The National Library of Wales, together with Welsh libraries and archives, is to digitise records relating to the First World War.
A project led by the National Library of Wales in partnership with the libraries, special collections, and archives of Wales has received £500,000 in funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) for mass digitisation of primary sources relating to World War One.
The project will make available a unique digital collection revealing the hidden history of World War One as it affected all aspects of Welsh life, language and culture. The project will digitise printed and manuscript sources as well as moving image, audio and photographic material. At present, these source materials are fragmented and frequently inaccessible, yet collectively they form a unique resource of vital interest to researchers, students and the public in Wales and beyond.
The digital collection will be available through a website, and enhanced through the use of translation tools to enable broadest access.
“The online resource will provide an invaluable resource for teaching, research, and commemoration in time for the 100th anniversary of the start of the War,” says Andrew Green, Librarian of the National Library of Wales. “This is a great example of collaboration across the libraries, archives and special collections of Wales to make our unique materials available to the widest international audience via digitisation.”
The project has been developed by WHELF (the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum). Collections to be digitised are from the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth University Special Collections, Archives and Special Collections, Bangor University, Trinity St David’s Special Collections, Swansea University, Cardiff University Library, the Archives of BBC Cymru Wales and archives and local records offices that are members of ARCW (Archives and Records Council, Wales).
The People’s Collection Wales will gather content generated by communities and local and family historians. It will also digitise personal collections via outreach and targeted digitisation of significant material to enhance and complement the collections of the higher education partners. The unified, mass digital collection that will be created will represent the experience of the entire Welsh nation during World War One.
The content to be digitised has been selected in collaboration with academics in Wales and beyond, and the digital outputs of the project will lead to new research findings about Wales in World War One.
Paola Marchionni, JISC programme manager, says: “Through digitisation and collaborative working this project will bring together an impressive array of scattered content into one place and promises to become a key reference point for researchers and students looking at the Welsh experience of World War One. JISC is very proud to support this project which will also complement a number of other JISC funded World War One commemoration activities as well as national and international initiatives.”
The total cost of the digitisation project is £987,916. £500,000 in funding has been provided by the JISC Content programme 2011-13. Matched funding has been provided from institutional contributions from the project partners.
The project begins in February 2012, and the online resource will be launched in June 2013.