OpenGLAM Switzerland Workshop, OKCon 2013


Photo above taken by Maarten Brinkerink, CC-BY-SA

One of the first events to take place at this year’s Open Knowledge Conference was an OpenGLAM Workshop for Swiss cultural institutions and the wider open culture and heritage community to develop an action plan for launching OpenGLAM activity in Switzerland.

Representatives from the Swiss Federal Archives, the Swiss National Library, and other GLAMs from several European countries gathered alongside directors of digitisation and restoration companies, members of and Swiss Wikipedians.

The early presentations focussed on the importance of measuring the impact and uptake of open cultural data projects in order to make the case more at a political level for openness in the cultural heritage sector. Maarten Brinkerink of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision spoke on the topic of metrics for open data:

Joris Pekel, Coordinator of the OpenGLAM Working Group and Community Coordinator for cultural heritage at the Europeana Foundation, built on Maarten’s talk and looked at how Europeana’s Google Analytics could be used in the quest for measuring open data impact and uptake. Joris also stressed to the institutions present the importance of high-quality metadata for the discovery of cultural resources on the web. His presentation can be viewed below:

The afternoon session focussed on how the Swiss cultural institutions present could begin to form a community to set the agenda for open data in cultural heritage and begin opening up more data and more of their public domain holdings.

Micha Reiser of the Swiss Wikimedia chapter talked in detail about how memory institutions could engage Wikipedians and support them in writing articles for Wikipedia and getting their content on Wikimedia Commons. His slides can be seen below:

Beat Estermann of Bern University of Applied Sciences presented his report on the readiness of Swiss galleries, libraries, archives and museums and existing sentiment within the sector. This was followed by a presentation of the proposed roadmap for establishing a Swiss OpenGLAM group in the coming months. Beat’s slides can be seen below:

Next there was an opportunity for all those present to suggest what to focus on next and discuss in more detail the specific barriers to and drivers for openness within their institutions. A short bar-camp exercise where all those present posted their questions and concerns led to one and a half hours of in-depth discussion on the following issues:

  • How to reach broader audiences with open data and content releases
  • Specific legal and technical issues and how to address and share information on these
  • Ways to reach the Wikimedia and Wikipedia communities
  • Where to find resources and documentation on case studies and statistics relating to open data and cultural heritage
  • How to get open data success recognised internally within a cultural institution
  • How to realise quick open data and open content wins!

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Photo above by Maarten Brinkerink, CC-BY-SA

The discussion led to a number of important action points including a commitment from the project team behind to enrich and improve the documentation section on the site to include more resources for GLAMs thinking of opening up. The group was also in agreement around the plans to start a Swiss OpenGLAM group, based on the OpenGLAM Principles. We look forward to seeing the initial pilot projects, events and data releases from the Swiss, all of which will be covered on

The workshop in Switzerland was the fifth workshop of its kind with the goal of catalysing sustainability communities of open data evangelists who have the skills and support to push the open culture agenda forward. It was good to see those who had been present at previous workshops looking on from a distance reflecting perfectly the geographic breadth of this growing movement to make more of our cultural heritage accessible to all:

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