For the past year or so, the Collections Department at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust have all been working on an exciting project to redesign how we manage our collections information behind the scenes and how we present it to the public online.
Historically, the three sections of our collection, museums, library and archive, have been managed separately with different systems and different procedures. We've been working for years to bring them together into one, and our most recent project is a huge step forward in this process.
For the first time, the three parts of our collection are managed behind the scenes together on one system called QI. This means that we can draw connections between items, allowing for better access both internally and externally. We no longer have to visit three different systems just to find out what we have on David Garrick! This may seem like a simple thing, but it has been a huge undertaking with a lot of hard work from everyone, with lots more still to come. Getting our collections data into the system has highlighted some big areas for improvement, such as how we manage our locations and our terminology control – simple things like the way we record dates differs between collection areas! Cataloguing practice has changed and developed massively since our first catalogues were created, and QI allows for much more current and appropriate cataloguing.
From the public’s point of view, our new online catalogue is a huge leap forward in how they can browse our collections. We have been working with an agency called Keepthinking (who also created QI), who have done a fantastic job in developing the new site, allowing for a much more contemporary, image-led feel that hopefully brings to life the breadth and variety of the material we look after. You can check it out at collections.shakespeare.org.uk.
For over a year, we have had an in-house photographer in the department working incredibly hard on producing images with the new catalogue specifically in mind. All this new content has encouraged us to revisit how we supply and licence our images. With the launch of the new catalogue, we have moved to a new model in which any material that is ©SBT or in the Public Domain is free to download under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND license. You can download images directly from the catalogue where the download button is indicated. We have launched with over 10,000 images to download, with more being added every day. To find out more about using our images visit our website.
As exciting as this launch is, what is really exciting is the opportunities that this unified approach to managing the collection can open up to us and our audiences, so stay tuned! In the meantime we are looking for feedback on the catalogue and have created a short feedback form that should take no longer than 5 mins to complete. Alternatively, you can email us directly with your thoughts or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A reminder of that URL again, collections.shakespeare.org.uk.