Kirsty Earley , 04.03.2020
Don’t be scared of digitisation
Digital practice in museums takes on a variety of forms depending on factors such as the collection type and staffing. We live in a rapidly changing age and “digitisation” seems to be the word on everyone’s lips. But while it is exciting for some, it is terrifying for others.

A common myth is that digitisation is only for large museums with lots of money. Larger organisations may have the resources to create visually impressive and complicated digital products, but digitising collections can easily be done in-house at a much lower cost.

Starting small can lead to bigger things. Digitisation at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow began with a small project fund of £5,000 from Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS). This enabled us to purchase basic photography equipment and employ a part-time digitisation intern.

The success of this initiative led to a bigger visualisation project funded through MGS’s Museum Development Fund. A variety of products was created to communicate the college’s heritage through a series of engagement events and collaborations. Digitisation has become an everyday practice of the museum, and is embedded in its priorities.

If you’re thinking about digitisation, think about why you want to digitise collections and then look at the how. Start simply and go from there.

Kirsty Earley is the digital heritage and engagement officer at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow