‘Open a GLAM Lab’ Part of the Celebration of Creativity in Digital Humanities with DH Awards

‘Open a GLAM Lab’ book and two lovely coincidences today (14 February 2020)

Today – on St Valentine‘s day – my blog post about the book and the role of GLAM Labs in innovation went out on Europeana Pro. I was very pleased with this coincidence since the work on the book – and the work of the labbers I know – is indeed a labour of love.

This blog also appeared on the day Digital Humanities (DH) Awards (@dhawards) were open for voting. All of us who worked to bring the ‘Open a GLAM Lab ‘ book to life are very pleased it had been nominated under the Best DH for Public Engagement category. 

These community awards are organised annually since 2012 in  several categories:

  • Best Use of DH for Fun (10 nominations)
  • Best DH Data Visualization (17 nominations)
  • Best Exploration of DH Failure (2 nominations)
  • Best DH Blog Post or Series of Posts (10 nominations)
  • Best DH for Public Engagement (16 nominations)
  • Best DH tool or Suite of Tools (12 nominations)
  • Best DH Dataset (9 nominations)

It is also great finding the work of one of the institutions who supported the book, the National Library of Scotland,  featured in the Tools category with its Data Foundry. While this is not strictly speaking a tool but the data delivery platform of the National Library of Scotland, the type of nomination actually illustrates how difficult is to pick a category in digital humanities-related work.  Similarly, our book is under the Public Engagement category which is relevant but it actually looks at the longer-term impact of the book! ‘Open a GLAM Lab’ seeks to support all labbers who are starting or willing to expand their activities which definitely would have an impact on public engagement in the future, but the primary impact is on having more – and better-equipped innovation labs across different GLAM institutions!


DH Awards 2019 is open for voting until 1 March 2020. What I particularly like about DH Awards is that they include work done around the globe and their announcements are also published in  Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), French, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.

If you know our book and found it useful, add your vote for it! Exploring the dozens of nominations is also very inspirational for anyone keen on digital humanities. 

A note on finding an image capturing the Labs spirit

Writing the blog for Europeana, I had to choose an image illustrating the topic. This was a bit of a challenge – what image can capture innovation, human participation and transformation at the same time? I liked the 9 artworks of Sarah Grice of the brain depicting personality and character traits. One can find all these in the innovation labs environments although we would prefer to have mostly bright and open-minded brains. (Top row: Woolly Thinking, Inflated Ideas, Clouded Thoughts; Middle row: Pea Brain, Bright Idea, Feather Brain; Bottom row: Open-minded, Deflated, Wired).

9 artworks depicting the brain – https://www.europeana.eu/portal/record/9200579/knu9f4vt.html. Sarah Grice. Wellcome Collection – https://wellcomecollection.org/works/knu9f4vt. CC BY – http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

However, these do not capture very directly the evolution of the tools and the contribution of the humans – which I thought were best combined in the engraving after R. Corbauld which depicts a man conducting an alchemical experiment in the foreground, and the new chemistry in the background. It is all about transitions in tools, and also in the desire to find a solution which transforms the qualities of the basic ingredients – a great metaphor for what Labs are about!

R. Corbould, Allegoric print. License: CC BY

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