Keynote Address

Exploring the World's Knowledge in the Digital Age

Aly K. Conteh, The British Library, London, United Kingdom

Abstract: The advent of the digital age has brought about a dramatic change in the techniques for the dissemination of, and access to, historical documents. For today's researcher, the internet is a primary source of the tools and information that supports their research. The British Library (BL) provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The British Library's collections include 150 million items from every era of written human history beginning with Chinese oracle bones dating from 300 BC, right up to the latest e-journals. For almost 20 years the British Library has been engaged in transforming physical collection items into digital form enabling access to that content over the World Wide Web.

In this talk, I describe the depth and range of the collections that are held at the British Library. I will outline the digital conversion process we undertake, including our current solutions for digital formats, metadata standards, providing access to the content and preserving the digital outputs in perpetuity. Finally, as the British Library undertakes projects that will digitise millions of pages of historical text based items, I will look at the challenges we face, such as storage requirements and enhancing resource discovery, and how are we addressing those challenges.

About the speaker: The speaker is the Digitisation Programme Manager at the British Library, a post he took up in April 2003. He is responsible for the development and implementation of the policies, workflows and standards which govern digitisation of items from the Library's vast collections. He has been involved in many digitisation projects at the British Library including projects to digitise 25 million pages of 19th Century books, 4 million pages of pre-1900 newspapers and many manuscript volumes. His background is in IT and prior to joining the British Library he implemented a large scale digitisation workflow at a commercial publisher. He serves on the Executive Board for the IMPACT project a large-scale integrating project funded by the European Commission as part of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). He is as a member of the European Commission's Member States' Expert Group on Digitisation and Digital Preservation and has advised UK government departments on digitisation matters.

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