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


Digital heritage can mean many things, from building a database on 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 available.

Coverage includes:

• an introduction to open data as a next step in heritage mediation
• an 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 visualising 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


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).

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