Since April I have been an intern with the University of Edinburgh’s Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service (CHDS) and the Centre for Data, Culture and Society (CDCS), looking into text extraction processes at the University, both in library practice and thinking about how this is taught within digital scholarship. Throughout the internship I have had the opportunity to do both independent research and discussions with staff across the Library and University Collections (L&UC) to get a more in-depth understanding of text recognition processes.
Category: <span>Cultural Heritage Digitisation</span>
Over the past 6 months, I have had the pleasure of working with the Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service team as a DAMS (Digital Asset Management System: software used to manage digital heritage collections) Assistant, working to build the foundations for the migration of these collections from the current DAMS (LUNA) to the new Digital Collections Platform (Archipelago).
Over the last few months, our team has been working on digitising the Lothian Health Service Archive’s collection of Annual Public Health Reports for the City of Edinburgh. Comprising of 74 bound volumes of reports recording the public health of Edinburgh’s residents from 1865 to 1973, these documents are an absolute goldmine of information just waiting to be utilised by academics and researchers, covering everything from birth, death and disease rates to specific aspects of public health that were overseen by the City authorities, like infectious diseases or sanitation.
The Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service (CHDS) has managed the Main Library’s Digital Wall since it was installed in late 2019.1 The Wall is made up of two sets of nine 4k screens which are operated by touch screens: users can navigate high resolution images of the library’s cultural heritage collections as well as watch videos that feature specific collection items, projects and pieces of work undertaken by library staff. When the Wall is not in use, it displays massive “Attractor” videos which run across all 18 screens, designed to draw users in.
Last summer, I spent five days photographing the skeleton of William Burke to document recent conservation as a record for future collection care. The remains had been conserved and cleaned for the first time since the 1800s and the skeleton was going on display at the National Museum of Scotland for their 2022 exhibition “A Matter Of Death and Life“. I also photographed the life and death masks of Burke, Hare and Robert Knox (“the man who buys the beef”).
Recently I have had the joy of photographing a range of instruments from the collections at St Cecilia’s Hall .
Over the last few years, staff at St Cecilia’s have been identifying instruments currently displayed that need new photographs taken. In the end, approximately forty instruments were identified as needing re-photographed as the existing images were either black and white, of poor quality (typically scans of slides) or were taken before conservation treatment was carried out on the instruments and it was deemed necessary to update these images to better reflect the current state of these parts of the collection.
The aim of this project is to incorporate more sound into the visitor experience at St Cecilia’s Hall, through stand-alone interactives in each of the galleries as well as individual hand-held devices. A more dynamic website will replace the current app and can be used both in the stand-alone kiosk and on a smartphone/tablet. These new images will be incorporated into the dynamic website/app and represent the collections both online and in-gallery, as well as replace the existing images on Musical Instrument Museums Online (MIMO) – a site dedicated to acting as a single access point for information on public musical instrument collections from around the world.
For the past eleven weeks I’ve had the opportunity to intern with the Digital Imaging Unit, working on a project to evaluate the potential of establishing a 3D digitisation service within the department. “3D digitisation” in this sense encompasses everything from the initial production of digital models – using suitable items from across the University Collections – to online display, preservation of 3D data, and 3D printing. The project was roughly organised into three phases: research, testing, and implementation.
Although I worked primarily with Susan Pettigrew (Photographer, DIU) and Mike Boyd (uCreate Manager) I always felt supported by the other Library & University Collections staff; everyone I had the chance to speak to was eager to discuss their own work on top of contributing to the project.