British Library Labs Awards 2017

The annual Awards formally recognises outstanding and innovative work that has been carried out using the British Library’s digital collections and data. This year, they will be commending work in four key areas:
  • Research - A project or activity which shows the development of new knowledge, research methods, or tools.
  • Commercial - An activity that delivers or develops commercial value in the context of new products, tools, or services that build on, incorporate, or enhance the Library's digital content.
  • Artistic - An artistic or creative endeavour which inspires, stimulates, amazes and provokes.
  • Teaching / Learning - Quality learning experiences created for learners of any age and ability that use the Library's digital content.

A prize of £500 will be awarded to the winner and £100 for the runner up for each category at the BL Labs Symposium on Monday 30th October 2017 at the British Library in London.

The deadline for entering is midnight BST on Tuesday 11th October 2017.

Criteria for entry:

  1. You must be aged 18 or over to enter the Awards.
  2. Your work must include at least one item of British Library digital content or data.
  3. The deadline for submission is midnight BST on Tuesday 11th October 2017.
  4. You must agree to the terms and conditions before entering.

Things to consider doing before you apply:

  1. We strongly recommend you look at some of the previous entries, examples of the British Library's digital collections and data, judging process, resources and our FAQs page.
  2. Contact Labs if you have any questions.
  3. Attending one of our events.
  4. Use @BL_Labs, @BL_DigiSchol and #bldigital hash tag if you want to discuss your entry openly.

What happens to your entries?

The descriptions of selected entries will be made available on our other uses of digital content page.

Intellectual property

Participants must ensure that a project does not in any way infringe copyright or other intellectual property rights of any third party.

Submitting your entry

You need to submit your entry by using the form and agree to the terms and conditions before you submit.

Previous Entries from 2016 and 2015:

The Awards winners and runners up for 2016 and 2015 produced a remarkable and varied collection of innovative projects in various categories:


  • Winner: Scissors and Paste, by M. H. Beals. Scissors and Paste utilises the 1800-1900 digitised British Library Newspapers, collection to explore the possibilities of mining large-scale newspaper databases for reprinted and repurposed news content.
  • Runner up: Nineteenth-century Newspaper Analytics, by Paul Fyfe and Qian Ge. The project attemptes t to ask how could computer vision and image processing techniques be adapted for large-scale interpretation of historical illustrations? The project is developing methods in image analytics to study a corpus of illustrated nineteenth-century British newspapers from the British Library’s collection, including The Graphic, The Illustrated Police News and the Penny Illustrated Paper, more:
  • Winner - “Representation of disease in 19th century newspapers” by the Spatial Humanities research group at Lancaster University analysed the British Library's digitised London based newspaper, The Era through innovative and varied selections of qualitative and quantitative methods in order to determine how, when and where the Victorian era discussed disease.
  • Runner up - The Palimpsest project based at the University of Edinburgh, produced a tool which was able to discover and make available a broad spectrum of books (including a collection of digitised 19th century books from the British Library) and forgotten gems about Edinburgh through various interfaces including a map.


  • Winner: Curating Digital Collections to Go Mobile, by Mitchell Davis. BiblioBoard, is an award-winning e-Content delivery platform, and online curatorial and multimedia publishing tools to support it to make it simple for subject area experts to create visually stunning multi-media exhibits for the web and mobile devices without any technical expertise, the example used a collection of digitised largely 19th Century books.
  • Runner up: Poetic Places, by Sarah Cole. Poetic Places is a free app for iOS and Android devices which brings poetic depictions of places into the everyday world, helping users to encounter poems in the locations described by the literature, accompanied by contextualising historical narratives and relevant audiovisual materials.
2015 (Entrepreneurial)
  • Winner - “Redesigning Alice” by Dina Malkova produced a range of bow ties and other gift products inspired by the incredible illustrations from a digitised British Library original manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground by Lewis Carroll and sold them through the Etsy platform and in the Alice Pop up shop at the British Library in London.
  • Runner up - British Library “Library Wall”by Sara Wingate-Gray and Kate Lomax (Artefacto) created an installation/poster resembling a bookcase, which has a curated collection of texts from the British Library's 19th century books collection which can be accessed through pointing “smart” mobile devices at the 'Wall'.


  • Winner: Hey There, Young Sailor, written and directed by Ling Low with visual art by Lyn Ong. Hey There, Young Sailor combines live action with animation, hand-drawn artwork and found archive images to tell a love story set at sea. The video draws on late 19th century and early 20th century images from the British Library's Flickr collection for its collages and tableaux and was commissioned by Malaysian indie folk band The Impatient Sisters and independently produced by a Malaysian and Indonesian team
  • Runner up: Fashion Utopia, by Kris Hofmann (Animation Director) and Claudia Rosa Lukas (Curator).The project involved the creation of an 80 second animation and five vines which accompanied the Austrian contribution to the International Fashion Showcase London. Fashion Utopia garnered creative inspiration from the treasure trove of images from the British Library Flickr Commons collection and more than 500 images were used to create a moving collage that was, in a second step, juxtaposed with stop-frame animated items of fashion and accessories.

Teaching / Learning

  • Winner: Library Carpentry, founded by James Baker and involving the international Library Carpentry team. Library Carpentry is software skills training aimed at the needs and requirements of library professionals taking the form of a series of modules that are available online for self-directed study or for adaption and reuse by library professionals in face-to-face workshops using British Library data / collections. Library Carpentry is in the commons and for the commons: it is not tied to any institution or person. For more information, see
  • Runner up: The PhD Abstracts Collections in FLAX: Academic English with the Open Access Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS) at the British Library, by the FLAX research team. The project presents an educational research study into the development and evaluation of domain-specific language corpora derived from PhD abstracts with the Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS) at the British Library. The collections, which are openly available from this study, were built using the interactive FLAX(Flexible Language Acquisition open-source software for uptake in English for Specific Academic Purposes programmes (ESAP) at Queen Mary University of London.
Jury's Special Mention
  • Top Geo-referencer - Maurice Nicholson - Maurice leads the effort to Georeference over 50,000 maps that were identified through Flickr Commons, read more about his work here.
  • Winner - Indexing the BL 1 million and Mapping the Maps by volunteer James Heald describes both work he has led and his collaboration with others to produce an index of 1 million 'Mechanical Curator collection' images on Wikimedia Commons from the British Library Flickr Commons images. This gave rise to finding 50,000 maps within the collection partially through a map-tag-a-thon which are now being geo-referenced.

Staff Awards

  • Winner: LibCrowds, led by Alex Mendes. LibCrowds is a crowdsourcing platform built by Alexander Mendes. It aims to create searchable catalogue records for some of the hundreds of thousands of items that can currently only be found in printed and card catalogues.
  • Runner up: SHINE 2.0 - A Historical Search Engine, led by Andy Jackson (Web Archiving Technical Lead at the British Library) and Gil Hoggarth (Senior Web Archiving Engineer at the British Library). SHINE is a state-of-the-art demonstrator for the potential of Web Archives to transform research. The current implementation of SHINE exposes metadata from the Internet Archive's UK domain web archives for the years 1996- 2013.
  • Special Mention: 3D modelling and printing of Chinese oracle bones and Hebrew items, involving digital curator Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert. The Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project (HMDP) provides free online access to Hebrew manuscripts from the British Library's collection. The project employed 3D photogrammetry, modelling and printing of the Hebrew collection, making these items available in a new way and enhancing the level of engagement with readers, as well as exploring new possibilities for sharing such resources.

A further range of inspiring work has been carried out with the British Library's digital content and collections.