It’s March 2020 and Cambridge University Libraries have had to shut their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Andy Corrigan, Digital Library Coordinator, and his team are looking for inventive projects and ideas that can be achieved remotely.
First launched in April 2020 with the aim of transcribing digitised material that does not have any existing research project to do so, the Transcribing Together project was kick-started with a collection of nearly 400 small notebooks used by ecologist Oliver Rackham.
Born in Bungay, Suffolk, in 1939, Rackham was educated at Norwich School, matriculated at Corpus Christi College in 1957, and was elected Fellow of the college in 1964. He would later serve as Master from 2007-2008. Although he began by studying physics, as a graduate student he turned his attention to botany, particularly the physiology of plant growth and transpiration.
Rackham was a prolific historical ecologist whose prime interest was the function, history, and management of British woodlands. He kept a series of notebooks, which he began during his youth and continued until his death, in which he recorded observations on plants seen in his home surroundings and on his travels, in addition to information about the weather and his college duties.
One of the distinctive features of Rackham’s work was its interdisciplinary nature, and particularly the way it related scientific observation to historic and cultural context, revealing the nature of man’s interaction with his surroundings.