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Single Digital Presence project aims to provide a service for all public libraries


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The British Library has begun work on a prototype of a UK-wide digital platform for public libraries.

It has begun the work over the past few days with its delivery partner, public sector digital services specialist dxw, to test the concept as part of its Single Digital Presence project.

This derives from a report on the digital options for UK libraries and involves the creation of a shared infrastructure for a centralised library management system, with the ability to search for digital from all libraries, archives and other public collections, and to lay the ground for unified digital lending.

Project manager Jacob Fredrickson said it is looking to test the concept and has launched an online consultation with the public library sector on what it wants to see prioritised.

The team plans to run remote tests on what it creates and gradually develop an understanding of what a tangible library platform might look like. It will also prototype concepts and test them with libraries.

“We think a UK-wide digital platform for libraries should focus on the three enduring pillars of a library service: people, content and space,” Fredrickson said.

“It should strive to unlock collections, making finding public library material online easier and more enjoyable. It should amplify the library as social, physical space, promoting activities, events and programmes happening within public libraries. And it should build a large, engaged and healthy community of library users online, interacting both with library content, staff and each other.

“Done correctly, this holds the potential to build a safe, trusted, digital civic space, with the values of the library at its heart.”

Open elements

He added that the platform should include space for open and accessible communities of practice, along with open source tools and functions for knowledge exchange and data sharing.

The Single Digital Presence project has its roots in a study launched in 2017 and supported by the Arts Council and Carnegie Trust. Among the potential benefits are that users would gain a better understanding of the information and resources and libraries, and be able to explore and produce content in collaboration with others.

Image from HAAP Media ("freeimages")

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