OpenGLAM Workshop in Jerusalem

On the 13th and 14th of November, the 9th Jerusalem conference on the digitisation of cultural heritage, EVA/Minerva was organised by the Israel Museum. During this two days conference, the Open Knowledge Foundation organised together with Wikimedia Israel and Create Commons a half day workshop on the licensing of digitised cultural heritage.

After a word of welcome and an introduction to the Open Knowledge Foundation by Sam Leon, Joris Pekel gave a presentation about the OpenGLAM initiative and why institutions should go open and make their metadata and content available for reuse. He introduced the idea and definition of ‘Open’ and addressed several arguments such as

  • Open data helps to fulfill the public mission of the memory institution
  • Larger Audience
  • It allows the audience to participate
  • To connect and contextualise collections
  • Keep the memory institution relevant in a digital age

Earlier during the conference, the Israel Museum presented their participation in the Google Art project and the fact that Google does not allow people to download the images, even though they are in the public domain. During the workshop however, Joris pointed out that many of these images were scraped by a bot and had been published to Wikimedia Commons, in full resolution. The fact that the museum was completely unaware of this shows the need to rethink the ways institutions publish online and how they license their works.

Creative Commons

After this talk, Dalit Ken-Dror, Legal Supervisour of the Law & Technology Clinic at the University of Haifa and member of Creative Commons Israel explained the copyright model in Israel and the use of Creative Commons licenses. As in most places in the world, the current copyright act gives an immense ammount of uncertainty to the (re)user of the content. Especially the fair use policy in Israel is so unclear, no lawyer could tell you that you can reuse an in copyright work under the fair use banner with 100% certainty. Using a creative Commons license on digital heritage copies can remove this vagueness and allow more people to reuse the cultural content.

Project Ben-Yehuda and Wikimedia

Shani Evenstein, chief editor at Project Ben-Yehuda and National GLAM Projects Coordinator at Wikimedia Israel, then gave two presentations with two different hats on. Her first talk was about Project Ben-Yehuda and the legal issues they encounter. The project is the Hebrew equivalent of the Project Gutenberg and has the goal to digitsise and transcribe all books in Hebrew and make them available to everybody for free.

Shani from DM2E

Shani’s second talk was about the GLAMwiki work Wikimedia Israel is doing at the moment. Shani gave a great overview about the local and global initiatives of Wikimedia. She made a strong case for institutions to team up with Wikimedia and use the platform to reach out to new audiences all over the world.

After Shani’s talk, a few case studies were presented.

Dr. Allison Kupietzky, Collections Database Manager and Head of the Information Center for Israeli Art at The Israel Museum presented their online strategy and how they use the web to get more people to visit their institution. She also showed how they worked together with Wikipedia to get the articles about their collection improved.

Finally Ido Ivri, Manager of Digital Programs at the the National Library of Israel presented their Wikipedian in Residence pilot which has led to more than 70 new pages to be created with content from the library that is in the public domain


It was a great day with a lot of interesting sessions. It was very nice to hear about all the enthusiasm coming from different institutions in Israel about sharing their data in a more open way. At the same time they all deal with the same issues with relation to unclear copyright laws and the speed in which their collection is being digitised. It seems though that there are many projects and organisations willing to help the institutions in solving these issues, so we can expect to have more content coming from GLAM’s soon.