The British Library put on many free events for researchers to inform them of their services. The Conference Centre was the setting for the day event. Many of the attendees had travelled from around the country. The Library is developing ways of opening access to its archives and gradually digitising as much material as possible.
The web has opened up the research community to sharing information and so the Library has launched an initiative to collect, search and order theses online with their EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service).
I went to a workshop on Newspaper archives based in Colindale, London. A fabulous and seemingly massive collection of news and print publications dating back to the 18th century. Second session I sneaked out to go to the 19th Photography exhibition at in the main library which is a very comprehensive collection of the pioneers of early photographic techniques.
After a lovely free lunch there was a panel discussion about the future of the library in the digital era. Title: How are the skills required by researchers to maximise Web 2.0 tools affecting the way that research is conducted and what are the potential ramifications of this? Quite a mouth full. Each of the three panellists gave a 5 minute speech on their views followed by a discussion. A question was asked from the audience wanting a definition of “web 2.0” and this is where the panel became a bit unclear. I stepped in to explain that one of the main components was the ability to be interactive and share information where a website was ‘dynamic’ rather than ‘static’ in its use, often attached to a database for information storage. I asked the panel if they agreed with me but they went quiet as if I had said something offensive. So I then explained that Web 2.0 was a phrase that Tim Berners-Lee does not accept. I was relieved when one of the panel acknowledged that they knew who he was.
A very good day with lots of available resources to use. The British Library is a truly great British institution.