Towards an Australian GLAM Labs network

Published by Ben McRae on

On December 11 2019, the Tinker team held an informal online get-together to start discussions on how to formalise the GLAM Labs network in Australia.

GLAM Labs are a global movement that brings together national, state, university and public Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums to encourage users to re-use digital collections and data.

In this webinar, three GLAM Labbers spoke of their recent experiences and contributions to the GLAM Lab community – Dr Kristy Kokegei, Director, Public Engagement, History Trust of South Australia; Paula Bray, DX Lab Leader, State Library of New South Wales and Associate Professor Tim Sherratt, Glam Workbench, University of Canberra.

Kristy Kokegei spoke about the creation of the ‘North Terrace Cultural Precinct Innovation Lab’ in Adelaide, a project that involves the joining of forces between the major collecting institutions in South Australia – History SA, the South Australian Museum, the State Library of South Australia and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Through experimentation, courage and collegiality, the Innovation Lab is experimenting with digital cultural heritage collections and paving the way for others in Australia to join the global GLAM Lab network. You can access her slides here.

Paula Bray from the SLNSW spoke about her experience at the GLAM Lab network’s ‘Global Book Sprint’ in Qatar, with GLAM Lab participants from all over the world. Most recently, local and international GLAM Lab practitioners participated in a Global Book Sprint to In September 2019, 16 people from collecting institutions from around the globe joined together to share their knowledge about library labs and working with digital collections – writing a book in 5 days about how to do just that. ‘Open a GLAM Lab’ can be downloaded here. You can read more about the experience here.

Tim Sherratt introduced his GLAM Workbench, a web resource packed tutorials, tools, examples and different ways to explore a large amount of GLAM data. Tim is using his passion for history and experience in computer science to inspire people to explore digital collections, unlocking heritage collections in a new way with visualisations and methods of analysis that anyone can use – no previous knowledge of coding required! His slides are available here.

The ensuing discussion with the 40 webinar participants highlighted just how open and experimental the labs have to be, while balancing the tensions that come with traditional GLAM roles trying to create something brand new. As the GLAM labs global network continues to grow and gather like-minded people with open minds and a thirst for experimentation, the local network is also inviting others to participate. You can join the Slack channel and the email list to keep up to date with upcoming events in 2020!