Texas Digital Library Conference System, 2017 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries

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The challenges of hybrid digital libraries: the Royal Society Journal Collection.
Louisiane Ferlier, Stephanie Routhier-Perry

Last modified: 2017-03-22


The Royal Society Journal Collection: Science in the making is an ambitious collaboration between the library and publishing team of the UK and Commonwealth academy of sciences. As publisher of the oldest continuing scientific journal in the world, the Royal Society is creating a new digital archive of all its published periodicals dating from 1665 to 1996 (when the publications were born digital). Digitising 450,000 pages in a year is a huge challenge, but the project is also developing a new platform to host a sample of digitised manuscripts relating to the history of the making of the journals. The archives of the Royal Society contain a wealth of manuscript materials demonstrating the invention of peer-review and the evolution of the system of submission from private correspondence to standardised systems, and displays wonderful photographs and sketches that could not be included in the original publications.

Our paper will address the challenges we have faced in creating this archive, from day-to-day management to overall scientific questions about creating a sustainable digital archive. We will address those challenges from a dual perspective: that of a digital librarian and that of a digital humanities scholar. Investigating the importance of curation, preservation and innovation in the making of the digital collection, we have insisted on the importance of collaboration at all stages of the project.

We hope to showcase how our innovative platform, ‘Science in the Making’, will allow new connections between contributors or documents, and engage a wide audience by making use of open technology and adhesion to open community standards such as IIIF, W3C Web Annotation Model, etc. Our presentation to the Texas digital community will be an opportunity for us to introduce the platform to the United States, and to discuss the importance of opening scientific archives, to make sense of the history of science as a collaborative space.


digitization; digital collection; curation