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Connecting to digital users

Connecting to digital usersThe web opens up our collection to a huge international audience. The growth in usage of our web resources averages 25 per cent a year. We digitise masterpieces and add interactive interpretation, connecting people to the treasures of diverse cultures. We open up access to cutting-edge international scientific research, connecting the lab results of higher education to the corporate R&D units of top brands.

The digital world also gives us the new responsibility of collecting information published in the UK in new formats, in hard formats like DVDs as well as on the internet. The digital publications we collect come in a multitude of file formats, and may be usable only with specific hardware and software. Coming generations of researchers will want to connect to this material – so the digital library that we’re building has to be flexible, sophisticated, and future-proof.

Connecting millions of researchers worldwide deep into our web resources with Google Scholar

Search results on Google Scholar now include links to our document delivery service, BLDSS, so researchers can order international research articles automatically. Payment and delivery take place online, and we pay a copyright fee direct to the publishers.

Digital Archiving

One element of the digital library will be the archive of UK websites. We continued our selective harvest of UK sites with their rights holders’ permission, choosing 500 that had particular cultural and historic resonance and complemented our collection strengths. For example, a special effort was made to record sites set up in the wake of the London bombings on 7 July 2005. The sites are stored along with others selected by the UK Web Archiving Consortium (UKWAC) at The Digital Preservation Coalition shortlisted the web archiving project for their annual awards in November 2005.

Building the digital library means re-thinking and re-designing most of our processes to handle digital materials in parallel with traditional publications. We’re working closely with colleagues from the other Legal Deposit Libraries, publishers, and academic and other partners. We’re concentrating our technical development on automatic intake (ingest) of e-journals and the e-material we receive under the publishers’ voluntary deposit scheme.

Secure storage systems for digital materials have been set up on two Library sites, with the underpinning software being continuously improved. Discussions have been held with other libraries, in particular with the National Library of Wales, over the location of further storage systems.

In September 2005, DCMS set up the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel to help devise the regulations that will bring the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 into force. Our Director of Scholarship and Collections was invited to join. In parallel, a pilot project in anticipation of legal deposit of e-journals was set up with 23 UK publishers, under the Joint Committee for Legal Deposit. The pilot runs until June 2006 and will provide practical evidence that may influence the Advisory Panel’s recommendations.

We are contributing our expertise on digital preservation technologies to the Office of Science and Technology’s e-infrastructure steering group. The group is mapping the digital infrastructural requirements of the UK academic and corporate research enterprise, which is migrating to a wholly digital environment at an accelerating pace.

We have also led a successful bid for a major European digital preservation project, PLANETS (Permanent Long-term Access through Networked Services). We are leading a 15-member international consortium that combines content holders, research institutions and technology vendors in the four-year, €8.6 million project.

Rory Mcleod“My team brings expertise from different directorates to focus on the digital library preservation strategy and programme. A significant step for the team this year has been the successful completion of the JISC-funded LIFE project in partnership with University College London Library, which defined the life cycle stages and long-term costs of different digital collections.”

Rory Mcleod
Digital Preservation Manager


Microsoft Partnership

Bill Gates and Lynne BrindleyIn March this year Bill Gates visited the Library and met CEO Lynne Brindley to set the seal on a long-term strategic partnership. Initial plans include the digitisation of 25 million pages of our out-of-copyright books in the coming year. The Library was also a co-sponsor with Microsoft, Apple, Barclays, BP and Toshiba, among others, of a submission to Ecma International, the digital standards organisation, of the Microsoft® Open Office XML document format technology. With the various formats available as an open standard, users can have increased confidence in their ability to store and manage data in the long term. The submission is significant to the Library in relation to our work on the digital library.

Our collaborations with Microsoft and Google Scholar underline the Library’s position as a top content provider to learners and researchers across the world. These ventures also reinforce the importance of our work on the digital library, which will guarantee access to digital resources for future generations.

New Age Festivals

The Field of the Cloth of Gold, 1520The Renaissance celebrated in style. In 1475 Constanzo Sforza and Camilla of Aragon held an eight-hour banquet to celebrate their marriage. A contemporary account is now online. It features in the earliest of 250 Renaissance festival books we’ve digitised in partnership with the University of Warwick. The festival books show the magnificent ceremonies that took place in Europe between 1475 and 1700. They are a superb scholarly resource, documenting marriages and funerals, coronations and pageants and will fascinate everyone who enjoys history. The Arts and Humanities Research Council, which funded the project, rated it as ‘outstanding’ and it was shortlisted for the Information Management 2005 awards.

Turning Mozart’s Pages

An extract from Mozart’s Verzeichnüss aller meiner Werke‘Magnificent!’, ‘a superb creation’, ‘quite breathtaking’ – just some of the responses to the web debut of Mozart’s own handwritten catalogue and Lewis Carroll’s manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, which features his own illustrations. Mozart’s Verzeichnüss aller meiner Werke details most of his compositions during the seven years up to his death in 1791, including his five mature operas, last three symphonies and a number of tantalising works which have since been lost. The online version was launched to celebrate his 250th anniversary and uses our awardwinning Turning the Pages interactive animation system.

Black Europeans

Alexander PushkinPopular versions of history have often airbrushed out the contribution of non- Europeans to Western culture. In recent years, however, scholars have begun to challenge the idea that race or ethnicity is a barrier that can stop individuals from participating in any field they choose. In light of this, we asked the writer and historian Dr Mike Phillips to work as guest curator on two online features, Black Europeans – which reveals the African backgrounds of great names in European culture, such as Alexander Pushkin and Alexandre Dumas – and Caribbean Views: Sugar, Slavery and the Making of the West Indies.

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Chairman's statement
Chief Executive's Q and A
Connecting to digital users
Connecting enterprise and ideas
Connecting with new audiences
Connecting with our supporters