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Linking to the past: an analysis of community digital heritage initiatives

Elizabeth Tait (Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK and dot.rural RCUK Digital Economy Hub, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK)
Marsaili MacLeod (Department of Celtic Studies and dot.rural RCUK Digital Economy Hub, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK)
David Beel (dot.rural RCUK Digital Economy Hub, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK)
Claire Wallace (dot.rural RCUK Digital Economy Hub, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK)
Chris Mellish (Department of Computing Science and dot.rural RCUK Digital Economy Hub, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK)
Stuart Taylor (dot.rural RCUK Digital Economy Hub, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Article publication date: 25 November 2013

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2436

Abstract

Purpose

Community initiatives to collate and manage different kinds of cultural forms and resources are a popular way for local people to engage with the heritage of their area. These initiatives are often heavily dependent, however, upon short-term funding and long-term efforts of a few dedicated individuals. This paper aims to explore how community digital archives offer scope to widen participation in cultural activities and to investigate the sustainability of these initiatives.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study approach was taken of Hebridean Connections, which is a community managed, online historical resource. This paper is primarily based on interview data with key stakeholders, all of whom are based in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

Findings

Participation in Hebridean Connections was reported in positive terms by respondents and many cited that it was a good way to reconnect with diasporic populations and that they believed that this would encourage tourism. It was also reported that the system of linked records added value to the collections as previously undiscovered connections could be made that would not be possible without the electronic resource.

Originality/value

Few studies have been undertaken examining community digital archives. The multidisciplinary nature of the study also brings together different perspectives on the area of enquiry.

Keywords

Citation

Tait, E., MacLeod, M., Beel, D., Wallace, C., Mellish, C. and Taylor, S. (2013), "Linking to the past: an analysis of community digital heritage initiatives", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 65 No. 6, pp. 564-580. https://doi.org/10.1108/AP-05-2013-0039

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited