Looking at History Through the Eyes of the Future

A group blog post by Valentina, Wanting and Valerie 

The British Labs symposium brought together a vast amount of new ideas and innovations that used the British Library’s digital collections and data to the table. It showed us the applications of learnt theory in a wider context and showcased bigger and better ideas that both have been implemented in libraries and beyond in recent years and are yet to be fully implemented. Some of these included Digital Scholarships, 3D imaging and Artificial Intelligence. It is certain that an integrated future with these at the forefront will be beneficial and exciting, not only for Library and Information Professionals but above all for the general public as well.

Daniel Pett’s keynote on Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) was one of the many aspects of the symposium that was both interesting and thought-provoking.

GLAM Pic 1
Daniel Pett, Head of Digital and IT at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge
BL Labs Symposium, 2018

GLAM is essentially used to describe the cultural heritage sector as a whole and it is based on the concept of memory and history (Dempsy, 2000). Each institution in GLAM has interconnected roles in collecting, curating, preserving and sharing pieces of the community’s cultural heritage to better interpret this information for the public (International Librarians Network, 2015).  Lately, GLAM institutions are transforming from physical to virtual as we are now connecting all the knowledge centers on the planet together into a single global network (Friedman, 2005). For example, museums, such as The Fitzwilliam Museum and the National Gallery, are hosting virtual exhibitions and tours. However, all GLAMs, even non-virtual ones, are needed for an informed society as they access and preserve the physical remains of human cultural and biological heritage. Clark et al.(2002).

But GLAM is facing a series of challenges lately ranging from attracting and retaining funding for these institutions, staff retention and recruitment within the GLAM sector to a scarcity of skills amongst current humanities researchers. At the symposium, Daniel Pett discussed these challenges and how to overcome them. It was valuable to learn that digital preservation is becoming a massive issue, especially since many tools that contain cultural memory are now moving towards a fee-based assessed system (e.g. Flickr and Google maps) and some, such as Storify, have even completely shut down.GLAM Flickr

Part of the reason the GLAM sector is facing so much trouble is because users are not that concerned about where they find their information, whether in a library or a museum or an archive as long as they find it. Hedegaard (2003, pp.2). It is clear that the GLAM sector needs to change and the best way to do so is through digital research and development. A great example is Daniel Pett’s work and his development of the British Museum’s 3D capture system whereby viewers can view artefacts online fully without having to restrict viewing to a two-dimensional image. It would be best if the GLAM sector is re-imagined in the near future to embrace more open, accessible and iterative processes so that our cultural heritage can be preserved.

 

How people’s seeking behaviour affect the digital collection development?

British Library have many projects that show cast their brilliant achievements. We can touch the future by different technologies and have a better understanding of the historical items. As we were born in the era of digital age, more and more things develop with digital technology, creating popular trends that resulted in many libraries developing their own digital libraries. People change their seeking behaviour in this digital age; we start to search online, through the flexible use of digital collections, which constitutes to an important reason as to how digital collections develop in such a rapid pace. As Karen Calhoun provides the definition of digital collections, “a frame work for carrying out the functions of libraries in a new way with new types of information resources” Calhoun (2014 pp.19). People used to read the physical books or articles in the past, but as time changes, people’s demand for information also increases, and the development of digital libraries allows the precious and protected documents to be no longer out of reach.

wanting 2
Jonah Coman, Zines, BL Labs Symposium 2018

Different kinds of digital collections from the libraries, such as digital archives, records, manuscripts and images were presented. In the BL Labs Symposium 2018, it opens a new picture for us. Sounds, images, information, music, cultural relics can be presented to people in more vivid images. Nowadays, people are starting to use the 3D technologies in order to make those images resemble closer to people. People’s seeking behavior will always change in different environments, digital collections development brings a new type of seeking method as we saw how people’s ability to satisfy their demands. Digital collections can be improved in multiple ways within the technology’s development.

 

A New User Experience: 3D Imaging

Some of the current inspiring advances in digital technology using the British Library’s digital content were showcased. In “A series of three lightning talks”, some of the latest developments and benefits of 3D imaging were highlighted.

In the first talk “The Elastic system (an update)”, Richard Wright, an artist, explained how the British Library’s digital infrastructure is being used not only to find and retrieve information, but also to create works of art. Some collections like the King’s Library Tower display are being made more accessible to the public. Around 4,300 images including manuscripts and mosaics have been digitized and linked to the library collections. These can now be used as a form of physical browsing.

In the talk “Accessible Photogrammetry for the arts, Culture and Heritage Sectors” Donald Cousins CEO of Cyreal Limited promoted Cyreal photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is the science of taking measurements from photographs. The technique used to create the 3D images is quite fascinating. During the break, Donald explained to us briefly how these 3D images are captured; seven standard high-quality cameras are used to capture simultaneously thirty images of an object on a turntable. This takes about 2 to 3 minutes. The images are then uploaded to Control software which unites the appropriate pixels to create these high-quality 3D images. The processing time ranges from 1 to 30 hours.

valerie 1
Cyreal Photogrammetry, BL Labs Symposiums, 2018

These images can be put into Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) or made available on the web for research purposes. Cyreal use an accurate, simple system which is scalable. The benefits of using ordinary cameras is that it is cost effective and fully automated making the technology accessible to more libraries. Cyreal Limited would like to develop their systems further and are keen to know users’ requirements.

Following along in this theme, in the talk “3D imaging at the British Library” Dr Adi-Keinan-Schoonbaert, Digital Curator for Asian and African collections highlighted how 3D imaging is being explored in the British Library. She explained how photogrammetry is being used to produce 3D images by the overlapping of images, whereas before Photo scam was used.

Some of the benefits of using 3D images were stressed; images are produced more quickly in house, they are embedded in the online content and are available for download. Once the models are ready they are uploaded to Sketchfab where they can be viewed in 3D worldwide, thus It allows for some of the more diverse collections to be made more accessible. Some items scanned and digitized include pre-19th manuscripts, figurines, leathers, fabrics and Jane Austen portable writing desk. In addition, the 3D images can be used in many ways; in Blogs, gaming, social media, 3D printing, exhibitions, tours and for conservation. It is a way of bringing analogue and digital content together and a new way of creating. As Phelps and Keinan-Schoonbaert (2016) stated that the “models provide website visitors (and visitors to galleries) a view of objects as a whole, giving a tactile feel to items which are generally untouchable.” When one thinks of the large amount of collections contained in The Palace Museum in China alone, the potential for 3D imaging to make artefacts more accessible seems amazing.

valerie 2
Sketchfab, BL Labs Symposium 2018

In conclusion, the BL Labs programmes are inspirational and we can all benefit from their brilliant projects including GLAM, 3D imaging and digital collections.  It will be a great treasure to library and information science as they create a new inspiring user experience. It felt like we were looking at history through the eyes of the future.

 

References:

British Library (2018) Sketchfab, Available at: https://sketchfab.com/britishlibrary (Accessed: 29 November 2018)

British Library, Collection guides: The King’s Library, Available at: https://www.bl.uk/collection-guides/the-kings-library (Accessed: 25 November 2018)

Calhoun, Karen (2014)  Exploring Digital Libraries: foundations, practice, prospects. London: Facet Publishing.

Clark, J. T., Slator, B. M., Perrizo, W., Landrum, J. E., Frovarp, R., Bergstrom, A., Ramaswamy, S., and Jockcheck, W. (2002). Digital archive network for anthropology. Journal of Digital Information, 2(4), [Online] Available at: https://journals.tdl.org/jodi/index.php/jodi/article/view/50/53

Cyreal, A Revolutionary Photogrammetry Platform for the Cultural and Heritage Sectors, Available at: https://www.Cyreal.com  (Accessed: 25 November 2018)

Dempsey L (2000). Scientific, industrial, and cultural heritage. A shared approach: A research framework for digital libraries, museums and archives. Issue 22, 1999.

Friedman, T. L. (2005). The world is flat: A brief history of the globalized world in the 21st century. London: Penguin Group.

Hedegaard, R. (2003). Benefits of archives, libraries and museums working together pp.2 [Online] Available at: http://www.ifla.org/IV/ifla69/papers/051e-Hedegaard.pdf (Accessed: 22 November 2018)

International Librarians Network (2015). Discussion Topic: GLAM – Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. [Online] Available at: https://interlibnet.org/2015/05/25/discussion-topic-glam-galleries-libraries-archives-museums/ (Accessed: 23 November 2018)

Phelps and Keinan-Schoonbaert (2016) The Digital Life of a Hebrew Manuscript. [Online] Available at:  https://www.bl.uk/hebrew-manuscripts/articles/the-digital-life-of-a-hebrew-manuscript (Accessed: 25 November 2018)

The Palace Museum. Available at: https://en.dpm.org.cn/ (Accessed: 25 November 2018)

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BL Labs Symposium 2018 – An inspiration to people; knowledge to be shared, things to be learnt

I have been inspired by the visit to the British Library Labs Symposium 2018 and have done some reading on the GLAM sector. More will be posted on my next group blog post.

The British Labs symposium brought together a vast amount of new ideas and innovations that used the British Library’s digital collections and data to the table, expanding on what we have learnt in class over the course of these last few weeks. It showed us the applications of learnt theory in a wider context and showcased bigger and better ideas that both have been implemented in libraries and beyond in recent years and are yet to be fully implemented. Some of these included Digital Scholarships, 3D imaging and Artificial Intelligence. It is certain that an integrated future with these at the forefront will be beneficial and exciting, not only for Library and Information Professionals but above all for the general public as well.

Daniel Pett’s keynote on Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) were one of the aspects of the symposium that I found more interesting.

labpic1
Daniel Pett, Head of Digital and IT at the Fitzwilliam Museum, the University of Cambridge
BL Labs Symposium, 2018

GLAM is essentially used to describe the cultural heritage sector as a whole and it is based on the concept of memory and history (Dempsy, 2000). Each institution in GLAM has interconnected roles in collecting, curating, preserving and sharing pieces of the community’s cultural heritage to better interpret this information for the public (International Librarians Network, 2015).  Lately, GLAM institutions are transforming from physical to virtual as we are now connecting all the knowledge centres on the planet together into a single global network (Friedman, 2005). For example, museums, such as The Fitzwilliam Museum and the National Gallery, are hosting virtual exhibitions and tours. However, all GLAMs, even non-virtual ones, are needed for an informed society as they access and preserve the physical remains of human cultural and biological heritage (Clark et al., 2002).

But GLAM is facing a series of challenges lately ranging from attracting and retaining funding for these institutions, staff retention and recruitment within the GLAM sector to a scarcity of skills amongst current humanities researchers. At the symposium, Daniel Pett discussed these challenges and how to overcome them. It was valuable to learn that digital preservation is becoming a massive issue, especially since many tools that contain cultural memory are now moving towards a fee-based assessed system (e.g. Flickr and Google maps) and some, such as Storify, have even completely shut down.labpic2

Part of the reason the GLAM sector is facing so much trouble is that users are not that concerned about where they find their information, whether in a library or a museum or an archive as long as they find it (Hedegaard 2003, p.2). It is clear that the GLAM sector needs to change and the best way to do so is through digital research and development. A great example is Daniel Pett’s work and his development of the British Museum’s 3D capture system whereby viewers can view artefacts online fully without having to restrict viewing to a two-dimensional image. I hope that the GLAM sector can be re-imagined over the course of the next few years so that our cultural heritage can be preserved.

References:

Clark, J. T., Slator, B. M., Perrizo, W., Landrum, J. E., Frovarp, R., Bergstrom, A., Ramaswamy, S., and Jockcheck, W. (2002). Digital archive network for anthropology. Journal of Digital Information, Vol. 2, No. 4 {Online} Available at: https://journals.tdl.org/jodi/index.php/jodi/article/view/50/53

Dempsey L (2000). Scientific, industrial, and cultural heritage. A shared approach: A research framework for digital libraries, museums and archives. Issue 22, 1999.

Friedman, T. L. (2005). The world is flat: A brief history of the globalized world in the 21st century. London: Penguin Group.

Hedegaard, R. (2003). Benefits of archives, libraries and museums working together. {Online} Available at: http://www.ifla.org/IV/ifla69/papers/051e-Hedegaard.pdf

International Librarians Network, 2015. Discussion Topic: GLAM – Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. {Online} Available at: https://interlibnet.org/2015/05/25/discussion-topic-glam-galleries-libraries-archives-museums/

Data, Data… and even more Data: My second DITA reflection

In this blog, I am going to reflect briefly on the last few sessions of DITA. These sessions have provided me with a more in-depth exploration of how information specialists go about controlling the masses of data, with a specific focus on metadata, and how to then search and work with data upon request. It was interesting to see the evolution of such methods and interfaces designed to tackle ever-growing data. Metadata and linked data were both, for me, the most interesting topics covered in these sessions and this blog post will be mostly devoted to these two aspects.

Metadata, as defined by Bawden & Robinson (2012, p.108) is data about data; best understood as short, structured and standardised descriptions of information resources. It is essentially a summation of the most key information about data in order to help others find and manage their information in a way that is vastly more time efficient (Coyle, 2005). Without metadata, it would be almost impossible to find specific data required upon request; we would simply be presented with tons of data with limited ways to filter through them. It would also be very difficult to credit authors of particular works, something which is one of the more important objectives of metadata. In class, we touched upon how a drawing had been distributed multiple times to the point where no one knew who the original author of the drawing was. In response, specialists are trying to build a protocol that combines an image with the information relevant to it so that the information is not lost when sharing with other recipients. It will be exciting to see how the integration of metadata and images together in a centralised database develops over the next few years.

We also discussed about library cataloguing as a form of metadata. As Panizzi said ‘The first and chief object of a catalogue… is to give an easy access to the works which form part of the collection’ (Miller, 1979, p.5). Library cataloguing (or bibliographic metadata) has evolved significantly from Panizzi’s ninety-one rules which were developed in 1839. In 1978, the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2) was the most widely used cataloguing code in history as it had both non-english language codes and an infinitely expandable framework for new media.

The importance of metadata is made even greater when considering how linked data could embrace and extend metadata services. Linked data, introduced by Berners-Lee in 2006, involves connecting related data from the web by using some sort of an identification system to make links between datasets that can be understood by both humans and machines. It is one of the most successful and visible parts of the Semantic Web and has been advancing since 2009 (Zeng & Qin, 2016, p.278). Berners-Lee set out four principles for publishing linked data: use URIs as names for things; use HTTP URIs so that people can look up those names;  when someone looks up a URI, provide useful information, using the standards (RDF, SPARQL) and include links to other URIs so that they can discover more things.

But how is linked data important or even relevant to libraries? Firstly, people can more easily find library resources on the Web. Google has already begun using linked data to improve reference style searches (e.g. when searching “movies” into Google, you get a list of movies playing near you). Linked data has also given opportunities for cataloguing efficiency and innovation in Libraries. Examples of this include when the German National Library started using linked data in 2010.

 

References:

Bawden, D and Robinson, L. (2012). Introduction to information science. Facet Publishing: London.

Berners-Lee, T. (2009). The next Web of open, linked data. [Online] Available at: https://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkedData.html

Coyle, K. (2005). Understanding Metadata and Its Purposes. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Version 31, No.5

Miller, E. (1979). Antonio Panizzi and the British Museum. The British Library Journal, Vol. 5, No. 1

Zeng, M.L and Qin, J. (2016) Metadata, 2nd Ed, Facet Publishing: London.

Reflection on the first 2 weeks of MSc Library Science

Learning about Data Information Technologies and Applications (DITA) has been very enlightening, to say the least. During these sessions, I was fascinated to learn about us as individuals living in the information world and how we as individual identities adapted to this world of information. It was also interesting to understand how data collection technologies and the internet has been implemented into Library Science. These lectures focused mainly on the evolution of technology and the ever-increasing reliance on the internet and web we face today. What particularly remained with me was how information is represented in the memory of a digital computer and the staggering difference there was in the data accumulated in recent years compared to the history of humanity.

Recently, research group IDC predicted that the world will be creating 163 zettabytes of data a year by 2025. This is huge compared to the human being’s functional memory which is estimated to be 1.25 terabytes (Kurzweil, 2006). Putting things into perspective, 1 zettabyte is equal to a billion terabytes. By reading Raymond Kurzweil’s book, “The Singularity Is Near” I learnt that the possibilities that can arise from our knowledge and skills combined with the greater capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of technology is endless. I really do think that libraries adapting to accommodate new applications of technology, such as storage and analysis of large datasets, will be crucial to our learning.

It is clear that nowadays there is also a growing amount of valuable information available to us, however, there is also a risk is that digital technologies can easily influence us and alter our self- identities (Floridi, 2016). The ethical concerns this raises is hugely relevant to Library Science. I believe that as we are social beings, an essential part of our development involves feedback from the social world. Since Librarians are now more active on Social Media such as Twitter and Instagram it is crucial that they develop skills in organizing and arranging information by filtering and demonstrating the value of content in a way that bests reflects our needs.