Digitised versions of some of Cardiff University’s rare books and archives have been made available online through the institution’s new DigitalSearch web resource. DigitalSearch was launched during a special event in Special Collections and Archives; during the launch event, colleagues from Special Collections discussed the importance of DigitalSearch and the use and relevance of such online, website, and digitised resources to researchers and libraries alike.
Janet Peters, University Librarian, presenting DigitalSearch
DigitalSearch makes the text, images, photographs, audio, and video, of some of the University’s rare and specialist research library resources available to search and view online. Over 7,500 pages and images from items in three main collections (History of Medicine, Architecture, and Welsh Literature) have been digitised by the University’s Special Collections and Archives team and made available in DigitalSearch, and plans are in place to extend the range of these online resources. See DigitalSearch here –
Ranging from 19th century medical reports with statistics on outbreaks of disease in Cardiff, to modern architectural visions that were never completed, as well as Welsh literary ballad texts, along with the musical version being sung by a ballads singer – DigitalSearch supports a wide range of teaching and research fields in the University.
Pestle and Mortar from the 17th century.
Janet Peters, Director of Cardiff University Libraries, said: “By making these rare and valuable resources available to the world via DigitalSearch, we hope to help inform future research. The unique images give an example of how digitised rare works can add to their research value, often providing an unparalleled view into the past and richly illustrating how these works and images were used, and can now be re-used again!”.
Maesmawr Hall Hotel, Caersws
This week I travelled to sunny Caersws for the annual Archives Wales Forum. Held in a Tudor manor house, the conference was attended by archivists from across the country, from Anglesey to Gwent. The theme was ‘working together’, and over a fully packed day, we heard from twenty speakers on a wide range of topics from educational outreach to catalogue conversion.
The guest speaker, Dr Aled Jones, Chief Executive and Librarian of the National Library of Wales (NLW), began the day by introducing the Library’s recently launched strategy document, Knowledge for All: Strategic Direction 2014-2017.
Morning speakers included Sally McInnes on the NLW’s £20.4 million Heritage Lottery Fund bid for a national Conservation Centre, which is proposed to be built onto the area of the National Library’s building affected by April’s fire. Alwyn Roberts (NLW) reported on a project to use volunteers to transcribe shipping records, and Elspeth Jordan (National Museum of Wales) discussed their £600,000 Esmée Fairbairn funded project to conserve, digitise and carry out research on a sample from their photography collection. Both Kerry Robinson from Powys Archives and Steven Davies from Flintshire Record Office spoke about using affordable portable scanners to digitise collections and catalogues. I gave a presentation on SCOLAR’s support for a new undergraduate module in the School of English – Project Management and Research – in which students undertake workplace-based projects in exchange for course credit, in order to develop employability skills prior to graduation.
The afternoon sessions focused on a number of educational outreach projects undertaken by Gwent, West Glamorgan, Anglesey and Glamorgan Archives, involving children as young as 3. All are successfully working with teachers to link local collections in with National Curriculum themes. Sarah Winning from Denbighshire archives spoke about their WordPress blog, launched to save staff time in writing annual reports and newsletters and to help reach a new online audience.
One of the most impressive presentations of the day came from Andrew Dulley of West Glamorgan Archives Service. Andrew produced an award-winning short film of the Olympic torch relay route, as it would have looked in 1908 Swansea. The resulting film is slick, professional, and successfully brings history to life – but it cost nothing to produce. Andrew used free software to carry out all transitions, image editing and sound editing, and obtained free music and sound effects under a Creative Commons licence. It is a superb example of what archives across Wales are managing to achieve despite financially straitened times, with a bit of hard work, ingenuity and imagination!
Most researchers are familiar with the ’70 year rule’ – that copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author. But this currently only applies to published works. As mentioned in our previous blog post, the copyright of unpublished manuscripts, such as handwritten literary drafts or musical scores, remains with the author’s descendants until 2039, regardless of the age of the manuscript. Where a descendant cannot be traced, the work is classed as orphan.
Orphan works cannot be reproduced in any form until 2039. The British Library estimate that orphan works constitute 40% of works held by European archives – a vast reserve of knowledge unable to be shared beyond the confines of the reading room. Of particular concern are archives held in actively decaying formats such as celluloid film and audio tape. If such a work is orphan, it is currently illegal for archivists to create even a single digital copy in order to safeguard a recording’s future.
The news that the UK Government has accepted the recommendations of the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property, and the changes this will mean for copyright law, will be a great relief to those caring for and working with archives.
The Government plans to implement a Digital Copyright Exchange. This will allow archives to purchase a copyright licence for a nominal fee, which will allow them to reproduce and share the orphan works in their care. The funds will be held by the Exchange against the possibility of the copyright holder coming forward and seeking recompense. In the event that this does not occur, the funds will be released after a reasonable period of time, and allocated for social or cultural purposes.
SCOLAR will report on confirmed changes to copyright law when they are announced this autumn.