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Digital Collections Online is launched


Tuesday 16th March saw the launch of Exeter University’s Digital Collections Online.

Delivering images and digital objects from Exeter’s most prestigious research collections, including over 2000 images showcasing Victorian culture, openly available for teaching and research.

The website includes e-learning packages to help embed the collections use within the university’s teaching, learning and research.

Highlights of the collection include historic popular culture images from Queen Victoria  to Alice in Wonderland.

The Launch was preceeded by a workshop on the Digital Futures of Special Collections.

Partly as a response to the Enriching Digital Resources programme, the workshop examined many of the issues Special Collections and Archives face in delivering digital resources to users in the twenty-first century and beyond.

Some of the themes that emerged from the presentations and discussions are worth sharing:

  • Students don’t care where (physically) an object is stored: they simply want access, whenever they need it. Linked to this is:
  • Objects must be easy to use and find: especially for students who will often take the path of least resistance in searching for content.
  • The digital doesn’t replace the physical, instead it facilitates a dialogue between the object and its simulacra.
  • Metadata is not dead, yet.  Descriptions allow users to find the objects.  But how do we overcome shortages of resources and expertise to enrich metadata?
  • As much as possible content should be shared and set free.  There are many challenges to this, but where possible this should be the norm, not the exception.  This may also help answer the issue of enriching metadata.
  • Sharing and opening up content is not a loss of authority or power… rather it is empowering others.

There were many others, some of which may inspire future blog posts, but these were the ones that stuck with me.

The workshop was collaborative and challenging as anything worthwhile should be, and it seems a fitting vehicle to launch a new online digital collection.

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