First impressions: light, sound and a new vision

New team member Emma Sherriff, outside the DH Lab

A warm hello to our blog readers, my name is Emma Sherriff and I am the newest addition to the Digital Humanities (DH) team. I am embarking on my DH journey at the beginning of an exciting new era of digital research, collaboration, and preservation for the College of Humanities; and ahead of the official opening of the Digital Humanities Lab on 23rd October by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Steve Smith.

My experience at the University of Exeter to date has involved supporting the work of Postgraduate researchers, as a member of the Doctoral College. My former role led me to discussions with the DH team around how the Lab can offer specialist expertise alongside cutting edge equipment, creating an opportunity to engage with, and connect an existing body of researchers across disciplines and themes. I am pleased to be involved in shaping the planning and delivery of training, digital projects and technical support in my new role.

Developing innovative projects in public and academic libraries and archives, in order to foster access and engagement is my background, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others through workshops and outreach activity. I also have experience of contributing to research projects in a professional research organisation, including data collection. I am passionate about empowering our students, academics and researchers to utilise technology and computing processes to futureproof research; and to work in partnership to connect projects whilst achieving ambitious goals.

During my first fortnight in the role, I have been delighted to test and contribute to digitisation projects alongside Graham Fereday, Hannah Petrie and Postgraduate researcher Helen Angear. I have been photographing two Special Collections volumes using our portable conservation cradle; and working with new audio-visual equipment located in Lab 3. I have also received introductions to a wide-range of exciting digital projects already held within the College; such as astounding high resolution images of the Exeter Book at Exeter Cathedral, Hardy’s letters, the Ipplepen skulls and the Powderham Castle manuscript. I am very impressed by the extensive knowledge and skills held by my DH colleagues, and I am keen to learn from them as we share experiences on future projects.

Digitising ‘The Graphic’ 1861, Vol 1

Testing digitisation workflows with DH colleagues

Promoting the DH Lab and meeting with visitors from academic institutions has also been very exciting and opened up the possibility of creating new partnerships, as well as attracting new researchers. We have received requests to host DH symposia and network conferences, in addition to planning for the launch of our facilities for the recording of podcast content, and for the filming of research-related digital content. I will be attending the DCDC17 Conference in November, and I am looking forward to meeting colleagues working on similar projects in other institutions.

It has been a pleasure to be introduced to new colleagues in Special Collections. Looking ahead, we hope that our combined expertise and ongoing outward-looking approach will enable further exciting historical content to be digitised, in order to preserve and improve accessibility in close partnership. Future joint projects include the digitisation of new archive collections, and podcasting around archival processes and content.

Our AV Lab provides access to high quality recording equipment

The end of my first fortnight in the DH team will culminate in attending the Lost Weekend festival at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum to share our 3D scanning technology and ongoing projects with the community and organisations across the county. Our visit marks the end of a very interesting fortnight, and the collation of a good deal of information about ongoing work and identifying areas for development.

I look forward to sharing our work with you, and to establishing the DH Lab at the heart of research at the University of Exeter. Get in touch if you’d like to know more, or to sign up to a staff or student tour of the Lab: digitalhumanities [at] exeter.ac.uk

Emma Sherriff

Digital Humanities Technical Manager

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