The future of digital scholarship in the UK?

The chief executive of the British Library warns of the potential damage that could be caused by cuts to its budget. (Those are the cuts resulting from overspending on the 2012 Olympics, including, of course, that dire logo.) Not just in terms of acquisitions and access to reading rooms; there is considerable emphasis on digital resources and access too:

If the suggested cuts to the nation’s greatest library go ahead, large parts of the UK’s digital output will be lost. Gaps will open in the intellectual record of the nation. As our global competitors forge further ahead in the digital world, the British Library will be marooned in the analogue era, ceasing to be relevant for future generations.

The proposed BL funding cuts have been well publicised. Meanwhile, the news that the Arts and Humanities Data Service (the UK’s central support and archiving service for humanities digital resources) is about to lose its funding has barely been noticed. It has been warned that we could rapidly go “from having an exceptionally strong system of national infrastructure support for ICT in Arts and Humanities research… [to] almost none at all.”

…the end of the AHDS may be decisive in the history of digital scholarship in the UK as this may be the end of national support. It is national support that has defined digital scholarship in the UK for many years and has helped the nation to become one of the world-leaders in the field. Without a national approach, the field may flounder or return to the dark days of scattered digital scholarship with little coherence or ambitions as a field.

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2 Responses to The future of digital scholarship in the UK?

  1. Alun says:

    As well as the loss of the AHDS, there’s also going to be a credibility problem for any replacement service in the post-Olympic future. Why invest time and effort in any new digital archive if you’re just one World Cup bid away from having the plug pulled on it?

  2. Sharon says:

    I should just say that in the case of the AHDS (unlike the BL situation) I don’t think there’s any evidence that there’s any direct connection between the withdrawal of funding and the Olympics (and I didn’t intend to give that impression). But yeah, I know what you mean more generally.

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