Robert Burns at the BBC [revisited]

This is a companion piece to Robert Burns at the BBC from January 2009. Where that marked the birth of a project to publish audio readings of all Robert Burns's works, this marks its maturation.

The three year project is now complete. Surprisingly – and very pleasingly – the information architecture work put in at the end of 2008 stood the website in good stead throughout its growth. Very little additional behind-the-scenes development was required to take the archive from 100 works at launch to a mighty 717 now.

A total of 66 readers contributed recordings: an average of 11 each, some epic, some tiny. The overwhelming majority of pages also feature information about each work's history & meaning, written by proper Burns experts. These explanations and (embeddable audio are, of course, what make this particular Robert Burns project unique and therefore distinct from other Burns websites (& iPhone apps).

The solitary, humble XML document which powers the whole thing is now over 12,600 lines long but, amazingly, it still validates. Google indexes over 1,000 URLs from the site (a homepage, a biography, a page about Burns Night, a page for each work and listings pages by first letter, reader, theme, year and (just added) location.

Other new features include being able to embed the audio on non-BBC websites, 'Share on Facebook' buttons on each page and Previous & Next links to skip quickly from work to work.

One hilarious side effect of uploading all the works of the bawdy Bard is that I now have the dubious honour of having published the most pages to featuring the 'C' word. I think I'm actually prouder of that than I am at having finally got the A-Z listings dealing correctly with works beginning 'A ' and 'The '...

The website was nominated for a BAFTA(Scotland) award in 2009, too.

This is a blog post on, written by Tom Hodgkinson on January 19, 2011. Share