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Coventry University launches digital library to celebrate city’s cultural history

Coventry University has teamed up with Coventry City of Culture Trust, Culture Coventry and other partners to launch Coventry Digital - an online archive of photos, videos, maps and documents designed to celebrate the city’s heritage. 

"Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, interior view" from Coventry Archives.

It comes as a timely boost to the marking and documentation of Coventry’s proud history and bright future ahead of its UK City of Culture celebrations, which start in May and run for 12 months. 

So far, more than 12,000 items including photos, videos, maps and documents have been uploaded to the archive - featuring a wide range of Coventry’s most unique and defining features from years gone by as well as more recent times. 

Coventry Digital was set up to allow people with connections to Coventry to revisit and celebrate its past and update it with new assets, images and content. It also has the potential to allow augmented and virtual reality uses as its content and contributions develop.  

Coventry University’s Dr Benjamin Kyneswood, Director of Coventry Digital, said: “We have every confidence that Coventry Digital will be a great asset to the city and its surrounding communities and it will undoubtedly get better as we add more to it.  

“We’re asking families, businesses and community groups to contribute their archives by getting down their shoe boxes, opening up those old filing cabinets, and getting in touch. We want people in 20, 40, 60 years to be able to see their grandparents in colour and voice through Coventry Digital, knowing their memories are safe and accessible. We want people to look back and have a better understanding of where they come from.”

Coventry Atlas, which can be accessed through Coventry Digital, has also been developed to allow users to zoom into specific locations and see their unique, individual archives. As a funding partner of the project, Coventry Atlas has facilitated the digitisation of a vast range of images, assets and resources that have been made available through Coventry Digital, including an interactive map displaying wartime bomb damage to the city. 

Coventry City of Culture Trust Creative Director, Chenine Bhathena, said: “Coventry’s UK City of Culture is being created with Coventry citizens so that it reflects the many stories that our different communities want to share with the world, as we invite people to come and meet us and visit the city.  We are extraordinary, we have a fantastic heritage and play a significant role in the world.  This is our time. 

“Coventry Digital is already a fantastic archive of the city, and it will continue to grow over the years, and become richer with every submission by the people of the city during our landmark year as UK City of Culture. It is a crucial part of the legacy for UK City of Culture 2021, and will mark this historic moment in our history for generations to come.” 

Francis Nielsen, Cultural and Creative Director of Culture Coventry, said: “Coventry Archives preserve the physical images and records which tell the story of Coventry and its people – from medieval times to the present day. Coventry Digital enables us to make our collections more accessible as well as enabling communities and organisations to share and co-curate their own memories and stories alongside them. 

“Over 7000 of our images are already accessible on the site and we cannot wait to see our historic images displayed alongside the photos, videos and documents of the people of Coventry.” 

Anyone can view or contribute to Coventry Digital by visiting the website