GLAM Digital Strategy

Oxford University's collections, based in its Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM), are of universal significance, representing the history, science, culture and knowledge of all major global civilisations. They are essential resources of cultural, intellectual and scientific materials for research, scholarship and education in the broadest sense - in Oxford, nationally and internationally.

Our vision is to utilise the opportunities offered by digital to democratise access to the collections, eliminating geographic, cultural and economic boundaries. Our ambition is for full machine readable metadata and digital surrogates of all our unique collections to be available and discoverable online, and for these digital assets to be preserved and safeguarded for future generation. GLAM institutions are interdisciplinary by nature, and their services already underpin research and teaching at the University. Fulfilling the ambitions set out in the GLAM Digital Strategy will enable GLAM to facilitate further research, teaching, lifelong learning and public engagement, and encourage new collaborations and experimentation, both now and in the future.

The diversity and size of the collections means a single vision for digital across the collections must of necessity be high-level in nature. Certain principles can, however, apply across the collections and represent the shared aspirations of GLAM:

1. All collections should be easily discoverable online, through the provision of high-quality metadata.

2. All unique analogue collections should ultimately have a digital surrogate.

3. The collections will continue to develop through the acquisition and creation of born-digital material as well as through the digitisation of existing material.

4. The collections will be easily usable for digital teaching and research, and GLAM will actively seek opportunities to participate in this activity.

5. GLAM will utilise the collections to support the University's widening participation and public engagement agendas, engaging new and diverse public audiences locally, nationally and internationally.

6. The collections will be created, managed and preserved in a manner which allows for their sustainable long-term use and reuse, that is efficient and cost effective, and that is secure, robust and resilient, safeguarding the investment made to create them in the first place.

7. GLAM will govern publication and reuse of the collections based on a shared IPR policy that aims to make material readily accessible in the public domain and encourage the widest possible reuse and engagement, while enabling GLAM to use its digital assets to support its institutions commercially.

8. GLAM will develop commercial approaches and partnerships where appropriate in order to grow and develop new income streams to ensure the sustainability of its operations.

Download the full GLAM Digital Strategy

Digital photography at the Bodleian Library and child using mobile device at the Ashmolean Museum


GLAM Digital Strategy Implementation Programme Board

The GLAM Digital Strategy Implementation Programme Board (GDSIP) is responsible for the overall management and delivery of a series of initiatives and projects funded by various sources to implement the GLAM Digital Strategy. It will report to the GLAM Strategy Group (formerly ASUC SG), to Curators of the University Libraries, and to the Oxford University Museums Board, but also with a reporting line to IT Committee on all projects funded from the IT Capital Envelope. With specific reference to the latter it will also function as an ‘IT Board’ with the appropriate approval authority for project funding and monitoring responsibilities, overseeing the ‘Digital Content’ envelope.

Download the full Terms of Reference for the GLAM Digital Strategy Implementation Programme Board.

Frequently Asked Questions

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The digital strand of GLAM shared services is a programme which currently consists of about 50 projects at various stages of planning and implementation. These projects are all focused on moving towards the aspirations of the GLAM Digital Strategy.

The programme includes digitisation of the collections; facilitation of search and retrieval; improving processes; development of tools and services to support digital scholarship (research, teaching and outreach); preservation; and all the underpinning IT systems, services and infrastructure required to support these activities.

The GLAM Digital Strategy is a high-level vision of how technology can help the GLAM units achieve their long-term aspirations. Fundamental to the Strategy is the notion of using the opportunity of digital to democratise access to the collections. This is underpinned by the development of robust infrastructure, security, tools and services to enable the vision to be realised.

There are six key aspects of the Strategy (although these overlap to some extent):

  1. Digitisation — taking forward the goal of digitising the GLAM collections and undertaking the activities required to make this possible.
  2. Search and Discovery — developing the appropriate infrastructure and undertaking cataloguing and other projects to deliver optimal digital access to the collections for researchers, students and the public.
  3. Digital Research and Teaching — developing the IT tools, services and infrastructure to support digital scholarship, including the Oxford University Research Archive.
  4. Digital Engagement — producing digital learning and engagement services and resources; conducting community outreach and dissemination.
  5. Digital Preservation — building and maintaining key infrastructure for digital preservation; planning, auditing and taking action to ensure that data and systems are securely protected.
  6. Digital Estate — ensuring efficiency, sustainability and cost-effectiveness through digital activities; providing appropriate staff development; collaborating with IT Services to build robust infrastructure, including hardware, storage, platforms, networks, security and data architecture.

The preliminary ‘Implementation Plan’ for the first three years of the GLAM Digital Strategy sets out a range of about 50 projects. For many of these we are seeking funding from the University’s IT Capital Plan, but for some areas — such as digitisation — funding will need to be found from other areas, internal and external.

For more information on the IT Capital Plan see:

A preliminary ‘Implementation Plan’ has been drawn up which outlines about 50 projects which we are hoping to complete during the first three years of implementation of the Strategy. Some of these are well underway, but some are on hold pending availability of resources.

The projects can be broadly categorised into 7 groups:

  1. Digitisation — e.g. creation of digital surrogates of the collections.    
  2. Consolidation — e.g. consolidation of catalogues and of collections management systems.
  3. Search & discovery — e.g. implementation of a cross-GLAM search solution.
  4. Digital research & teaching — e.g. the ORA transformation project and implementation of the findings of the Digital Education Strategy Group.
  5. Digital public engagement — e.g. website re-design and re-development with single CMS across GLAM; digital teaching resources for schools.
  6. Digital preservation — e.g. services, tools and infrastructure replacement for digital preservation.
  7. Digital ‘estate’ — e.g. the development of a GLAM commercial picture library; a new GLAM ticketing system for events and sales; hardware refresh for libraries.

This work is being overseen by the Digital Content IT Board (also known as the GLAM Digital Strategy Implementation Plan Programme Board), supported by a dedicated Programme Manager.

This Board is responsible for the implementation of the GLAM Digital Strategy Programme including initiating projects, securing funding for them and monitoring projects as they progress. It is chaired by Richard Ovenden (Bodley’s Librarian) and has members from across all the GLAM units and beyond who have particular expertise in the use of appropriate digital technologies.

The Board acts as the default ‘Digital Content IT Board’ for the University’s IT Capital Plan and reports to IT Committee. This means it has control over the planning and shaping of projects within the digital content envelope, and also the ability to approve spending on projects to a certain level, or to escalate projects beyond that financial authority to IT Committee for approval. It also recognises that some activities will be funded from outside the University’s Capital Envelope. 

A dedicated Programme Manager has been appointed to manage the projects and report to the Board regarding the scheduling of projects, dependencies, risks and so on. 

The full current membership of the Board is as follows:

  • Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian, Bodleian Libraries (Chair)
  • Aruna Bhaugeerutty, Manager of Digital Collections, Ashmolean Museum
  • Andrew Bonnie, Chief of Digital Operations, Bodleian Libraries
  • Paul Collins, Curator for the Ancient Near East, Ashmolean Museum
  • Kathleen Diston, Head of Archives & Library, Museum of Natural History
  • Haas Ezzet, Head of IT, Oxford University Museums and Gardens
  • Philip Grover, Assistant Curator, Photograph and Manuscript Collection, Pitt Rivers Museum
  • Simon Hiscock, Director, Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum
  • Stephen Johnston, Deputy Keeper, Museum of the History of Science
  • Stuart Lee, Deputy CIO, University of Oxford
  • Susan McCormack, Director of Public Engagement, Ashmolean Museum
  • Christopher Morton, Curator of Photograph and Manuscript Collections, Pitt Rivers Museum
  • Ben Plummer-Powell, Associate Director, Development
  • Judith Siefring, Head of Digital Research, Bodleian Libraries
  • Jessica Suess, Digital Partnership Manager, Oxford University Museums
  • Julia Walworth, Representative of College Librarians

Online Collections

Ashmolean Museum
Digital Bodleian
Eastern Art Online
History of Science
Natural History
Pitt Rivers Museum
Plants 400
List of site pages