Divided Society

The Linen Hall Library in Belfast required an immersive, user-friendly, future proof resource to showcase its Divided Society online resource to its maximum potential to include up to 200,000 pages, over 800 political posters, audio interviews, videos and educational toolkits for schools focused on key political events in the nineties.

Linen Hall Library
What we did:


Since the late 1960s, the Linen Hall Library has been collecting material relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland.  Over the years the Library has become the repository for a huge amount of material relating to the subject and the subsequent peace process.

‘The ‘Divided Society’ project has digitised and catalogued a significant section of the Northern Ireland Political Collection.  Over 500 periodical titles relating to the conflict and peace process have been made available to search and consult. These are publications that were published between 1990–1998 in the UK, Ireland and further afield, and documented the issues that affected Northern Ireland during that period.

The publications come from a variety of perspectives including community groups, voluntary groups, political parties, pressure groups, local and national government, and paramilitaries. Over eight hundred political posters have also been digitised.  ‘Divided Society’ is a unique and important resource that explores a critical time in Northern Ireland’s history.

What was needed

The Linen Hall Library approached BT48.com to:

  • Develop a fully responsive, immersive, innovative and engaging site
  • Ensure optimum search functionality
  • Create a huge and varied resource
  • Develop the site across a range of operating systems
  • Develop and implement highest quality, intuitive, safe, accessible, sustainable and responsive digital outputs
  • Manage content securely
  • Include audio/visual and social media integration
  • Create User registration/login including subscription for non UK/Ireland residents

The solution

Working closely with the Divided Society Project team we delivered a solution on time, on budget and that met the needs of users.

We developed the Divided Society brand, and the look and feel of the site to ensure that it was attractive and usable for a diverse range of users. James was also responsible for ensuring that the brand elements were suitable across a range of media.

The design process was carried out in close collaboration with Linen Hall Library. By getting a full understanding of each of the target audiences we created a design that appeals to all target audiences for the website - as highlighted during user testing.

We built a system that allowed Linen Hall Library to add content from a Dropbox account into the Drupal-based system while also carrying out Optical Character Recognition and PDF creation to ensure that the final artefacts were searchable and available in the format the target audience expected.

In addition, we also implemented a custom payment solution that utilises GeoIP functionality to ensure that the UK and Irish users can get free access.

The result

The site launched on 22nd January 2018 on time and on budget. Other key outcomes of the project are:

  • Pre-launch sign-ups from multiple foreign universities to access the resource via the promotional site we developed in addition to the live resource
  • Overwhelmingly positive user feedback via user testing we carried out with UK and US-based users with regard to:
    • Design
    • Content
    • Functionality
  • Development of promotional videos for the site based on user feedback from the user testing to allow Linen Hall Library to reuse content effectively across social media
  • Robust architecture based on Drupal 8 and SOLR to provide enterprise-class search functionality that provides the flexibility to adapt the resource to the changing needs of the research and academic community.
  • Over 1000 individual users signed up for access in the first 24 hours.