What is it like to take 36,000 people to work with you? Social media opens up the secret world of solitary jobs
Until the arrival of social media, being a curator at the British Library remained a solitary, out of the way job. In many ways it still is for Julian Harrison, curator of pre-1600 historical manuscripts. Behind the scenes he cares for the priceless collections that include copies of Beowulf, some of the world’s oldest Bibles, the Lindisfarne Gospels and the state papers of Henry VIII. He curates exhibitions such as the current Magna Carta: law, liberty, legacy. The difference for Harrison these days is that he does all this with a virtual audience of thousands.
Harrison has been working at the British Library since 2006. “I can’t think of how we could have communicated what we do back then apart from an occasional story in the media,” he says. The shift began in 2010 when the library started an experimental blog to chart the digitisation of the Greek manuscripts. “It was a niche thing for a niche audience,” he adds.
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