Picturing the past : digitisation at Guildhall Library
Vendula (who features in the film) introduces a new video on our YouTube channel. The film was put together by Chris and the narration is by Lynn.
A project has been taking place at Guildhall Library. The aim is to digitise almost 300 items. Most of them are pamphlets from the 17th and 18th centuries including bills, acts, petitions and other legal material. The project is a result of a contract between the City of London Library Service and ProQuest, which is the body which publishes EEBO (Early English Books Online).
The project was scheduled for 4 – 5 weeks and was carried out by two people from EEBO and by our library staff. The pamphlets were identified and brought up from our store. Then the digitising started. Pamphlets were sorted, scanned and the digital images were made. At the end of the project all digitised items will be available through EEBO to many users around the world.
The project will have a positive impact for our library. It will open up access to our collections for researchers and make it easier to discover the content of some of the material. It will help preserve some of the rare items because the originals will need to be handled less frequently. Also it is a great opportunity to promote some of our collections, make it accessible to users outside London and generate some income for our department.
Chris (one of our Assistant Librarians) reflects on the making of the video that featured in the last post:
In BSS, we have recently produced a video and uploaded it to YouTube. The idea is to give an introduction (a very brief one) to the work done in our section.
Having decided in principle that it was a good idea to produce a video, we were faced with some difficulties. The work we do in BSS, though important, interesting and central to the public library service provided by the City of London is distinctly not photogenic. Most of us spend a high proportion of the working day sitting at computers, working to a high level of concentration. Secondly it is very hard to give sufficient detail to make the explanation interesting, yet not so much that it is simply underwhelmingly overwhelming. Finally none of us who were involved in the project seemed to have much (if any?) experience of producing any kind of audio visual production.
A look around at what similar places had done was reassuring to an extent. There are plenty of library / bibliographic outfits who have produced superbly professional representations of what they do. However they seem either to have invested in heavily expensive equipment or even have contracted the work out to professionals. On the other hand there are plenty of other organisations who have produced something themselves. We were clear from the beginning that ours would have to be done on a shoestring to the best standard we could but with no frills and relying chiefly on the message.
Cooperation has certainly been one of the principle ingredients – people willing to be photographed, to be filmed, to offer advice, to look up quickly how something can be done, researching websites for music and offering supportive comments when some of the results became showable. There was no shortage of timely help and this undoubtedly had a good effect on the working relationships within the office.
Early on in the project, we agreed a format – basically a narrator speaking to still and moving pictures with a brief interlude of somebody speaking direct to camera. We gathered pictures and video clips to add to an existing collection we had. Having this collection made it comparatively easy to insert pictures at will, though some pictures which went in the final version were taken only days before the whole thing was completed! Quite early too we drafted and settled on a script. With this complete, we had a structure around which we could work.
From this point we produced a very rough first draft of the film – a crude recording of the script coupled with a high proportion of the eventual pictures. This rough version we were able to show around and get some feedback. Because responses were pretty positive, we were able to begin concentrating on the detail, like recording the narration and the video interlude properly, like finding appropriate music and working that in and creating captions and taking clips from the library catalogue. Right up until the last moment of creation difficulties were emerging and being overcome, such as balancing the volume and tone of different voices recorded on entirely different machines and answering puzzles such as how you could allow someone who was speaking to camera to continue speaking but cut away from their face to show something else as they spoke. The final version was only completed at 10.00pm the night before being shown to the two people heading our service.
It would be great to hear from others who have had experience of producing something of this kind. It would also be wonderful to hear any feedback from those who have seen the film.
This is the first of two posts about the promotional video that we have recently made and uploaded to YouTube, based on the idea of a virtual Journey of the Book. In this post we give you a chance to watch the video (and learn a little more about us), and in the second Chris (who was mainly responsible for making it) will explain how it was all put together.
Chris adds –
It would be great to hear from others who have had experience of producing something of this kind. It would also be wonderful to hear any feedback from those who have seen the film. It takes only 6 minutes. Have a look and let us know what you think.
You should be able to view the video by clicking on the arrow in the middle of the screen.