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Increasing digital access

Significant partnership agreements secured with third parties allowed the Library to accelerate both the digitisation of content and its opening up to users around the UK and the world.

  • Mass digitisation of newspapers

Mass digitisation of newspapers

A ten-year partnership with online publisher brightsolid was announced to digitise up to 40 million pages of historic newspapers. The agreement represented a major step towards fulfilling the Library’s strategic goal of securing long-term preservation of, and access to, the national newspaper collection. With original newspapers moving from Colindale to the new purpose-built storage centre at Boston Spa, digital copies will be available online and free to users at St Pancras.

  • Bibliographic metadata

In 2010 we started to open up our bibliographic metadata for wider use by external communities. More than 300 organisations worldwide joined our new, free catalogue record download service. We also supplied several million record datasets in new XML-based formats to organisations including Ithaka, the Open Library and Wikimedia Commons. We also began piloting new ‘Linked Open Data’ initiatives in collaboration with JISC, the Cambridge-based Open Bibliography Project and others.

  • Digital Library Store

The volume of material held in the Digital Library Store more than doubled to over 1.25 million items, just over 140 terabytes. The additional content includes 19th century British newspapers, UK web sites, licensed eJournals, and archival sound recordings. The Digital Library System was further developed to store material at four sites.

  • Endangered Archives Programme

The programme funded by Arcadia preserves endangered manuscripts, documents, photographs, sound and video from around the world and makes them freely available online. The year’s research grants will fund major projects to safeguard archives including Ethiopian manuscripts, Peruvian historical documents and fragile library books in eastern India.

  • Improving Services to Readers

Enhancements to ‘Search our Catalogue’ offer faster access to more than 58 million records. The ‘Ask a Reference Team’ online service using Questionpoint improved the user experience by helping researchers to direct their questions and track their enquiry. It also enables the building of a knowledge base that can be shared with researchers, staff and other organisations. More than 1,000 users were registered within three months of the launch of the Management and Business Studies portal, which delivers quick and easy access to management research publications.

  • Open Planets Foundation

The Library hosted the Open Planets Foundation, a new, not-for-profit consortium established to provide practical solutions and expertise in digital preservation. It worked with the Foundation and JISC to encourage leading UK higher education institutions to take a central role in preserving Europe’s digital heritage.

  • Playtimes: a century of children’s games and rhymes

The Playtimes project explored children’s games, songs and rhymes over the last century in collaboration with the Institute of Education, the University of Sheffield and the University of East London. The Library digitised the Opie Collection of audio recordings and produced the Playtimes website. The former Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen, launched the findings of Children’s Playground Games and Songs in the New Media Age, research funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

  • UK PubMed Central

External project grants for digital preservation, datasets and science-based developments provided an opportunity to pilot new services and develop research community partnerships. Usage of the UKPubMed Central service, which we provide to bioscience researchers with the University of Manchester and EBI (European Bioinformatics Institute), increased strongly. One million downloads were recorded for March 2011.

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