Conferences and event reports open content Wikis

Some thoughts: post #GLAM-WIKI 2009


Photography by Paula Bray
License: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0

(Post by Paula Bray)

Seb and I have just spent two days at a conference, in the nation’s rather chilly capital that involved a bunch of Wikimedians (wonder what that would be called) and members from the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries and Museum sector) sector. This event was touted as a two-way dialogue to see how the two sectors could work more closely together for “the achievement of better online public access to cultural heritage”.

So what do we do post conference?

GLAM-WIKI was a really interesting conference to be a part of even if some of us were questioning ‘why’ are we here. Some of the tweets on Twitter said that there is a need for some concise decisions instead of summary. I am not sure at this stage if there are complete answers and concise decisions will need to be made by us, the GLAMs.

Jennifer Riggs, Chief Program Officer at the Wikimedia Foundation summed it up quite well and asked the question “what is one thing you will do when you leave this conference?” I think this is exactly the type of action that can lead to bigger change. Perhaps it is a presentation to other staff members in your organisation, a review of your licensing polices and business models, a suggestion of better access to your content in your KPI’s or start a page on Wikimedia about what you do and have in your collections.

One of the disturbing things for me came from Delia Browne, National Copyright Director at the Ministerial Council for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Browne highlighted the rising costs the education sector is paying to copy assets including content from our own institutions. Delia stated that there is a 720% increase in statutory licensing costs and the more content that goes online the more this cost will increase. Now the GLAM sector can help here by rethinking its licensing options and look towards a Creative Commons license for content they may own the rights to, including things like teachers’ notes. Teachers can do so much with our content but they need to know what they can use. She raised the question “What sort of relationships do we want with the education sector”? The education sector will be producing more and more content for itself and this will enter into our sector. We don’t want to be competing but rather complimenting each other. Schools make up 60% of CAL’s (Copyright Agency Limited) revenue. What will this figure be when the Connected Classrooms initiative is well and truly operational in the “digital deluge” a term mentione by Senator Kate Lundy.

Lundy gave the keynote presentation titled Finding Common Ground. She brought up many important issues in her presentation including the rather awkward one around access to material that is already in the public domain. Lundy:

“These assets are already in the public domain, so concepts of ‘protection’ that inhibit or limit access are inappropriate. In fact, the motivation of Australia’s treasure house institutions is or should be, to allow their collections to be shared and experienced by as many people as possible .”

Sharing, in turn, leads to education, research and innovation. This is something that we have experienced with our images in the Commons on Flickr and we only have 1200 images in our photostream.

The highlight for me was the question she says we should be addressing “why are we digitising in the first place?”.

This is a really important statement and should be asked at the beginning of every digitisation project. The public needs fast access to content that it trusts and our models are not going to be able to cope with the need for fast dissemination of our digital content in the future if we don’t make it accessible. It costs so much to digitise our collections – so surely we need to ask this question first and foremost. Preservation is not enough anymore. There are too many hoops to go through to get content and we are not fast enough. “The digital doors must be opened” and this is clearly demonstrated with the great initiative Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program presented by Rose Holley of the National Library of Australia.

However as Lundy said during the panel discussion following her presentation was “goodwill will have to bust out all over”. There is a lot of middle ground that the GLAM sector needs to address in relation to policy around its access initiatives and digital strategies and, yes, I think policy does matter. If we can get this right then the doors can be opened and the staff in organisations can work towards the KPI’s, missions and aims of unlocking our content and making it publicly available.

Perhaps your one thing, post GLAM-WIKI conference, could be to comment on the Government 2.0 Taskforce Issues Paper and ensure that all the talk of Government 2.0 clearly includes reference to the Government-funded GLAM sector.

4 replies on “Some thoughts: post #GLAM-WIKI 2009”

I enjoyed #glam-wiki – the event almost became a defacto GLAM conference (and I do wonder what Wikimedia really got from it!). It was certainly encouraging to see such a good turnout from the sector and there seems to be a building momentum towards addressing audience/citizen-driven digitisation.

In order for this to have most benefit to both our organisations and the citizens that fund us through their taxes we need to be adjusting our KPIs towards access, engagement, and, the making available of content.

I was heartened by Senator Lundy’s speech – and her explicit calling out of free and open access combined with her later comments around her attempts to remove the impact of government ‘efficiency dividends’ on agencies with under $50m budgets were well received. (For those not in Australia, those ‘efficiency dividends’ effectively reduce institutional funding by $1m each year.

I also found the conference quite engaging. A question that lingered in my mind is around opening access to content and sharing technologies within government in Australia. Those who know me, will also know that I’ve been working on a pilot project to encourage new forms of cooperation, collaboration and dissemination of cultural government data and content online. The project hasn’t been a major success in my opinion but it has illustrated how much further we have to go before we can even begin to remove the technological, policy and attitudinal barriers to access that exist even within government. For example, we are still charging each other access fees for crown copyright materials. This is mental. If we can’t work together within GLAM and all levels of government to encourage access how ever will we make the leap to working with other organisations like wikimedia and ultimately improving our services for citizens?

The seminar was good… a very GLAM event… a great opportunity to explore the issues with colleagues.

… has a cost-benefit analysis been done of the cost of licensing fees for content for the educational sector in balance with the value of investment in digitisation of content free of rights issues?

A blog-rant in response… ‘scuse the tongue in cheek tone..

The Lucid Librarian

Comments are closed.