Information Resource Guide: Ancient Greek Myths

***This guide was written by CityLIS student James Calvert in April 2019. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission as part of our CityLIS Writes initiative.***

The guide contains a collection of resources Greek myths and ancient Greek culture. It is intended for teachers and student teachers who are working in primary education in all local authority maintained schools in England. The guide is designed to support the education of 7-11 year olds who are being introduced to Greek mythology and the study of ancient Greek culture through subjects such as English and History at Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6). Many of the resources are also suitable for home use by the pupil, but this selection is left to the discretion of the teacher.

The Greek Myths Key Stage 2 Resources FINAL VERSION

Posted in CityLIS Writes | Tagged , | Comments Off on Information Resource Guide: Ancient Greek Myths

Boom! City LIS students feel the impact of a visit to the British Library Symposium

***Adel Szeheres, Marta Szczutek, Sarah and Wai-ting Cheung***

Digital collections are at the forefront of change in the digital world – able to respond quickly to new trends they are having an impact on communities, culture and the culture sector.

Eager beavers with laptops and sharpened pencils in tow, City LIS students signed in at the Symposium, undaunted by the damp conditions and the fact that some of us spent silly time in the wrong queue.

Once inside, the chance to chat and spend time circulating amongst our own cohort over coffee was a really pleasurable experience that set the tone for the event.

What a day! In reflecting upon some key themes to write this blog-post, so many very interesting aspects vy for attention.

The two themes of collaboration and impact really stood out, with working together being the overarching theme for the day.

Institutions even as mammoth as the British Library need to ensure their survival and validate their contribution to the wider world. The creative and innovative projects presented to us throughout the day shone the light on the importance of collaboration and sharing. Collaborative working within the BL’s own teams, and in other projects where BL is collaborating with outside individuals and organisations showed how the collections are being exploited in ways which regenerate content, enliven discussion, and reach new audiences. Sharing of work meant sharing achievements to the general public, but also meant sharing work to other organisations working in the same field. In referring to “achievements” we noted that several times, the speakers were including as “achievements” the methods, process and findings from experimentation. Curiously, this included methods and findings which ultimately failed – echoes of Einstein here, in that experiencing many failures is crucial in speeding progress to successful outcomes.

The second theme of impact is linked to the first and is the one which we will focus on in this post. We were enthralled by projects which impacted on research and higher education, and on the culture sector, and those that expanded business and commercial possibilities. Our blog group was also captivated by projects which had an impact on the public with an education and community focus, and particularly those that involved the public in the creative process, bringing us back to the notion of collaboration and sharing.

To illustrate this point on collaboration by reference to the principles of the “Open Source way” ,

“Together, a global community can create beyond the capabilities of any one individual. It multiplies effort and shares the work. Together, we can do more.”

So many speakers also spoke of the conflict between lack of funds, and the urgency for rolling out more training of digital-science literate staff.

It is understandable in the current unsure economic and global-political environment that finances for the funding of such work may not be a priority in some eyes, however the solution lies in collaboration with partner groups, to devise ingenious ways of accessing targeted funds for individual projects, and the possibilities arising from having a commercial arm.

Survive or thrive: any good survivalist will tell you that survival means existing on bare bones – using digital science will enable healthy new routes to thriving activity.

On leaving the Symposium, I was suddenly reminded of how I am constantly trying to find a less reactionary response to the oft heard comment: “oh, you’re studying library science, aren’t all the libraries closing?” Well, going to the Symposium has clearly shown that recruiting digital science professionals is a hugely necessary growth area for the immediate future, which should surely raise all of our confidence levels and allow LIS professionals and students their drop-the-mic moment round the dinner party table.

The Delius Catalogue, one of the BL dataset project winners, was created as a collaboration between UK’s Oxford University, the British Library and Denmark’s Royal Library, digitalising Frederick Delius’s music manuscripts and creating an online catalogue of his works for open resource purposes.

The catalogue is a thematic catalogue, meaning that they are listed by their opening musical notations, and the Delius Catalogue is the first of its kind to be made fully digital. The British Library has other composers’ works in their collection, such as Mozart’s Musical Diary, which is a digitisation of Mozart’s listed works from his last seven years. Although it uses the thematic cataloging system, the digital catalogue offers many more specific search options, making it easier to filter through the works by searching keywords such as ‘violin’, which of course, brings up compositions that have a violin. This is an extremely useful search tool for musicologists who may wish to study the instrument development or scoring (instrumentation). Delius’ pieces are also categorised by musical genre, for example, concerto, opera.

Although some composer’s works have previously been catalogued under other recognised systems, such as Koechel numbers for Mozart, their catalogues could be digitised following the example of the Delius Catalogue, while still keeping Koechel’s cataloguing as an option when searching.

The impact of this work opens the door for future project work in transforming the cataloguing of other art and humanities areas. Though it may currently work with each individual’s works, the power of collaborating could further improve the way digital collections can be cataloged and shared as open access.

http://www.bl.uk/turning-the-pages/?id=0d3ac4d1-793c-4021-b178-9c666c90f2bc&type=book
https://dictionary.onmusic.org/terms/1882-k_chel_verzeichnis
http://catalogue.t-mus.org/delius/

THE NOMAD PROJECT

The Nomad Project was also created using BL collections and it is yet another example of innovative and collaborative work. The project had its premiere during the Somali Festival Week in October 2018 which took place at the British Library. The authors of the project created a virtual reality environment for participants which enabled them to “visit” a traditional Somali nomadic home, explore it and interact with it.

Nomad is not a simple display of decontextualized objects but a full, immersive, culturally rich experience. The project was realized by using photogrammetry techniques to create digital 3D models of Somali household objects, such as headrest or incense burner. Augmented reality was created by combining those digital artifacts with audio recordings and some photographs; which could be explored by participants via VR headset.

Participant in the Nomad project experiencing cultural object via VR headset

The project demonstrates how latest technologies can be used in a creative way to engage the public with library/museum collections. Those interested in a specific culture can now have a fully immersive experience without the necessity to travel to distant places. The project enabled Somali people born in London to connect with their culture and their ancestors’ traditions.

During workshops participants not only explored the virtual reality but also learned about techniques and were demonstrated how to use their phones to produce basic 3D models of their belongings. Photogrammetry technique enables creation of 3D models of objects by taking multiple photographs (from different angles). This technology is cheap and accessible to everybody as most people now own a smartphone with a build-in camera. All that is required for basic photogrammetry is a camera phone and special software. The Nomad project encourages people from the community to get involved and to create their own digital collections of their valuable possessions.

Digitizing collections not only helps preserving them but also makes them more accessible and relevant to everybody.

Photogrammetry rig by Cy-real

Potential project/impact: augmented reality could become part of the learning experience in schools in the near future; e.g. schools provided with VR headsets, history lessons could be enriched, students could explore everyday life of people of ancient Egypt or Rome… it’s all about making it more relevant, meaningful and interesting.

https://nomad-project.co.uk/

https://www.bl.uk/events/looking-forward-looking-back

https://3dscanexpert.com/beginners-guide-3d-scanning-photogramm

Posted in News | Comments Off on Boom! City LIS students feel the impact of a visit to the British Library Symposium

The Visit to the BL Labs Symposium

***Xiaiqin Zhang, Zoi Pegiadou, Luke Buckley and Nicolas Dunn***

The Morning:

After an introduction the first presentation was hosted by Daniel Pett, who talked about ‘Cultural Heritage Digital Collections’ and what could be done with them. One of the points he made that stuck out to me was how difficult it can be to run such an institution, noting that funding and the right recruits is hard to come by. The next main talk covered building the library labs, followed by three quick talks. These seemed to revolve around viewing data and information in different ways, such as in a 3-D environment. We then went to lunch after an award was given out.

The Afternoon:

After lunch there was a brief talk about scholarship programs underway at the British Library, followed by a string of awards given to outstanding individuals. There was a talk about a project called ‘Living with machines’ which seemed interesting as it brought up AI and Robotics as something that could alter the way society functions. Following a short break we listened to a talk about an upcoming art exhibition. It involved using algorithms to create data which can turn into urban maps and 3-D art. The final main talk centred around data in virtual reality called project LUME. This involved exploring data in VR which was further demonstrated in a live test just outside the main symposium hall.

Final thoughts:

Most of the talks simply demonstrated how we could view data and what could be made from data. It’s interesting how, using technology, we can change the way we view data and information. By doing this we can develop better ways of deciding how useful data can be. It specific contexts like a LIS perspective, we can judge how useful and appropriate specific data can be. If viewing data in 3-D was further explored, more historical data could be better analysed for more historical discussion. Alternatively, exploring algorithmic and AI data could improve how we view and use such data in our society. Perhaps said data could be more useful in practical, more creative works rather than simple discussion. Much of it depends on the context and suitability but thinking about how we could view data could change how we interact with aspects of wider society whether it’s for preservation or for putting data into practical use.

Posted in News | Comments Off on The Visit to the BL Labs Symposium

Looking at History Through the Eyes of the Future

***Wanting Wang, Valentina Dine and Valerie Valentine***

The British Labs symposium brought together a vast amount of new ideas and innovations that used the British Library’s digital collections and data to the table. It showed us the applications of learnt theory in a wider context and showcased bigger and better ideas that both havebeen implemented in libraries and beyond in recent years and are yet to befully implemented. Some of these included Digital Scholarships, 3D imaging and Artificial Intelligence. It is certain that an integrated future with these at the forefront will be beneficial and exciting, not only for Library and Information Professionals, but above all for the general public as well.

The value of experimenting in the GLAM sector

Daniel Pett, Head of Digital and IT at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge BL Labs Symposium, 2018

Daniel Pett’s keynote on Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) was one of the many aspects of the symposium that was both interesting and thought provoking.

GLAM is essentially used to describe the cultural heritage sector as a whole and itis based on the concept of memory and history (Dempsy, 2000). Each institution in GLAM has interconnected roles in collecting, curating, preserving and sharing pieces of the community’s cultural heritage to better interpret this information for the public (International Librarians Network, 2015). Lately, GLAM institutions are transforming from physical to virtual as we are now connecting all the knowledge centers on the planet together into a single global network (Friedman, 2005). For example, museums, such as The Fitzwilliam Museum and the National Gallery, are hosting virtual exhibitions and tours. However, all GLAMs, even non-virtual ones, are needed for an informed society as they access and preserve the physical remains of human cultural and biological heritage. Clark et al.(2002).

But GLAM is facing a series of challenges lately ranging from attracting and retaining funding for these institutions, staff retention and recruitment within the GLAM sector to a scarcity of skills amongst current humanities researchers. At the symposium, Daniel Pett discussed these challenges and how to overcome them. It was valuable to learn that digital preservation is becoming a massive issue, especially since many tools that contain cultural memory are now moving towards a fee based assessed system (e.g. Flickr and Google maps) and some, such as Storify, have even completely shut down.

Part of the reason the GLAM sector is facing so much trouble is because users are not that concerned about where they find their information, whether in a library or a museum or an archive as long as they find it. Hedegaard (2003, pp.2). It is clear that the GLAM sector needs to change and the best way to do so is through digital research and development. A great example is Daniel Pett’s work and his development of the British Museum’s 3D capture system whereby viewers can view artifacts online fully withou thaving to restrict viewing to a two-dimensional image. It would be best if the GLAM sector is re-imagined in the near future so that our cultural heritage can be preserved.

How people’s seeking behavior affect the digital collection development

British Library have many projects that show cast their brilliant achievements. We can touch the future by different technologies and have a better understanding of the historical items. As we were born in the era of digital age, more and more things develop with digital technology, creating popular trends that resulted in many libraries developing their own digital libraries. People change their seeking behavior in this digital age; we start to search online, through the flexible use of digital collections, which constitutes to an important reason as to how digital collections develop in such a rapid pace. As Karen Calhoun provides the definition of digital collections, “a frame work for carrying out the functionsof libraries in a new way with new types of information resources” Calhoun(2014 pp.19). People used to read the physical books or articles in the past, but as time changes, people’s demand for information also increases, and the development of digital libraries allows the precious and protected documents to be no longer out of reach.

Jonah Coman, Zines, BL Labs Symposium, 2018

Different kinds of digital collections from the libraries, such as digital archives, records, manuscripts and images were presented. In the BL Labs Symposium 2018, it opens a new picture for us. Sounds, images, information, music, cultural relics can be presented to people in more vivid images. Nowadays, people are starting to use the 3D technologies in order to make those images resemble closer to people. People’s seeking behavior will always change in different environments, digital collections development brings a new type of seeking method as we saw how people’s ability to satisfy their demands. Digital collections can be improved in multiple ways within the technology’s development.

A New User Experience: 3D Imaging

Some of the current inspiring advances in digital technology using the British Library’s digital content were showcased. In “A series of three lightning talks”, some of the latest developments and benefits of 3D imaging were highlighted.

In the first talk “The Elasticsystem (an update)”, Richard Wright, an artist, explained how the British Library’s digital infrastructure is being used not only to find and retrieve information, but also to create works of art. Some collections like the King’s Library Tower display are being made more accessible to the public. Around 4,300 images including manuscripts and mosaics have been digitized and linked to the library collections. These can now be used as a form of physical browsing.

In the talk “Accessible Photogrammetry for the arts, Culture and Heritage Sectors” Donald Cousins CEO of Cyreal Limited promoted Cyreal photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is the science of taking measurements from photographs. The technique used to create the 3D images is quite fascinating. During the break, Donald explained to us briefly how these 3D images are captured; seven standard high-quality cameras are usedt o capture simultaneously thirty images of an object on a turntable. This takes about 2 to 3 minutes. The images are then uploaded to Control software which unites the appropriate pixels to create these high-quality 3D images. The processing time ranges from 1 to 30 hours.

Cyreal Photogrammetry, BL Labs Symposiums, 2018

These images can be put into Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) or made available on the web for research purposes. Cyreal use an accurate, simple system which is scalable. The benefits of using ordinary cameras is that it is cost effective and fully automated making the technology accessible to more libraries. Cyreal Limited would like to develop their systems further and are keen to know users’requirements.

Following along in this theme, in the talk “3D imaging at the British Library” Dr Adi-Keinan-Schoonbaert, Digital Curator for Asian and African collections highlighted how 3D imaging is being explored in the British Library. She explained how photogrammetry is being used to produce 3D images by the overlapping of images, whereas before Photo scam was previously used.

Some of the benefits of using 3D images were stressed; images are produced more quickly in house, they are embedded in the online content and are available for download. Once the models are ready they are uploaded to Sketchfab where they can be viewed in 3D worldwide, thus it allows for some of the more diverse collections to be made more accessible. Some items scanned and digitized include pre-19th manuscripts, figurines, leathers, fabrics and Jane Austen portable writing desk. In addition, the 3D images can be used in many ways; in Blogs, gaming, socialmedia, 3D printing, exhibitions, tours and for conservation. It is a way of bringing analogue and digital content together and a new way of creating. As Phelps and Keinan-Schoonbaert (2016) stated that the “models provide website visitors (and visitors to galleries) a view of objects as a whole, giving a tactile feel to items which are generally untouchable.” When one thinks of the large amount of collections contained in The Palace Museum in China alone, the potential for 3D imaging to make artifacts more accessible seems amazing.

References:

British Library (2018) Sketchfab, Available at: https://sketchfab.com/britishlibrary (Accessed: 29 November 2018)

British Library, Collection guides: The King’s Library, Available at: https://www.bl.uk/collection-guides/the-kings-library (Accessed: 25 November 2018)

Calhoun, Karen (2014) Exploring Digital Libraries: foundations, practice, prospects. London: Facet Publishing.

Clark,J. T., Slator, B. M., Perrizo, W., Landrum, J. E., Frovarp, R., Bergstrom, A.,Ramaswamy, S., and Jockcheck, W. (2002). Digital archive network for anthropology. Journal of Digital Information, 2(4), [Online] Available at: https://journals.tdl.org/jodi/index.php/jodi/article/view/50/53

Cyreal, ARevolutionary Photogrammetry Platform for the Cultural and Heritage Sectors, Available at: https://www.Cyreal.com (Accessed: 25 November 2018)

Dempsey L (2000). Scientific, industrial, and cultural heritage. A shared approach: A research framework fordigital libraries, museums and archives. Issue 22, 1999.

Friedman,T. L. (2005). The world is flat: A brief history of the globalized world in the 21st century. London: Penguin Group.

Hedegaard,R. (2003). Benefits of archives, libraries and museums working together pp.2 [Online] Available at: http://www.ifla.org/IV/ifla69/papers/051e-Hedegaard.pdf (Accessed: 22 November 2018)

InternationalLibrarians Network (2015). Discussion Topic: GLAM – Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. [Online]Available at: https://interlibnet.org/2015/05/25/discussion-topic-glam-galleries-libraries-archives-museums/ (Accessed: 23 November 2018)

Phelps and Keinan-Schoonbaert(2016) The Digital Life of a Hebrew Manuscript. [Online] Availableat: https://www.bl.uk/hebrew-manuscripts/articles/the-digital-life-of-a-hebrew-manuscript (Accessed: 25 November 2018)

The Palace Museum. Available at: https://en.dpm.org.cn/ (Accessed: 25 November 2018)

Posted in News | Comments Off on Looking at History Through the Eyes of the Future

Thoughts on the BL Digital Labs Symposium

***Sarah Feehan, Stephanie Mcmullan, Susanne Trokhymenko and Tim Darach***

“The British Library Labs (BL Labs) Symposium showcases innovative projects that use the British Library’s digital content and data, and provides a platform for development, networking and debate in the Digital Scholarship field.”

(Programme for the Sixth British Library Labs Symposium, 2018)

Stephanie McMullan:

All too often we think of data as lifeless and uncreative. Reams of numbers, words and images being collected and flashing in front of us quickly and momentarily, being used to generate statistics and graphs to reflect on what has happened in the past.
However, as I left the BL Digital Labs Symposium three weeks ago I was struck by the creative purposes data was being used for; data is bringing new things to life. I found this most striking in the “Imaginary Cities” project by Michael Takeo Magruder. Magruder is using the British Library’s collection of historic urban maps on Flickr to create artistic, fictional cityscapes for modern audiences. The images will constantly change over time and using 3D technology, these cities will become accessible to the public through VR headsets for audiences to explore.

As we discussed in CityLIS week 6, information is needed for creativity and innovation. By making available digitised images from the British Library’s collections the BL has shown how the information libraries provide can be disseminated in new ways and be used to inspire new generations of artists, researchers and scholars. The BL Labs Symposium showed us this again and again.

Sarah Feehan:

The symposium showcased the seemingly limitless uses for digitised content from the British Library Labs. The four awards – comprising the categories Research, Artistic, Commercial and Teaching & Learning – gave the audience a fascinating insight into what I’m sure is just the tip of the iceberg.

The winner of the Teaching & Learning award was Jonah Coman with their Pocket Miscellanies: a collection of miniature zines which each provide a short lesson on a different aspect of Medieval visual culture, primarily featuring marginalised bodies that are so often missing from the historical mainstream media. The zines use images from the British Library Labs Medieval digital collection, which Jonah has permission to reproduce and make publicly available online as part of a free resource. However, the copyright of the images does not allow for them to be sold – so Jonah, an artist, has instead set up a Patreon so that this work can be supported, but without infringing on copyright law which prohibits the sale of the zines.

This is an area we touched upon in our morning session with Dr. Jane Secker in week 8, and which we will no doubt be revisiting soon as it is imperative information scientists and librarians understand it fully.

Susanne Trokhymenko:

I believe the purpose of knowledge is to create meaning in our lives, and true meaning can only be achieved if something is passed on to others to enrich and benefit their lives. A product, in this case the digital content and data of the British Library, is truly meaningful when it keeps on giving.

At the British Library Symposium, not only was I amazed at the winners of the awards but at the whole range of finalists. The use of the digital content available has been such a source of inspiration for many. From research awards demonstrating the development of new knowledge to artistic awards, and from commercial to teaching and learning awards exhibiting the creation of quality learning experiences, it was truly remarkable to see the innovation and use of the BL content for sharing the knowledge and cascading it further afield.

From collections being used for a fashion show – designer Nabil Nayal researched his PhD in Elizabethan Dress – to Jonah Coman’s zines (see above), the awards celebrate and recognise creativity, and encourage international collaboration (Pocahontas and after) with effective and exciting research and activities which enhance the Library’s digital content. All in all: Go BL! Can’t wait for next year…

Tim Darach:

During Daniel Pett’s talk at the BL symposium I was struck by how unreal the 3D objects looked up on the screen, floating phantasmal as if waiting to be picked up in a computer game.

I was expecting something more realistic, after all they were made from photographs! But at that point I didn’t understand what these 3D objects were or how they are made.

During the break I put on a VR headset and tried to walk around a lion – nearly knocking over an expensive looking camera in the process.

What I’d experienced was actually a model – based on measurements derived from photographs (photogrammetry) – with colours and textures copied from the photos stretched over the top of it, bulging ever so slightly like a stuffed animal in a museum. These 3D models are an interpretation – like archeological line drawings – except they are generated algorithmically rather than with a human eye. (The person producing the drawing has to decide where the boundaries are – where one feature ends and another begins – whereas for the 3D model this is done mathematically.)

Wireframe detail from a PhotoScanPro 3D model of Roman bust in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

The idea of copies allowing an enhanced experience is not new, see for example the plaster casts that populate the Victoria and Albert museum’s sculpture gallery and other 19th century institutions:

“In the mid nineteenth century new casting techniques allowed for the production of huge architectural fragments. Well-selected collections could ideally display perfect series in galleries in which the visitor could wander among monuments and experience architecture history on full scale”

(Lending, 2015)

Although in this case the physical properties of the materials used to make the cast and the model mostly defined the outcome.

Viewing these 3D models on a screen or through a headset enhances the isolation of the artefact – that they can be objectified, can be seen on their own out of narrative context. We have been trained to accept the surreal juxtapositions of objects in museums and other cultural institutions, so in a way 3D modelling is another facet of that process.
The interposition of explanatory text and curatorial order is supposed to mitigate this surreality – or even disguise or rationalise how the artefacts came to be on display in a grand building. (Further complicated by our tendency to think we are looking at something authentic, whereas the provenance of many artefacts is in tension with this notion: such as restorations; reconstructions; fakes; copies made by the original craftsmen for collectors; authorised copies; versions made specifically for museums but left incomplete for cultural reasons…)

I wanted to learn more about the modelling process so I went to the Fitzwilliam Museum Photogrammetry workshop last week and there Daniel Pett taught us how to use modelling software to make 3D models from artefacts we photographed in the museum:

Click on the image above to view a 3D model of a stone head from the Fitzwilliam Museum.

If you swivel the model around you will see there is a hole in the top – you can look inside at the back of its face – I like this flaw; it is a reminder that you aren’t looking at reality.

References:

Programme for the Sixth British Library Labs Symposium. (2018). [ebook] p.1. Available at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FZ6pLSDSe4Kc8VQP_8Hhlmuc-4usXxhK/view [Accessed 2 Dec. 2018].

Lending, M., 2015. Promenade Among Words and Things: The Gallery as Catalogue, the Catalogue as Gallery. Architectural Histories 3, np-np. https://doi.org/10.5334/ah.da

Posted in News | Comments Off on Thoughts on the BL Digital Labs Symposium