Scholars' Lab Blog //Scholars' Lab Speaker Series: James Smithies
Blog //Scholars' Lab Speaker Series: James Smithies

Speaker Series Brown Bag: James Smithies

The UC CEISMIC Digital Archive: Co-ordinating Libraries, Museums, Archives, Individuals and Government Agencies in a Disaster Management Context

On July 22, Dr. James Smithies, Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, spoke in the Scholars’ Lab about his work designing and developing the CEISMIC Digital Archive.

Summary: The Canterbury region in the South Island of New Zealand has experienced over 11,000 earthquakes since September 2010, including a devastating magnitude 6.3 quake on February 22nd 2011 that resulted in the loss of 185 lives. Only months after the February quake, while university staff were teaching from tents in the approach to winter, a fledgling digital humanities programme was established that had as its first goal the development of a national federated digital archive to preserve the vast quantities of content being produced as a result of the earthquakes. Paul Millar and James Smithies drew together a Consortium of 10 local and national agencies representing New Zealand’s libraries, museums, archives and cultural organisations in an effort to ensure a co-ordinated response.They then led technical development of a national federated archive,, and a bespoke research archive, The CEISMIC archive has recently completed Phase 1 of its technical development, and includes over 20,000 items. Consortium member organisations, local government agencies, and commercial companies provide content next to community groups and individuals. Projections indicate that the archive will hold 100,000 items by the end of 2013. The intention is to remain operational for the 10-15 years it is expected to take to rebuild the region. This talk will describe the current state of the archive, and explain how Millar and Smithies used methods inspired by the digital humanities community to achieve their goals.

You can find Dr. Smithies online on his website ( and on twitter (@jamessmithies).

As always, you can listen to (or subscribe to) our podcasts on the Scholars’ Lab blog, or on iTunesU.

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Cite this post: Ronda Grizzle. “Scholars' Lab Speaker Series: James Smithies”. Published July 29, 2013. Accessed on .