Friday, 16 July 2010

Session 5: Preserving the Future

Hil Williamson - Leaping off the edge

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, the home of several international festivals and the base of four universities, including Edinburgh University, one of the oldest in the UK. Edinburgh’s Central Public Library is at a critical moment in its history, on the cusp of radical change. The complete story is not yet ready for full disclosure, but if the project progresses it will be the most major change for a public library in the UK. The transformation for all will be significant.

A short history of the building will set the scene. This will describe the accumulation of property, the ensuing hoops that had to be leapt through, how not doing anything can sometimes be a blessing, the architect who looked down and not up and thus set a ball rolling and the city librarian who has vision, enthusiasm and huge powers of persuasion.

The project must fit with City of Edinburgh Council priorities. It is also required to widen public library its appeal and increase the customer base.

What this new creation will offer and the integration of the Fine Art Library has still to be completely defined, however there are several strands already cultivated. An art presence in the new development is mandatory.

Amy Miller - “Revealing the hidden collections”: improving the digital accessibility of Scottish University Museum Collections

Revealing the Hidden Collections is a collaborative digitisation project across the nine members of University Museums in Scotland (UMIS). The project’s aim is to drastically improve the public’s accessibility to the diverse holdings of the universities of Dundee, St Andrews, Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Heriot-Watt, Robert Gordon, and the Glasgow School of Art. These partners are improving electronic access to their collections through the creation of three types of finding aids: collection-level descriptions, item-level records and digital images of select objects.
These finding aids are then to be made available online directly from collection databases by using the Open Archive Initiative - Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). The collections data can then be gathered by aggregation mechanisms such as the Culture Grid, a key service being developed by the Collections Trust. The Culture Grid pulls together information from museum, archive and library websites and databases throughout the UK and makes it available to media partners such as Google and the BBC, as well as Europeana, the European Cultural portal.
This presentation will discuss the rewards and challenges encountered during this ambitious multi-faceted project. Special attention will be given to the planning required for this type of digitisation project, the advantages and problems surrounding the use of OAI-PMH as a means of making collections accessible, and issues of copyright and metadata rights management.

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