A GLAM Workbench for humanities researchers
A/Prof. Tim Sherratt1,2
2Centre for Creative & Cultural Research, University of Canberra
GLAM organisations (Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums) create and share large quantities of data including collection records, compiled indexes, transcriptions, text, and images. This data encompasses a wide swathe of Australian history and culture, from the contents of Australia’s earliest published works to repositories of born-digital data. Using digital methods, humanities researchers can use this data to ask new questions of the past – they can shift scales, make connections, and see differently. But how do they get started?
The richness and diversity of GLAM data makes it of great value to researchers, but these qualities work against easy access or one-size-fits-all technical solutions. Similarly, the types of researchers likely to make use of GLAM data have a variety of backgrounds and skill levels. They might not identify as doing ‘digital’ research. The GLAM Workbench aims to bridge this divide by creating a repository of tools, tutorials, and examples that address both the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of GLAM data use. Why would a historian or linguist, for example, be interested in a collection dataset, and how do they start to make use of it?
The GLAM Workbench uses Jupyter notebooks to document existing data sources and provide ready-to-use tools and examples that short-cut access issues and assist researchers to explore common analytical techniques. Taking advantage of Jupyter’s ability to blend narrative text with live code, the project is developing a range of pathways that lead researchers through the possibilities, developing their digital skills as they undertake real research tasks.
Tim Sherratt is a historian and hacker who researches the possibilities and politics of digital cultural collections. Tim has worked across the cultural heritage sector and has been developing online resources relating to libraries, archives, museums and history since 1993. You can find him at timsherratt.org or as @wragge on Twitter.