Digitisation and Digital Research in Scotland

The first project workshop, held on 14th February 2014, brought together digital humanists, academics, archivists, librarians and curators from across Scotland with varying degrees of expertise and experience. The range of participants represented many different roles in higher education institutions, national collections, and libraries from many regions of the country, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Aberdeen, the Shetland Islands, and others. Participants were invited to introduce their own digital/digitization projects, practices and ambitions, as well as proposing topics for discussion by the group as a whole. Together we aimed to explore the requirements, potential benefits and potential challenges of digital research resources and methods, forge new relationships, explore and capture collaborative ideas for digital humanities projects, and reflect on the particular challenges and opportunities of doing this kind of work within Scotland.

Two guest speakers delivered presentations about established digital research projects. The keynote speaker, Professor Andrew Prescott of King’s College London, shared some of his projects and discussed access, which is at the heart of the dialogue around digitisation, and argued for the necessity of open access materials to new types of scholarly research. Matt Ramirez of the University of Manchester spoke about the SCARLET project (Special Collections using Augmented Reality for Learning and Teaching), and showed us the many ways that augmented reality can enhance pedagogy, particularly in the context of increasing mobile technology use.

Nineteen participants also volunteered to give short flash presentations about digital projects and plans in their institutions. As the presentations progressed, common themes began to emerge, such as challenges with funding and balancing knowledge exchange with institutional demands for revenue. We heard about all kinds of great initiatives, including websites, multi-media archives, MOOC’s, social media strategies, digital interfaces in galleries, and digital analysis of manuscripts and objects. We then held facilitated discussions on a variety of topics chosen by participants. Participants were able to spend time at three of the four discussion tables, to debate and share about each of the topics and to meet a wide variety of other participants.

The day was reported to be a great success. Researchers, archivists, and curators from across Scotland had the opportunity to meet, to share their work, and to share strategies for digitisation, outreach, and overcoming challenges in their digital programmes. We wrapped up the day with an announcement that a network of digital researchers across Scotland will be established, and invited all to join.

To see the full event programme and videos and slides from the invited speakers’ talks, as well as slides from the participants’ flash presentations, please click here.