Digitisation Toolkit Launch

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Image of LIFE-SHARE Toolkit homepage

Our Digitisation Toolkit is now finished and available online. This has been a large part of our project for many months so it feels great to have something to make available now. The toolkit started with some work by Dave Kilbey and JISC Digital Media looking at skills and training. Dave drew up some maps for the skills needed for digitisation at each stage of the digital lifecycle. He also identified various sources of training available to support these skills. These maps then provided the framework for our toolkit.

We felt there was such a vast array of help and information available out there for digitisation that sometimes it was hard to know where to start. The aim of the toolkit was to cover all the different aspects of digitisation so people could go to one place. The toolkit contains information with examples and activities to apply to your own digitisation, as well as links out to that vast array of information already available. There are also a couple of case studies from the Universities of Sheffield and York that show how digitisation projects were done in real life.

Carol and Jade from the Skills@Library team based at the University of Leeds have been fantastic helping us develop the toolkit. They’ve applied their technical and elearning skills to our digitisation knowledge and turned it into something beautiful… not that we’re biased about the powers of collaboration or anything!

The toolkit will continue to be supported by the University of Leeds once the project has ended. Please take a look at it and do send us any feedback or examples of how you plan to use it.


Registration open and speakers announced for Digital Collaboration Colloquium


We are delighted to announce the programme for the Digital Collaboration Colloquium on Tuesday 29th March in Sheffield. The day is free to attend and registration is now open.

We have had a number of excellent proposals for Pecha Kucha sessions but there’s still time to get yours in if you haven’t already. The deadline for proposals is 14th February.


10.00 – 10.30 Registration
10.30 – 10.35 Welcome
10.35 – 11.05 Digitisation, collaboration and WHELF
Peter Keelan (WHELF / Cardiff University)
11.05 – 11.35 Virtual and Actual: collaborative digitisation at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Doug Dodds (Victoria & Albert Museum)
11.35 – 12.00 Tea and coffee
12.00 – 1.15 Pecha Kucha sessions
1.15 – 2.15 Lunch
2.15 – 3.15 Roundtable discussion
Doug Dodds (Victoria & Albert Museum)
Jodie Double (University of Leeds)
Martin Lewis (University of Sheffield)
Peter Keelan  (WHELF / Cardiff University)
Chair: Alastair Dunning (JISC)
3.30 – 4.00 Tea and coffee
4.00 – 4.30 Library seeks partner, must have GSOH… White Rose Libraries and the future of digitisation
Beccy Shipman, Ned Potter, Matthew Herring (LIFE-SHARE Project)
4.30 – 5.00 Summary and discussion – Alastair Dunning (JISC)


Halifax, University of Sheffield (http://withus.com/conferencewithus/venues/halifax/)

In order to register please email life-share@leeds.ac.uk with the following information:

Job title
Access and dietary requirements
Any questions for the roundtable discussion

We look forward to seeing you in Sheffield for what should be a really interesting and thought provoking day.

Digital Collaboration Colloquium

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We are planning our end of project event and have decided to hold a colloquium. Whilst we do have findings from the project that we’d like to share which could have been done in a straight forward conference style event, we also felt it was important to keep looking forward and open up conversations about future collaboration.  So we’ll be using a range of presentation styles across the day and encouraging others to come and participate as well. There will be some more traditional presentations, a roundtable discussion and Pecha Kucha sessions.

The focus of this event is collaborative digital content, to include all areas of the digital lifecycle from content creation through metadata to preservation and long term storage, and everything else in between.  The aim of the Colloquium is not only to share past experiences of collaboration but also to start new conversations about future possibilities.

We have just put out a call for papers for the Pecha Kucha sessions and are looking forward to receiving some great proposals. If you’re interested please email a description of your paper (no more than 300 words) to life-share@leeds.ac.uk. We’d be particularly interested to see sessions about innovative approaches to digial collaboration, the benefits and pitfalls, and any future plans. Send in your proposals by the 31st January. A prize will be awarded to the best Pecha Kucha session as voted for by delegates.

The Colloquium will be held at the University of Sheffield on Tuesday 29th March 2011. More details about speakers will follow in the new year.

Library Day in the LIFE-Share

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This is the LIFE-SHARE Project’s contribution to the Library Day in the Life Project running this week. It was set up by Bobbi Newman, and you can read about it here.

LIFE-SHARE is a JISC funded project investigating consortial strategies for digitisation, with a particular focus on digital preservation and curation – the acronym of the title stands for Lifecycle Strategies and Architecture for Regional E-content. The partner institutions form the White Rose University Consortium, and they are the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield, and York. You can visit LIFE-SHARE’s homepage to learn more about the project, and subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter to be kept updated with the outputs and findings of the Project.

Monday 26th July

Ned Potter, LIFE-SHARE Project Officer, Leeds (and Sheffield)

Each of the partner institutions in LIFE-SHARE are investigating different aspects of digitisation. For York, it’s on demand digitisation. For Leeds, it’s digitisation to support Collection Management. For Sheffield, it’s digitisation to support Special Collections – and Sheffield was where I was on Monday. We’ve just got to the stage where we’ve written up the Case Studies (they’ll be made available via the Outputs page of our website) and I was in Sheffield tying up a lot of loose-ends.

Firstly the Project Manager and the other Project Officer came over and I showed them all the equipment we’d purchased for the audio-visual digitisation suite, and examples of the videos and audio I’d digitised. Then we had a long meeting to discuss the internal and external versions of our case-study reports – but as lack an official LIFE-SHARE office in Sheffield the meeting took place in the student bar! I hasten to add, it was teas and mineral waters all round…

In the afternoon I created some metadata (Dublin Core) for the digital objects I’d not yet described and auto-generated some technical metadata using MediaInfo, a neat little open-source programme I’d recommend to anyone working with digital audio and visual files. I wrote a detailed list for Sheffield’s head of Special Collections as to exactly what I’d done, why I’d done it, and whereabouts it was stored – then had a brief meeting with her to explain it all in person (she was pleased, which is good!).

After that I had the glamorous task of clearing up all the packaging that was strewn around the room – we’d ordered loads of equipment (cassette tape players, time-code-corrector boxes, professional monitoring headphones etc) and I’d not wanted to throw away anything until we knew it all worked. As this was my last visit to Sheffield for a while, it was also the last chance to leave their room in a presentable state.

That done, I sent round a draft of a Digitisation Skills and Expertise survey LIFE-SHARE aims to conduct this summer, to find out what knowledge and experience people in the White Rose institutions have of digitisation. While some of this expertise is readily apparent, much of it can remain hidden until teased out by a survey such as this – experience of digital photography, for example, may not be something people use in their day-to-day library jobs but could be really useful for a digitisation project. Lots of good feedback and suggestions for the survey has come in by the time I’m writing this, so we think we’ll be creating a really valuable record with this excercise.

Wednesday 28th

Matthew Herring, LIFE-SHARE Project Officer, York
(and Digital Library Officer for York Digital Library (YODL) at the University of York)

Wake at 07:00. Grab some cornflakes and cycle 5 miles or so to the University by 08:15 (Oh, yes, not before getting dressed and all that!). Make a pot of tea while my PC decides whether it will start up or not. Check email and delete two thirds of them. I reply to an email about some guidelines I’ve been writing for cataloguing digitised photographs of the University campus and write another one about a trip to Manchester next Wednesday.

Most of the day is spent rewriting a report on two case studies I’ve done for the LIFE-SHARE project. They need to be presented as web pages, so I have to figure out how to put them in HTML without them looking too dull. At 12:00 I seek out one of the few campus canteens which isn’t closed for the vacation and buy a cheese, ham and sun-dried tomato baguette. I eat this at my desk, as we are all currently living in Portakabins while the library undergoes a refurb and the Portakabin has no staffroom. Luckily, I have two chairs at my desk and my colleagues have cottoned on that when I have my feet up on one of them I’m on break, so nobody disturbs me. Someone in the office is obsessed with swatting a fly and when they finally do whack it the entire Portakabin shakes with the impact. Later in the afternoon I manage to arrange a much-needed meeting with a colleague about the cataloguing of photos of the University. This takes the rest of the afternoon, although I only wanted it to take half an hour. My report is still unfinished. I cycle home. The end.

Thursday 29th

Beccy Shipman, LIFE-SHARE Project Manager

Today I’m at second day of the JISC Innovation Forum (JIF) , at Royal Holloway. First it’s off to breakfast at the Hub here on campus for a much needed fry up. The aim of JIF is to bring all the JISC funded projects and people together and help us explore ways we can be innovative, based on three streams: sustainability, project management and communication. There is also a  fourth stream, ‘thunderbolts and lightning’, which is an open mic session. The two days also present lots of opportunities to talk to other people on JISC projects and learn about the work they are doing.  I start today’s networking by catching up with people from the Look Here! and  CHICC projects, funded under the same JISC stream as LIFE-SHARE.

The first session of the day is a quick review of the previous day, including the closing panel session “The Impact of Open: transformational possibilities for education and research” – it was  really exciting to hear people talking so passionately about open data, open access, open education resources and the need for all these things to be accessible to all users. Next I’m off to the session on community and sustainability, where I get some useful ideas for our work on consortial digitisation services.

After lunch it’s time for the Dragon’s Den, where 3 people propose their big ideas for new models  for learning, research and libraries. This is a really fun session, which provokes lively debate about collaborative competition, pay as you go education, and intelligent online research companions. It ‘s David Prosser’s pitch for collaborative competition that’s most resonant for me and LIFE-SHARE. He suggests academic libraries should work much more collaboratively at a national level. Some of this is already being done with the negotiation of journal subscriptions, but more of this type of work is necessary. This then frees libraries up to develop their own unique selling points, the areas that they specialise in and which make them competitive. Unfortunately this idea doesn’t win with the rest of the auditorium or the panel, but I voted for it!

The afternoon draws to a close with a talk about leadership from Professor John Potter. He highlights the importance of attributes such as emotional intelligence and empathy. He also reiterates the message that we have heard a lot over the last two days, that in times of crisis  innovation is more important than ever. After a final wrap up session, I am left feeling inspired about LIFE-SHARE and the contribution we can make.

JISC e-content programme meeting

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Back down to earth today after attending my first JISC e-content programme meeting at the very nice Hoxton Hotel. Bo, the project director, and I arrived on Tuesday evening in time for drinks and dinner. This was a great way to prepare for the meeting the following day with plenty of opportunities to catch up with people from different projects. Topics of conversation included scanning, digitisation strategies and the size of the pine nuts in a rather nice beetroot and goats cheese salad.

Wednesday picked up where Tuesday night left off with more opportunities to share experiences with people from the other e-content projects. The day began with a quick update of JISC related business from Alastair Dunning. This was followed by the first session of project updates from the following projects:

Centre for Digital Asia



Connected Histories

Grass Portal

And us.

We then had a thought provoking talk about innovation from Hugh Look. After coffee the remainder of the projects provided their updates:

Look Here!

Mapping Crime



Visualising China

Ben and Alastair then talked about innovation before we split into breakout groups to talk about innovation in our own project, which we then fed back after lunch. The break out session was helpful for reminding us that what we are doing is innovative. My group also decided that often it’s the process of doing the project that is innovative, sometimes more so than the outputs, and that this process can often contribute to a culture change in the institutions we are working in.

We were then treated to a talk on a very interesting project called Transcribe Bentham. It’s building on a long existing project at UCL to transcribe all the manuscripts of philosopher and reformer Jeremy Bentham but it’s taking such a long time as there are something like 60,000 papers. So to speed up the process they’ve decided to get the public to transcribe for them. They’re setting up a wiki where people can register, and then see scanned copies of the manuscripts with a text box to transcribe into. These will be checked and marked up using the TEI by project staff. It’s a really interesting use of crowdsourcing and it’ll be good to see how they get on.

After a tea break we had a round of “show and tell” where each project gave a piece of advice or top tip from their work. These included using a number of web technologies such as Google Docs, Dropbox and Mercurial, as well as advice such as talk to at least one person unrelated to the project about the project everyday. The event finished with a talk from Alastair and Ben that reported back from the whole day on the ways in which we are all being innovative.

Overall it was a great chance to build links with other related projects, and the day provoked many fruitful discussions about the issues and ideas we are all tackling.