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A project to develop a new postgraduate certificate, Computing for Cultural Heritage, with The National Archives and Birkbeck University
The British Library and partners Birkbeck University and The National Archives have been awarded £222,420 in funding by the Institute of Coding (IoC) to co-develop a one-year part-time postgraduate Certificate (PGCert), Computing for Cultural Heritage, as part of a £4.8 million University skills drive.
A recent job advertisement for a curatorial role at the British Library reflects the changing nature, and digital competency requirements for professionals working in the cultural heritage sector:
- contribute to and undertake work on digitisation and digital projects
- assist in implementing new technologies to make the collections more accessible through online presence or through digital tools
- have experience or familiarity with a variety of information technology skills underpinning digital research methods and practices (e.g. geo-referencing, text mining)
Additionally, due to the scale and diversity of the digital collections held by the BL, and changing Library services and researcher demands, it is of great importance that all staff are aware of the issues, opportunities and strategies involved in working with large-scale digital collections and developing innovative digital projects. This requires having an understanding of approaches used in programming, data science, big data, machine learning, text mining, data analytics, cloud computing, and visualisation.
From deploying simple scripts to make everyday tasks easier, to advising on the building of new digital collections systems, or supporting collaborative, computational and data-driven research using digital collections and data, this postgraduate certificate will provide cultural heritage professionals with a much-needed grounding in computational approaches to navigate this new data-driven landscape confidently.
“Over the last seven years, the Digital Curator Team have delivered a ground-breaking Digital Scholarship training programme for staff at British Library. In this time we’ve experienced first-hand the incredible transformations that arise when time, space and opportunity is created for colleagues eager to keep apace of the technological innovations that underpin their work. This is an exciting opportunity to consolidate all that we’ve learned about the skills and knowledge they seek and encode it in a course uniquely designed to meet our needs in the cultural heritage sector."
-Nora McGregor, Digital Curator
Throughout 2019-20 the team will work closely with a newly appointed Lecturer at Birkbeck to develop the PGCert framework, covering topics such as; demystifying computing for heritage professionals, computational thinking with Python, analytic tools for cultural heritage professionals and digital project design and development. In 2020-21 a select number of staff from within the British Library and the National Archives will be given the opportunity to attend a free, shortened six week trial version of the course in order to evaluate the framework and programme content. At the end of the second year the project aims to be in a position to roll out the full PGCert to professionals across the sector.
Dr. Martyn Harris, IoC Manager, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr. Mark Levene, Department Head of Computer Science and Information Systems, Birkbeck, University of London
Nora McGregor, Digital Curator, British Library
Dr. Jo Pugh, Digital Development Manager, The National Archives
Dr. Stelios Sotiriadis, PGCert Computing for Cultural Heritage Programme Director, Birkbeck, University of London