at Goldsmiths Library
9th November 2018
Stella Wisdom, Digital Curator
Founded in 2010, the Digital
Scholarship Department at British
Library supports researchers and
staff to make innovative use of our
digital collections and data.
We are a group of cross disciplinary
experts in the areas of digitisation,
librarianship, digital history &
humanities, computer and data
science, looking at how technology is
transforming research, and in turn,
Meet the Digital Scholarship Team
• Staff training
• Promoting Digital Scholarship
• Curating digital research data
• Project management
• Engagement with users
• Creating and sharing online
content with other libraries and
• Communication: events, blogging,
• Off the Map Competition
• Playing Beowulf
• Rob Sherman’s transmedia residency
• Interactive Fiction Summer School
• Odyssey Jam 2017
• Gothic Novel Jam 2018
• Games & GLAMs
What I’ll talk about today:
The Off the Map Competition
• A new type of collaboration
• Explores how British Library digital collections
can be used in creative ways
• Engagement with new audiences
• Opportunity for students in the UK to
showcase their talents to industry
2015 Winning Game:
“The Wondering Lands of Alice”
Team Off our Rockers, De Montfort University in Leicester
YouTube flythrough: https://youtu.be/7bwx4uUnbV4
Off the Map 2016 1st Place:
“The Tempest” by Team Quattro, De Montfort University, Leicester
YouTube flythrough: https://youtu.be/0lzpEFgpk3Y
Off the Map 2016 2nd Place:
‘Midsummer’ by Tom Battey, London College of Communication
YouTube flythrough: https://youtu.be/sz-IKvp62NI
Download the game:
Project with University College London Institute of Education, funded by the Arts
and Humanities Research Council in the UK. Developed a game-authoring tool
based on the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, for use by schools, universities,
curators and library visitors.
Litcraft uses the Minecraft platform to
explore and better understand literary
landscapes; e.g. Treasure Island
Each map is recreated from the maps
published with each text, hand-crafted
and scaled to provide a fun world, that
permits both exploration and building
Next projects I’m about to discuss use Public Domain images
from the Microsoft Partnership Digitisation Project 2006-8
• 68,000 volumes (47,000+ titles) published in the 19th
century mostly in English
• Excluded authors active 1850-1901 and who died after
• Output: 25 million pages
The illustrations were extracted algorithmically from the
Image snipped out
From ALTO XML
Image taken from page 207 of 'London and its Environs. A
picturesque survey of the metropolis and the suburbs ...
Translated by Henry Frith. With ... illustrations'
Odyssey Jam 2017 entries
We encouraged entrants to make use of the digitised images on Flickr that The
British Library had released under a creative commons license.
Some games used these images, e.g. No One and 108 suitors.
200th anniversary of the
publication of Frankenstein. A
perfect opportunity to run a gothic
novel themed challenge.
Gothic Novel Jam with Read Watch
Play; participants to make
something creative inspired by the
gothic novel genre. By the 31st July
upload or share it on the itch.io
Gothic Novel Jam site.
Entries invited to include stories,
poetry, art, games, music, films,
pictures, soundscapes, or any
other type of digital media
We wanted participants to use
images from the British Library
Flickr account as inspiration
Gothic Novel Jam 2018
We received 46 entries submitted by people from all around the world including UK,
Australia, America and France.
We encouraged entrants to use the digitised images on Flickr that The British Library had
released as Public Domain. As a glow brings out a haze by Eldridge Misnomer
is a lovely example of how these illustrations are used as a key part of the storytelling.
For 2018 International Games Week the British Library is hosting
The Narrative Games Convention: AdventureX
10-11 November 2018
A forum for those who are interested in games, cultural heritage
and GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives, museums)
Set up in 2010 the team was formed as a way of dedicating focus on the changing research landscape in the digital realm. Now embedded in collection areas, and as you’ll see later, joining the library explicitly as part of major digitisation projects.
Getting content in digital form and online
Collaborations, Competitions & Awards
Digital research support and guidance
The Library digitised 68,000 predominantly 19th century books from our collections a few years ago (around 2.7 % of the physical total in that period). You can view them from our catalogue or read them on your <click>IPad via the Historical Books app developed by BiblioLabs.
There are 22 million individual page images, along with full text scans of these images, all of which contain untold quantity of useful data such as names of people, places, historical events, dates.
with no restrictions on use by Microsoft
So the question became then, what next? What can 68,000 books tell us?
As the books were scanned for text, this had a fortunate ‘side effect’ the software not only tries to detect the text on the page but also where the images might be. There had already been some interest in the images from the community of researchers. It seemed easy to extract them.
s part of the Labs competition, Matt Prior attended one of our hack events and when examining our book data and was very interested in the images from the books.
Meanwhile the algorithm that Ben had written to snip the images from the OCR scans was still churning away, how many were there going to be? The Mechanical Curator could publish them every hour, but was there somewhere we could put them all for people to browse when they wanted. Importantly if we did put them somewhere, could we get people to help us add descriptions to the individual images making them infinitely more discoverable.]
With an algorithm by Ben O’Steen we snipped out images from digitised books and put them on to Flickr on December 13 2013, there were over a million, but the problem we had was that we knew which books they came from (author/dates), but we didn’t’ have any information about the images. By releasing them onto flickr, we have got people to start tagging them and using them in very creative ways.
Hosting them internally was not an option and there was not sufficient metadata to put them on Wikipedia. Flickr seemed the obvious option as it is a platform that can support high usage, did not require metadata, allowed tagging and it is free for public domain images.