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Why Digitally Preserving Cultural Heritage Data Matters – HeritageWeek2020

Submitted on 18th August 2020


As part of National Heritage Week 2020, the DRI explored the theme of 'Heritage on your Doorstep' by conducting interviews with our members where we discussed how their archival collections highlight the memories, objects, and stories of diverse communities across Ireland. Visit the DRI blog to learn more about the importance of digitally preserving, and facilitating access to, our shared digital cultural heritage. 

As a trusted national digital repository for Ireland’s cultural heritage data, DRI is privileged to play a role in preserving the country’s cultural memory. We were really delighted, therefore, to get involved in National Heritage Week 2020. 

With Covid-19 restrictions in recent months, access to heritage institutions and sites across Ireland has been severely limited. The public have been largely cut off from heritage ‘beyond’ our doorsteps. This restricted access has brought digital cultural heritage to the fore, making it a crucial resource and educational tool, especially following the closure of schools and colleges across the country.

In June 2020, the Heritage Council announced that Heritage Week 2020 had moved to an online celebration, with the theme of the week being ‘Heritage and Education: Learning from our Heritage’. The DRI decided to focus on the subtheme of ‘Heritage on your Doorstep’, and, in response to a call for projects from the Heritage Council, conducted interviews with several of our member organisations about their collections in the DRI’s repository. 

Our members are experts on their collections and these interviews provide an interesting opportunity to hear directly from them about the context of the collections, their favourite objects, the role digital archives play in helping us to learn from our heritage, and why the digital preservation of cultural heritage matters. The theme of 'Heritage on your Doorstep' is explored through discussion regarding how these archival collections highlight the memories, objects, and stories of diverse communities across Ireland. 

Three of our member institutions were interviewed:

Due to social distancing and COVID-19 restrictions, these interviews were conducted by DRI staff members over Zoom. 

We are really pleased that these interviews demonstrate both the breadth of our membership and also the great variety in the types of materials that make up the country's cultural heritage record. The Women at Work collection emerged from a social science research project, while the Jacob’s collection represents a photographic archive of one of Ireland’s most iconic businesses. The Asylum Archive and Cork LGBT Archive are unfunded community archives run on a voluntary basis and are both winners of the DRI's Community Archive Scheme.   

We invite you to watch the videos on the DRI’s website here or on the Heritage Council website here and to explore other collections in the DRI’s repository here, as part of Heritage Week 2020.

Image credit: George Prentzas on Unsplash 

DRI is funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) via the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Irish Research Council (IRC).

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