Web 2.0 Application in an Archival Context

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Margaret University Edinburgh
Department Name: Media and Communication


The National Library of Scotland has identified several groups, including children and disadvantaged adults, who currently do not see themselves or their lives reflected in its collections. It found that younger members were more likely to engage in digital media than library collections and printed material, and hence identified a need for library staff to engage in Web 2.0 Technologies to reach their new audiences. There was a particular desire to showcase the John Murray Archive, a collection which arrived at the Library in 2006 and houses an 'unmatched record of ideas and discoveries that have shaped the modern world' (Cate Newton, Director of Collections and Research at NLS).

This Knowledge Catalyst scheme enabled Laura Kinsella, a recent graduate from the digital media field at Queen Margaret University, with the support of experts, to train some of NLS' staff to create short video material for online sites such as YouTube and Facebook. The scheme provided dedicated workshops and media production training to develop an online showcase that ranges from exhibition openings to local library events, interviews with staff, special guests and visitors to creative pieces from writers-in-residence. It also generated online video-blogs and social networking material, and over the course of the programme it has produced an in-house training manual to continue the transfer of the new media skills , a process which is now under way with the original 'trainees' now passing on what they have learned to their colleagues, and three new films in production.

The possibility for the Library to take its content to new audiences is a significant outcome of the project; by engaging with social networking sites and blogs the material is open to instant feedback and interaction and allows for a two-way flow of content and ideas, which will inform how the Library communicates and promotes its collections and services into the future. The scheme has permanently empowered library staff to embrace the new media culture and has shown the academic merit in sharing archived material through documentary media. These results will be fed back into teaching and professional development activity and the scheme has provided rich case studies to be published in a journal on practice-based media applications, clearly setting a trend for other archives to follow. Further work is also intended between Queen Margaret University and the NLS to build upon achievements realised to date by this project.


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