WHELF has an Archives & Special Collections Group which includes representatives from most of the higher education institutions in Wales.
The group has had a very successful year, generating two major funding awards for collaborative projects: The Welsh Experience of World War One and Collections Wales.
Work continues on a new strategy for collaborative work on archives and special collections to replace the current WHELF digitisation strategy:
WHELF Digitisation Strategy
WHELF’s strategy is to collaborate, together or through particular alliances, in:
- creating new digital content (or enhancing the value of existing digitised content)
- sharing expertise and knowledge in digitisation policy and practices
- developing mechanisms and supporting materials to encourage take up for teaching, learning and research
- helping to make the research undertaken in Welsh higher education institutions more visible
The Welsh Experience of World War One
A project developed by the WHELF Archives and Special Collections Group and led by the National Library of Wales received £500,000 in funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) for mass digitisation of primary sources relating to World War One. Through digitisation and collaborative working this project will bring together an impressive array of scattered content into one place and promises to become a key reference point for researchers and students looking at the Welsh experience of World War One.
The project will make available a unique digital collection revealing the hidden history of World War One as it affected all aspects of Welsh life, language and culture. The project will digitise printed and manuscript sources as well as moving image, audio and photographic material. These source materials are presently fragmented and frequently inaccessible, yet collectively they form a unique resource of vital interest to researchers, students, and the public in Wales and beyond.
The content to be digitised has been selected in collaboration with academics in Wales and beyond, and the digital outputs of the project will lead to new research findings about Wales in World War One.
Collections Wales – mapping the printed and digital heritage of Wales to improve access
Across Wales there are hundreds of special collections, all unique and distinctive. Many are held in university libraries. These special and historical collections form part of the national heritage of Wales: they are about Wales, or collected by Welsh scholars, and form a vast, often untapped reservoir for academic research, local study, and public display and exploitation.
The first and most difficult task faced by those undertaking research is to discover what material is available and where it is. There is currently no shared catalogue or listing of collections in Wales. This means that access to these collections is now limited so by mapping the collections across Wales, this project will improve access and awareness, contributing to their visibility and encouraging outreach and community engagement.
Welsh Newspapers and Magazines Online
This project aims to digitise 2 million pages of historical newspapers and journals relating to Wales and to provide new opportunities for existing and new audiences to research and exploit this magnificent record of everyday knowledge online. WHELF supported the National Library’s successful funding bid to SCIF (the Strategic Capital Investment Fund), and its new EU ‘Digitisation for Business’ project, funded by ERDF, which will concentrate on the commercial exploitation by Convergence area companies of the ‘digitised produce’.
Welsh Journals Online
Working in partnership with members of WHELF, the National Library of Wales is currently completing a project funded by JISC, the Library, and the Welsh Government, to digitise a substantial part of its holdings of 20th-century journals relating to Wales. The material ranges from academic and scholarly journals to current affairs and popular magazines, reflecting all aspects of Welsh life.
Historic news once sung on street corners is now being captured online in a virtual resource. 4,000 ballads from 18th and 19th century Wales are launching on a website run by Cardiff University and the National Library of Wales. The songs document the important issues of their day, such as workers’ rights and crime, as well as local festivals and village gossip. Funded through a £66,000 grant from JISC, the project has completed a network of digital resources giving access to these precious documents.
The Welsh Ballads project puts in place the final piece of a national jigsaw of digitised ballads. Adding to the ballad collections of England and Scotland this new archive will help make this a unique and indispensable resource for researchers, students and interested members of the public. This project is part of JISC’s continued work to enhance collections of significance, and ensure that resources are not left in isolation, but brought together for the benefit of research, teaching and learning for everyone. Digitisation of the ballads collections was carried out in Cardiff University’s Information Services Directorate and the National Library of Wales.
Turning the Pages New technology designed to allow users to virtually ‘turn’ the pages of digitised books has been unveiled in Cardiff University Information Services’ Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR). The new 40” digital 3D touch-screen and Turning the Pages software gives users the opportunity to view some of Wales’ oldest books and manuscripts, which form part of the collection of 14,000 rare items transferred to the University in May 2010.
SCOLAR’s purchase of the touch-screen and software, as part of a grant from the Wolfson Foundation, makes Cardiff the first institution in Wales to use such technology to display digital rare books. With the support of the Welsh Government and CyMAL, SCOLAR has now purchased portable versions of Turning the Pages to tour Wales.
Shaping the future – for heritage, for everyone: consultation on the Heritage Lottery Fund’s strategic framework for 2013–2019
WHELF responded to this consultation in order to stress the value of the documentary heritage, much of which is held in archives and library collections in national libraries and universities. These special collections are of enduring historical value, but action is needed to preserve and make them accessible for future generations.