by Jenny Doyle, Oscail Programme Manager
While the National Library holds wonderful collections of rare and antiquarian books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, prints and drawings (some of which you’ve read about on this very blog) one of our other jobs is to collect, preserve, promote and make accessible today’s and indeed tomorrow’s books, newspapers, manuscripts, etc.
Aren’t you doing that already? Sounds easy! I hear you cry…
Well, there’s a story … a lot of the stuff (a technical term for everything) we collect is still being printed, but there’s lots more that is being created digitally (your blogs, facebook content, photographs); or being converted to a digital format (our glass plate photographs, prints and drawings, pamphlets) and being used for a variety of reasons by a lot of different people all over the planet. Whether you are a professional historian, researcher, genealogist, student, enthusiast, or someone who hasn’t yet used the brilliant collections available at the NLI, we are obliged to acquire collections and make them available on your behalf. If we want to be able to access our current intellectual and creative output in the future, we need to put mechanisms in place to achieve this goal.
To do this we have to learn some new skills and create some new tools. Which is exactly what we’ve done – a small band of librarians, archivists, computer science types and others have been deployed to this new frontier. There will be subsequent blog posts on their exploits in the areas of born-digital material, digitisation and catalogue development and maybe even some on infrastructure for the techies out there. These activities are the building blocks for the NLI to be able to function effectively in the digital environment. The Oscail Programme was initiated to act as a support to all of these activities with the aim of connecting people to information and technology by implementing efficient processes – in other words, working to our strengths and focussing on our primary role to collect, preserve and make accessible our documentary cultural heritage now and in the future. The Oscail Programme aims to open up the library and its ever expanding collections to readers wherever you are. With that in mind if you have any ideas, comments or suggestions about how we’re handling this or the direction that we should go, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.