Choosing charts to digitise

How did we identify the charts for digitising for the JISC eContent project?

In 2009 the Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) awarded BODC a small grant to undertake a pilot study. BODC would

  • digitise some of the charts in the BODC archive
  • make others records available
  • create a webpage to distribute these data
  • identify those records still in need of rescuing.

We had tide gauge charts from five ports (Holyhead, Lerwick, St. Marys, Sheerness and Stornoway) digitised. This filled gaps in the digital data BODC hold and also, for the first time, extended records back chronologically. These are important historic documents and digitising the data made them available to a much wider audience. Previously the charts could only be viewed on the premises by one person at a time.

Tide gauge chart from Belfast, 1901

The scanned images of tide gauge ledgers came from eight sites around the UK. The ledgers for Sheerness contain some of the earliest records of sea level data in the UK. Other ledgers came from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and include several sites around Liverpool.

As part of the pilot project’s final report, we identified further records in need of rescue. The criteria for rescuing included

  • sites where long digital records were already available, with small gaps that the analogue data could fill
  • records that could be extended backwards or forwards chronologically
  • sites that were of scientific importance, e.g. records along the Thames that could aid in future Thames Barrier studies or tidal power generation studies.

We chose records that meet these criteria to digitise in the JISC eContent project.