Alyson: One of my colleagues in CyMAL, Rebecca Johnson, spends some of her time assisting with Casgliad y Werin Cymru / People’s Collection Wales, and she has agreed to do a guest post on what this is. As an aside, it was the topic of her part-time distance learning Master’s dissertation which she has recently successfully completed.
Rebecca: It’s a real privilege for me to be involved in something as exciting and cutting edge as Casgliad y Werin Cymru / People’s Collection Wales: the innovative bilingual digital platform to collect, interpret and display the story of Wales’ history, culture and heritage. The People’s Collection Wales (PCW) has provided a real opportunity to bring different interest groups together to ‘think outside the box’ in the digital environment.
So what’s the relevance for libraries? A good place to start for finding out more is the new PCW page on the CyMAL website. This page aims to provide an introduction to People’s Collection Wales for the museum, archive and library sector in Wales. There will also be a more indepth guide to PCW available on the CyMAL website shortly. The paper delivered by Tom Pert and Dafydd James in April at the international Museums and the Web 2011 conference in Philadelphia is also very useful.
Maybe your library has a special collection, extensive local studies material, or possibly unique collections of local photographs? This sort of material can be digitised and uploaded to PCW, and then re-used in trails, digital stories, and for producing learning resources.
Maybe your library is a hub for local history groups or special interest societies? Individuals, groups and organisations can contribute directly to People’s Collection Wales after following a simple registration process on the website. Look out for the ‘Show Me How’ guidance on the website which explains how to use the online tools for contributing and using digital content, and creating online communities.
CyMAL has offered a challenge grant scheme in 2011-12. The aim of this funding is to encourage local museums, archives and libraries to work in close partnership with third sector groups to create high-quality and engaging digital content. The deadline for applications has recently closed and I’m looking forward to discovering which interesting and innovative projects will receive funding this year.
From a personal perspective, I’m interested to see how People’s Collection Wales will evolve and grow as time progresses. There is a difficult balance to achieve between strategic, planned development in line with resources, scope and scale; and retaining the flexibility and responsiveness to “stay one step ahead of the trend… shift and dance with its audience, collection… interpretive methods.” (Karen Mary Davalos, quoted in Berger, Maurice (ed.); Museums of Tomorrow: A Virtual Discussion. New York, Distributed Art Publishers, 2004. p61.)
How will people use the site, and how would they like it to develop? What future leaps in technology will be reflected in People’s Collection Wales? Will technology such as augmented reality become mainstream? Will People’s Collection Wales cross over the boundaries between the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’? And will People’s Collection Wales and other such projects change how we engage with, think about, and interpret history and heritage? Watch this space!