More broadly, the part that digital technologies can play in the way we build, manage, and preserve cultural collections was explored by several panel presentations. Additionally, their potential to communicate our cultural memories to various audiences and enable different types of interaction with collections and archives was particularly highlighted; yet, in order to be able to reach different communities, cataloguing practices and our understanding of user behaviour need to be improved to enhance accessibility of diverse library, archive and other cultural heritage content. Finally, the innovative role of technology in facilitating access to and preserving memories of the past for the future was further showcased through projects which took advantage of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing technologies as well as through the use of digitisation as a method of preserving and engaging with endangered cultural heritage.
Transformation in professional practice
Lastly, throughout the conference we saw a variety of examples illustrating how memory collections form the basis for collaborations and audience engagement that has not only an impact on society and its wellbeing but also on institutional practices and identity. Libraries, in particular, are experiencing a cultural shift with professionals very often reaching out to various communities rather than waiting for them to cross the door of the institution. Additionally, and contrary to the observations made by Harvey (2018), several talks at DCDC18 (e.g. panel 10) showed that special collections, archives and other original sources are still greatly used by academics and other audience groups for research, teaching and public engagement. However, given the move towards more cross-sector collaboration, the development of audience-led approaches to special collections and archives as well as the increased opportunities offered by new technologies, engagement with or discussions around this type of original material do not take place anymore solely within the space of the reading room.
You can watch the DCDC18 keynote presentations on the DCDC Conference website or on the RLUK Youtube channel.
Crossick, Geoffrey (2017). Thinking about the value of culture, thinking about the value of collections. Keynote speech at Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities (DCDC) conference, 27-29 Nov. 2017. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW8PMZ8Alpw.
Ellison, Jane (2018). Anniversaries: the milestones of history? Keynote presentation, Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities (DCDC) Conference, Birmingham, UK, 19th-21st November 2018.
Havey, Arnold (2018). Academics are being erased from the archives. Times Higher Education, 15th November 2018. Available at https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/academics-are-being-erased-archives.
Reisz, Matthew (2018). Campuses urged to fill gaps in ‘white, male’ institutional pasts. Times Higher Education, 23rd November 2018. Available at https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/campuses-urged-fill-gaps-white-male-institutional-pasts.