Prep Day Two

default.jpgOur next prep day (again in the Hub) involved hearing from two library staff about projects they have undertaken using the library’s digital data:

Richard Aspin, head of research in the Wellcome Library, came to talk to us about his work on the Ticehurst collection, an archive of records from Ticehurst asylum and mental hospital dating from 1787-1975. He specifically discussed a project in which he documented the life of one patient, author and barrister Herman Charles Merivale (1839-1906) –

Deborah Leem from the Library’s digitisation team also came to talk to us about a project she is working on called ‘Smelly London’. This project investigates how smells are linked to the health and socio-economic identity of London streets by using the Medical Officer of Health Reports (MOH) in the library’s digital collection to map smells across London boroughs from 1848 – 1972 . Although the project is a work in progress, so far she has managed to produce a prototype map, showing bubbles of recorded smells separated into boroughs, take a look here:

Our Afternoon then consisted of working with these projects to identify challenges in the data sets, and solutions to solve these, specifically looking at how these could be solved both before and within data week. In fact, Frankie, one of our developers, become so enamoured with the Ticehurst collection that we have decided to give him and Richard their own project within data week. The only issue with this, we need more developers…



Prep Day One


Dealing with as much data as we are attempting to, in such a small amount of time, was always going to be a big ask, especially working with people for whom the library systems are a completely new entity.

Solution: Prep-days.

For two days we have been working with our developers, introducing them to data, where this is stored (electronically) and how to move around and manipulate this. These days served as a trial run for the week, both in  terms of whether our data is actually useable and the logistics of the week. Within minutes problem one was identified: Henry’s (the location of the event) was too cold! – At least there was lots of tea, coffee and pastries to warm us up.

We spent the morning looking over the different library systems; listening to Frankie, one of our developers, about his work on a previous library project working on manitpulating digital data – ; and from this identifying a list of problems and tasks to fix before the week’s beginning:


We then spent the afternoon ( in the tropical climates of the hub) working on specific problems such as; finding the most commonly used nouns in a vast selection of digitised books identified by one of our researcher; and identifiying if there is a connection between alcoholism and the temperance movement.