The digitized Hertford Atlas

Hertford Atlas 1/2, fol. 19v

Last autumn, BDLSS collaborated with Hertford College to digitize its copies of Abraham Ortelius’s 1573 Theatrum orbis terrarum and Georg Braun’s 1574 Civitates orbis terrarum, two landmark works in the history of cartography, known collectively as the Hertford Atlas. The digitization was undertaken as a celebration of the return of the atlas to Humboldt University in Berlin, whence it came at the end of the Second World War. The digitized atlas is now in Digital.Bodleian, with a IIIF manifest and image endpoints to enable creative and scholarly engagement with this resource.

To mark the anniversary of Abraham Ortelius’s death in 1598, we published a series of tweets on Tuesday encouraging Twitter users to engage with the digitized atlas. You can read them all on Storify.

Software Sustainability Institute Research Data Visualization Workshop

Our colleagues at the Software Sustainability Institute announce…

Research Data Visualization Workshop

University of Manchester
28 July 2016

There will be some presentations on data visualization in different domains (social science, medical informatics, geographic information system) during the morning. There will be time for networking during breaks, and hands-on sessions in the afternoon. In the hands-on session attendees will have the opportunity to create their own visualizations using their own data on a platform of their choice (Python, R, MATLAB and Javascript).

Find out more and book a place:

Digital Methods—Visual Analytics Series

We are delighted to welcome Margaret Varga, chair of the NATO Exploratory Visual Analytics Research Task Group and visiting fellow at the University of Oxford’s Department of Oncology, to present a major series on Visual Analytics at the Centre for Digital Scholarship. Each lecture will stand alone, and attending more of them will build to give an overview of this increasingly vital and profoundly interdisciplinary work from a world expert in the field.


MargaretVargaWhat: Visual Analytics Series

Who: Margaret Varga

When: 13:00—14:00, Thursdays, between 23 June and 8 December 2016

Where: Centre for Digital Scholarship, Weston Library (map)

Access: all are welcome

Admission: free

Booking: registration is not required but is recommended to assure you a place

Series: Visual analytics is the science of analytical reasoning facilitated by interactive visual interface.  This Visual Analytics lecture series aims to provide some basic understanding of visual analytics and it applications to a number of different real-world applications in: aviation safety, cyber security, maritime situation awareness, financial risk management, healthcare and social media analysis.  

23 June: Application of visual analytics to aviation safety

Bird strikes pose serious problems for both civil and military aircraft.  This seminar will discuss a Visual Analytics approach to working with and understanding the raw incident reporting data.

Book free tickets

30 June: Application of visual analytics to healthcare associated infection

Healthcare associated infections (HAI) are of important concern in patient care.  This seminar will describe Visual Analytics techniques which have been developed to help detect, monitor, analyse and understand trends, clusters and outbreaks of HAI.

Book free tickets

13 October: Application of visual analytics to maritime domain awareness

This seminar will discuss the application of visual analytics to the detection and analysis of security threats in the maritime domain.

Book free tickets

3 NovemberApplication of visual analytics to cyber security

This seminar will describe, compare and contrast user-centric and system-based approaches in the cyber security application domain.

Book free tickets

17 November: Application of visual analytics to financial stability monitoring

This seminar will consider the application of Visual Analytics to address challenges in financial stability monitoring.

Book free tickets

24 November: Application of visual analytics to social media analysis

This seminar discusses the application of Visual Analytics in the exploration of trends, patterns and anomalies in social media data.

Book free tickets

8 December: What is Visual Analytics?

This seminar introduces how Visual Analytics integrates technologies to support all facets of the human analysis and reasoning processes.

Book free tickets

Margaret Varga received her PhD in statistical pattern recognition from the University of Cambridge. She is a director at Seetru Ltd. and is the chairman of the NATO Exploratory Visual Analytics Research Task Group, as well as a visiting fellow at the University of Oxford. Her research interests are in visual analytics, visualisation, uncertainty analysis, network analysis, evidential reasoning, provenance analysis and visualisation, Bayesian reasoning, pattern processing, financial systemic risk and stability monitoring, image processing. Dr. Varga led the team that developed the world’s first automated breast cancer histopathology diagnosis systems, and she holds seven patents for this system.  She has over a hundred publications.

You can download a flyer for this series.

Two-year fellowship in digital preservation: job opportunity

The Bodleian Libraries have received substantial funding from the Polonsky Foundation to appoint three Polonsky Digital Preservation fellows for a two-year project, which will collaborate closely with a similar team based in Cambridge. Two of these roles have already been filled and we are still seeking the Digital Preservation Specialist who will serve as the technical lead within the team.

As the Technical Fellow, you will undertake research and training to build upon your existing expertise in the technical aspects of digital preservation. You will also work with colleagues in the team and the wider Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services department to help plan, develop, and implement digital preservation applications and services.

This role offers an exciting opportunity to shape the digital preservation activities of one of the world’s foremost research libraries.

For more information and details of how to apply, see:

Please note the closing date of 13 June 2016.

Research Uncovered—Doing (very) contemporary history with the archived Web

Peter Webster

What: Doing (very) contemporary history with the archived Web: Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, and the sharia law controversy of 2008

Who: Peter Webster

When: 13:00—14:00, Thursday 9 June 2016

Where: Weston Library Lecture Theatre (map)

Access: all are welcome

Admission: free

Booking: registration is not necessary but is advisable to ensure your place

The decade following the turn of the millennium may have seen an epochal shift in the nature of the discussion of religion in public life in the UK. The 9/11 attacks in the USA, and the terrorist bombings in London in 2005 prompted an outpouring of anxiety concerning the place of Islam in British society. The period also saw the coming to prominence of the ‘New Atheism’ associated with figures such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. The uniquely privileged position of Christianity, and the Church of England in particular, was also under greater scrutiny than had been the case for decades.

This paper examines a crucial episode of public controversy closely connected to each of these trends: a lecture given in 2008 by Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, on the accommodation of Islamic sharia law into British law. Using archived web content from the UK Web Archive, held by the British Library, it examines the controversy as it played out on the UK web. It argues that the episode prompted a step-change in both the levels of attention paid to the archbishop’s web domain, and a broadening of the types of organisation which took notice of him. At the same time, it also suggests that the historic media habit of privileging the public statements of the archbishop over those of any other British faith leader was extended onto the web.

The paper uses techniques of both close and distant reading: on the one hand, aggregate link analysis of the whole .uk web domain, and on the other hand, micro analysis of individual domains and pages. In doing so,  it demonstrates some of the various ways in which contemporary historians will very soon need to use the archived web to address older questions in a new way, in a new context of super-abundant data.

Peter Webster founded Webster Research and Consulting to help libraries, archives, universities and researchers build better digital services for research, with a particular specialism in web archives. He is also a historian of contemporary British religion; his study of Michael Ramsey, archbishop of Canterbury, was published in 2015 by Ashgate. Before setting up WR&C, he was on the staff of the Institute of Historical Research and (most recently) the UK Web Archive team at the British Library. He may be found on Twitter at @pj_webster, or blogging at

You can download a flyer for this talk.