BBC Archive Centre

Image via the BBC

Last Tuesday, the Library Trainees found themselves inside a big blue box containing all of time and space, floating outside this galaxy. That's perhaps a slight exaggeration, but as they visited the BBC's purpose-built archive centre at Perivale, containing over 12 million documents, radio programmes, television programmes, photos, sheet music and vinyl collections, it's only a slight one. 

One of these people is not a library trainee. 

Located in a former Cadbury's factory, the facility has been constructed to order to deal with the unique needs of this astoundingly comprehensive archive. Nine climate controlled vaults, each with individually adjustable temperature and relative humidity, take up much of the space, filled with rows and rows of rolling stacks - nearly 60 miles worth, if put end to end.

Image via M&H Online

The archive aims not only to store for posterity the different forms of media produced by the BBC, but it is also a working resource providing information and items for use or research - if a programme or documentary shows a clip from a BBC programme, it has almost certainly been sought out and copied by the industrious elves working away deep within the Archives. Specialized researchers also respond to queries about footage and sounds from the ridiculous to the sublime ("footage of the Titanic sailing into New York" was one example of the former). 

Image via Bruynzeel

Growing at a rate of over 6000 hours of radio and over 1500 hours of television every month, and containing everything from early cylinder recordings to the entire back catalogue of Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men, the archive is astonishing in its breadth and depth.

Further info:

Guardian Tech Weekly podcast about the Archives:

Web 2.0 continued...

Web 2.0 tools for librarians
A group of us recently went for a talk with subject librarian at SHL Colin Homiski to learn more about that nebulous term that’s been floating about for a while, ‘Web 2.0’. Before this talk I figured that I had a pretty good handle on Web 2.0 and the interactive side to the net. I was in for a surprise. Not only was Colin able to shed light on some fantastic technologies that will save me and many others a great deal of time and effort, but he demonstrated just how far the internet can now ‘work for you’.
In opposition to Web 1.0 where the action is taken by an individual to seek out information, with Web 2.0 this activity is reciprocal between the user and the net. This goes so much further than the social networking sites we are all too familiar with such as facebook or twitter, and beyond the two-way approach of sites like Wikipedia. Academic and career resources can now be made all the more accessible using Web 2.0. Here are some of the resources that we discussed that you might want to take a look at, either to help with your budding career as a librarian or just for your own personal interest.

Web readers
To start off with something really simple to make life easier and collate your usual web browsing into one straightforward activity, a web reader is a fantastic resource. These readers aggregate the RSS feeds from all of your favourite websites placing them on one manageable page. There a quite a few to choose from including FeedReader, Google Reader and Sage (as an add-on for Firefox). The Firefox add-on is said to be the easiest to use and the most interactive, but as an android user with a gmail account already set up I’ve always opted for the Google Reader which is still pretty good. Once you’ve started adding the RSS feeds of the websites you want to ‘follow’, you can categorise them into different folders and star posts or pages of particular importance. This means there is no need to use separate readers for work and home and in typical Google fashion they’re unbelievably easy to manage. Many of us nowadays are followers of blogs, and Google Reader is what I use to keep up to date with new posts rather than trying to remember all the blogs I follow and check them individually. Web readers will show you when a new post has been added and will allow you to click through to the actual site if you choose. It’s basically a good introduction to how useful and time saving Web 2.0 technologies can be and is a great place to start.  

This is a site that a fair few of us had either heard of or were already using and is a nice way of ‘organising’ the net that goes beyond simply clicking ‘add to favourites’ in your web browser. While web readers are great for sites with RSS feeds, Delicious allows you to compile information from website into ‘stacks’ of related material that you and others can easily browse. Delicious is a great example of how ‘tagging’ can be used to help sort information. Colin helpfully explained how with Web 1.0 it is necessary to used ‘controlled vocabulary’, for example like that used in library catalogues where certain terms correlate with certain materials. However with Web 2.0, users specify their own tags that they deem helpful. This is what’s known as ‘folksonomy’ and is one of the defining characteristics of Web 2.0. In Delicious, this means that users can search for stacks of sites by their tags, and thus tag their own stacks accordingly. Delicious is a really easy way of compiling anything on the net that interests you and can be a good way of searching for related content through other people’s stacks.   
This was less well known amongst the group than Delicious but is perhaps an even better resource, particularly if you’re studying or undertaking any kind of research. Zotero also relies on tagging in a similar way to Delicious, but is even more customisable and includes handy functions that enable easy citations and adaptable levels of sharing. Any type of file can be stored including PDFs, images, audio and video files and everything is automatically indexed to make searching even easier. This is an ideal resource for anyone undertaking research and there are also cloud computing functions (although these are of course space dependant) so you can access files from other computers.
This is another relatively new resource that adds a ‘Pin it’ button to the toolbar on your browser so you can attach different items from web pages to the virtual drawing boards you create via your own account. These items can then be re-pinned by other users allowing you to connect to their boards and find out other items of interest. While a few eyebrows have been raised regarding copyright laws (as with many aspects of Web 2.0) as to what you can post links and images to, it is currently relatively unrestricted as to what can be posted. This is less of a formal site and most people are using it purely for tracking their own interests and looking at other people’s boards. It probably wouldn’t be too useful in its current version for anything career or work related, though a board can be focussed on any topic you choose.
These are just a small sample of the ways in which Web 2.0 can be used. They sit in quite obvious contrast to the usual controlled taxonomies used by library catalogues and hopefully (though with some moderation), a more interactive approach via Web 2.0 technologies will be used by catalogues and library resources in the future.