Open Heritage Data

Jun 2020 | 176pp

Price: £64.95
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Open Heritage Data
An introduction to research, publishing and programming with open data in the heritage sector

Henriette Roued-Cunliffe

Digital heritage can be many things, from building a database over Egyptian textiles to interacting with family historians over Facebook. However, it is rare to see professionals with a heritage background working practically with the heritage datasets in their charge. Many institutions who have the resources to do so, leave this work to computer programmers, missing the opportunity to share their knowledge and passion for heritage through innovative technology.

Open Heritage Data: An introduction to research, publishing and programming with open data in the heritage sector has been written for practitioners, researchers and students working in the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector who do not have a computer science background, but who want to work more confidently with heritage data. It combines current research in open data with the author's extensive experience in coding and teaching coding to provide a step-by-step guide to working actively with the increasing amounts of data in their charge.

Coverage includes:

  • An introduction to open data as a next step in heritage mediation
  • A short overview of the laws most relevant to open heritage data
  • An Open Heritage Data Model and examples of how institutions publish heritage data
  • An exploration of use and reuse of heritage data
  • Tutorials on visualizing and combining heritage datasets and on using heritage data for research

Featuring sample code, case examples from around the world and step-by-step technical tutorials, this book will be a valuable resource for anyone in the GLAM sector involved in, or who wants to be involved in creating, publishing, using and reusing open heritage data. 

List of case studies, figures and tables
List of permissions
List of abbreviations

1. Openness in heritage

  • Heritage amateurs
  • Organising heritage in institutions
  • Physical access
  • Online access
  • Data access
  • Summary
  • Notes

2. Sharing legally

  • Heritage laws
  • Data protection law
  • Copyright law
  • Summary
  • Notes

3. Publishing open data

  • Galleries/art museums
  • Libraries
  • Archives
  • Museums
  • GLAM
  • Summary
  • Notes

4. Using and reusing open data

  • Use and users
  • Technical skills
  • Authority
  • Heritage hackathons
  • Wikipedians
  • Education and youth
  • Apps
  • DIY and maker culture
  • Portals
  • Tools
  • Summary

5. Visualising open data

  • Basic data reuse
  • Images
  • Maps
  • Charts
  • Summary

6. Combining open data

  • Combining art
  • Combining archaeological records
  • Combining newspapers
  • Summary

7. Open data for research

  • Basic data collection
  • Data cleaning
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Timeline analysis
  • Summary

Appendix A: Examples used in the book

Appendix B: Introduction to coding

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • JSON
  • PHP
  • Python


Praise for Open Heritage Data: An introduction to research, publishing and programming with open data in the heritage sector:

'Digitisation in Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums is becoming more prevalent, and so is sharing the data that results from that effort in open and reusable forms. However, navigating the complex information environment to identify, locate, reuse, and repurpose openly licensed heritage data can be tricky. In this useful introductory text, Roued-Cunliffe covers a wealth of issues regarding openly available digitised content, including legal, technical, and social aspects. Covering use, users, methodological approaches, and infrastructure, this is a timely compass to those considering how open data fits into their research, or art, practices, showing the range of activities than can be possible once collections allow reuse and repurposing of their digital assets.'

— Melissa Terras, Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage, University of Edinburgh

'Open, heritage and data are by no doubt some of the most debated and discussed concepts of our time. In contrast to much of the earlier work that has focused on either the practical or theoretical sides of data and openness in the heritage field, this wonderfully approachable volume provides an insightful and personal introduction to open heritage data both in theory, and through easy to start with hands-on exercises in tapping into various types of heritage data, also in practice.'

— Isto Huvila, Professor, Uppsala University

'This book offers a unique take on one of the most urgent challenges for the GLAM sector today - that of building bridges between cultural heritage professionals and new technologies. It’s a blatant lack in our skillset not to be able to understand the machinery that so shapes how we work with heritage in the 21st century. Roued-Cunliffe to the rescue! With her combined background in archaeology, teaching and coding, she competently guides us through the tech maze, opening up the world of open heritage data both as a philosophy and toolbox in clear, pedagogical steps.'

— Merete Sanderhoff, Curator/Senior advisor, SMK, The National Gallery of Denmark  

'Digitisation is not enough. Henriette Roued-Cunliffe’s book is both a strong argument for the sharing of heritage data, and a font of inspiration and ideas. Mixing discussions of copyright with snippets of code, she encourages institutions and individuals to make a start — to look beyond the problems and explore the potential of open heritage data for creativity and research.'

— Tim Sherratt, Associate Professor of Digital Heritage, University of Canberra

Henriette Roued-Cunliffe is an Associate Professor in Digital Humanities at the Department of Communication, University of Copenhagen. With a background in Archaeological Computing (MSc, University of Southampton) and a doctorate examining digital tools for the reading of historic texts (Ancient History, University of Oxford), her research experience is in the use of data and digital tools within heritage. Her coding experience comes from a combination of formal and autodidact learning, which she has adapted to teach digital heritage and data science in the Humanities. Alongside digital heritage, Henriette works to understand the information behaviour and online interaction of those groups who have a special interest in heritage (e.g. family historians, amateur archaeologists, community historians). She co-edited the volume Participatory Heritage (Facet 2017).