- Published date:
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 were awarded £222,420 in funding by the Institute of Coding (IoC) for 2019-2021 to co-develop a trial of 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 project trialed a new professional development opportunity to provide cultural heritage professionals with a much-needed grounding in computational approaches to navigate this new data-driven landscape confidently.
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
Throughout 2019 the team worked closely with Dr. Stelios Sotiriadis at Birkbeck to develop the PGCert framework, devising three new modules; Demystifying Computing with Python, Analytic Tools for Information Professionals and Work Based Projects. In autumn 2019, a select number of staff from within the British Library and the National Archives were given the opportunity to attend a free trial version of the course in order to evaluate the framework and programme content. An evaluation report is underway and will be made available in Spring 2021.
Read more about some of the exciting projects undertaken by the cohort as part of the final Work Based Project module:
- Archivists, Stop Wasting Your Ref-ing Time! by Graham Jevon, Endangered Archives Programme Cataloguer, British Library
- Automated text-extraction from colonial-era maps of eastern Africa by Nick Dykes, Curator, Modern Map Collections, British Library
- The Botish Library: developing a poetry printing machine with Python by Giulia Carla Rossi, Curator of Digital Publications, British Library
- Computing Cholera: Topic modelling the catalogue entries of the General Board of Health by Chris Day, Head of Modern Domestic Records, The National Archives
New Course Launched!
Following on the successful completion of the trial in Spring 2020, Birkbeck will now offer the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Data Science to begin January 2021. This new course is broader in nature so as to provide the wider information professional community, across a range of industries, with foundational programming and data science skills, whilst supporting individuals to apply this knowledge to their own contexts (such as cultural heritage) through the final work-based module.
Winner of the Best Poster Award, LIBER 2020!