Towards a National Collection (TaNC) is a major investment using digital technology to create a unified national collection of the UK’s museums, libraries, galleries and archives to maintain global leadership in digital humanities and arts research.
In partnership with Culture24, The Audience Agency did in-depth research with an expansive range of users – all the way from academic digital humanities specialists and professionals in the GLAM sector, to educators, members of the creative industries such as journalists and game designers, and members of the public who might be local history enthusiasts or might never have engaged with collections at all.
The report offers ideas on how a future National Collection’s digital infrastructure could be shaped to create maximum value across the UK in a way that is both feasible and sustainable. It points the way towards further research and key decisions that will need to be made about the future shape of the National Collection programme.
Sophia Woodley, Head of Policy Research at The Audience Agency says:
“This project has opened up a lot of thinking around how people engage with collections and with heritage in the UK and specifically what their digital expectations are, how they interact with Netflix, YouTube or Tik T.O.K or whatever and how this shapes their expectations about how they might engage digitally with collections content. We think it’s absolutely crucial to understand the context in which people come to collections to be able to serve them better.
This also was interesting and important because it was such a broad range of users that the national collection might work with. So, all the way from digital humanities specialists in academia, to whom this is something they spend their whole lives working on and thinking about, to educators, professionals in the sectors, members of the creative industries, like journalists who use content every day all the way through to members of the public who might be local history enthusiasts...or might be people who have never engaged with collections at all. We traverse that whole range of people to find out what a national collection might offer.
It was very exciting to be able to work on and think about the potential for a national collection. It's already received a great deal of investment through UKRI delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
There are fascinating pilot and foundation projects going on already and we worked with a steering committee composed of people from many of the leaders from many of the major museums, archives and libraries. It was very intellectually exciting to get their input, and we think this is a project that has huge potential impact on the UK culture and heritage sector.”
Towards a National Collection is funded by UKRI’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, and has supported a range of pilot projects and other research in addition to this piece of work. The Audience Agency believes that a future digital national collection would have a huge potential impact on the UK culture and heritage sector – and therefore that it’s crucial to ensure that it meets the needs of users both within and outside the sector.