:10   Lightning talks on community projects chaired by Graham Jevon, Digital Service Specialist at the British Library.

  • The Turing Way: Community-led Resources for Open Research and Data Science. Emma Karoune, Senior Research Community Manager, The Alan Turing Institute.
  • Open Online Tools for Creating Interactive Narratives. Giulia Carla Rossi, Curator for Digital Publications and Stella Wisdom, Digital Curator for Contemporary British Collections, The British Library

12:45   Lunch

13:30   Session on the community-centred infrastructure in practice chaired by Jenny Basford, Repository Services Lead at the British Library.

  • AHRC, Digital Research Infrastructure and where we want to go with it. Tao Chang, Associate Director, Infrastructure & Major Programmes, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • The critical role of repositories in advancing open scholarship. Kathleen Shearer, Executive Director, Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR). (Remote talk)
  • Investing in the Future of Open Infrastructure. Kaitlin Thaney, Executive Director, Invest in Open Infrastructure (IOI). (Remote talk)

14:30   Break

15:00   Session on the role of research libraries in prioritizing the community chaired by Ian Cooke, Head of Contemporary British Publications at the British Library.

  • Networks of libraries supporting open access book publishing. Rupert Gatti, Co-founder and the Director of Open Book Publishers, Director of Studies in Economics at the Trinity College Cambridge
  • Collective action for driving open science agenda in Africa and Europe. Iryna Kuchma, Open Access Programme Manager at EIFL. (Remote talk)
  • The Not So Quiet Rights Retention Revolution: Research Libraries, Rights and Supporting our Communities. William Nixon, Deputy Executive Director at RLUK-Research Libraries UK

16:00   Closing remarks

Social media hashtag for the event is #OpenEngaged. If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected].

02 September 2023

Huzzah! Hear the songs from Astrologaster live at the Library

Digitised archives and library collections are rich resources for creative practitioners, including video game makers, who can bring history to life in new ways with immersive storytelling. A wonderful example of this is Astrologaster by Nyamyam, an interactive comedy set in Elizabethan London, based on the manuscripts of medical astrologer Simon Forman, which is currently showcased in the British Library’s Digital Storytelling exhibition.

Artwork from the game Astrologaster, showing Simon Forman surrounded by astrological symbols and with two patients standing each side of him

On Friday 15th September we are delighted to host an event to celebrate the making and the music of Astrologaster. Featuring game designer Jennifer Schneidereit in conversation with historian Lauren Kassell discussing how they created the game. Followed by a vocal quartet who will sing madrigal songs from the soundtrack composed by Andrea Boccadoro. Each character in the game has their own Renaissance style theme song with witty lyrics written by Katharine Neil. This set has never before been performed live, so we can’t wait to hear these songs at the Library and we would love for you to join us, click here to book. We've had the title song, which you can play below, as an earworm for the last few months!

Simon Forman was a self-taught doctor and astrologer who claimed to have cured himself of the plague in 1592. Despite being unlicensed and scorned by the Royal College of Physicians he established a practice in London where he analysed the stars to diagnose and solve his querents’ personal, professional and medical problems. Forman documented his life and work in detail, leaving a vast quantity of papers to his protégé Richard Napier, whose archive was subsequently acquired by Elias Ashmole for the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford. In the nineteenth century this collection transferred to the Bodleian Library, where Forman’s manuscripts can still be consulted today.

Screen capture of the Casebooks digital edition showing an image of a manuscript page on the left and a transcript on the right
Screen capture image of the Casebooks digital edition showing ‘CASE5148’.
Lauren Kassell, Michael Hawkins, Robert Ralley, John Young, Joanne Edge, Janet Yvonne Martin-Portugues, and Natalie Kaoukji (eds.), ‘CASE5148’, The casebooks of Simon Forman and Richard Napier, 1596–1634: a digital edition, https://casebooks.lib.cam.ac.uk/cases/CASE5148, accessed 1 September 2023.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Casebooks Project led by Professor Lauren Kassell at the University of Cambridge, spent over a decade researching, digitising, documenting and transcribing these records. Producing The casebooks of Simon Forman and Richard Napier, 1596–1634: a digital edition published by Cambridge Digital Library in May 2019. Transforming the archive into a rich searchable online resource, with transcriptions and editorial insights about the astrologers’ records, alongside digitised images of the manuscripts.

In 2014 Nyamyam’s co-founder and creative director Jennifer Schneidereit saw Lauren present her research on Simon Forman’s casebooks, and became fascinated by this ambitious astrologer. Convinced that Forman and his patients’ stories would make an engaging game with astrology as a gameplay device, she reached out to Lauren to invite her to be a consultant on the project. Fortunately Lauren responded positively and arranged for the Casebooks Project to formally collaborate with Nyamyam to mine Forman’s patient records for information and inspiration to create the characters and narrative in the Astrologaster game.  

Screen capture image of a playthrough video of Astrologaster, showing a scene in the game where you select an astrological reading
Still image of a playthrough video demonstrating how to play Astrologaster made by Florence Smith Nicholls for the Digital Storytelling exhibition

At the British Library we are interested in collecting and curating interactive digital narratives as part of our ongoing emerging formats research. One method we are investigating is the acquisition and creation of contextual information, such as recording playthrough videos. In the Digital Storytelling exhibition you can watch three gameplay recordings, including one demonstrating how to play Astrologaster. These were made by Florence Smith Nicholls, a game AI PhD researcher based at Queen Mary University of London, using facilities at the City Interaction Lab within the Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design at City, University of London. Beyond the exhibition, these recordings will hopefully benefit researchers in the future, providing valuable documentation on the original ‘look and feel’ of an interactive digital narrative, in addition to instructions on use whenever a format has become obsolete.

The Digital Storytelling exhibition is open until the 15th October 2023 at the British Library, displaying 11 narratives that demonstrate the evolving field of interactive writing. We hope you can join us for upcoming related events, including the Astrologaster performance on Friday 15th September, and an epic Steampunk Late on Friday 13th October. We are planning this Late with Clockwork Watch, Blockworks and Lancaster University's Litcraft initiative, so watch this blog for more information on this event soon.

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