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Sep 19

ALIA Biennial Conference Day 1

I was fortunate enough to attend and present at the first day of the ALIA Biennial Conference 2014 in Melbourne.

Here are my notes from the sessions I attended (all good stuff).  I will get my presentation up here soon as well.

British Library in a globalised world – Roly Keating: Chief Execuitve of British library
(Roly was formerly with BBC2 with oversight over the TV shows Qi and Top Gear.)

What does it mean to be a library in a technological, commercialised, globalised world?

http://www.bl.uk. The new British Library was built in an old railway yard, poor area. But now a dynamic and globalising part of the world. It is surrounded by research facilities and Google is moving into the area soon.
Our values are expanding. We are not in conflict with the new, but encompass them all. We are both physical and virtual, local and global and more….

British Library is still a deposit library, conserving and preserving and presentation English literature.  Their treasures include a lyrics scrap from John Lennon.

They now have challenges with hybrid archives, where they are collecting both print and digital. British Library is now a digital depository. Now they are trying to collect all the web with a uk domain. News sites they are collecting every day.

They are also now partnering with Google on digitising foreign language titles from the 18th & 19th century.
British Library is built on a huge historic group of collections. It is only 40 years old, but they have the libraries of George III, the East India Trading Company and many more.

In order to make these collections digitial they are partnering with many different organisations.

The goal is to connect communities with their culture and history. They are closely involved with Europeana – a digital alliance of European libraries, archives, museums and more. Europeana has been slow in developing but now coming alive with the centenary of World War I. It is being built not just on the collections of the partner institutions but from the collections of the community.

Trove appreciated by the British Library. Linked data systems, open api and common standards are the goal to ensure their projects are nestable and inter-connected.

We are seeing projects that are increasingly institution to individual eg. Crowd sourced OCR correction at Trove, British Library geo-referencing maps to Google Maps project – crowd sourced with 98% accuracy on over 8,000 maps so far.

British Library Labs – partner with Mellon -open calls to public to create innovative projects with their digital collections.  One was the Mechanical Curator which harvests images from their digital collections, which in themselves is an amazing resource with valuable info. British Library then posted these images to their Flickr channel and a load of new creativity has resulted. One project became an art installation at the Burning Man festival in the US.

Roly told the story of the displaced Bhatwa people from Rwanda, whose language and culture is effectively dead. However, some of this culture had been recorded in audio by the British Library and a Bhatwan gentleman was able to listen to the language of his people in the  audio of an interview with his father, who has long since passed away. Understandably this was both an exciting and emotional experience.

British Library is also involved in a project to digitise archival collections at risk. The collection and a digital copy stays in the country of origin, but British Library also gets a copy. This project encompasses archives of both historical and current content.

Another example was the restoration of the Iraqi Public Library after its horrific destruction in 2003. Libraries around the world quickly supported the rebuild, through digitising their own relevant content to give them. British Library also coordinated with British tertiary libraries to restock the shelves with print sources of relevance to the Iraqi Library.

Libraries contribute to identity, civil society and citizenship.

Magna Carta 800th anniversary next year, both a celebration and a reminder of our responsibilities and trust. Our best defence against the chaos of this world is our strong professional collaboration.

National and State Libraries Australasia – Innovation in tough times

Maker spaces – The Edge – Janette Wright SLQ
The State Library of Queensland took over an old restaurant to create the Edge, to attract young people, to help the learn about technology, creative experimentation, across multiple disciplines.  The space has been built on maker space philosophy. It was funded with about $1 million syphoned from other library activities, to staff and equip the facility. Participants asked to share their creations and their expertise. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 12 – 8pm. No library qualified staff at the Edge and now bringing the philosophy into the rest of library. Use catalysts (people) to create short term programs, usually researchers, scientists etc.

Users attend induction and they then can use facilities,which are all bookable by individuals and groups. Includes Macs, sewing machines, sound studio, laser cutters, 3D printers, fabrication and more. Have done interesting work with marginalised groups.

In first year, they ran 1700 programs attended by 40,000 participants. Majority of audience 20-49, but all ages come, including women.

One of their most impacting projects was Creative community programming. Participants learn how to rebuild computer from scratch and install open access software, then get to keep it.

Turning the library inside out: the institute building lighting project- Alan Smith SLSA
Were originally looking at doing at highlighting their rich collections by developing an internal light show, but it didn’t work in the space, so looked to do it on the outside of the building. Funding from library board, will go live April 15. $210,000 to set up and $50,000 for a new project each year for next four years. Projected on wall closest to main entrance and will run very night. Console built into forecourt and people will be able to interact with the images. They will not only be the most beautiful images, but will expose the depths of the collection. Open with WWI content.  Big part of project is skilling up staff. Will also develop presentations around major events such as the Royal Show, holidays and other iconic events.

Mobile Melbourne – SLV Apps – Peter McMahon SLV
SLV took the chance to take a fresh look at app landscape with this project. Users generally have an average 22 apps and use ten to twelve regularly. Storage is a big concern, so users questioning how many apps are need.  New app needed to have clear audience, device unique, provide a personal experience and be adaptable.
Hoddles Grid uses the in-phone GPS, but can be used outside the CBD, is CMS driven so more content can be added. It includes screenscapes and aerial views, but has location challenges.

Lots of media cover on launch, with 47,00 downloads in first two weeks and increases in website traffic and photo catalogue searches.

The app is a canned experience which will then take the user to a fuller responsive experience on the SLV website.

Transcribing the past: Maggie Patton SLNSW
The State Library of NSW began collecting war diaries and letters in 191 with a pro-active search for such materials. Have a collection of 200 from then and another 400 from subsequent conflicts. The challenge is to make this content available for the centenary.

They have developed a transcription tool, with currently over 157,000 pages available now, using a Drupal based transcription module. Volunteers are doing the transcription which is all done online and fully searchable. Hope to use this for other manuscript collections. All Crowd sourced and web based.

Story lines with Ara Irititja – Damien Webb SLWA
A new project now running for 18 months and about restoring community memory and literacy. Comprises a central archive and community run archives for protected native content.

Throught this project SLWA have been able to identify aboriginals in one of  images and link it to further info from other sources. Users can search storylines for different media and users can add tags and input their own content. Celebrates aboriginal history and discover new stories.

One community archive has already been setup, with photos repatriated from SLWA. Three more centres to be set up, more access points to be arranged in the library, education, training and partnerships to be developed.

VIZIE – collecting social media – Mylee Joseph SLNSW

Lots of content is being created in social media which needs to be collected for researchers of the future. It is timely, immediate and needs context both in terms of events, people and our use of language.  SLNSW is interested in sampling the many voices and in the conversations.  Challenges include embedded symbols, terminology, syntax, semantics, links, images and copyright. They are collections and there are many issues but they are working on it.  More detail on this project is available in their VALA 2014 paper.

Anzac Connections: delivering  and connecting real content and data online – Robyn van Dyk Australian War Memorial
Australian War Memorials major initiative to mark the centenary.  The AWM was a WWI initiative from Charles Bean. Already is a large digital collection. They have 4,500 letters from this period, but their existing systems couldn’t get them online, so they had to come up with new systems. Preservation is first, with copies being archived with their Digital Archive Management System, with a low resolution copy then made available online.
With 2 million images online, they have lots of indexed data but not well organised. One of the aims is to make this data more useable – using linked data in part to tell stories, bring linked info together. They use small manageable URLs. The Monash collection of 10,000 pages was launched in recent months, but to make it accessible they had to break it down into smaller groups.

In 2013 they merged two major systems – embarkation lists and main data archive. This has enabled them to start merging records. Have manually merged 1500 out of 30000, mainly to showcase digitised related content.
When data is more visible it exposes you. The have already received some criticism on content that had been online for many years without comment.

As a result of the merge they have now been able to manually create an indigenous commemoration list into a spreadsheet which will then be merged with other data and uploaded.  Use Mimsy museum database.
Linked data is starting, establishing Uris around people and events etc and hope to do data matching with other organisations.

Building blocks to better libraries: using Minecraft – Rachel Cilauro Melbourne Library Service


Project set at North Melbourne Library which has been in operation since 1905. A key community space particularly to its young people. High proportion of young people and a mix of low income and middle class.
Kids educated the library about Minecraft and made the library a focal point for it in the community. Had a day where kids taught everyone else about Minecraft. Had an advisory group to create the gaming day.
Microsoft has bought Minecraft. Minecraft is like Lego, but online. People of all ages play. Players’ imagination creates the games’ enjoyment. You can build by yourself or together on a server. It’s fun and educational and used in schools.

Staff created a brief to think about the North Melbourne library space and create something in Minecraft to address this – create a new library. Kids managed servers and space required. Librarians let them. Most promotion was word of mouth in local school grounds.

Library provided laptops for those who didn’t have their own device. The kids worked alone and in teams. Library staff checked each entry, heard about the designs from the kids and chose winners.

Can we use it for reader development, social inclusion and literacy? It built relationships between the library, parents, the community and young people. Gave space and facilities for social inclusion. It was also a day for naturally built literacy learning. It was a great kicking off point.

Issue – power, age of tech, connections and the speed.

These programs are a leveller across the community, but do not replace interaction. We may not need to provide the technology, but do need to understand and support it.

Take home points: listen to your young people, get the devices, use library as inspiration and ask, share, play!

Dokk1: a performative library space ~ Marie Ostergard
30,000 square metres new library building being built in a revitalised docks area like here.  Library aims to help drive the area’s revitalisation.  Denmark business and schools are recognised as innovative – libraries can support this.

Makerspaces for them is an approach for innovation, collaboration. Need to create the space to improve cooperation and be open to all. We need to use our position as a democratic space. Use Makerspace as an opportunity to revitalise the library.

Library should be an experience.  Not just a space for things, but to experience things, both online and on-site, with information and meaning, facts and credibility, where people can meet information and other people, where knowing and experimenting happen, which has visitors and people as resources, is both neutral and sensing, serious and fun, with arranged and spontanenous events.  Library both as it is now and as it can be – both at the same time.

Librarys are becoming mashups of so much more.  They can be learning centres, tutors, reading centre, web centre, consumer advice centres, meeting palces, educations centres, job support centres, Q and A centres, have quiet spaces and reading places and so much more. Moving into a bigger space, but no change in collection. Looking for partners to make best use of the new spaces.

Performative space is a new aspect for libraries.  They are working with the Danish People’s Lab in their current library – investigating with them what form their spaces should take. New people came in and brought their own networks.  They are trying new things in their current space and will take with them what has worked.
Staff are discussing their roles. Many different roles are needed and they are still working on what they are. They have had makers in residence to expose users and staff to new expertise.

It’s really about a mindset and something that they have been working on for the last two years.

Worked with Chicago Library and Ideo on a global Makerspace model to be out soon.  May give a framework for other libraries to work with.

The process: establish the vision, investigate how other libraries and groups are achieving this sort of thing, revisit the vision, workshop it, define the problem, test the first prototype, try and a new method and so on.
Lots of user involvement, through workshops, personas, prototypes all with partners to test things out and see if it works.  Name of the Library – DOKK1 – even came from the users.

Have cleared a space in the current library as a prototyping and testing space.

Trying to wait as long as possible to make decisions to allow for as much input as possible.

Admin will hopefully end up looking like a Makerspace as well.

Just go out and do it.