Readers and researchers in special collections reading rooms worldwide are increasingly being allowed to photograph books and manuscripts themselves, for their own research use. We at the Bodleian Library are seeing this demand increase amongst our readers, from those wishing to take high-quality images with a camera to those who want to take a quick snap with their smart phone.
However, the impact of such “DIY digitization” both on research and teaching and on service provision has not been given sustained attention. Daniel Wakelin, Jeremy Griffiths Professor of Medieval English Palaeography at Oxford University, Christine Madsen, formerly Head of Digital Programmes at the Bodleian and currently a visiting academic at the Oxford e-Research Centre, and Judith Siefring, a digital project manager at the Bodleian, recently received funding from The John Fell Fund to explore the impact of DIY digitization.
One experimental aspect of the project has been to set up a Bodleian Special Collections Flickr site, where we encourage readers who have taken photographs of our special collections to share their photographs with the members of the group. Guidance and restrictions are given on the site. We want to know if and how readers want to share their images, and what their practices reveal about user-led photography.
A second aspect of the project will be to interview users of special collections about their methods and attitudes to taking their own photographs of books and manuscripts. If you are willing to be interviewed for the project, we’d be very grateful! Please contact Judith Siefring via email, in the format email@example.com.