Community innovations at the British Library

The innovative work of the British library around their collections is quite exemplary. Not only have they been able to solve the challenge of providing open access but also celebrating the creative commons. This can be seen in project such as the crossroads of curiosity by David Normal. In December 2013, British library labs and digital research teams released 1 million algorithmically snipped images from 65,000 digitised books on to the Flickr Commons. Since then, the British Library Flickr Commons photostream has amassed a staggering 260 million views. The use of a mechanical curator digitised and open sourced images from the library archives on Flickr let to the crossroads exhibition.

Their use of open innovation through competitions and letting artists, researchers and entrepreneurs use their collections is creditworthy. Their innovation competition entries have 3 categories:

i). Research: This is work that has been done in the context of a research project or activity. It should show the development of new knowledge about the British Library’s digital content, research methods, or tools.

ii). Creativity:This is work that uses the British Library’s digital content in the context of artistic or creative endeavours. It should inspire, stimulate, amaze and provoke.

iii). Entrepreneurship: This is work that delivers or develops commercial value. It could be in the context of new products, tools, or services that build on, incorporate, or enhance the British Library’s digital content to produce commercial value.

The tools and processes that are used in the creative-entrepreneurial work is made available online for the public and other libraries to learn and get inspiration from. Their commitment to open access and open source is noticeable in the directives of the competition entries and in the digital tools and resources they make public on their webpage.

They also encourage political debates by organising activities such as the wikithon on food, digital rights events, mapping historical political meetings etc.

Other notable projects include:
My digital rights: Magna Carta for the digital age

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