Tag: students

diversity and inclusion in libraries and collections

A cartoon in our archives showing Noreen Murray as a schoolgirl being reprimanded for making clones of herself in the laboratory (a reference to Noreen’s work cloning DNA)

Some interesting equality and diversity activities going on in our libraries and collections:

Equality and Diversity Images Internships

The Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections (CRC) has a student internship curating images from our collections that show gender, race and diversity with a view to having these images be used for promotion of the University courses, and as part of courses where they are relevant. The successful outcomes of this have been digitisation of materials, engaging blog posts which have narratives from the collections that raise the profile of resources and narratives in the collections to support work in the area.

Following on from this £10,000 was awarded from the Innovation Fund to engage student interns to look at images and narratives of equality, diversity and community to support Students Association campaigns and encourage student engagement. This will be undertaken in the first 6 months of 2019 and is supported by the Students Association executive.

Project: Revealing and Expanding Diversity in our Library Collections

In 2017-18 Library and University Collections teams worked with Students Association to organise two collection displays in the Main Library. A display in October 2017 celebrated Black History Month and in February 2018 a display celebrated LGBT+ History Month. A small number of additional books were purchased to contribute to the LGBT+ display and to increase the range of Library resources; the LGBT+ display also linked to a display in the Library’s CRC which highlighted first editions of books, signed letters, essays and other manuscripts related to W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood.

The Main Library Black History Month display in October 2018 included 41 new items purchased through the project budget, and the project budget also enabled the purchase of additional display units for the Main Library and the purchase of new display units for New College Library and ECA Library. Further displays in 2018-19 are planned to support the Students Association’s  four Liberation Campaigns (Black and Minority Ethnic – BME, Disabled Students, LGBT+ and Women). Students Association representatives and colleagues from across the University are involved in organising the displays, selecting resources for purchase and communicating the project to students. The displays have been popular with students, with display items being borrowed and students providing positive feedback to staff.

Women’s Collections Cataloguing

The Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections have had an intern for 8 weeks cataloguing the collection of a misrepresented female composer from the 19th century to raise her profile and make the collection available for dissertations and study. The Centre hopes to do more of this type of project – the archive projects team have prioritised how women are described in collections and are reviewing best practice for future cataloguing

Resource Lists

The Libraries and University Collections (L&UC) have also been working with the Student Association’s LiberatEd project to highlight the functionality available to students to suggest new readings for their course resource lists.

Feminist Art Collecting Strategy

In the past few years the Libraries and University Collections (L&UC) has adopted an equality strategy to balance the women artists represented in the University collections. They are actively working with the Principal to diversify the art seen in Old College. For example, of the works that have been collected since 2012, 54% are by female artists.  This has included noteworthy work by significant female artists as well as works that deal with gender representation and diversity concerns.

The Contemporary Art Research Collection

The Contemporary Art Research Collection, established in 2016, is the newest art collection at the University and is the most significant area of activity in the diversification of the collection. The Collection is linked to the research of colleagues in History of Art. Their research and teaching area concerns feminism within the structures of Globalisation. This collection actively redresses the gender imbalance as well as the prevailing geographic focus on Western Europe and therefore enable us to broach new territories in terms of space, media and practice. The works acquired thus far highlight the major concerns of our times and the issues that affect women in particular – for example sex workers rights, care work and housing.

Diversifying display

This gender and diversity bias in the Collection is perhaps highlighted most evidently within the Portrait Collection. The majority of portraits in the collection do not date from the contemporary period and therefore there is an overwhelming imbalance of representation – a recent estimate suggested that approximately 5% of artworks were by female artist or female sitter. This is no more obvious than in the display of works in historical parts of the University like Old College. On the request of the principal, over the last few months work has been carried out internally on how best to rehang Old College to better reflect both the history and diversity of the University community in our displays. This will be an ongoing, long term project.

Vote 100

A pop up exhibition opened in the Main University Library in November 2018, telling the story of how some of the University’s first female graduates pushed the agenda forward for equal enfranchisement in the UK. The exhibition focuses on when Chrystal Macmillan, Frances Simson and Frances Nairn took the fight to the House of Lords in November 1908. Chrystal Macmillan and Frances Simson became the first women to speak in the House of Lords. The exhibition was opened by Diva , Students Association Vice President for Education, who spoke about how inspiring the women were for students today, showing that students had fought for their rights and for equality.

As a result of this project L&UC are helping  RAG week reps with hosting Helen Pankhurst to come and speak in March 2019.

New Internship for Equality, Diversity and Gender in Archive Catalogues

This project will look at the University of Edinburgh’s archive catalogues to explore the description, language and surfacing of women, cultures, communities and diverse groups in these catalogues. Many of the catalogues have been inherited over centuries of collecting, meaning that women and minority groups are often misrepresented or simply missing altogether from the catalogues. This project will require the business school students to analyse our data and explore the issues and problems, coming up with ideas to make them more diverse and inclusive using qualitative and quantities methodologies.

See hear

A dragon from our University collections © The University of Edinburgh CC BY https://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/f9p45v

I have a long relationship with speech-to-text technology.

In 1998 we had a room in Student Services where students would go to talk to Dragon Dictate. The more they spoke, the less it understood, the more they would laugh, the more it would transcribe their laughing.  It was a very popular  service as a ‘pick-me-up’.

By 2012 I managed a large collection of contemporary educational oratory -the Oxford Podcasts collection, which includes some fine examples of inspirational rhetoric and clearly communicated ideas. Our interactions with voice recognition software, however, had been frustrating. During the project the team explored various solutions including both automatic translation and human transcription services. We began a project to explore how to best represent the content of our podcasts in text. By focusing on keywords generated by recognition software we were be able to give a searchable interface to users before they listen and represent the amount of relevant content within. Blog post April 2012

7 years later the challenge of making academic audio collections accessible continues to be one which is high in my mind as we roll out lecture recording across the campus at Edinburgh. We’ve been tailoring our Replay roll-out to support the university’s policy for Accessible and Inclusive Learning .

Some people have asked if we are going to have subtitles on our lecture recordings as default. The answer is no, but  we are exploring  creative ideas on how we could do it.

My experience is that automated speech to text although improving, is not fully there yet. And costs remain prohibitive, so transcripts or subtitles are not automated in the lecture recording system. Specialist language in lectures remain tricky and are often subtitled badly. It is also difficult for the transcription to discern whether the lecturer is quoting, reading, muttering or joking. The kind of ‘performance’ and content some of our colleagues deliver would need a highly nuanced translation. All UK HE struggles with this challenge and colleagues are anxious that their speech is not misrepresented by a poor quality subtitle which might be more confusing for learners. Blog post August 2017

The overarching objective of our new project for 2019  is to establish and evaluate an initial pilot Subtitles for Media service and make recommendations for future sustainability and resourcing.

The initial focus will be on designing and piloting a service which can scale and improve the usability/ accessibility of our front facing media content through the addition of subtitles and transcripts as appropriate. The service design will aim to include all users and will be primarily concerned with publicly available University media content hosted on Media Hopper Create, EdWeb or one of the University’s Virtual Learning Environments.

The project will have three strands:

  • Testing the feasibility, viability and cost of a student-led transcription service 

A 3-month pilot will allow us to understand what is needed to establish a sustainable programme of work to support our ambitions based on the outcomes of this pilot phase. The students will gain paid work experience and new digital skills. There is already a thriving market in the local region of students who offer proofreading, transcription, audio typing, subtitling and translation services in their spare time and from home. We will work with academic colleagues in the School of Sociology (Dr Karen Gregory) to research the emerging ‘gig economy’ to understand how best to establish an ethical model for piecework in this area.

  • Research and Development

The project will strike a balance between evaluating and costing a model for a growing service, and Research and Development to ensure we keep sight of technology trends in this area and understand how they might influence service development over time. We will run a series of events to engage with other organisations and our own technology leaders in this field to ensure we understand and are able to take advantage of technology developments and opportunities for funding or partnerships.

  • Improving digital skills and promoting culture change

We aim to move towards a culture where subtitling our media is standard practice at the point of creation, not only because of changing legislation but because it promotes engagement with our media for the benefit of our whole audience, and at the same time promotes digital literacy and digital skills.

In order to achieve all this, the Subtitling for Media Project will:-

  • Establish and evaluate an initial pilot service of a student-led subtitling service
  • Develop a costed plan for an ongoing service including support and service management
  • Make recommendations for future sustainability and resourcing
  • Ensure students are trained to deliver a pilot subtitling service
  • Create an ethical model for student piecework in this area
  • Deliver training and guidance to enable best practice in media creation
  • Develop an understanding of current and future technology to support accessibility and ensure our developing service remains in broad alignment

As part of the ISG vision for the University of Edinburgh we aim to support all digital educators in making informed choices about their digital materials. Through this project to establish a new service, staff and students will develop digital skills in creating and using accessible digital materials.   Benefits will include supporting staff and students to understand how and why to make learning materials accessible, and development of digital skills in support of wide scale engagement with digital education. The Subtitling for Media Project will establish and evaluate an initial pilot service and make recommendations for future sustainability and resourcing.