THE BRITISH LIBRARY

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2 posts categorized "Museums Pride"

07 June 2021

Curating the UKWA LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection

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By Ash Green and Steven Dryden - LGBTQ+ Lives Online lead curators

The LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection has been live now for almost a year. This has given us the time to gain a better understanding of the content in it, and also how people are interacting with the collection. Based on this, we wanted to consider some of the challenges around structuring, tagging and representing sites within it.

Sub-Collections & Subject tagging

When the collection was set up, one of the tasks that needed to be undertaken was defining the structure of the sub-collections. At this stage they are organised as follows:

  • Activism/Pride
  • Arts, Literature, Music & Culture
  • Business/Commerce
  • Education
  • History
  • Medicine and Community
  • Policy and Legislative Change
  • Religion
  • Social Organisations
  • Sport

We defined the sub-collections based on what we thought would be added to the collection, without actually knowing what the majority of that content might be. As more sites have been added we can see that some sub-collections work well and others not so well. We are getting a sense of which sub-collections might need to be revisited.

One sub-collection that at this stage requires more consideration in terms of whether it should be changed or split, is Medicine & Community. When we set this up, it felt like a logical pairing – both aspects of the sub-collection are about well-being, with one indicating it’s about medical support, and the other about wellness achieved through peer support. But now, as we add more sites to this sub-collection, the terminology doesn’t feel quite right. This is especially true when sites focused more on well-being, emotional support and guidance, such as Spectra and Outline Surrey are included in the sub-collection. Possibly a more appropriate sub-collection name would be Health & Community, which would still allow the inclusion of medical and community wellness, but under a clearer umbrella.

No homophobia, no violence t-shirt

When the collection was set up, Retirement also featured as a sub-collection. We eventually removed this before go-live. Not because it wasn’t relevant, but because there was insufficient online content within the collection to justify including it at this stage. That said, that may change over time and an increase in sites focusing on both retirement and older LGBTQ+ people’s lives may result in us re-instating it or a similar sub-collection. Similarly, other themes might rise out of existing sites in the collection that would require new sub-collections to be added, or even new subjects to be included. Part of the key purpose of the collection is to not only archive appropriate web sites, but to also make them findable via the sub-collections.

As well as adding sites to sub-collections within the LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection, they can also be assigned to other collections and sub-collections. For example, Graces Cricket Club (a gay cricket club) appear in both the LGBTQ+ Lives Online / Sport sub-collection and the separate Sport: Football collection. In cases like this, there’s no question that it’s perfectly appropriate to include this site in both subject collections. However, in some instances, LGBTQ+ sites have also been previously included in inappropriate sub-collections. For example, one site in the collection had previously been assigned to Medicine and Health / Conditions & Diseases sub-collection before the LGBTQ+ Lives

Online project began. This incorrectly implied that being an LGBTQ+ person was either a “condition” or a “disease”. This has been corrected, but it highlights that we also need to be aware that choosing which collection or sub-collection we add a site to has implications about how a curator perceives that site, and the negative bias we may in turn present to collection users by including a site in an inappropriate sub-collection.

Content Warnings
Another area we are considering is content warnings. When we recently ran an online session about the collection, we were asked if any content warnings were included in the descriptions of sites tagged within the collection. Another person also expressed concern about the inclusion of sites within the LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection that were negative or hostile towards members of the LGBTQ+ community. Though these sites are included, they do not provide content warnings about their harmful and negative perspectives or context about their inclusion. Again, this is a valid comment, and content warnings would help identify that users were about to enter a site whose perspectives might be problematic or triggering.

Keyboard - caution

You may also be wondering why sites such as the ones that are negative or hostile towards members of the LGBTQ+ community are included in the collection? It goes back to the purpose of this project, which is to archive UK sites that reflect UK LGBTQ+ lives and experiences. This includes positive, neutral and negative sites if relevant. For example, we include at least one site in the collection that questions the validity of trans and gender non-conforming people as apart of the LGBTQ+ community. If we didn’t include this site, it would not give a balanced picture of trans people’s experience, as it would miss out on a key factor that has had a huge impact on many trans lives over the past few years. As such, even though we do not agree with questioning the validity of trans and gender non-

conforming people, those sites are valid to LGBTQ+ research and discussion. But it’s not just sites like these that we would consider including a content warning against. Any sites highlighting LGBTQ+ phobic or hate content may also be included.

Content warnings are not something we’ve considered before, and at present, the cataloguing rules for the UK Web Archive collection don’t have capacity for the inclusion of content warnings. However, following on from these conversations, it is something we need to address, along with highlighting that including content within the collection does not necessarily mean that the curators agree with the opinions in those sites.

The structure of the sub-collections and content warnings are areas that we want to address as soon as we can, and it is something we would like to discuss with the wider LGBTQ+ community. How we achieve that is yet to be decided, but we are always open to suggestions.

In the mean-time, don’t forget that you can explore the LGBTQ+ Lives Online UK Web Archive collection.

You can also nominate sites for inclusion in the collection.

 

03 November 2020

LGBTQ+ Lives Online: Introducing the Lead Curators

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By Steven Dryden, British Library LGBTQ+ Staff Network & Ash Green CILIP LGBTQ+ Network

In July 2020 the British Library, the UK Web Archive and CILIP LGBTQ+ Network relaunched the LGBTQ+ Lives Online web archive collection. We have received many nominations for new sites to be collected by the UK Web Archive and work has begun to re-tag many of the websites that have been collected since the UK Web Archive began collecting the UK web in 2005.

To mark two months since the project began, LGBTQ+ Lives Online leads Steven Dryden, of the British Library, and Ash Green, of CILIP LGBTQ+ Network write about the relevance of the World Wide Web to them as members of the LGBTQ+ community, and some of their collection highlights:

 

Steven he/him/his

StevenDryden
Steven Dryden

I first encountered the internet in Las Vegas. It was the summer of 1998, I was 17 and my family had migrated from Newcastle Upon Tyne to the western world’s party play pit in the Nevada desert. My friend, Lilian, was talking to someone in New York City about the band Depeche Mode through America Online (AOL).

Chat rooms were online spaces that allowed groups of people to join anonymously and had the options to talk and interact within a group or in private. Chatrooms quickly became a pivotal part of my small cohort of friends and I, the odd balls who didn’t quite fit, as we were forming our identities in those formative late teen years, and trying to find our place in the world.

Later the same year on October 12, 1998 Matthew Shepard would die. A gay student at the University of Wyoming, Shepherd was beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie on the night of October 6, 1998. AOL chatrooms formed the major part of how I found out about Shepherd, worked through my feelings about his murder, and was the first news story that I followed online.

The protections and general understanding of who the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are has undergone radical change in the 22 years since I first encountered the internet. I’m interested to see what survives online of the change in language relating to the community, and what evidence remains in the UK Web Archive of the online discussion. Some websites that interest me in these first months of the project include:

  • The Campaign for Homosexual Equality: an organisation which led the way to legal reform in the UK, following the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partial decriminalised homosexuality in England and Wales.

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/en/archive/20130505124828/http://www.c-h-e.org.uk/

  • Around the Toilet: a community engaged art project exploring the accessibility and culture of toilets for the LGBTQ+ community

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/en/archive/20180606164959/https://aroundthetoilet.wordpress.com/

  • Asexual Visibility and Education Network: founded in 2001 with two distinct goals: creating public acceptance and discussion of asexuality and facilitating the growth of an asexual community

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/en/archive/20150226230020/http://www.asexuality.org/home/

 

Ash (they/them)

Ash Green
Ash Green

When I was studying for my BA Information and Library Management degree in the early 1990s, the internet and World Wide Web weren’t as high profile as they are now. I loved tech back then, and was into programming and creating databases as part of the degree. But I didn’t really understand what the lecturers were talking about when they mentioned the internet. At the time I had no idea how important it would be to my coming out just over 20 years later, and what a positive impact it would have.

Thinking about the lead up to my coming out in 2017, without access to sites and forums related to trans/gender non-conforming lives in particular, I doubt I would have come out at all. But when I decided to look for guidance online, I found a huge amount of information that was overwhelming at first, but eventually this helped me understood where I fitted into the world. They included medical sites; statements from WHO and other health organisations highlighting that being trans wasn’t a mental health issue; personal blogs and forums, talking about experiences and a variety of perspectives on what it means to be trans; finding out about non-binary, genderfluid, and genderqueer people experiences (I had no idea what these words meant); LGBTQ+ events; makeup and style tips; sites for face-to-face support groups and meetups, and sites for exhibitions such as the Museum of Transology and the Transworkers photography exhibition, which helped me understand that being trans is much broader than mainstream media would have the world believe.

Many sites were useful, but at the same time I came across quite a few that were more "Yes, this miracle herbal treatment really does change your hormones", and "You're only valid if you fit into trans box X or Y" that put my critical, digital literacy and research experience into practice. I also found supportive friends and allies, and I was able to share useful sites and sources of information I’d discovered to give them a better understanding of my experience. It’s important that these sites should be a part of the UK Web Archive LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection. Not only because they have a relevance to the UK Web Archive in general, but from a personal perspective I feel that if they had such an impact on helping me find where I fit into the world, how many other people have they also had a similar positive impact upon?

The sites I’ve chosen below from the UK Web Archive have all had a personal impact upon myself.

  • Museum of Transology: The UK’s most significant collection of objects representing trans, non-binary and intersex people’s lives. 

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/en/archive/20201003091027/https://www.museumoftransology.com/

  • OutStories Bristol: Collecting and preserving the social history and recollections of LGBT+ people living in or associated with Bristol, England.

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/en/archive/10000101000000/https://outstoriesbristol.org.uk/

  • Outline Surrey: Outline provides support to people with their sexuality and gender identity, including but not limited to the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans community of Surrey, primarily through a helpline, website and support groups.

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/en/archive/20160107134238/http://www.outlinesurrey.org/

 

Get involved with preserving UK LGBTQ+ Lives Online with the UK Web Archive

We can’t curate the whole of the UK web on our own, we need your help to ensure that information, discussions, personal experiences and creative outputs related to the LGBTQ+ community are preserved for future generations. Anyone can suggest UK published websites to be included in the UK Web Archive by filling in our nominations form:

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/en/ukwa/nominate