Reach 06 - Digitising Cultural Resources

Digital | Didseatach

Many museums now use Twitter and/or YouTube videos to promote their latest exhibition, and offer special apps and online content to go alongside them. It is commonplace to see an iPad or equivalent in front of a display giving the visitor extra information. Cultural organisations are also providing online access to their collections catalogues usually through their websites. But how do these digital resources change the way people learn from and engage with the objects and the organisations themselves?

A new network, funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and co-ordinated by Dr Maria Economou, wants to find out by drawing on past experiences of digital cultural resources and their evaluation. The Scottish Network on Digital Cultural Resources Evaluation brings together experts and methodologies from museology, computing science, the digital humanities and the social sciences, and the aim is understand how these resources are being used, how effective they are and to find the optimum solution for Kelvin Hall in Glasgow.

Kelvin Hall will be a multi-use space shared by Glasgow Life, The Hunterian (University of Glasgow) and the Scottish Screen Archive (National Library of Scotland), and it is due to open in 2016. These three institutions are also the cultural partners that make up the Network (together with the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Computer and Information Sciences), and through this collaboration it is also possible to engage with the range of users and audiences they have.

As Dr Economou points out, there are lots of resources being created in the cultural sector, and creating them is very time and people intensive. Despite this, “we still know surprisingly little about how they’re being used and by whom.” For example, when an institution shares an image on Facebook or Twitter, or on their website, and it is downloaded – what happens then? How do people use these resources, and how does that affect their understanding of heritage in the collections of these institutions? To answer these questions, it is very important to evaluate the resources that are being produced and to study how different users interact with them.

In order to gather and to quantify knowledge about the use of digital resources, the network will hold a series of workshops, a Knowledge Exchange forum for cultural heritage professionals, an international symposium and a public open day at Kelvin Hall when the digital resources are in place.

The first workshop, 20th May, will bring together representatives from organisations such as the Museums Galleries Scotland, University Museums of Scotland, and the Scottish Cultural Resources Network (SCRAN) to assess the success of approaches taken in Scotland in recent years. To find out more about this workshop, contact Dr Economou on



If you wish to find out more about this article or about how you can progress your ideas (i) as an academic wishing to engage with a non-academic organisation or (ii) as a non-academic organisation interested in engaging with the academic knowledge base, please email the College of Arts KE Team.


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