VALA 2008 Conference – Day 1 – Concurrent Session 4 – Engaging Communities

Joann Ransom – Horowhenua Library Trust
“Kete Horowhenua: the story of the District as told by its people”

Kete – telling our stories together.
Their community comes in to help catalogue images in their digital collection, using their own specialist knowledge, enriching the content.

Kete is the maori word for a basket – anyone can weave one, making a useful object from raw materials.

Kete Horowhenua is a digital library of images, audio and video files and documents and even websites which are collected and catalogued by the community.
Uses a web server, internet access, start using it – either as an administrator or user.  Multiple formats are brought together are brought together under topics.
Multiple access points including feature topics, keyword search, random image slideshow, new additions, browse or content by item type.  Search results are returned with latest item first.

Topics are built using a template to help build the data – creating web pages.  Advertised in the local paper for volunteers and were overwhelmed by the response.  People came in or worked from home on digitisation, transcribing and more.  Many worked from home, but regular working bees help create a social network which all the volunteers appreciate.

12,000 images, 1300 documents and other assorted audio, video, website etc, to a total of 14,000 items under 800 topics.

Success: community – local “ours”, contribution – people like to help, valuable – real work being done, non-threatening – teaching IT virgins, pride – “you girls”, personal – can save “my stuff”, easy to find stuff about people and places, addictive.

NZ Strategy – building digital foundations, unlocking content: Kete meets these.  It is a virtual community as well as a collective memory.

Kete code is Open Source – GNU (GPL). Content is under a Creative Commons licence. Won a 3M Award for Innovation in Libraries. WSA Special Mention for excellent e-content.

Other Kete – Taranaki o Te Reo Chartiable Trust, Chinese Association of NZ – Auckland Branch and Auckland City Libraries, Kete project, Orange County (US), Mental Health Commission (NZ), Atearoa People’s Network (NZ).

How to get a Kete – contract it out, DIY or DIY with help.  Developers – Katipo Communications (
Source code – download Kete Version 1.0 (
DIY then consult Katipo

Koha and Kete both use Z39.50.

Debb Stumm and Christine Sayer – State Library of Queensland
“Queensland stories: community, collections and digital technology at the SLQ (2006 VALA award)

3 strategic priorities in their “Enriching the lives of Queenslanders” strategy – key one here is Queensland Memory – today for tomorrow.
Developing a digital history and storytelling collection.  Review resulted in the directions of single program incorporating oral history and digital storytelling, multimedia focus, online directory, digial presevervation and formatting, user generated content.

Digital storytelling – individual films which can be streamed onto the web, telling a story.  Berkeley Center is the key organisation in this form with many projects around the world.  Memory Grid at ACMI is a local example.

Major components – website – including info on how to contribute content, standards and access, mobile multimedia laboratory, digital story creation.

Digital standards: Metadata – MODS
Digital capture and format: Video – AVI, RealVideo, Window Media Video. Stills – Tiff, jpeg. Audio – Broadcast wave, mp3, real audio, windows media.

Launched in 2004 – challenges arisen.
Copyright and intellectual property – storytellers are advised to use images and sound that they own, can get permission for or is copyright free.  Looking at creative commons licensing.
Cultural and privacy protocols – especially of concern with A&TSI, multicultural and children. Release forms are used.
Resources and distance – limited to how far they can deliver training, bypassed this issue by training the trainer in digital storytelling, who ontrain members of their community in regional centres.

Training is on how to create the story – using the computer, developing a script, etc.  Digital stories is a first person story, not formal interview.

Anne Beaumont, Kelly Gardiner and Stuart Flanagan – State Library of Victoria
“Conversations or evidence – an analysis of responses from members of the public to an invitation to submit their comments about State Library of Victoria images available over the Web”

SLV images are embedded in a HTML page.  Links to info about the image, more search options etc.  Included a link under each image seeking more info.  Linked to a web form which was populated with some info from the image already.  Sent via Lotus Notes to SLV staff.  Have had 4000 comments over a year.  Comments ranged but included corrections – although the comments were not published or added to the record, any alleged corrections were followed through and acted on if found to be valid.
Additional info was also offered on images, often providing a lot of background to the photographer or subject. Comments also came requesting more information – not uncommon  – these were dealt with by the reference staff, rather than the picture staff.  Many comments incorporated several of these types.  Small proportion of comments included non-useful info ie. cool.

Commenters from all over the world.  Majority from Australia, but far from exclusively so.  Most traffic comes from outside the SLV domain, mainly Google, Picture Australi and Yahoo as well as niche sites such as Vintage Caterpillar (old tractor site) etc. Get outside your own domain and people will find you.

Most popular images were ships, places and people. Comments are not yet public, but as they are not published, the conversation is one-sided.

Libraries are using Flickr, Photobucket and other sites are allowing images to get out and invite comments and tags. These sites don’t necessarily allow data back in, to be able to use tags or comments to enhance records or content.  Be interesting to see if there would be any difference in the comments between SLV hosted and Flickr type hosted content, where one is focussing on the heritage, the other is on the photos.

Issues: Management – what do we do with the data and who does the work
Publishing – do we moderate or trust users to be responsible
Interaction – allow one comment or a thread/discussion – interacting with each other as well as the library
Adding value – what data can we use to complement our online offering – can we link them to passenger lists, shipping info, newspaper articles etc
Critical mass – there’s nothing lonelier that an empty comments trail

Findings: People like the chance to respond and interact with our collections
Can provide corrections – benefit to the library,not just the users
If published, comments can provide useful info for other researchers but not part of catalogue record
Have policies in place and a spam filter

Next: Looking at different wasy to publish comments and allowing other user interaction (rating) as part of website redevelopment
Developed new gadgets and distribution techniques to provide interaction
Unexpected response from suers emboldens us to provide more opportunities and better functionality.

Issues of privacy means that the comments have not been able to be published – could be very discouraging for commenters with their contributions just disappearing.
Didn’t seek permission to publish comments so didn’t feel they could.  Only responded to comments where there was a reference question involved. Corrections that were acted upon were not answered back to the original commenter.  What is a trusted source of information and how do you ensure it remains trusted?

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