Knowledge Matters blog

06 February 2018

2018 at the British Library – a peek into our plans (part II)

Fresh from our whistle-stop tour of Library highlights in part I, we continue our look to the year ahead and explore what our colleagues will be working on.

So, who else is *very* excited?


Jonnie Robinson, Lead Curator, Spoken English

‘Here are some departmental highlights for 2018:

Two new PhD students (Andrew Booth and Rowan Campbell) take up three-month placements to assist with accessioning the substantial Evolving English: VoiceBank.

Andrew Booth & Rowan CampbellAndrew and Rowan at work.

East Midlands English to be published later this year by de Gruyter Mouton, based principally on data from British Library sound recordings.

C is for Cob

An updated SOUNDS website is to be developed as part of the HLF-funded Unlocking our Sound Heritage project.’

Follow our Sound and Vision blog to discover more.


Polly Russell, Curator for Contemporary Politics and Public Life

‘2018 is the centenary of women first gaining the vote in the UK and so it seems especially fitting that the Contemporary Politics & Public Life department is about to embark on a three-year research project called The Business of Women’s Words with Sussex and Cambridge Universities examining the entrepreneurial practices and people who started the feminist magazine Spare Rib and women’s publisher Virago. The project will add new oral histories of feminist publishing to the library’s collections as well as creating a digital map of the Women’s Liberation Movement.

SpareRibFront cover Issue 1 July 1972 - Women Smiling by Angela Phillips. Usage terms: © Angela Phillips Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence.

With my food history and food politics hat on I am looking forward to curating the British Library’s forthcoming Food Season. Taking place throughout April and May the season will include talks and tastings with celebrity chefs, food historians and food activists with topics ranging from histories of cheese making to the importance of family meals to the politics of food production.

The Contemporary Politics & Public Life department is delighted to announce the completion of a collaborative project between the British Library and three US institutions digitising and making available the archives of four key individuals in the Cybernetics movement.’

Polly Russell Photo 1

Polly Russell

See more on the Spare Rib project here and read our Social Sciences blog for more updates from Polly and the team.

Tickets for our Food Season events programme will be available to book from 1 March 2018.


Philip Abraham, Assistant at the Eccles Centre for American Studies

‘The Eccles Centre has a very exciting 2018 ahead. Event highlights in 2018 include our annual Bryant Lecture, which will be given by the BBC’s Security Correspondent Gordon Corera, and a workshop for younger visitors organised with Benjamin Franklin House exploring the scientific legacy of this legendary American polymath. As usual we will also be welcoming scholars and academics from around the world to explore the British Library’s North American collections, many of whom will be sharing their findings as part of our ‘summer scholars’ series of salons here at the Library.  

Our support for research into the Canadian, Caribbean and US-related holdings of the British Library will take something of a new direction this year, as we focus on a number of key themes and research agendas.

From April, we’ll be committing time, energy and resources particularly towards projects on the following areas: North American and Caribbean indigenous studies; literary, theatrical and artistic connections in Canada, the Caribbean and the US; book history and arts in Canada, the Caribbean and the US; the ‘ American Lake’ and the politics of the Pacific Ocean; migration in/from/through Canada, the Caribbean and the US; and LGBTQ politics, culture and experiences in Canada, the Caribbean and the US.

We remain keen as ever, though, to encourage and support a whole range of researchers beyond as well as within academia. We are, for instance, really excited to find out what our 2018 Writers Award winners, novelist Stuart Evers and memoirist Tessa McWatt, will discover here at the library, as well as our Makin Fellows (a new award for shorter-term research for creative or non-fiction writing projects), George Goodwin and Karin Altenberg.

Tessa and stuart croppedThe winners of the 2018 Eccles British Library Writer’s Award are the novelist and short story writer Stuart Evers, and the author, librettist and screenwriter Tessa McWatt. Photo © Ander McIntyre.

We’re also really looking forward to the British Library’s Windrush exhibition in the Entrance Hall (1 June to 21 October 2018), which is being curated by our colleague Elizabeth Cooper from the Americas team, and which we’re very proud to be supporting. What’s so original and compelling about this exhibition is that it won’t only explore the consequences for Britain of post-war mass migration from the Caribbean, but that it will also look at the Windrush as an important moment in Caribbean history, and the region’s tumultuous twentieth-century journey towards independence. The Eccles Centre is fully committed to promoting research and debate in Caribbean studies as well as the work on US and Canadian studies that we’re more well-known for, so it’s a real privilege and a thrilling opportunity to be involved in this project.’

Windrush (c) IWM
HMT Empire Windrush © IWM (FL 9448)

The team will keep you updated with their work on the Americas blog. You can also follow their work @BL_Americas and @BL_EcclesCentre.


Stella Wisdom, Digital Curator, Digital Scholarship

‘Fellow Digital Curator Mia Ridge said that she is looking forward to more Digital Scholarship blog posts from In the Spotlight participants, like this one from medievalist Edward Mills.

Find out more about the In the Spotlight project here.

  InTheSpotlight_Come_and_PlayThe Library’s collection has over a thousand volumes holding thousands of fragile playbills

Also, on a personal note, Mia will be teaching a new subject, Collections as Data with Thomas Padilla for the Humanities Intensive Learning + Teaching (HILT) digital humanities summer school.

I’m looking forward to collaborating with the Living Knowledge Network on digital skills sharing days including one on digital sustainability on 1 March in Norwich, and one on maker spaces in Exeter on 14 June. Here’s a blog post about the games and play skills sharing day in Leeds on 9 November 2017.

  SkillsSharingDay_2017Photo from November 2017’s skills sharing day (image © Stella Wisdom)

I’m also looking forward to the Infinite Journeys: Interactive Fiction Summer School taking place 23 – 27 July, this is collaboration with Library’s Learning Team. And my involvement in the AHRC-funded  Creating a Chronotopic Ground for the Mapping of Literary Texts: Innovative Data Visualisation and Spatial Interpretation in the Digital Medium project, led by Lancaster University.

This three-year project will focus on a selection of imaginary spaces from a variety of famous literary texts, using geographic information systems (GIS) to capture, store, manipulate, analyse and present spatial and geographic data, creating an array of interactive and 3-D outputs, including building environments in Minecraft, ‘Litcraft’, which can be used as imaginative teaching resources.’


Litcraft: Mapping Minecraft Across Literature

Stella and the Digital Scholarship team will keep you up to date with their project on their blog.

Keep an eye on our What’s On pages for more information on booking for the summer school.


As ever, we’ll let you know about key projects and where you can get involved on the Library’s main social channels too. And we always want to know about how you’re using our collection; share your progress and pictures with us using Twitter and Instagram.

Here’s to an inspired, and inspiring, 2018!

Content and Community Team

(Rachael Williams, Shimei Zhou, Ellen Morgan)