Day One – first morning session

August 16, 2006

Opening remarks
Sue Nattrass, Chair, Collections Council of Australia Ltd
(Sue Chaired a working group that delivered the cultural program for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.) She acknowledged the traditional owners of this land and introduced the Directors and Staff of the CCA.
Sue spoke of the importance of the development, protection and accessibility of our collections. Delegates were welcomed and thanked for attending.

Welcome (by video)
Senator the Hon Helen Coonan
(Federal) Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts & Deputy Leader of the Government in the Australian Senate
She spoke of the rapid changes in information technology and their effect and relationship to the cultural sector and the services we offer. Digital content producers are now working in many sectors. Traditional media also now challenged by new media and sources of entertainment. Our sector will continue to be approached for material and we will only be limited by our imagination, but we must work together. She stressed the importance of our relationship with those digital content producers. They are well placed to take advantage of rapidly changing technology.
The Government is commited to developing a digital content strategy and she referred to the digital content action agenda and its aims.
For our sector, the relationship to improving broadband access will enable us to take advantage of many new opportunities using cutting edge technologies to deliver innovative content to remote communities.

Keynote: The future for digital collections
David Dawson – Head of Digital Futures, Museums Libraries and Archives Council (aka ‘MLA’ – UK)
(A former archaeologist and museum curator.)
He said there were many familiar themes in the UK with their digital cultural sector.
See Inspiring Learning For All as a tool for planners.
They have a 50 million pounds for (digital) content creation program.
MLA funded by the UK equiavent of DCITA. A key issue is the need to support constant learning. He spoke of ubiquitous computing – mobiles, PDAs and wireless ‘liquid broadband’, & the PlayStation generation – they’ve new expectations! He then gave examples: of teachers using games to teach history and culture; an art gallery using gaming to create an online environment of their gallery; the top technorati tags in blogs – books, culture, events, writing, architecture, museums, art, etc.
People want personalised content to support their learning.
Issues to be addressed include copyright, tools and improved access.
UK are trialling online assessment for their 2008 GCSE. ‘E-portfolios’ are envisaged of what they do to be created while learning. They’d be retrieved later for further development.
All learners need to be authenticated on an education network and they’ll have content access via their learning platforms.
Museums, libraries and archives must be involved in this network.
Coordination of national digitisation policies in Europe started in 2000 and they got an action plan going in 2002 – this in turn led to the MINERVA project.
Technical guidelines were produced as standards were seen as very important. The guidelines document had 30,000 downloads, demonstrating the need for this type of guidance. Now part of funding mandatory requirements. Based around digital life cycle.
Then new Dynamic Action Plan. To provide leadership, coordination, overcome fragmentation, etc.
European Digital Library was initiated by France, but this supposedly ‘had no relationship to the Google initiative’. It was to deliver multi-lingual content to get around the web dominance of English and in response to the US initiatives.
All Euro member states’ Cultural Ministers discussed this issue in December 2005.
Then came the UK’s National Knowledge Bank – to bring all strands and initiatives together. Relates again to the personal learning space and content that can be used for non-commercial purposes. Important that it is not just about supply, but also the contribution of digital content (i.e. from the community). Eg. Poetry Archive – it gives a chance to hear the voice of the poet themselves. But how do children contribute? MLA put that side-by-side with the poets’ content. See also the Creative Archive Licence Group .  The British Film Institute   – has a standard licence like Creative Commons (not for commercial use). It aims to share and credit content and operates in the UK only. MLA also have a ‘quality mark’ that could be used as a stamp of meeting standards.
He gave an example of the use of a huge newsreel online archive for literature teachers. They needed to be guided as to how to best use it and then became very enthusiastic about it.
He also spoke of the benefits for content producers – celebrated, reduced duplication of effort, etc.
Themes emerged in his talk of the use, re-use and re-purposing of digital content. Learning is at the heart of digital content creation and use.
Someone from The Learning Federation asked about the management of intellectual property rights and cultural institutions as guardians (as opposed to providers?) of content? David said this type of use and drive to use digital content has facilitated more open debate with the rights holders. His view was that the model should be much closer to ‘public lending rights’ – i.e. payment to authors for the number of issues of library books. This happens at point of use as opposed to access.
How mature is the ‘e-portfolio’concept? Not yet up and running – but it has commitment and will soon move to a pilot stage. If assessment moves online, this will be essential. It has to happen.
A representative of the National Library of New Zealand asked about how all of this relates to the concept of life-long learner – what about those who are independent and not associated with institutions? He related this to libraries, archives and museums being part of the network of learning resources (but I wonder why we would want to take open public access away from the open/public web?). I think he meant that this was more important for commercially valuable material. To me this seemed less appropriate in the Australian and NZ setting of broader public access.

More to come, lots more! And we eventually started to address the objectives, principles and issues surrounding a national framework in the afternoon, so keep checking back for what reps from all four cultural domains (galleries, archives, libraries and museums) put together on those questions later on tonight, unless you’ve something better to do!


2 Responses to “Day One – first morning session”

  1. Kerry Guerin Says:

    I was very interested to hear of the Digital Collections Summit.
    We have been on-line for a number of years and being a firearms museum this has actually helped with security as our “front Door” is the web page with only the more dedicated researchers organizing a personel visit. It also allows visitors from all round the world to enjoy our collection, something that a museum in Central Western NSW could otherwise not even dream of.
    I am looking forward to see what the summit brings.

  2. Well I must say in response that I was amazed by the number of people who turned up to the summit. The attendance itself is really a major indication of both interest and enthusiasm to be involved in whatever comes out of the summit. Thanks for expressing interest.

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