Junk and Justice

This post is written by Jack Gleeson, Special Collections Assistant, who is currently working on the Eric Mottram collection.

Presented to King’s College by his siblings in 1996, and now held in the Foyle Special Collections Library, the library of Professor Eric Mottram (1924-95) is a wide-ranging and varied collection, reflective of an academic with diverse tastes and scholarly interests.

Professor Mottram spent much of his life teaching both English Literature and American Studies, lecturing in numerous places throughout the United States and the world, and holding the position of Professor of English and American Literature at King’s from 1982 to 1990. As a result, a significant portion of his extensive collection is devoted to American novels and poetry, and, in particular, poetry from the Beat scene.

junkieIn the 1960s, Mottram met and corresponded with a number of figures in underground literary movements, and at the close of the decade he befriended and spoke with key Beat personage William S Burroughs, who was living in London at the time.

Burroughs was of particular interest to Mottram, who around this time wrote The algebra of need, one of the first critical works to look at Burroughs’s output up to that point. This piece was initially published in Intrepid magazine’s special Burroughs issue of 1969-70, which was edited by Mottram, and then later as a monograph in 1971.

With this background and context in mind, Mottram naturally amassed a large number of books by Burroughs, and in cataloguing the collection we have so far come across signed copies of his later works Cities of the red night (1981) and The western lands (1987). Most captivating as a piece of literary and social history, however, is a first edition of Burroughs’s first published novel, Junkie (1953).

narcoticLater retitled Junky by Penguin in 1977, though even today never published under Burroughs’s intended title, Junk, the first edition of Junkie was put onto drugstore shelves under the pseudonym ‘William Lee,’ and was published as an Ace Double Book, bound together with the previous decade’s Narcotic agent by Maurice Helbrant, the ‘gripping true adventures of a T-man’s war against the dope menace’.

Chiefly autobiographical in nature, a work entitled Junkie was unsurprisingly full of references to opiate use and drug dealing, not to mention ‘alcohol depression,’ ‘crustacean horror’ and ‘junk sickness’; and additionally delved into pickpocketing, and homosexual relationships between Burroughs and others.

Tethered by the much stricter social mores of the 1950s, Ace Books set to work editing and censoring Burroughs’s manuscript, going so far as to insert a number of editorial notes, intended to protect themselves from legal liability for, or moral association with, the writer’s statements that they did not cut out.

These notes are inset throughout the text to rescue the reader from the world of drugs, asserting that Burroughs’s declarations that ‘Sex is more enjoyable under the influence of weed’ and that ‘Weed is positively not habit-forming’ (p. 33) are ‘contradicted by recognized medical authority’ (p. 34). Solomon and Ace Books likewise distance themselves from Burroughs’s disparaging comments about the United States justice system later in the book.

While a number of Burroughs’s remarks about junk and justice were included but accompanied by disclaimers, references to the author’s homosexuality were removed entirely from this first edition, and entire paragraphs and pages detailing relationships between Burroughs and other men were not seen until Penguin restored the complete manuscript in 1977. Further text, taken from letters written to Allen Ginsberg, was reinstated by scholar Oliver Harris for Penguin’s 2003 edition of Junky.

Carl Solomon, a friend of Allen Ginsberg, and nephew of AA Wyn, the founder of Ace Books, assured the readers in his publisher’s note that the text was published purely with noble intent: to ‘forearm the public’ against the ‘drug menace’ and to ‘discourage imitation.’

This seemingly honourable resolve and the social mores of the period did not however stop the publisher from unleashing the book with a lurid, attention-grabbing image on the cover, along with a vivid subtitle: Confessions of an unredeemed drug addict, both of which seem to capitalise on the plight of individuals suffering from drug addiction, and appear unambiguously aimed at a thrill-seeking reader base. It is worth noting that nothing quite as melodramatic as the scene depicted in the cover illustration actually happens in the novel.

The Junkie of this double books edition is a revealing item: we are now able to look back at the Ace Books censored novel, featured in this article, with the 2003 edition of Junkie in hand, and know exactly what was removed.

We can witness the trajectory of Burroughs from the author of a throwaway subway paperback, advertised with the slogan, ‘TWO BOOKS IN ONE – 35c,’ to heavily-studied, hugely influential novelist and writer, whose personal life, far from having entire components cut out of texts by publishers, has been thoroughly exposed and explored through countless biographies and collections of letters.

Both of the eye-catching covers of this double book edition are shown here, courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Special Collections staff continue to sort and catalogue the Eric Mottram collection and are happy to answer enquiries on this or other areas of the collection.

Bibliography and references:

Jed Birmingham, ‘Eric Mottram and The Algebra of Need,’ RealityStudio, [http://realitystudio.org/bibliographic-bunker/my-own-mag/the-my-own-mag-community/eric-mottram-and-the-algebra-of-need/, accessed June 21, 2017]

William S Burroughs, Junkie (New York: Ace Books, 1953)

William S Burroughs, Junky: the definitive text of ‘Junk’ (London: Penguin Books, 2003)

William S Burroughs. Rub out the words: the letters of William S Burroughs, 1959-1974 (London: Penguin Books, 2012)

Maurice Helbrant, Narcotic Agent (New York: Ace Books, 1953)

Barry Miles, William S Burroughs: a life (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015), 491

Peace, Love and World War: the Denmans, Empire and Australia, 1910-1917

This blog post is posted on behalf of Shane Breynard, Director, Canberra Museum and Gallery.

Peace, Love and World War: The Denmans, Empire and Australia, 1910-1917 a travelling exhibition from Canberra Museum and Gallery is being shown in the Weston Room at the Maughan Library, King’s College London, from Monday 3 July until Monday 25 September 2017.

Further details on visiting the exhibition are available here.

Governor General's group, 1911

Shane Breynard writes:

In June 1911, a British family of four commenced the long sea journey from England to Australia. The two children, six-year-old Thomas and four-year-old Judith, travelled with their chaperones via the Cape of Good Hope. Their parents Lord (Thomas) Denman and Lady (Gertrude) Denman took a different and more direct route. Accompanied by their own sizeable retinue, they embarked from Marseille and took the searingly hot journey through the Suez Canal and Red Sea.

Tom and Trudie landed in Melbourne in late July 1911 and were driven in an open-topped carriage from St Kilda Pier to Parliament House. The children were still at sea.

One can only imagine the trepidation and excitement that this family felt during their ‘split-in-two’ journey across the world. After a spectacularly productive two years, an exhausted Trudie would return to Britain in 1913. Tom was back home, prior to completing his post, a year later in 1914.

Australia’s fifth Governor-General and his wife had arrived at a critical time for the recently-federated Australia. National projects were underway in transport, industry, defence and trade and the country was also starting to develop its own cultural identity. Now emerging from its role as a British colony, it was looking outward to gain more independence on the world stage. But, alongside this growing wealth and optimism, looking back, we also see the irony of the country’s crushing discrimination against Aboriginal Australians in this period. Recognition of this sad story, in the same frame as the happier one of the Denmans’ contributions, was to come much later in the history of Australia and its capital.

The Denmans were far from being an aloof couple. They enjoyed great popular support while in Australia. Trudie contributed substantially to the success of Australian bush nursing and significantly to the National Council of Women. Lord Denman strongly supported the development of Australia’s defence forces and would become a lifelong advocate for Australia on his return to Britain.

Canberra Museum and Gallery’s fascinating exhibition, Peace, Love and World War: The Denmans, 1910-1917, Empire and Australia, explores both the Denmans’ time in Australia and the period of their immediate return to Britain as it faced the prospect of world war.

But it is for their role in the official naming of Canberra that the Denmans have come to particular prominence in the Australian story. The official ceremony took place on Capital Hill on 12 March 1913 at the laying of the foundation stones of Canberra’s commencement column.

One hundred years later, in 2013, a highlight of Canberra’s centenary year was a toast to this earlier ceremony. It was preceded by reflections from cherished Aboriginal Elder Aunty Agnes Shea, from Prime Minister Julia Gillard, from ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and from Governor-General Quentin Bryce. This conjunction of four of the nation’s most influential women as they reflected on our centenary, contributed of course to a highly resonant event.

It not only celebrated the progress of Australian women over one hundred years, a story which Trudie herself would have greatly relished, but it also recognised the importance of Aboriginal Australians in our nation. On our centenary occasion, Aunty Agnes Shea asked those present to imagine the difference if, one hundred years ago, we had possessed the understanding we now have of the traditional owners of Australia, and of their connection to this ancient land.

Importantly the event also presented a powerful echo-through-time. As a part of that distant ceremony in 1913 Trudie had the role of reading aloud, for the first time and to great applause, the official name of the new capital. Her strong and elegant articulation of ‘Canberra’ was henceforth adopted as the official pronunciation. Governor General Bryce, on repeating the word ‘Canberra’ with equal resonance 100 years later, explained her understanding of the word as ‘…a hybrid… which connects both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal sources’. She claimed it as ‘a name rooted in traditions – of the land and of local communities’.

I encourage you to reflect on the idea of the ‘hybrid’ as you explore this wonderful exhibition, whether you visit it on site or online. We may come to share an important modern insight as we ask ourselves whether both national identity and personal identity are not both fundamentally hybrid at their core.

Though the Denmans’ stay in Australia was but a short slice of a lifetime, their individual contribution shaped Australia’s national identity as much as their individual experiences of Australia must have shaped them personally. Their influence contributed to the way in which the British people would view Australia in the following period.

Shane Breynard Director, Canberra Museum and Gallery

Canberra Museum and Gallery is grateful to the many contributors to the exhibition: curator, Dr David Headon; the passionate and professional staff of King’s College London, particularly Katie Sambrook of The Maughan Library; the many institutional and private lenders; His Excellency the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Alexander Downer AC for opening the exhibition in London; Her Excellency the British High Commissioner to Australia, Ms Menna Rawlings CMG for opening the exhibition in Canberra; and sponsors King O’Malley’s, and Denman Prospect – a part of Capital Estate Developments.

The image shown in this article is entitled the: ‘Governor-General’s Group’ and was
photographed at Government House (Melbourne) on the day of arrival, 31 July 1911. Lord and Lady Denman are seated front / middle; Lady Gladys Barttelot, Lady Denman’s Lady-in-Waiting, seated left; and Major Arnold Quilter, Lord Denman’s Military Secretary, standing left.

(The Lady Barttelot album, courtesy Lady Margot Burrell)

MA internship in Special Collections

This post is made on behalf of James Hatherill. James is undertaking an MA in Modern History at King’s and as part of his course is taking the optional internship module. For this element of the course he is based in the Foyle Special Collections Library where the research project designed for him involved:

  • Transcribing a 19th century manuscript report by William Young (1749-1815), Governor of Tobago and MP. The report was a plea to the British government to bring stability and prosperity to the island of Tobago and consolidate British possession of the island. A link to the catalogue record for the item James has been working on is available here: An essay on the commercial and political importance of ye island of Tabago, 1810
  • Assisting in the digitisation of the item for display in an online exhibition; and assisting with the online curatorial process
  • Researching the context of the report by using the holdings of the Foyle Special Collections Library, (including the historical library collection of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office); and undertaking a trip to the National Archives to discover any evidence of an official response to the report
  • Writing an introductory essay and a blog post on the work

The internship runs from January to April 2017 and involves 100 hours of primary research. James writes:

James Read RoomI have found my time in the Foyle Special Collections a rewarding and intellectually stimulating experience. The subject of my research has given me a new perspective on a part of the world I did not previously know much about, and also an insight into the workings of the British Empire and its presence on the world stage.

I was able to consult contemporary documents and maps of the area, and even follow up some research at the National Archives. I found the digitisation process interesting and rewarding in the knowledge that the document I was working on would be preserved in a digital format.

Academia, like much of the world, has been completely changed by new technology and the information age. The benefits are quite immediately apparent in the discipline of history: access to primary sources previously made difficult through geographical circumstances can be more easily obtained. Similarly for secondary sources, websites like JSTOR can allow you to search countless articles from any journal relating to any subject which you may be researching. As a result, my studying of history has involved quite a lot of digital interface.

This has perhaps led to my experience at the Foyle Special Collections Library being quite a novel one as I have never worked quite so intimately with 18th and 19th century documents before. There is a larger debate surrounding digital vs. analogue in the background here, but that is for another day.

I am by no means a Luddite and completely enjoy the benefits of this age, but coming here and working in the collections has reminded me of the reason why history can be so encapsulating. To be connected to a person from the past through the paper with which they put their pen to and made a mark. That, along with the pleasure of working with the staff at the collections, has been the most enjoyable aspect of the internship.

An extract of my research into the work is reproduced below.

The development of Tobago

tob002The island of Tobago has a history of political instability unlike that of any other Caribbean island during the 17th and 18th centuries. Tobago was in a ‘State of Betweenity’ as stated by Eric Williams. This is in reference to the relentless claims of various European powers to their colonial rights to the island, namely France, Britain and the Netherlands. In addition to this, buccaneers and marauders made sailing through this part of the Caribbean at the time a dangerous affair.

Young’s Report

By the beginning of the 19th century, we have an island which is wrestling with its history and legacy. Sir William Young, 2nd Baronet (1749-1815) became Governor of the island of Tobago in 1807. He began to comprehensively assess the island’s viability as a suitable focus for expansion, an assessment which eventually culminated in this manuscript.

In the transcription I undertook I have not edited the text in any way. I have included any misspellings, punctuation or grammar mistakes which Young may have made. In some cases, these may just have been conventions of the 19th century such as the frequency of Tobago being written ‘Tabago.’

Young’s report to the British colonial government was in essence a plea to try and bring stability and prosperity to the island. He quite rightly points out in his report that instability does not encourage investment. The reputation Tobago had found itself with ultimately meant few merchants were willing to station themselves on the island. Young heavily plays up the mercantile spirit of the British and in a fairly typical attitude of the time, champions these as virtues of the British Empire which would benefit all.

International rivalry

There is also the unavoidable, and repeatedly referenced war with Napoleon’s France in the background during the period – France being at this time, of course, a rival colonial power as well as a frequent belligerent. Young constantly reminds the reader of the importance of securing against French interests in the area as a matter of national interest. Young’s ultimate conclusion to his report was that the French were planning to increase their presence on the island before it was handed back to British hands, and that this intention was something that Britain should also take an interest in.

tob004To Young, Tobago was an island of unrealised potential – there were various reasons why it should have been one of the British Empire’s most significant colonial possessions.

Many of his arguments are compelling. However, either the island’s unstable reputation, or pure misfortune, would never see it become a true mercantile capital. While the Colonial Office decided his report worth keeping for preservation, there is no record of a reply from the government concerning this report.

Bibliography.

EI Carlyle, ‘Young, Sir William, second baronet (1749–1815)’, rev. Richard B. Sheridan, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/30284, accessed 7 March 2017]

Bryan Edwards, The history, civil and commercial, of the British colonies in the West Indies, London, John Stockdale, 1807

Tabago, or, A geographical description, natural and civil history. London: printed for W Reeves, 1759

Eric Williams. History of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Port of Spain, PNM Publishing, 1962

Sir William Young. The West-India common-place book. London, Richard Phillips, 1807

Open source archive software

I co-organised a workshop in early December at The National Archives (TNA) on ATOM and Archivematica software, along with TNA’s Higher Education Archive Programme  and Artefactual Systems, the Canadian development company which supports both these applications.

The workshop was attended by around 40 archivists and records managers from around the UK, including existing or prospective users of the systems and those simply interested in learning more.

ATOM’s development was supported by the ICA and it is used across the world to manage and publish descriptions of archives. Archivematica manages digital preservation workflows for digitised and born digital content.

Key questions/points that inspired the day included:

  • Examples of the real application of Archivematica – how difficult is it to customise and how easy is it to use?
  • Do regional consortia offer the best opportunity for the application of digital preservation?
  • How can data on other systems such as CALM be imported into ATOM?
  • How is training best delivered?
  • How will these open source systems be best supported given the limitations of institutional IT?

 

The day began with an introduction and overview of both systems from Artefactual’s Justin Simpson and Dan Gillean. Their slides are available here.

There were then a series of five/ten minute presentations from invited speakers. Gary Tuson, County Archivist at Norfolk Record Office (NRO), spoke eloquently about the Eastern Region Archivematica trial that saw a number of archives in that Region, led by NRO, use Archivematica for digital preservation. He offered real encouragement that a regional model might help, although it was only a small-scale trial. Archivematica, unlike ATOM, is not available with multi-tenanted functionality. This places some limitations on the creation of a genuinely collaborative initiative and more work needs to be done to assess the viability of consortia – perhaps involving trials in other regions such as London.

Lindsay Ould, Borough Archivist at Croydon, described her experience of migrating elderly CALM data into a new instance of ATOM. Their existing CALM system was used by Archives, Museums and Local Studies, meaning that the style and structure of data was very diverse and often unclean and out of date. More than 1000 collection and accession records were migrated to a new hosted version of ATOM. Lindsay described working with an external developer to cleanse the data and she pointed out that this took up a disproportionate amount of time. Lastly, she spoke about developing a simple search interface and future plans to also make museum descriptions visible.

David Cordery, of Max Communications, was next up and spoke about the challenges of migrating data into ATOM, similar to those which Lindsay had experienced. He stressed the usability and intuitive controls provided by ATOM, but also the ability for users to customise the front end delivery of archive data and that the system is especially useful when managing images. Max provides a service to extract, clean and re-publish data in new ATOM instances and offers ongoing support.

Jenny Mitcham of York spoke next on the use of Archivematica to manage research data – a proof of concept joint venture between the Universities of Hull and York, The National Archives and JISC. Research data management is a big challenge for universities, as it is a requirement of the Research Councils that such data, for example generated by scientific research, be preserved and managed for a time. Jenny highlighted the concept of ‘parsimonious preservation’ coined by Tim Gollins of The National Archives – essentially doing ‘just enough’ to capture the right information in digital preservation, and avoiding unnecessary processes. Jenny listed a number of pros and cons of using Archivematica, including its versatility, flexibility and ability to integrate with other systems, versus its fiddly processes, unsophisticated user interface and the need to train staff to use it. This impressive project is now hoping to move to a production phase and bring on board the Borthwick Institute and integrate Archivematica more fully with ATOM. Much more information can be found on the project website and digital archiving blog.

Ed Pinsent of the Digital Preservation Training Programme at ULCC, is working with Artefactual to develop more mature training in the use of the two systems. He revealed the results of a survey of the digital preservation community in 2015, which highlighted the need for practical (and less theoretical) hands-on training, especially using real tools. ULCC will be working closely with Artefactual on UK Archivematica training in 2017. Learn more about the work of ULCC’s DP training here.

The second half of the workshop focused on hands-on sessions using the two systems and work-sheets provided by Artefactual. This gave the opportunity for attendees, working in groups, to import, manage and manipulate test data and gain a better understanding of what the systems have to offer. Test instances were set up, enabling attendees and those not present to explore the systems from their workplaces.

More information about Archivematica can be found here; and on ATOM, a series of YouTube tutorials here.

Overall, this was a very useful workshop, not least in bringing together a diverse collection of archivists and records managers from higher education, local authorities and other sectors, and others such as representatives of Arkivum, the DP specialists. It is hoped that an ATOM user group will be founded as a consequence of the workshop, to complement a thriving Archivematica group.

I would like to thank The National Archives for hosting and helping to organise the day, and Artefactual for their assistance throughout the day and since.

 

 

Provenance and the historical medical collections

st-thoms-booksThe medical books, pamphlets and periodicals held in the Foyle Special Collections Library reflect the rich tradition of medical teaching and research across King’s Health Partners. Many of these items have significant provenances relating to medical figures who have worked for, or been connected with King’s.

In this article, Brandon High, Special Collections Officer discusses some of these that he has noted in his recent cataloguing.

A 1716 treatise on the eye, written in Latin and entitled Tractatus de circulari humorum motum in oculis, is part of the St. Thomas’s Historical Collection and bears the inscription of the physician and popular versifier Nathaniel Cotton (1705-88). His principal claim to fame is that he looked after the poet William Cowper (1731-1800) for two years in his private asylum during one of Cowper’s bouts of mental illness. Cotton’s treatment was apparently successful, as the regime in his asylum was humane, unlike the practices of some of the more notorious privately-owned ‘madhouses’ of that era. There are four other books in the historical medical collections with Cotton’s bookplate or inscription.

Other provenances in the historical medical collections with literary connections include the collection of books with the inscription of the St. Thomas’s surgeon and King’s professor of surgery Joseph Henry Green (1791-1863). Green was a close friend of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and was his amanuensis for several of his prose works. Joseph Henry Green’s ideas on the role of medical practitioners in society paralleled those of Coleridge on intellectuals, and both agreed on the importance for social and political order of higher education institutions (like King’s) with strong connections to the Anglican Church.

GH Savage bookplateA number of books which bear the bookplate of the psychiatrist George Henry Savage (1842-1921) are now in the Institute of Psychiatry Historical Collection at the Foyle Special Collections Library. Savage was one of Virginia Woolf’s doctors during her frequent periods of mental distress, and was very unfavourably portrayed as the psychiatrist Sir William Bradshaw in her landmark modernist novel Mrs. Dalloway (1925), who lamentably fails in his duty of care for Septimus Warren Smith, a veteran of the First World War.

The St. Thomas’s Historical Collection also includes a limited edition copy of W. Somerset Maugham’s first novel, Liza of Lambeth (1897), published to mark the fiftieth anniversary of its first publication. This novel is heavily based on Maugham’s experiences as a St. Thomas’s medical student, caring for pregnant women. He qualified as a medical practitioner, but never practised.

All these provenances can be searched on the King’s Library catalogue using the drop down menu and selecting the ‘Former owners, Provenance’ search option, and typing the name of the relevant person

You can also read detailed guides to the medical collections and other Special Collections on the ‘About our collections‘ webpage.

Chapbooks: Fleet Street time travellers

lane-at-back-of-Fleet-StI would love to have wandered around Fleet Street and this area of London’s alleyways and lanes before the banking corporations supplanted the newspaper offices and severed the unbroken link to the area’s printing history that had stretched back so many years.

In the back streets of this historic centre of the British book trade, at addresses like Shoe Lane, Bow Church Yard and Red Lion Court, all a stone’s throw from the Maughan Library, small volumes of stories and fables and tales known as chapbooks were once printed – their geographical provenance enduringly visible through imprints like: Printed and sold at the London and Middlesex Printing Office, no. 81, Shoe Lane, Holborn.

ac_tpIn my current cataloguing project I have been adding these little, well-thumbed volumes to the Special Collections catalogue.

The chapbooks I have been working on were printed and produced in the later 18th century, though versions of chapbooks existed from the 17th to the 19th century. These were usually produced on hand operated printing presses in small industrial units, with family members sometimes employed at the stages of production. Chapbooks were normally printed on one single sheet of paper and then folded into 8, 12, 16 or 24 pages. They would usually have been sold unbound and held together by a simple sewing.

When you walk through the narrow, high-walled alleyways around Fleet Street, Holborn Circus and St Paul’s (as I do often on my lunch breaks) it is not difficult to imagine the printers, workshop assistants, agents and delivery boys scurrying through the streets in pursuit of their occupation and living.

As easy as it is to imagine these scenes of production, it is also no stretch of the imagination to imagine the itinerant ‘chapmen’, from whom the books take their name, bargaining with printers and agents, buying chapbooks wholesale, and then heading out of town with them tucked inside their bags, ready to sell to country folk at fairs and festivals. The soubriquet ‘chapmen’ derives from an Old English word meaning ‘dealer’ or ‘seller’.

rh_tpAs literacy levels grew in the 18th and 19th centuries, the desire for these affordable, pithy tales also grew, and the stories that I have been working on include recognisable derivatives of the literary canon:

The travels and adventures of Capt. Lemuel Gulliver (abridged to a concise 24 pages)
A true tale of Robin Hood (true being an oft used word in titles, not always reflecting the veracity of the content)
The sleeping beauty in the wood

The tales are usually adorned with charming (and sometimes suggestive) woodcut illustrations. This was a cheap and durable method of illustration: woodcuts can be used for long periods and passed from one printer to another and, as Ruth Richardson says in her excellent British Library article on chapbooks, in the more expensive editions, children were sometimes employed to colour these woodcut illustrations.

penny-histories-spineThe chapbooks I have been working on were bound together in the 20th century by an independent firm on behalf of the Library. Each bound volume contains perhaps 10 or 15 of these wonderful tales on cheaply produced paper, that has evidently been thumbed through by readers of London or the country, and perhaps read aloud around a homestead fire as a bedtime treat for the family.

I like these books because I can sense the mechanics of their production in the streets where I work. In the Foyle Special Collections Library we hold examples of works from the infancy of printing (known as incunabula) to the present day, with grand editions, illustrations and provenance marking many out as significant, unique and of immense value to researchers and historians. These chapbooks have their special place in the collection, and there is something wonderful about the mass appeal that they offered, with their eclectic subject content covering heroic tales, ghost stories, battle and adventure and news and politics.

Their popularity is attested to by the well-thumbed pages, and also by the sparsity of detail on some of the imprints. This lack of detail in an imprint like ‘Printed and sold in London’ suggests that some printers may have been none-too-keen to display that they themselves had also ‘cashed in’ on the popularity of a certain tale, with their anonymity ensuring the pirated edition would not be traced back to them.

I have been reporting these editions to the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) to ensure they are accessible to researchers worldwide; and of course if anyone would like to have a look at these wonderful little volumes, they are welcome to consult them in the Foyle Special Collections Library.

Select Bibliography

The Bibliographical Society. Chapbooks Working Group.[http://www.bibsoc.org.uk/about/committees/chapbooks] Accessed 20 July 2016

EDPOP. ‘The European dimensions of popular print culture’. [http://edpop.wp.hum.uu.nl/] Accessed 20 July 2016

The National Art Library Chapbooks Collection [http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/n/national-art-library-chapbooks-collection/] Accessed 20 July 2016

Victor E Neuburg. Chapbooks: a guide to reference material on English, Scottish and American chapbook literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. London:  Woburn Press, [1972]. Foyle Special Collections [Special Collections Ref.]  Z6514.P7 NEU

Ruth Richardson. ‘Chapbooks’. [http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/chapbooks], accessed 15 July 2016

Andrew White Tuer. Pages and pictures from forgotten children’s books. London: The Leadenhall Press, 1898-1899. Foyle Special Collections  [Miscellaneous] PR91 TUE

Medical collections news

The Foyle Special Collections Library holds King’s College London’s and its affiliated institutions’ historical medical collections and we wanted to let Library customers, researchers and colleagues know about recent work we have been doing with them. Promotion and access to the collections is important, as they reflect King’s long and continuing history of medical teaching and research.

UK Medical Heritage Library project

Over the past year we have been participating in the UK Medical Heritage Library project. This Jisc funded project, administered by the Wellcome Trust, has seen 15 million pages from UK institutions’ 19th and early 20th century medical collections digitised for research purposes.

iopfirstcrateOur work has involved identifying, packing and sending 2,000 items to the Wellcome Trust to be digitised and made freely available online, as part of the project.

The logistics of the project have involved the employment of a Project Officer; ensuring the safe return and handling of rare items; and liaison with the Internet Archive who have undertaken the scanning of the books.

Read more about the project here in a recently published COPAC feature

IMG_0904Now all the books have been safely checked back in, (we’ve checked very carefully!) we have just made the records accessible through the Library catalogue. If you see a catalogue record like this one to the Household medical adviser it should provide a link directly to the digitised record…if it doesn’t, please let me know!

With special thanks to Victoria Parkinson (Metadata Coordinator) and Liz Serebriakoff (Service Development Coordinator) for their help with the technical aspects of this project.

Recently acquired material from the Weston Education Centre Library store

As well as putting the finishing touches to the UKMHL project, we have also been identifying Special Collections material that is currently in other Library Services locations. Generally, we are especially interested in pre-1900 books, items with significant provenances, those that are fragile, or those connected with the history of King’s.

While the image of librarians rooting around in stores for rare books has long been a staple in the library world, we do use the library management system and spreadsheet lists to identify material which needs to go into Special Collections. We are also happy to hear from colleagues who spot books that they think should be in Special Collections, or who receive information from a library customer to such effect, as has recently happened.

Following consultation of aforementioned lists and liaison with Pablo Paganotto (Senior Library Assistant at the Weston Education Centre) – thanks, Pablo! – we visited and rooted around in the store with a refined purpose. My colleague Brandon High, Special Collections Officer, describes one of the transferred items, below:

Among the material which the Foyle Special Collections Library has recently acquired from the WEC Store are several items with very interesting provenances. One of the most distinguished owners of these books is the surgeon Joseph Lister (1827-1912). Lister established the scientific basis of antiseptic surgery, and for clinical medicine in general.

The book which stands out is a copy of the 1898 edition of Sir Patrick Manson’s Tropical diseases, which bears the author’s inscription as well as Lister’s bookplate.  Sir Patrick Manson (1844-1922) was responsible for discovering the causation of malaria, and for founding the London School of Tropical Medicine.

Another book, Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton’s Pharmacology and therapeutics (1880) bears the author’s inscription. Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton (1844-1916) was a distinguished physiologist and pharmacologist who undertook pioneering research on the action of enzymes in the digestive system. He was also the first medical scientist to establish the connection between high blood pressure and heart disease.

Another item with an interesting provenance is Annales mèdico-psychologiques, which has the bookplate of the psychiatrist George Henry Savage (1842-1921), one of Virginia Woolf’s psychiatrists. The psychiatrist in her novel, Mrs Dalloway was modelled on him.

Purchase of a new acquisition

From our acquisitions budget we are also able to enrich the (medical and other) collections by purchase, and Brandon describes a recent acquisition below:

John Wesley. Primitive physic: or an easy and natural method of curing most diseases. Birmingham: printed by J Russell, 1823. Rare Books Collection RC81 WES

IMG_0906This is a very rare edition of a very popular work, which was first published in 1747, and which ran to many editions. This book was written at a time when many families self-medicated from choice or necessity. Its prescriptions avoid complicated pharmacology. Cold water bathing (a favourite of the 18th century), food (a diet of turnips for a month as a cure for scurvy, the application of toasted cheese to cuts) and exercises (rubbing the head for quarter of an hour as a cure for headache) feature heavily.

The book is informed throughout by a strong scepticism about orthodox medicine and medicines, but its underlying theoretical basis is humoural and Hippocratic.

Gifts gratefully received

We also recently received some items which were the gift of Rachel Paton, daughter of Dr Alex Paton, formerly of St Thomas’s Medical School, who died in 2015. With many thanks to Alan Fricker (Head of NHS Partnership and Liaison) for facilitating these acquisitions. Dr Paton evidently led an interesting life, being one of the first doctors to enter Belsen concentration camp in 1945.

The items formerly owned by Dr Paton are significant 19th century works on the liver, on which Dr Paton was an expert. These include:

A treatise on the structure, economy, and diseases of the liver by William Saunders. 

A practical treatise on the diseases of the liver and biliary passages by William Thomson 

If you have any questions about our medical or other collections, please feel free to contact us, or have a look at the guides to our collections 

Visualising Medical History

I have recently been helping to co-ordinate academic input to a relatively new project supported by Jisc that is building innovative tools to help with searching and presenting data from the UK Medical Heritage Library (UKMHL) project. The UKMHL, which is supported  by the Wellcome Library and Internet Archive, is an ambitious initiative to digitise and provide online access to thousands of books on the themes of medicine and healthcare published during the ‘long’ 19th century (until 1914). The books are being made available to the public in a rolling programme from the Wellcome and Internet Archive websites.

mhl blog

Prof. Williams’ Complete Hypnotism

The books are drawn from ten UK research libraries, including King’s College London, and cover a huge variety of subjects including public health and sanitation, infection and epidemiology, nutrition and cookery, the history of disease and its treatment and psychiatry and psychology. Up to 40% of the books were published abroad, notably in the US, Germany and France, and this international dimension provides a fascinating opportunity for comparative study.

Ultimately, the UKMHL will provide access to some 15 million pages of OCR text and millions of embedded terms including the names of people, organisations, geographical locations, diseases, treatments and associated data such as medical equipment, and references to contemporary culture and society which will mean the resource is useful not only to medical historians but a much broader range of interested scholars including biographers, geographers and literary experts.

The visualisation project, which is led by the Knowledge Integration company in association with Gooii, is developing a range of new data visualisation tools such as graphs, timelines and maps. These will enable established scholars, students and other users such as journalists find what they need quickly from a huge corpus of material, whilst also supporting serendipitous browsing and providing the space in which the user can discover completely unexpected facts and relationships, not least between people, places and ideas.

My work involves the design and review of data sets that will help with the selection of presentation of the data, and its contextualisation, and to co-ordinate the contributions of a number of King’s and other medical historians, who are ensuring that the resulting visualisations are both accurate and useful.

The new visualisations will be available to use in summer 2016.

Geoff Browell

Special Collections internship

SCinternSara[1]By Sara Belingheri, Library Services staff

I started my course in Promotion and Protection of Italian Cultural Heritage Abroad in March 2015. The degree is awarded by the University of Parma through ICoN (Italian Culture on the Net), a consortium of Italian Universities whose mission is the promotion and diffusion of Italian culture and the image of Italy worldwide using distance-learning tools. Classes are held by both academics and professionals from partner institutions, such as the National Cinema Museum of Turin or the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico.

Due to the vocational focus of the program, students are required to carry out an internship, during which they have to design a conservation or promotion project on material or immaterial Italian cultural heritage.

I decided to ‘play a home match’, interning at the Foyle Special Collections Library and to work on Italian early printed books. As Italian is not among the languages taught at King’s, I wanted to find a theme that might be of interest to a hefty share of our academic community, beyond linguistic knowledge. While browsing the Maughan bookshelves I stumbled upon Globalization in world history edited by A. G. Hopkins, and decided to develop the theme of archaic globalization.

The first step was then to become familiar with the daily work and mission of the Special Collections through induction sessions held by colleagues. After that, I had to identify Italian books on the catalogue and Liz Serebriakoff of Business and Systems Support (and an Aleph expert!) came to my rescue, providing some spreadsheets with records extracted through ARC.

Of the hundreds of items detected, roughly 300 were printed before 1700, among which I had to select a subset of books relevant to the theme; after this skimming process I identified almost a dozen of promising items, mainly from the Marsden and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historical Collections.

Having mined for my raw material, I had to decide what to do with it. After consultation with my internship supervisor Adam Ray and the Head of Special Collections Katie Sambrook, we agreed on designing posters using images from selected books, with these to be placed on stands around the Maughan Library. Each poster would carry the bibliographic data of the Special Collections item featured in it, plus the details of an item in the Maughan Library collection on the same subject, therefore creating a link between the two. The posters aim to make the presence of the Foyle Special Collections more visible to students visiting the library and possibly stimulate their curiosity about its holdings.

Three posters where produced. The first one showcases the voyages of the Florentine merchant Carletti, who completed a journey around the world in the early seventeenth century. Due to the nature of its binding, digitizing the first printed edition of Carletti’s reports proved to be too risky. We opted to reproduce a map of South America from a beautifully illustrated 1548 Venetian copy of Ptolemy’s Geographia instead. The second poster features the title page of a 1514 surgery treatise by papal physician Giovanni da Vigo, in which he describes the first known outbreak of syphilis in Europe. The last poster focuses on the spread of printing. The chosen image is a detail from a polyglot Psalter printed in Genoa in 1516, showing columns of Arabic and Aramaic text.

As we had to find a balance between aesthetics and relevance of the content, many quite interesting items could not be featured in the posters, but might find their space in further projects.

A link to the Special Collections web page about the project and to the posters is available here

Please contact Sara Belingheri sara.belingheri@kcl.ac.uk for more information

Linking Data in Sydney

 

By Geoff Browell, Head of Archives Services

I was fortunate to attend the biennial Linked Open Data,
Libraries, Archives, Museums summit in early July in Sydney, Australia. I
played a very small role in setting it up, as a member of the organising
committee. The conference is an opportunity for archivists, librarians, museum
curators and information professionals and IT experts to meet and discuss the
latest developments in Linked Data among higher education, heritage and
‘memory’ institutions, worldwide. Delegates have the chance to hear about
successful (and unsuccessful) projects and take part in targeted discussions on
the future of the technology, and encourage new collaborations. The event
features the ‘Challenge’ – an open competition for the best application of
Linked Data in a cultural setting.  The
summit adopts the ‘un-conference’ format without pre-prepared papers, at which
relevant issues can be aired and debated and sub-groups convened to address
specific topics.

View this graph of attendees: https://graphcommons.com/graphs/0f874303-97c2-4e53-abc6-83a13a1a2030

What is Linked Data?

Linked Data is a way of structuring online and other data to
improve its accuracy, visibility and connectedness. The technology has been
available for more than a decade and has mainly been used by commercial
entities such as publishing and media organisations including the BBC and
Reuters.  For archives, libraries and
museums, Linked Data holds the prospect of providing a richer experience for
users, better connectivity between pools of data, new ways of cataloguing
collections, and improved access for researchers and the public.

It could, for example, provide the means to unlock research
data or mix it with other types of data such as maps, or to search digitised
content including books and image files and collection metadata. New, more
robust, services are currently being developed by international initiatives
such as Europeana which should make its adoption by libraries and archives much
easier. There remain many challenges, however, and this conference provided the
opportunity to explore these.

The conference comprised a mix of quick fire discussions,
parallel breakout sessions, 2-minute introductions to interesting projects, and
the Challenge entries.

[photo: Work in progress at the LODLAM summit]

Quick fire points
from delegates

  • Need for improved visualisation of data (current
    visualisations are not scalable or require too much IT input for archivists and
    librarians to realistically use)
  • Need to build Linked Data creation and editing
    into vendor systems (the Step change model which we pursued at King’s Archives
    in a Jisc-funded project)
  • Exploring where text mining and Natural Language
    Processing overlap with LOD
  • World War One Linked Data: what next? (less of a
    theme this time around as the anniversary has already started)
  • LOD in archives: a particular challenge?
    (archives are lagging libraries and galleries in their implementation of Linked
    Data)
  • What is the next Getty vocabularies: a popular vocabulary
    that can encourage use of LOD?
  • Fedora 8 and LOD in similar open source or
    proprietary content management systems (how can Linked Data be used with these
    popular platforms?)
  • Linked Data is an off-putting term implying a
    data-centric set of skills (perhaps Linked Open Knowledge as an alternative?)
  • Building a directory of cultural heritage
    organisation LOD: how do we find available data sets? (such as Linked Open
    Vocabularies)
  • Implementing the European Data Model: next steps
    (stressing the importance of Europeana in the Linked Data landscape)
  • Can we connect different entities across
    different vocabularies to create new knowledge? (a lot of vocabularies have
    been created, but how do they communicate?)

 

Day One sessions

OASIS Deep Image
Indexing (
http://www.synaptica.com/oasis/).

This talk showcased a new product called OASIS from
Synaptica, aimed at art galleries, which facilitates the identification,
annotation and linking of parts of images. These elements can be linked
semantically and described using externally-managed vocabularies such as the
Getty suite of vocabularies or classifications like Iconclass. This helps
curators do their job. End users enjoy an enriched appreciation of paintings
and other art. It is the latest example of annotation services that overlay useful
information and utilise agreed international standards like the Open Annotation
Data Model and the IIIF standard for image zoom.

We were shown two examples: Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus
and Holbein’s The Ambassadors for impressive zooming of well-known paintings
and detailed descriptions of features. Future development will allow for
crowdsourcing to identify key elements and utilising image recognition software
to find these elements on the Web (‘find all examples of images of dogs in 16th
century public works of art embedded in the art but not indexed in available
metadata’).

This product mirrors the implementation of IIIF by an
international consortium that includes leading US universities, the Bodleian,
BL, Wellcome and others. Two services have evolved which offer archives the
chance to provide deep zoom and interoperability for their images for their
users: Mirador, and the Wellcome’s Universal Viewer (http://showcase.iiif.io/viewer/mirador/).
These get around the problem of having to create differently sized derivatives
of images for different uses, and of having to publish very large images on the
internet when download speeds might be slow.

Digital New Zealand

Chris McDowall of Digital New Zealand explored how best to
make LOD work for non-LOD people. Linked Open Data uses a lot of acronyms and
assumes a fairly high level of technical knowledge of systems which should not
be assumed. This is a particular bugbear of mine, which is why this talk
resonated. Chris’ advocacy of cross developer/user meetups also chimed with my
own thinking: LOD will never be properly adopted if it is assumed to be the
province of ‘techies’. Developers often don’t know what they are developing
because they don’t understand the content or its purpose: they are not
curators.

He stressed the importance of vocabulary cross-walks and the
need for good communication in organisations to make services stable and
sustainable. Again, this chimed with my own thinking: much work needs to be
done to ‘sell’ the benefits of Linked Data to sceptical senior management.
These benefits might include context building around archive collections,
gamification of data to encourage re-use, and serendipity searches and prompts
which can aid researchers. Linked Data offers the kind of truly targeted
searching in contrast to the ‘faith based technology’ of existing search
engines (a really memorable expression).

He warned that the infrastructure demands of LOD should not
be underestimated, particularly from researchers making a lot of simultaneous
queries: he mooted a pared down type of LOD for wider adoption.

Chris finished by highlighting a number of interesting use
cases of LOD in Libraries as part of the Linked Data for Libraries (LD4L) project,
a collaboration between Harvard, Cornell and Stanford (https://wiki.duraspace.org/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=41354028). See also
Richard Wallis’ presentation on the benefit of LO for libraries: http://swib.org/swib13/slides/wallis_swib13_108.pdf

Schema.org

Richard Wallis of OCLC explored the potential of Schema.org,
a growing vocabulary of high level terms agreed by the main search engines to
make content more searchable. Schema.org helps power search result boxes one
sees at the top of Google search return pages. Richard suggested the creation
of an extension relevant to archives to add to the one for bibliographic
material. The advantage of schema.org is that it can easily be added to web
pages, resulting in appreciable improvement in ranking and the possibility of
generating user-centred suggestions in search results. For an archive, this
might mean a Google user searches for the papers of Winston Churchill and is
offered suggested other uses such as booking tickets to a talk about the
papers, or viewing Google maps information showing the opening times and
location of the archive.

The group discussion centred on the potential elements (would
the extension refer to thesis, research data, university systems that contain
archive data such as Finance and student information?), and on the need for use
cases and setting out potential benefits. I agreed to be part of an
international team through the W3C Consortium, to help set one up.

[photo: Shakespeare window at the State Library of New South Wales]

Dork shorts/Speedos –
these are impromptu lightning talks lasting a few minutes, which highlight a
project, idea or proposal. View here:
http://summit2015.lodlam.net/about/speedos/

Highlights:

Cultuurlink (http://cultuurlink.beeldengeluid.nl/app/#/): Introduction by Johan Oomen

This Dutch service facilitates the linking of different
controlled vocabularies and thesauri and helps address the problem faced by
many cultural organisations ‘which thesauri do I use?’ and ‘how do I avoid
reinventing the thesauri wheel?’. The services allows users to upload a SKOS
vocabulary, link it with one of four supported vocabularies and visualise the
results.

The service helps different types of organisation to connect
their vocabularies, for example an audio-visual archive with a museum’s
collections. The approach also allows content from one repository to be
enhanced or deepened through contextual information from another. The example
of Vermeer’s Milkmaid was cited: enhancing the discoverability of information
on the painting held in the Rijksmuseum
in Amsterdam through connecting the collection data held on the local museum
management system with DBPedia and with the Getty Art and Architecture
Thesaurus. This sort of approach builds on the prototypes developed in the last
few years to align vocabularies (and to ‘Skosify’ data – turn it into Linked
Data) around shared Europeana initiatives (see http://semanticweb.cs.vu.nl/amalgame/).

Research Data
Services project: Introduction by Ingrid Mason

This is a pan-Australian research data management project
focusing on the repackaging of cultural heritage data for academic re-use.
Linked Data will be used to describe a ‘meta-collection’ of the country’s
cultural data, one that brings together academic users of data and curators. It
will utilise the Australia-wide research data nodes for high speed retrieval (https://www.rds.edu.au/project-overview
and http://www.intersect.org.au/).

Tim Sherratt on
historians using LOD

This fascinating short explained how historians have been
creating LOD for years – and haven’t even known they were doing it –
identifying links and narratives in text as part of the painstaking historical
process. How can Linked Data be used to mimic and speed up this historical
research process? Tim showed a working example and a step by step guide is
available: http://discontents.com.au/stories-for-machines-data-for-humans/
and listen to the talk: http://summit2015.lodlam.net/2015/07/10/lod-book/

Jon Voss on
historypin

Jon explained how the popular historical mapping service,
historypin, is dealing with the problem of ‘roundtripping’ where heritage data
is enhanced or augmented through crowdsourcing and returned to its source. This
is of particular interest to Europeana, whose data might pass through many
hands. It highlights a potential difficulty of LOD: validating the authenticity
and quality of data that has been distributed and enriched.

Chris McDowall of
Digital New Zealand

Chris explained how to search across different types of data
source in New Zealand, for example to match and search for people using
phonetic algorithms to generate sound alike suggestions and fuzzy name
matching: http://digitalnz.github.io/supplejack/.

Axes Project (http://www.axes-project.eu/): Introduction from Martijn Kleppe

This 6 million Euro EU-funded project aims to make
audio-visual material more accessible and has been trialled with thousands of
hours of video footage, and expert users, from the BBC. Its purpose is to help users
mine vast quantities of audio-visual material in the public domain as
accurately and quickly as possible. The team have developed tools using open
source frameworks that allow users to detect people, places, events and other
entities in speech and images and to annotate and refine these results. This
sophisticated tool set utilises face, speech and place recognition to zero-in
on precise fragments without the need for accompanying (longhand) metadata. The
results are undeniably impressive – with a speedy, clear, interface locating
the parts of each video with filtering and similarity options. The main use for
the toolset to date is with film studies and journalism students but it
unquestionably has wider application.

The Axes website also highlights a number of interesting
projects in this field. Two stand out: http://www.axes-project.eu/?page_id=25,
notably Cubrik (http://www.cubrikproject.eu/),
another FP 7 multinational project which mixes crowd and machine analysis to
refine and improving searching of multimedia assets; and the PATHS prototype (http://www.paths-project.eu/)  ‘an interactive personalised tour guide through
existing digital library collections. The system will offer suggestions about
items to look at and assist in their interpretation. Navigation will be based
around the metaphor of a path through the collection.’ The project created an
API, User Interface and launched a tested exemplar with Europeana to
demonstrate the potential of new discovery journeys to open access to
already-digitised collections.

Loom project (http://dxlab.sl.nsw.gov.au/making-loom/): Introduction from Paula Bray of State Library of New South Wales

The NSW State Library sought to find new ways of visualising
their collections by date and geography through their DX Labs, an experimental
data laboratory similar to BL Labs, which I have worked with in the UK. One
visually arresting visualisation shows the proportions of collections relevant
to particular geographical locations in the city of Sydney. Accompanied by
approving gasps from the audience, this showed an iceberg graphic superimposed
onto a map showing the proportion of collections about a place that had been
digitised and yet to be digitised – a striking way of communicating the
fragility of some collections and the work still to be done to make them
accessible to the public.

LODLAM challenge

19 entries were received: http://summit2015.lodlam.net/challenge/challenge-entries/

  1. Open Memory Project. This Italian entry
    won the main prize. It uses Linked Data to re-connect victims of the Holocaust
    in wartime Italy. The project was thought provoking and moving and has the
    potential to capture the public imagination.
  2. Polimedia is a service designed to
    answer questions from the media and journalists by querying multi-media
    libraries, identifying fragments of speech. It won second prize for its
    innovative solution to the challenge of searching video archives.
  3. LodView goes LAM is a new Italian
    software designed to make it easier for novices to publish data as Linked Data.
    A visually beautiful and engaging interface makes this a joy to look at.
  4. EEXCESS is a European project to
    augment books and other research and teaching materials with contextual
    information, and to develop sophisticated tools to measure usage. This is an
    exciting, ambitious, project to assemble different sources using Linked Data to
    enable a new kind of publication made up of a portfolio of assets.
  5. Preservation Planning Ontology is a
    proposal for using Linked Data in the planning of digital preservation by
    archives. It has been developed by Artefactual Systems, the Canadian company
    behind ATOM and Archivematica software. This made the shortlist as it is a good
    example of a ‘behind the scenes’ management use of Linked data to make
    preservation workflows easier.

A selection of other
entries:

Public Domain City
extracts curious images from digitised content. This is similar to BL Labs’
Mechanical Curator, a way of mining digitised books for interesting images and
making them available to social media to improve the profile and use of a
collection.

Project Mosul uses
Linked Data to digitally recreate damaged archaeological heritage from Iraq. A
good example of using this technology to protect and recreate heritage damaged
in conflict and disaster.

The Muninn Project
combines 3D visualisations and printing using Linked Data taken from First
World War source material.

LOD Stories is a
way of creating story maps between different pots of data about art and
visualising the results. The project is a good example of the need to make
Linked Data more appealing and useful, in this case by building ‘family trees’
of information about subjects to create picture narratives.

Get your coins out of
your pocket
is a Linked Data engine about Roman coinage and the stories it
has to tell – geographically and temporally. The project uses nodegoat as an
engine for volunteers to map useful information: http://nodegoat.net/.

Graphity is a
Danish project to improve access to historical Danish digitised newspapers and
enhancing with maps and other content using Linked Data.

Dutch Ships and
Sailors
brings together multiple historical data sources and uses Linked
Data to make them searchable.

Corbicula is a way
of automating the extraction of data from collection management systems and
publishing it as Linked Data.

[photo: delegates at the summit]

Day two sessions

Day two sessions focused on the future. A key session led by
Richard Wallis explained how Google is moving from a page ranking approach to a
triple confidence assertion approach to generating search results. The way in
which Google generates its results will therefore move closer to the LOD method
of attributing significance to results.

Highlights

  • Need for a vendor manifesto to encourage systems
    vendors such as Ex Libris, to build LOD into their systems (Corey Harper of New
    York University proposed this and is working closely with Ex Libris to bring
    this about)
  • Depositing APIs/documentation for maximum re-use
    (APIs are often a weak link – adoption of LOD won’t happen if services break or
    are unreliable)
  • Uses identified (mining digitised newspaper
    archives was cited)
  • Potential piggy-backing from Big Pharma
    investment in Big Data (massive investment by drugs companies to crunch huge
    quantities of data – how far can the heritage sector utilise even a fraction of
    that?)
  • Need to validate LOD: the quality issue – need
    for an assertion testing service (LOD won’t be used if its quality is
    questionable. Do curators (traditional guardians of quality) manage this?)
  • Training in Linked Data needs to be addressed
  • Need to encourage fundraising and make LO
    sustainable: what are we going to do with LOD in the next ten years? (Will the
    test of the success of Linked Open Data be if the term drops out of use when we
    are all doing it without noticing? Will 5 Star Linked Data be realised? http://5stardata.info/)

Summary

There were several key learning points from this conference:

  • The divide between technical experts and policy
    and decision makers remains significant: more work is needed to provide use
    cases and examples of improved efficiencies or innovative public engagement
    opportunities that the technology provides
  • The re-use and publication of Linked Data is
    becoming important and this brings challenges in terms of IPR, reliability of
    APIs and quality of data
  • Easy to use tools and widgets will help spread
    its use; avoiding complicated and unsustainable technical solutions that depend
    on project funding
  • Working with vendors to incorporate Linked Data
    tools in library and archive systems will speed its adoption
  • The Linked Data community ought to work towards
    the day Linked Data is business as usual and the terms goes out of use