Wednesday, 22 November 2017

GLAM Peak Digital Access to Collections Workshop


Your roving reporter was fortunate to attend the Digital Access to Collections Workshop held in Hobart from the 16-17 November. This post is my impressions from the event.
Attended by workers from small to large museums across the state the two days were designed for: better understanding of existing digitising tools so they can be applied; and to encourage regional hubs and networks so museums, galleries, libraries and other collecting institutions can help each other. 

Eddy Steenbergen, "...
Tasmanian IT professional who has been in the business far longer than he cares to admit. Family history researcher" from the Tasmanian Family History Society outlines in one take the usefulness of digitising the records of their institution.

Tasmania is a fine place to be wrt digitising collections. GLAM PEAK is supporting the development of State and Territory Digital Plans, and an integrated approach to digitising collections. Tasmania is the pilot for this national program. Recently another Tasmanian Collection pilot project was developed by TMAG, Heritage Tasmania, LINC and Tourism Tasmania yielded promising results to collect and promote the state's cultural and moveable assets. More about this in a blog post to come.
 With UTAS recently published 'How the smallest state in Australia ended up leading in the Australian GLAM sector: the power of collaboration when you only have a small project budget" featuring the work of UTAS' s Special & Rare Collections the workshop was timely.  

Plate XLII, from May, W.l. An Illustrated index of Tasmanian Shells, Hobart, Government Printer 1923
University of Tasmania Special and Rare Materials Collections

What is GLAM Peak?

The Digital Access to Collections project is an initiative of GLAM Peak – which would have to be one of the sexiest acronyms around. GLAM stands for galleries, libraries, archives and museum with the 'peak'  being the buy in from the heavy hitters from across Australia intent on sharing their skills and aspirations across the sector. Driven by Museums Galleries Australia and National and State Libraries Australasia the peak bodies’ members include state, territory and local institutions as well as major national institutions: the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, CSIRO, the National Archives of Australia, National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, National Gallery of Australia and National Library of Australia. For more. 

The workshop was run by Wendy Quihampton and Lucinda Davison both practical, informed and attentive to our needs. 

Wendy, currently Project Manage, Digital Access to Collections (DAC )at Museums Australia
and previously at Moreland City Council and the State Library of Victoria
Lucinda, doctoral candidate at ANU, co-Instigator/Editor at State of the Arts digital platform AND DAC Trainer 

All tweets from the session used #digaccess_tas. Lucinda's tweets suggested she was very much 'in the room' as well as easily occupying the online space.  One of her tweets (@lucindadavison) identified the marsupial in the room--yes the Hobart workshop had it all including cardies and cute joeys.

Ellie Panarettos from
The Hutchins School and her latest charge.

The two days spent at TMAG

The workshop followed the steps of Plan, Prepare, Digitise and Share that can be found online on the DAC website at its Digital Toolkit. This Toolkit comes in print friendly version and I encourage you to take a look.There is a wealth of material, contacts and exemplars. These are the advantages to being in the room. 

A. Meeting colleagues and their need for digitising the collection. 

Here is Mary Fraser (the manager of the Wingfield Library, which is part of the Tasmanian Health Service and Department of Health and Human Services) talks about a part of this collection which is a rich and valuable resource that is currently unknown--if only it were digitised. 

B. Meeting colleagues and what they do with their collections once they are digitised.

This is Fiona Gleadow, the Resource Centre Officer from the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority. 

C. Meeting software providers

We heard from MOSAiC, The Collecting Bug and MAXUS.


IST operates MOSAiC Collection and MOSAic Web. Rew spoke about the former. From its website MC is 'fully searchable data, with built-in and user-definable reports and data export functions.  Pre-loaded with industry standard validation lists, but fully customizable by yourself.' An internet connection is not required, but if available, your collection data can be easily uploaded to the internet for searching by the public (or just your staff). Fully-Functional and free Evaluation Packs are available online.

The Collecting Bug
Philip describes his " web-based collection management system for small museums' based on Share, Organise, Connect. There is a free and professional plan accessible from their website. "You'll end up with a searchable, visual, organised collection website, ready to share with fellow collectors around the world!"

Maxus Collections is specifically tailored for museums to manage a range of items including objects, books, newspapers, articles, paintings and photographs. The package was jointly developed by Maxus Australia Pty Ltd and Museums Australia Inc. (Victoria Branch). The structure is based on worksheets in the Small Museums Cataloguing Manual published by Museums Australia (Victoria Branch).

D. Meeting related agencies

Victorian Collections

Belinda Enso, the Development Manager presented
The Victorian Collections program, a partnership between Museums Australia (Victoria)and Museums Victoria. She and the program was inspiring. I noted that her top tips for success are:
1. Don't use software you find complex
2. Ensure you are supported in your efforts
3. Take  a whole collection approach to your plan incorporating your collection management systems
4. Build your community
5. Connect and contribute to TROVE even if its only a few objects

Victorian Collections is a free, web-based collections management system that allows collecting institutions to publish their records online. Online exhibitions can also be created. The site recently welcomed its 100,000th object to its site with over 450 collecting organisations, including museums, historical groups and societies, Indigenous keeping places, community groups and RSLs, using this site. The project is backed by ongoing support, site visits and training programs throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria. 

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander Studies

Lyndall Osborne from AIATSIS spoke strongly about the need to seek community permission before using images of Indigenous people or objects. This involves understanding your collection and to which group it may belong to. Remember to:

-Create a museum that is based on the principles of self determination for Aboriginal people. This space is welcoming to these communities through sound documentation of their collection as well as display practices.
-Consider using warning message
-Have a web take down policy
-Work with local people on your exhibitions (co-curate)
-Make a Reconciliation Action Plan and consider a local Aboriginal reference groups
-get the book (see below)
"There is information that is restricted, that our children cannot learn about, there is information that is restricted even to adults, there is information that is of a secret or sacred nature, that many people have no knowledge or access to. That knowledge is only there for certain people to have access to." 
quote displayed by Lyndall by Galarrwuy Yunupingu, 1986.


Pru Mitchell the President of Wikimedia Australia and Manager Information Services, Australian Council for Educational Research promoted respect for copyright but also consideration of making collections as open as possible through a Creative Commons License. There are a host of wikimedia projects (see These services rank very highly in the online useage tables. With so many eyeballs trained at these pages the link back to GLAMs sources and metadata become even more valuable. One example spoken about at length was WikiTowns and Toodyaypedia and its useage of QR codes around the town  which could be used in any Tassie town. See

E. Talking over real issues

Maureen Martin Ferris the curator of The East Coast Heritage Museum presented a wholes series of museum 'hacks', cost effective ways to photograph the collection. Glyn David Johnson brought along an overview of the St Helens History Room and digitisation by the curator Kym Matthews. We all stuck our teeth into questions relating to equipment, metadata, file naming and access. 


We agreed that the person who wrote the name of the photographer, the people in it, the place and date on the back of any photo was indeed rare and probably an asset to any family let alone a museum. Failing having this person we need to become them. How far or fast we go with our Digital Access Plan is up to each institution but it is timely to progress thinking about looking into how each collection could contribute to the Tasmanian and ultimately Australian story. 

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