Introducing Innovation Labs to Zambian Cultural Heritage Institutions

Digital divide results in digital content not accessible to the users.
Image credit: Dania Jalees

For me, this year was packed with activities around innovation labs in cultural heritage institutions. I find labs fascinating because they are helping different types of users experiment with digital content. They also support anyone using digital collections; their growth in complexity and size now requires new skills to discover, analyse, and visualise digital content.

Three events are my milestones for this innovation labs year.

  • I took part in the Building Library Labs 2 workshop in Copenhagen (4-5 March 2019), which captured a great diversity of Labs and the work they do mostly across Europe.
  • I also worked on putting together an international booksprint which delivered the first guidebook on GLAM labs co-funded by UCL Qatar, Qatar University, the British Library and The Library of Congress. In only 10 days, this book will be launched at Qatar University and will be made available in CC0 for anyone interested in setting up and enhancing a lab!
  • Between the workshop in Copenhagen and the booksprint I also succeeded to put together the First Sub Saharan Workshop on Innovation Labs, which took place in Zambia. The event was co-organised by UCL Qatar and the National Museums Board of Zambia. The workshop obtained support from a recent Call for teaching activities in Africa and the Middle East of the Global Engagement Office at UCL. More on the workshop is available on the UCL Global blog, where I am exploring how innovation labs can help to reduce the negative impact of the digital divide. Existing digital collections not being accessible due to the lack of adequate technological eInfrastrictures is a significant issue in Zambia and the broader Sub-Saharan region. Can labs offer a solution via a proactive use of open infrastructures? We can continue spreading the knowledge and hope it will inspire new practices in proactive use of open infrastructures to share and explore digital content.

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