The UK Reading Experience Database (UK RED) is an open access database and research project housed in the English Department of the Open University. It is the largest resource recording the experiences of readers of its kind anywhere. UK RED has amassed over 30,000 records of reading experiences of British subjects, both at home and abroad, and of visitors to the British Isles, between 1450 and 1945. These include both famous and anonymous readers. It is both an open access resource and open to unsolicited public contributions. Some 100 volunteers have contributed nearly a fifth of all entries. Volunteers have been inspired to contribute entries based on their own personal interests, such as the reading habits of their favourite writer, or the discovery of the reading diaries of an ancestor in their own family papers. They receive guidance and training from RED project members, and often develop considerable expertise in handling and interpreting documentary sources. The database attracts over 1,800 visitors a month from more than 100 countries. These contributions have generated further research questions and a number of new publications. The project has already attracted two rounds of AHRC funding (2006-2009 and 2010-2011) and is being widely used as a teaching and research resource.
We are currently forging links with partner projects in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand, and developing a global search facility, which will in future allow uses to search across all of the linked databases. You can find out more about the internationalisation of the project here.
[New Zealand soldiers with a copy of New Zealand at the Front, 20 Nov 1917, Alexander Turnbull Library, Reference No. 1/2-012980-G]