In 2007-2009 Oxford University ran a small-scale pilot as part of a much wider initiative focused on preserving the cultural heritage of the First World War online. The Great War Archive (GWA) took a new approach to digitisation, but at the same time was a continuation of many activities which have successfully engaged the public. In short, the GWA asked members of the public to submit via a simple online form, digital surrogates of material they personally owned that related to the Great War. In addition a series of 'submission days' were held around the UK whereby people brought in artefacts and they were digitised there and then. Although it only ran for three months the project was a major success attracting international press coverage. In just 12 weeks it collected over 6,500 objects at a tenth of the price of traditional digitisation methods.
The project established workflows and processes that allowed people with only basic IT literacy to submit items to the collection and catalogue them removing cost from the central team. Anyone submitting also agreed to simple copyright agreements which meant the material could be redistributed freely for educational purposes. In a stroke then it cut through long-standinf debates on metadata standards and IPR by placing the decision with the user, not with the team. More importantly it also achieved two other objectives:
i) it engaged the public in a University research project - which is extremely important in today's climate where Universities are increasingly having to justify their work in terms of impact
ii) it unearthed a range of previously undiscovered material, breaking the traditional cycle of concentrating on the same set of material held in national archives, and for many items the individual's story was also recorded
The success of the project has led to a major initiative funded in the UK to launch a series of community collections. This talk will conclude by outlining some of the ways forward both at a UK-level, and also at a pan-European level.
Dr Stuart D Lee Reader in eLearning and Digital Libraries, University of Oxford
Jobs: Director, Great War Archive Lecturer in English Literature, University of Oxford Director, Computing Systems & Services
Other affiliations: Merton College, Oxford National Teaching Fellow
The presentation will be in English.
Organised by: Susanne Schaefer (CERN Library)