I’ve just come back from The European Library’s Researcher of Tomorrow conference which took place in Madrid. The conference covered a number of aspects of the challenges and opportunities facing libraries with the advancement of digitisation and the associated development of new methodologies, such as data mining, amongst researchers. Amongst the subjects discussed at conference were the issues surrounding open access, the changing requirements of researchers and the impact that digital libraries are having on research and researchers. Another major focus for discussion was the future direction of The European Library as a service for researchers.
The conference also marked the end of the Europeana Libraries project, indeed it provided a welcome opportunity to celebrate the achievements of this project and to meet some of the people from across Europe that we have been working with over the last two years. The two-year project, established in 2011, sought to aggregate 5 million digital objects from 19 of Europe’s leading research libraries, including the NLW. As it draws to a close the project has succeeded in this aim with over 5 million digital objects from these libraries aggregated.
The NLW has made a significant contribution to the project providing access to over a quarter of a million digital objects from our collections. These include the Welsh landscape topographical print collection, the John Thomas photographic collection, the Geoff Charles photographic collection, the P. B Abery photographic collection along with 13 nineteenth century Welsh journals. These items can be accessed via the Europeana (for the general user) and The European Library (for researchers) websites.
The latest collections from the NLW to go live on the Europeana website are the P. B. Abery Collection and the Welsh Journals. The Geoff Charles collection will follow shortly. The John Thomas and Welsh Landscape collections are already available on the Europeana website as well as via The European Library. While you’re visiting these websites why not take the opportunity to explore the other treasures collected from around Europe? Happy searching!
It’s been a particularly rewarding experience to see the project through to a successful conclusion and it’s good to know that some of our most important collections will now be available to a broader European audience. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those in the Library (and beyond!) who have contributed to the success of our involvement in this project.
Exciting news! 10,000 images from the John Thomas and Welsh Landscape collections can now be searched and viewed via the newly re-launched European Library website. Thanks to our work with the Europeana Libraries project we are one of 19 leading European research libraries who have been added to the list of official contributors to The European Library. Amongst this exclusive group we were the only national library to be brought into the fold. Geared specifically towards the research community, The European Library offers access to almost 10 million digital items and over 100 million bibliographic records from 48 of Europe’s national and research libraries. In the coming months access to the Geoff Charles collection and to a selection of 19th century journals from the NLW’s vaults will also be available on the website. You can also search for these collections via the Europeana website. Happy searching!
Jones family group, ca. 1885 (jth01360)
One of the bonuses of working on a digitisation project such as the Europeana Libraries Project is the opportunity it provides to reacquaint yourself with some of the library’s collections. As part of my first job here at the Library, on the desk of the old Department of Pictures and Maps, the John Thomas photographic collection was one that I returned to again and again, as a matter of personal interest as well as in relation to my day-to-day work. Twenty years later I find myself again working with this collection as we prepare them for access through the Europeana and European Library websites.
Primarily a commercial photographer, a mainstay of Thomas’s work was the portrait photograph. While looking through some of Thomas’s family portraits recently, I was struck by how even these formal photographs offer an insight into the social mores and aspirations of the late Victorian period. Two photographs in particular, one of the Jones Family (no relation, as far as I know!) and one of a large family group in Chwilog, brought this home to me.
Large family group, Chwilog, ca. 1885 (jth02068)
The family photograph was clearly an important event for both families and was an opportunity to express the family’s respectability. For the Jones family this is reflected in their formal dress. But what I find of most interest here is the contrast between the clothes worn by the Jones family and their surroundings – the photograph seems to have been taken in a backstreet or yard. The sheet hung behind them provides the illusion of a more salubrious setting; Thomas would crop his photographs so that the final image would seem to have been taken elsewhere, in this case in a drawing room or library.
For the Chwilog family group, with grandparents, parents and children all in their Sunday best, the photo is also a way of displaying their respectability. However, what I find of most interest here is the inclusion of the horse with the family group. The family it seems has taken the opportunity to record for posterity what was of value to them, from the bonds between family members to the well-kept front garden and a prized possession, the horse.