Learning the Lessons of working with the British Library’s Digital Content…

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Date(s) - 10/05/2017
12:30 pm - 5:30 pm

University of Birmingham


A workshop organised by British Library Labs and the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham, as part of the British Library Labs Roadshow (2017).

A series of presentations exploring the British Library’s digital collections, how they have been used and the lessons learned by working with researchers who want to use them. This will be followed by discussions and feedback around potential ideas of working with the Library’s data.

The Roadshow will showcase examples of the British Library’s digital content and data, addressing some of the challenges and issues of working with it, and how interesting and exciting projects from researchers, artists, educators and entrepreneurs have been developed via the annual British Library Labs Competition and Awards. This year we intend to focus on some of the lessons we have learned over the last four years of working with the Labs, promote our awards and get attendees thinking of what they might do with the British Library’s collections. The team will also talk about future plans at the Library to support Digital Scholarship. The day will include presentations from researchers who are working on interesting Digital Humanities projects within the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham.

Date and Time:
Wednesday 10th May 2017, 1300 – 1700


Digital Humanities Hub, Ground Floor, ERI Building G3, Pritchatts Road, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston B15 2TT.

Please refer to the following map detailing how to get to the event.

BL Labs Roadshow (2017)

The British Library Labs project has been running since 2013 and the Labs team visited the University of Birmingham last year. Labs will reflect on the lessons they have learned over the last four years and focus on some of the typical questions researchers first ask and the common misconceptions they have of working with the the British Library’s digital collections and data. They will also provide examples of what researchers were able to actually achieve and the challenges they faced.

Hundreds of thousands of digital items and objects are being created and collected for researchers to use such as digitised manuscripts, sheet music, newspapers, maps, archived websites, radio, performances, TV news broadcasts, and artworks, as well as the more expected items like scanned versions of books.

This wonderful cacophony of content is having a significant effect on how institutions like the British Library support the research needs of their users. Will people discover new information when they are no longer restricted to viewing a single page from a single book at a time? How can the British Library build systems that provide a coherent route across its content, regardless of whether it is a televised news report or a unique signature drawn in the margins of a map? How can we use crowd-sourced information, computer vision and machine-learning techniques to provide people with better tools to better judge and interpret the context of illustration or work? How can we exploit animations and interactive infographics to better convey the information found in our holdings?

This is the research space that British Library Labs explores and we want to encourage researchers at the University of Birmingham to work with us and share their research questions and innovative ideas around this.


1300 Introduction
Dr Erin Sullivan, Senior Lecturer at the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham

What is British Library Labs?

The British Library Labs project supports and inspires scholars to use the British Library’s incredible digital collections in exciting and innovative ways for their research, through various activities such as competitions, awards, events and projects.

Labs will highlight some of the work that they and others are doing around digital content in libraries and also talk about ways to encourage researchers to engage with the British Library.

Labs will discuss the annual BL Labs Awards which recognises outstanding work already completed, that has used the British Library’s digital collections and data. This year, the Awards will commend work in four key areas: Research, Artistic, Commercial and Teaching / Learning.

What have we learnt over the last for years of Labs

An examination and reflection on the lessons the Labs team have learned by working with those who have wanted to use the over the last four years.

Title: TBC
Matt Hayler, Head of Digital Cultures, University of Birmingham

Integration of spatial data with Digital Humanities Research
Jeremy Kidwell, Lecturer, Theology, Univeristy of Birmingham

British Library data and collections and discussions and feedback on ideas, challenges and issues.

Labs will give an overview of some of the Library’s digital collections and lead on a discussion on how they can be used. The team will also give feedback on ideas delegates might have on using the collections.

1630 Finish

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