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Notes from the 1st US OpenGLAM Workshop

Ed Rodley - April 2, 2013 in Events/Workshops, Featured, Guest Blog Post, US, Workshops

Last week, twenty U.S. GLAM professionals met at U.C. Berkeley to learn about openness, culture, and how we could become evangelists for a movement already gaining traction in Europe and elsewhere. The event was the brainchild of Sarah Stierch, US OpenGLAM Coordinator, and was sponsored by the OCLC, the Open Knowledge Foundation, and the University of California, Berkeley School of Information. For two solid days it was a heady mix of new ideas, inspiring examples of what others were already doing, and calls to action for the attendees to not only spread the word, but actually set concrete goals for opening up their own institutions.

The 1st US OpenGLAM crew, by @sarah_stierch

For me, the workshop was successful on three counts. First, it delivered an awful lot of content in a short period of time on issues I knew I didn’t understand as well as I ought to understand them. The moral imperative of the commons stopped being an abstract for me, and also became a useful lens for examining a situation I’ve long been dissatisfied with – the invisibility of GLAM content online and the over-representation of commercial entities in online search. As GLAM professionals, we know that our institutions sit on enormous repositories of cultural information (some of it already in the public domain, and even digitized), and making those repositories open and findable is a valuable contribution to open culture. The speakers on both days did an admirable job of introducing allies like Wikipedia, Creative Commons, and the Open Knowledge Foundation, and their strengths, as well as pointing out online tools that already exist and tools that still need to be made by somebody (us?).

Second, I appreciated the ambition of the event. It was not a typical professional development event. It was explicitly geared toward developing evangelists for OpenGLAM, and generating a set of achievable goals for next 6 months that each participant could take back to their institutions. The expectations were pretty high (Go forth and spread the US OpenGLAM word!) and I was grateful for how readily everyone in the workshop stepped up to the challenge. I am excited to see how things unfold in the next six months! I am about to step into a new position in a new museum in a couple weeks, so I’ll be playing some mad catch-up, but I’m determined to not let the team down!

Third, the event did a great job of turning a group of people into a cohort. I knew several of the people beforehand, but now I have a network of twenty professionals I can turn to for advice, examples, and support. Part of our assignment for the workshop was developing a suite of resources to help GLAMs become more open, and we will be continuing to work in small groups to develop a First Steps list for GLAMs interested in getting started in open data culture, a toolkit of openGLAM resources for practitioners, and a quick one-page guide for practitioners to use to build institutional support for their own OpenGLAM efforts.

Hashing out first steps to opening up your institution, by @erodley

Expect to see more in the coming months! Already, efforts have gotten underway in a couple of institutions, and case studies should start to appear in the coming months, along with the resources the GLAMbassadors are still working on, conference presentations and more opportunities for others to join us. Before I went, a colleague asked me what twenty people could do in a weekend, and the answer seems to be, “A lot!” The main lesson I learned at the workshop was the truth of that saying attributed to Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

 

Walters Art Museum: A case study in sharing

Sarah Stierch - January 22, 2013 in Case Studies, GLAM-Wiki, US

The Ideal City, attributed to Fra Carnevale, created between circa 1480 and 1484. This was the first image contributed to Commons by the Walters Art Museum.

The Ideal City, attributed to Fra Carnevale, created between circa 1480 and 1484.This was the first image contributed to Commons by the Walters Art Museum. 

The Walters Art Museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland, is a model OpenGLAM institution. With a forward thinking staff aimed at opening their collections in unique and innovative ways, and a collection consisting of over 35,000 objects that are public domain, the Walters is prime real estate when it comes to OpenGLAM.

In early 2012, the Walters started partnering with volunteers from the Wikimedia community. The idea for the partnership was hatched out of GLAM Baltimore 2011; a series of events that brought volunteers from the Wikimedia community to the Walters to present about GLAM-Wiki projects. GLAM-Wiki is a project that focuses on fostering relationships and projects between cultural institutions and the Wikimedia community, the community that maintains websites like Wikipedia.

This case study, written by myself and Dylan Kinnett, Manager of Web and Social Media at the Walters, showcases the projects that evolved out of this ongoing partnership. It summarizes key aspects of this partnership:

    • The image donation of over 18,000 images to Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository that supplies websites like Wikipedia with images. These images are used in thousands of Wikipedia articles in over 40 languages. They have been viewed on Wikipedia over 10 million times and additional metrics are included.
    • The changing of licenses on the Walters website to be more open, allowing the public to utilize the Walters website, or Wikimedia Commons, as locations to collect media and curatorial descriptions without copyright restriction.
    • An internship modeled after the Wikipedian in Residence concept. This internship is structured for museum studies students interested in new media and open culture. The first Wikipedia intern wrote numerous articles about artworks in the museum, and learned skills focused around art history research, Wikipedia mark-up and policies, collaborative editing, and other skills that can only improve a resume.
    • The importance of outreach events in bringing together GLAMs and OpenGLAM community members. Without the GLAM Baltimore event, this partnership may have been delayed or not happened.

The case study will be expanded to include coverage about the newly developed transcription project, which has the Walters working with Wikimedia community members to transcribe and translate rare Latin documents in the museum collection. These documents will then be shared via Wikisource, a free online library.

We hope that this case study will inspire and engage others to develop open sharing projects and programs. Please forward, share, and brainstorm how your GLAM can share its collections and knowledge holdings to provide further access to the public through OpenGLAM.

Keep it free: National Gallery of Art (US) creates open access policy

Sarah Stierch - January 17, 2013 in Featured, News, Public Domain, US

Leonardo da Vinci's "Ginevra de' Benci," (c. 1474/1478) is the only portrait by da Vinci located in the Western Hemisphere. Now the public can download Ginerva and enjoy her no matter where they are in the world.

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Ginevra de’ Benci,” (c. 1474/1478) is the only portrait by da Vinci located in the Western Hemisphere. Now the public can download Ginevra and enjoy her no matter where they are in the world. 

 

In March 2012, the United States’ National Gallery of Art created an open access policy which provided online visitors the the chance to download high resolution images of their collections which fall into the public domain: 22,988 images to date. And yes, these beautiful images aren’t ridden with watermarks, and are available for you to do what you please to do with them. NGA joins the likes of the US based Walters Art Museum and Yale University, who also serve as fabulous examples of OpenGLAMs in their releasing of public domain artwork images for the world to appreciate and use.

 

Yes, we’re a bit behind on the times, but that won’t be our legacy. 

For some reason, it didn’t pop up on our radar until this week. I frantically contacted staff at the NGA, and was put in touch with Alan Newman, Chief of the Division of Imaging & Visual Services. He expressed the organizations deep interest in making their collections more accessible to the public. “A goal we have is to see our public domain images used ubiquitously. By offering free self-serve high-quality authoritative images we hope to flush all the bad legacy images out of the culture.” That legacy is one that haunts most GLAMs, who have to cope with countless poor quality reproductions of their mainly public domain artworks being used on the internet websites as diverse as Wikipedia, Pinterest, and Cafe Press. By releasing high resolution public domain images for free download, and promoting that access, GLAMs can avoid this plague of “bad legacy images.”

Release the bots

“Of course, we would love to see Wikipedia, Wikimedia and any and all channels using our images,” says Alan. This invites the inevitable mass upload that Wikimedia’s volunteers are known for: using bots to download high res openly licensed images from websites, and uploading the images, and related metadata and attribution, to Wikimedia’s repository of free media, Commons. Those files will then be able to be placed in thousands of Wikipedia articles in hundreds of languages, which will be viewed by millions of people around the world. They’ll also have a chance to download those images. Talk about a legacy.

What the future holds

By 2014, NGA intends to have their NGA Images website provide the public free access to over 45,000 public domain images. This expansion will include the 2013 digitization of the Index of American Design, which features almost 18,000 watercolors about American arts and crafts. These watercolors were created by the Federal Art Project (FAP) and display arts and crafts from the 19th century and before. These images are prime real estate for release: they were created by artists on behalf of the federal government, making them naturally public domain. NGA also hopes to participate in repository level sharing projects, as they did with the Museum Data Exchange, which allow more access to collections and collection information on an GLAM to GLAM level.

I encourage you to try your hand at downloading a favorite treasure from the NGA. The museums most requested images feature works by Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Rembrandt van Rijn. You can also have fun browsing the latest images added to the website. Appreciate, enjoy, and share.

Launching US OpenGLAM

Sarah Stierch - January 15, 2013 in Featured, GLAM-Wiki, Updates, US

Sarah Stierch, US OpenGLAM Coordinator (Photo: Matthew Roth, CC-BY-SA 3.0)

The new year brings a new role to OpenGLAM and the Open Knowledge Foundation: the launch of US OpenGLAM.

I am pleased to take on the role as US OpenGLAM Coordinator. As a museumist, Wikimedian, and open culture advocate, I have taken deep interest in developing programs and procedures for opening up cultural institutions in the United States.

As Wikipedian in Residence at the Smithsonian Institution Archives and the Archives of American Art, I was able to provide more open access to cultural materials and deeper partnerships with the open culture movement through GLAM-Wiki, an international movement to develop partnerships between cultural institutions and Wikimedia projects, like Wikipedia.

After attending OKFestival 2012 in Helsinki, and attending and participating in a series of OpenGLAM meetings at the conference, we came to a realization: the United States needed an organizational structure and dedicated guidance to provide education, policy development, and encouragement for galleries, libraries, archives and museums who express, or have yet to express, interest in opening up their materials, data, and environments in the spirit of open culture and licensing.

So far, that guidance has been provided by leaders such as Lori Byrd Phillips, who served as the Wikimedia Foundation‘s US GLAM Coordinator for 2012. Phillips provided general structure and leadership focusing around the organization of GLAM-Wiki projects in the US. Her leadership was integral in bringing further awareness to OpenGLAM opportunities. This opportunity will allow the Open Knowledge Foundation’s OpenGLAM initiative build upon that awareness by supporting and educating GLAM professionals and volunteers about the opportunities awaiting them regarding open culture data.

As US OpenGLAM Coordinator, I will be working with GLAMs in the US to educate and inspire them to open their cultural holdings in a broader, open license manner through in-person engagement, online education, social media, case studies, and policy development.

I look forward to working with the OpenGLAM team at OKFN and sharing my passion for open culture with all of you.