KE Collaborative R&D Case Study
Project title - "Connecting Shakespeare: at the Folger Shakespeare Library"
Thanks to this work and because of Shakespeare’s popular appeal, we’ve also been involved in discussions with a BBC-led consortium to explore how this type of resource can be included in a new, UK-wide educational resource platform.
A KE Collaborative R&D-funded project has resulted in better access to the extensive digital collections of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Before this project, the resources were catalogued by different systems in separate online services. Using their expertise in information science research, particularly the method of record linkage using NLP techniques, Michael Pidd and his team at the HRI worked with the Library to create a federated search service of the collections. It was launched in the US in December 2014 and in the UK in March 2015: find it at www.hrionline.ac.uk/folger
During development, Michael and the team had free access to the Folger’s data. The project instigated a long-term partnership, supporting a productive, creative, trusting and friendly relationship between the partners. The HRI now hosts the service and will continue to work closely with the Folger to update and enhance it.
Relationships with other Shakespeare-related organisations have arisen from the work. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Globe Theatre and the British Library are all interested in the potential to expand the Connecting Shakespeare service by adding their own archives.
Consolidating these high-profile resources has furthered the international reputation of the University as a leader in digital humanities, which the team hopes will open up more opportunities for collaboration. Improving access to the Folger’s digital collections means a significant improvement to research infrastructure for Shakespeare and Renaissance studies worldwide, providing users with a single, intuitive discovery experience. It will be where researchers in this field go first.
The UK launch event in April 2015 will give the team at HRI and the potential new Shakespeare-related partners the chance to explore how they could collaborate, both in digital research infrastructure and traditional non-digital scholarship. The partners hope to establish one or more large collaborative AHRC grant proposals led by English or History colleagues.
Principal Investigator Michael Pidd said: “The numerous benefits delivered by this project – from starting an ongoing collaboration with a US institution to creating an invaluable resource – have opened up exciting new opportunities for us. Thanks to this work and because of Shakespeare’s popular appeal, we’ve also been involved in discussions with a BBC-led consortium to explore how this type of resource can be included in a new, UK-wide educational resource platform.”