Digital Content Seminar – Wed 26th March 2014

I am convenor of the Public Libraries Victoria Network – ICT Special Interest Group and get to meet with other ICT and Web librarians in Victorian public libraries on a regular basis. I also get to organise and attend events like this one, which give Victorian public librarians a chance to showcase what they are doing and be inspired by what others are doing.

So here are my notes.

Brimbank Comic Club – Leanne Fox – Brimbank Libraries

Comic Club runs weekly at Deer Park and Sydenham Libraries. It is a group for teens, where they make comics in an hour long program.

They use a computer program called Comic Life. Using this they published their first comic using stock images. Comic went into school and public libraries for borrowing. Comic Lives Two will be published at Easter. First one became marketing tool for program.

Software comes from Plasq ( You can get a 30 day free trial. Currently Comic Life 3 is available, they hope to upgrade next financial year. They have the software available on all Pcs for all users.

To use – Choose template, add images, add speech bubbles.

Leanne was assigned to start a drawing or manga club. Leanne had no drawing skills, but new staff member Huss had digital art background and lots of ideas. Existing tools like Photoshop were too daunting, so found a tool that they all could learn and use – Comic Life.

Started off with a four week intensive program but kids didn’t attend all sessions. (Sidebar: Our work demographic is a challenge for incorporating new programs.)

Leanne uses her teacher, editing and storytelling skills and has learnt tech and drawing skills.

Why did they do it? – To achieve their goals of reaching the School years users, social connectedness, English literacy, developing a reading culture and digital literacy. The Club is aimed at 9-16 year olds.

Kids are sharing and mentoring each other, connecting with staff, having direction.

Main benefit is digital literacy. They find resources that they evaluate as to whether it is appropriate and useable – no copyright breach. The teens are sharing their ideas, they are creating.

Where are they going? Huss is no longer assisting, but kids are taking up the slack. They are drawing their own pictures and scanning them into the computer and painting them. One of the kids then taught others how to do this.

They want an online presence. Their comic is published online and can be found through the library website.

Creating your own book for beginners – Anthony Woodward – Geelong Libraries

Has been creating books for a few years, mainly comic book anthologies, but the concepts are the same for text.

There are self- publishing services like Lulu, but he wanted an entry level way of doing it yourself, which would give you a nice clean file.

ePub is the international standard for books, which works across devices.

He outlined two methods of producing ePub files, using software Calibre and Sigil. Need to familiarise yourself with Calibre first, then it is straight forward to use. With Sigil you need HTML and CSS skills as well.

Calibre can import from Word, auto-detect headings, has easy to follow steps, can save in multiple formats, but it inserts extra code in the final file and the code is not as clean.

Sigil has cleaner code, is easier to edit on the fly, has a more straightforward interface, better compatibility in future with code, but is not for beginners. Only produces in ePub, and you need basic CSS and HTML skills and the work needs to be done chapter by chapter.


  • Format your document in Word
  • Save as file type – filtered HTML
  • Add to Calibre, locate the HTML file you have saved
  • Once imported choose convert book, click ok Add metadata, cover image, table of contents etc. (Tricky to get the table of contents right, there are a few different ways to go about it.)
  • Save file in your chosen format – you have several options, including ePub.


  • Type into or paste your document in as plain text, a chapter at a time
  • Add styles to chapter headings and check the table of contents
  • Add metadata, cover image, tweak cc, etc.
  • Save ePub file.

You need to have basic HTML and CSS skills, eg, heading, paragraph etc. in Calibre. Sigil can be further refined with CSS, need to have some awareness.

Cover design is important. Find a free image and edit, or get someone to create one for you, or develop one using image editing software. There is also cover generating software. Need to be aware that most e-readers only display in black and white. KISS. Get ideas on paper first.

Great ideas can be found on Pinterest.

Libraries as publishers – will they go there? What terms would we offer? What staff skill sets are needed? Production Librarian, help create content. Start with helping local history content online and see how it goes.

Omeka adventures with a local history portal – Tom Edwards – Wyndham Libraries

Wyndham history project was a two year project, which included a book and a website, which the library took responsibility for.

For the website they looked at a range of platforms, including Content DM, Displace, Portfolio (Sirsi Dynix), Collection Space, Kete, Collective Access.

Make sure that whatever you choose plays nicely with Trove. Which mean your sites needs to support OAI PMH Trove does a weekly harvest of the Wyndham history site – they described their resources using Dublin Core. It harvests new content as well as updated content. (Sidebar: Use a repository explorer to ensure the data is ok.)

They chose Omeka ( as it supported OAI PMH, had an emphasis on user generated content, great map support, supports responsive designs, is open source and built on standards, has a good user community and is well supported with plugins.

User generated content aspect – eg. – is not yet live with Omeka currently, but is coming.

Great map support in Omeka –, allows you to explore an event both geographically and chronologically.

Responsive design means that the site adjusts to your device.

Cataloguing – prepared a policy based on Dublin Core requirements, including controlled vocabulary and local thesaurus. They then mapped the MARC fields to Dublin Core Elements using MARCEdit and CSV Import plugin on Omeka.

They had the option to start with Omeka 1.5 which has user contribution, but went with 2.0 because of responsive design. It’s in the pipeline to get user contribution in 2.0.

They have 441 published items including mostly photos but also oral histories, a neat line map, an interactive timeline and flexible searching options.

Moving forwards they will be working on the contribution plugin, a WW1 exhibit, more maps including surveyor maps and hand-made raw maps of estates, and more.

They can transfer content from Inmagic, but must be able to export in meaningful columns and import and match to Dublin Core.

The Open Source software is hosted by Vicnet and is also being harvested by Portfolio for discovery in their catalogue.

Digitising Oral Histories – Michelle McLean – Casey-Cardinia

My presentation is available with the others, at

Using iPads to tell a story – Tara Hossack – Ballarat

Video is an easy way for capturing local stories in a short way. They filmed at a heritage weekend in Ballarat 2012. Used an iPad and with ear bud microphone using iMovie – so all was done on the iPad.

The iPad was hand held to record. All videos were on YouTube three days later – 10 videos based on a theme. They spliced interviewee responses to make it thematic.

They are going ahead with online story times, using a bracket that will hold the iPad for filming. They are practising at present, just testing with lighting, location and sound and filming. They will scan pages for inclusion in the movie. They are excited about getting this going, but are awaiting publisher permission.

A number of staff have volunteered to be involved and most staff are running well with it, familiarised within 30 minutes.

Next project – comic reviews?

Near pod is an educational tool, using the quiz option, but can also do questions, polls etc. looking to use it with outreach and kids programs.

Daniel Wilksch – Public Records Office Victoria (PROV) – Coordinator Digital Projects

Rely on partnerships and getting things done simply, only have a few staff in digital content.

Archive for the State Library of Victoria, established in 1973, when split from SLV. Managing and providing access to public records.

Only 3 – 4% of government records are ever archived.

They have documented about 4500 agencies, 17,000 series (up to 20 mill items), over a million electronic records and preparing for digital influx.

Have primary sources including a letter in Ned Kelly’s own hand. Have evidence including Exhibit B from Eureka Stockade trial. PROV is where you find evidence of a story that you heard somewhere else. Facts – notebooks showing Ned Kelly students achievements and police record of the death of the constables at Kelly’s hands. They also have stories – pages from inquest into Kelly’s death and background into soldier settlements.

However, all that content is buried in the catalogue. The system was created in a paper world, but the challenge is to translate to the digital world when you don’t have the paper in front of you.

Digital curation is the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets – Wikipedia.

Content curation is the ongoing finding and sharing of relevant digital and non-digital content about a specific topic for a specific audience – National Library of New Zealand.

Europeana (http:// is a digital nirvana, exposing content professionally but also engaging with audience and providers. Alternatives include Trove ( and Culture Victoria (

For online exhibitions, get into partnerships with places like Culture Victoria. You can get shallow engagement or deeper. Generally want the deeper and have to be aware of that when creating content.

Curating is not the catalogue. Do we focus on individual records or focus on data sets – highlights. The answer will determine your direction. How much is making the information available and how much about telling stories.

PROV is mostly open access, but how much mediation is necessary to take it on to the internet. eg. coronial enquiries photos. Also how do you manage copyright and licensing?

One approach is to have a few records or a well-known story; which then brand the organisation and address the frequently asked questions. PROV is best known for shipping records and wills and events of significance. eg. West gate disaster

Another approach is to have a mix of interesting things on a theme; you can combine records from different stories. Eg Water stories – Dams, pipes, sewers

Other approaches – follow the trail, linking names, dates, places across records, showcase a family. eg. Lucy: a private life revealed through public records. Alternatively, you can create a mini archive eg. Bigamy, theft and murder, or use a narrative – using one record to illuminate another, with as little text as possible. Then treat the resulting narrative as another record.

More themes- strange and familiar – help users make sense of the world., I’ll show you mine sharing records eg. Using Flickr, Trove etc. – having contemporary conversations, material that supports current concerns.

Make sure you have some way for people to comment, it adds to the story.

Working with the community – what are you trying to produce, where do you fit in the process?

Sustainable – depend on lifespan curation and catalogue together, persistent URLs, expect to migrate….. Separate discussion from content.

Peter McMahon – State Library of Victoria – Digital collection and asset management

Technology team collates and brings digital content to the users.

SLV has nearly 1 million digitised items in the collection, 75,000 new items digitised this year. A further 71,000 will be added to the collection otherwise and some will be digital.

It’s all about selection based on relevance and audience focus and understanding of user segments. Up until now it has focused on the needs of exhibitions.


  • Access through cataloguing and metadata – how do you find this info when it does not come with the item?
  • Engagement – how you present digital items so they provoke engagement, reinterpretation and repurposing. They want users to explore and reuse.

Future proofing is about preservation capacity and the difference of being born digital.


  • Criteria and process – reviewed selection criteria eg, historical relevance, condition, delivery time, audience breadth, type/format, capacity for re-use.
  • Discoverability – identify in demand categories, use methods to enhance metadata, investigate ways to enlist online users.
  • Visibility and engagement – Increased use of video – humanise/ emotive, clearer presentation of all activities, responsive design, compressing the content based on tablet size, but can be scaled up or down.
  • User benefits – core audience, improve online search, improve accessibility and visibility, move critical content to the surface. New audiences, make approachable, make digital content more widely known and easily found, encourage and enable exploration and sharing.

Online content to be in gallery format as much as possible and is to be tablet friendly, immersive and easy to explore.

They want to broaden out so that users can contribute their own content, upload content for point in time collecting, with an aim of being able to combine in future.

Investigating an upload module for Digital Objects Management System, this will enable organisations to upload content for safekeeping.

They are also looking at Mobile apps as a means of distributing digital content eg. Hoddles grid app. They demonstrate value, inspire curiousity and bring people back for more.

Future digital preservation – shift from collecting to preservation, format validation, identification and repair, access to format registries.