We all benefit from the efforts of libraries, archives, museum, and government bodies to organise, catalogue, and digitise documents and collections, but it can be very hard to keep up with what’s online! A collection you searched for which you were disappointed to find as only available on microform through inter-library loan only a few months ago might now be accessible from your living room. In this era of digitisation, what’s the best way to keep on top of what sources are coming online?
Following the blogs of libraries and archives that hold the types of material and specific collections you are typically interested in, especially those with government funding who are more likely to be able to devote people, money, and resources necessary to digitise and host online collections, is a great way to start.
For example, while I was conducting some genealogical research, I found evidence that a land petition of my 6x great-grandfather, a United Empire Loyalist, was in the Haldimand Papers. I prefer working with full-text primary sources rather than printed summaries or indexes, but the original papers were in the British Library and microfilm copies were available in Canada but nowhere near where I was living. I took note of how to find them and stored that away for another day. A few months later Library and Archives Canada blogged about their latest digitisation efforts and amazingly the Haldimand Papers was on the list! And that’s when I realised that these blogs can valuable tools for furthering one’s research.
It seems that most university libraries nowadays have one or more blogs, so why not Google your favourite library + blog and see what’s on offer. To get you started, here’s a list of some great blogs from libraries and archives that reflect upon the digitisation of resources and material of interest to historians of British and Irish global history. Feel free to let us know your favourites in the comments below!
- Library and Archives Canada Blog
- Library of Congress Blog
- The Signal: Digital Preservation (Library of Congress)
- Copyright Matters: Digital Preservation and Public Access (Library of Congress)
- Digital Scholarship blog (British Library)
- Endangered Archives blog (British Library)
- UK Web Archive blog (British Library)
- National Library of Scotland
- National Library of Ireland
- Bodleian Digital Library
- Archives and Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library