project . 2020 - 2022 . Closed

Locating a National Collection (LANC)

UK Research and Innovation
Funder: UK Research and InnovationProject code: AH/T01119X/1
Funded under: AHRC Funder Contribution: 209,418 GBP
Status: Closed
01 Feb 2020 (Started) 30 Jul 2022 (Ended)

This project will help cultural heritage organisations to use geospatial data - references and representations of location, such as where objects were made and used or the places they depict and describe - to connect diverse collections and engage research and public audiences in new ways. Through scoping, workshops and audience research the project will establish best practice and provide technical recommendations for the development of a national discovery system whereby objects about a topic of interest can be readily discovered from a variety of sources, represented in the context of their historic environment, and referenced in time and landscape. At present, discovering collections across multiple institutions and collections can be problematic in terms of user experience, requiring complex text-box searches or commercial search engines. However, in the field of Classics, The Pelagios Network of researchers, scientists and curators has developed a methodology that uses gazetteer referencing to link research data across diverse collections with considerable success, building a community of partners and stimulating new research perspectives. Similarly, the Collections Trust's prototype aggregator demonstrates that searching across cultural heritage collections using geographic location is feasible. This project builds on these methods, scoping improvements to the aggregator's results and exploring ways to present location in an accessible and meaningful form for public consumption. A key question is how the place-based Pelagios methodology can best be integrated with space-based cultural heritage data resources brought together by the Collections Trust aggregator. To test and scope this ambition, participating organisations will work on a set of thematic and technological case studies that will test the technical feasibility and appeal of the approach to potential users, ultimately developing an understanding of scalability. The project aims to understand the requirements of stakeholders, institutional, academic and public, in order to inform content selection, technical decisions and maximise impact. It will investigate how we can use location to build a common infrastructure that links collections and render this content accessible and meaningful to different audiences. The objective is to understand the technical components required, the current and potential options available and to make recommendations for potential solutions, all of which will be described in the project report. The report will constitute a strategy, offering pathways for progress and outlining potential barriers to inform developments in the next phase of Towards a National Collection and across the cultural heritage sector more broadly. It will encourage cultural heritage organisations to take up a common geospatial approach and will provide a roadmap to enable diverse organisations to enrich their metadata and expose this in a consistent and joined-up way. Pelagios has had success with a decentralised, 'opt-in' model of partner engagement. Our project will explore whether distributed or centralised models of integration and cooperation are relevant to the integration of cultural heritage organisations. It will develop understanding within the cultural heritage sector of how location-based interfaces can be used to make collections meaningful, spear-heading a movement beyond text-based searches in the discovery of content. Location offers an exemplar, offering a common thread from which we can learn about wider opportunities in connecting collections using other commonalities such as person, time or subject.

Data Management Plans