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One way is through the British Library Labs project and the Digital Curator team which make up the Digital Research Team. The aim of the lab is to encourage scholars to experiment at scale with our digital collections and data. The team holds competitions, events, and creates the space in which to engage with scholars working in this realm. Through the labs we’re learning how to better support scholars and build new services.
With an algorithm by Ben O’Steen we snipped out images from digitised books and put them on to Flickr on December 13 2013, there were over a million, but the problem we had was that we knew which books they came from (author/dates), but we didn’t’ have any information about the images. By releasing them onto flickr, we have got people to start tagging them and using them in very creative ways.
Hosting them internally was not an option and there was not sufficient metadata to put them on Wikipedia. Flickr seemed the obvious option as it is a platform that can support high usage, did not require metadata, allowed tagging and it is free for public domain images.
Digital Scholarship at BL
Digital Research & Curator Team
Formed in 2010 as part of the new Digital Scholarship department
• Support the BL to adopt clear strategies and operating models for
• Develop innovative models for Digital Scholarship exploiting
digital content and new technologies
• Offer training and support to BL staff on Digital Scholarship
practices and resources
• Involvement with various digital programmes (internal and
external) involving digitisation, born-digital materials,
• Engage with new and existing user communities (Crowdsourcing)
• Strengthen the BL capabilities
Million image corpus
• Images published on Flickr
• Wikimedia Synoptic Index
• Search Interface: BL 1 Million Images
• In 2009 British Library sound archive staff began tests
for a new kind of field recording project to aggregate
user-generated digital audio content using mobile
phones. Named the UK SoundMap, the project
represents a radical departure from the more
traditional, curator-led professional archival practices
we were used to.
• The UK SoundMap uses an informal community of
mobile phone users (via Audioboo) to capture and
describe their environmental sounds, then enable
near-instant public sharing on a dedicated website: in
effect, contributors as curator-publishers.
UK SoundMap: technical, legal and ethical
• poor sound quality, particularly wind noise
and low quality recording equipment
• deliberate or inadvertent contributions of
inappropriate recordings (e.g. copyrighted
music or spoken performances, invasions of
privacy, derogatory or rude language)
• inconsistent and missing metadata quality
• irrelevant recordings (e.g. outside the
geographical scope or subject matter)
Book Card catalogues
• First batch (or “drawer”) of the Pinyin card catalogue
was released to the public on June 8th with 1,278
cards and all tasks were completed (meaning three or
more individuals looked at every card and attempted to
make a match) just over two and half weeks later on
June 24th 2015.
• We are now working with our colleagues in metadata
services to integrate them into Aleph
The British Library began a project to
crowdsource the georeferencing of its
scanned historic mapping in 2011 by
partnering with Klokan Technologies.
Over 8,000 maps have already been
"placed" by participants checked for
accuracy and approved for reviewers.
We are currently on the sixth release,
which features over 50,000 maps from
the 17th, 18th, and 19th-century book
illustrations on Flickr
Pin-a-Tale was an online crowd-sourcing
initiative that sought to connect our
individual experiences of writing and
place, and pin them to a searchable map.
It accompanied the British Library
exhibition “Writing Britain: Wastelands to
Wonderlands”, 11 May – 25 September
We asked people to choose a literary
work from any period and in any form that
relates to a specific location in the British
and Irish Isles and to tell us how the
author captured the spirit of the place.
A participatory project based at University
College London. Its aim is to engage the
public in the online transcription of original
and unstudied manuscript papers written
by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
The UCL Bentham Papers and the British
Library's Bentham material have all been
digitised and made available via Transcribe
Bentham for crowdsourcing. The
manuscripts have been reunited (digitally)
for the first time since Bentham's death,
thereby creating a free-to-access historical
and philosophical resource of great
As of 19th February 2016 15,341 manuscripts have been
transcribed or partially-transcribed: stats
Transcribe Bentham Getting Started video:
Transcribe Bentham website: