Celebrating two years of ‘Picture this…’

August 2014 sees the second anniversary of ‘Picture this…’, the monthly online collaboration which takes a digital image from Canterbury cathedral library’s store of manuscripts and early printed books and shares the content and context of the picture with a worldwide audience, through an accompanying online article by a member of MEMS.

To celebrate the occasion Karen Brayshaw, Cathedral Librarian, and Jayne Wackett, of MEMS, are delighted to announce the expansion of the project to also include materials from the Cathedral Archives. Already spoiled for choice with a wealth of diverse sources from the Library, ‘Picture this…’ will now also be including charters, records and manuscripts from the archives. Cressida Williams, Cathedral Archivist, begins this interesting new phase of ‘Picture this…’ with an article on a rather glamorous and sumptuously illuminated charter from James I’s reign.

Explains editor, Jayne Wackett ; “Including the archives in our collaboration is a wonderful opportunity to further enrich the sources that we can share via ‘Picture this…’. There are some truly beautiful, rare and fascinating items in the cathedral’s collection. I love the fact that the receiving audience is so broad in background as one of the main aims of the project was to open out access and understanding of a relatively hidden collection.’”

Launched in August 2012, ‘Picture this…’ was greeted positively by historians, archivists, scholars and an interested general public. In August 2013 an exhibition and accompanying conference (‘A Year in Pictures’) was held at the cathedral to celebrate the first year anniversary of the project. The exhibition provided the opportunity for people to experience for real the books they had seen digitally over the previous twelve months; this is vital as although the internet allows universal access without continuously compromising an object’s condition, it can also homogenise the viewing experience.

Another strong motive behind ‘Picture this…’ was to provide a platform for MEMS students not only to gain first-hand experience of working with the cathedral library’s resources, but also to share their areas of expertise via online publications. It is infamously difficult for postgraduates and early career scholars to make their debut in the publishing world and online articles on a credible website provide a perfect way of allowing voices to be heard. To this end there have been two ‘Picture this…’ writing workshops at the cathedral library where MEMS students have browsed through a selection of the library’s hidden treasures and chosen a work to write about.

The articles are not exclusively written by MEMS students, at times various scholars connected to the Cathedral library have been kind enough to donate their time and knowledge and MEMS Friends will also be invited to produce articles during the forthcoming year.

Visit the ‘Picture this…’ website to see all published articles: