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British Museum & Bookleteer

July 1st, 2011 by radhikapatel

Bookleteer, archaeology and local history.

It is now a year since we launched the short run printing service so now seemed like a good time to reflect on what people in different areas have been using the printing service for. In this post we reflect on its use in two projects connected to the British Museum.

Julie Anderson, the Assistant Keeper of Egyptian and Sudanese Antiquities at the British Museum used Bookleteer to create 1000 books in Arabic and English about the 10 year Sudan excavation to share the findings with the local community in Sudan.

Following the distribution of the book, teenagers began coming to our door in the village to ask questions about the site / archaeology / their own Sudanese history… connecting with their history as made possible through the booklet. It was astonishing. More surprising was the reaction people had upon receiving a copy. In virtually every single case, they engaged with the Book immediately and began to read it or look through it….The Book has served not only as an educational tool, but has empowered the local community and created a sense of pride and proprietary ownership of the ruins and their history.

Bookleteer was used in the Melanesia Project to record, Porer and Pinbin, indigenous people from Papua New Guinea discussing objects in the British Museum collection. Bookleteer was used first to create simple notebooks that were printed out on an office printer and handmade. Anthropologist James Leach used them to note the discussion in both English and Tok Pisin, next to glued in polaroid images, to produce a record that involved;

capturing the moment of what we were doing and what we were seeing.

Once filled in, the notebooks were scanned and professionally printed to share with the local community in Papua New Guinea (who have a subsistence lifestyle without electricity).

“[…] As something to give people, they’re an extremely nice thing. People are very keen. I also took some to an anthropology conference before I went [to Papua New Guinea] and would show them to people and they’d immediately say “Oh, is that for me?” People kind of like them. They’re nice little objects.”

Researcher and community education worker Gillian Cowell has used the books as part of a community project with Greenhill Historical Scoiety:

“I think, for community work, it’s really important that you engage in much more unique and creative and interesting ways as a way of trying to spur some kind of interest and excitement in community work […] The books are such a lovely way for that to actually fit with that kind of notion.”

Bookleteer is an online service to help you create and publish booklets and StoryCubes. It’s simple, quick and free – print and make them in minutes using only a pair of scissors, or share them online, anywhere there is an internet connection, computer and standard inkjet or laser printer.

If you are interested in finding out about how you could use Bookleteer, come along to one of our Pitch Up & Publish Workshops or Get Bookleteering sessions this summer.

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