Poster Open Access

Computing for Cultural Heritage

McGregor, Nora

A recent job advertisement for a curatorial role at the British Library, the national library of the United Kingdom, reflects the changing nature, and digital competency requirements for professionals working in cultural heritage and research libraries:

·         Contribute to and undertake work on digitisation and digital projects

·         Assist in implementing new technologies to make the collections more accessible through online presence or through digital tools

·         Have experience or familiarity with a variety of information technology skills underpinning digital research methods and practices (e.g. geo-referencing, text mining)

Due to the scale and diversity of the digital collections held by the BL, from digitised manuscripts to the UK Web Archive, and changing library services and researcher demands, staff in curatorial and collections roles need to keep abreast of the issues, opportunities and strategies involved in working with such collections, if only a cursory understanding of approaches used in programming, data science, big data, machine learning, text mining, data analytics, cloud computing, and visualisation. Over the last seven years, the Digital Curator Team at British Library have designed and delivered a bespoke Digital Scholarship training programme for staff to demystify these topics and more. Through a range of onsite internally developed short courses, hack & yacks, reading groups and staff talks, the Digital Curator team in 2018/2019 held 40 training events attended by 848 staff members.

In recent years however there has been a notable increase in demand from colleagues for more advanced and formal computational training, with staff looking to acquire programming skills in Python in particular. This poster will focus on a recent initiative to meet this need and extend the activities of the Digital Scholarship Training Programme through the development of a new part-time, master’s level, Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in computing for information professionals in cultural heritage with Birkbeck, University of London.

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