You are browsing the archive for Updates.

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.


OpenGLAM on the eve of OKFest

Joris Pekel - September 16, 2012 in Events/Workshops, Hack days, Updates, Workshops


The last few weeks, it has been relatively quiet on the OpenGLAM blog. The main reason for this is the amazing OKFestival, which is about to start tomorrow and will welcome more than a thousand people during the week. We have been working together with great people from the Aalto University, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Europeana and many more on creating a program that is appealing to anybody with an interest in cultural heritage. Here a quick overview of what we are planning to do.

##Open Culture and Science hackday

We will kick off on Tuesday with a collaborative hackathon together with the people of the Open Science working group, a field which has a lot more in common with opening up cultural heritage institutions than one might think at first. After all, treasures that are hidden in archives, libraries and museums are of great value for researchers as well. New ways of interacting with these documents, for example digitised manuscripts, with new tools can push the ways we do research further and help us get new insights in history and science.
We have gathered lots of datasets and tools for this event to work on/with. It will be the first hackathon where people get a chance to work with the more than 20 million objects in the Europeana database that have been released under a CC0 license last week. We are also very happy with the fact that a number of Finnish cultural institions have been working very hard to prepare their data as good as possible especially for this hackathon. For a complete overview of all the datasets and tools, have a look at the OKFest page

##Building the Cultural Commons

There are many people and organisations around the world that are doing great work in opening up cultural data. The OpenGLAM initiative has taken this opportunity to gather all these people to share experiences, discuss current issues and decide on next steps to be taken. We are delighted that representatives from organisations such as Wikimedia, Communia, Europeana, Creative Commons, the Open Rights Group and several Finnish institutions are joining us for this day. All results will be shared on the OpenGLAM blog.

##OpenGLAM workshop

On the Thursday, we host a workshop for Finnish cultural heritage institutions where we discuss the idea of open data for cultural institutions. Here we demonstrate and discuss how opening up your cultural data will work for you as an institution. Unfortunately, there are still many problems in opening up data. Here we will especially focus on the licensing issues of the data. Besides that, we have invited several people who will demonstrate the work they have been doing with open data. This includes both cultural institutions, as well as users such as scholars and developers.


Finally on the Thursday afternoon, right after the workshop, we will invite Michael Edson from the Smithsonian Institute to take the stage at the INSPIRE auditorium and give a keynote for the entire festival. For a bit of a flavor what to expect click here.

As mentioned above, in the coming weeks we will post several write-ups, results and reports coming out of the OKFestival. If you want to keep updated about these, do sign up for the OpenGLAM mailing list!

Obstacles to Opening Up Content and Data in the Cultural Heritage Sector

Sam Leon - May 15, 2012 in Case Studies, Front Page, Updates

Over the last few months we’ve run a series of workshops with representatives from cultural heritage institutions in Paris, London and Berlin.

Across these sessions we’ve gathered a large amount of feedback on the problems – legal, technical and economic – faced by institutions trying to open up cultural content and data.

Below we’ve listed some of the most prominent difficulties that have surfaced during the course of the workshops. In doing so we are building on the work already undertaken in this area by JISC, UK Discovery and Europeana.

The list is, of course, very much a work in progress and we strongly encourage people to add to it either by commenting on this post or responding on our Open GLAM mailing list. Building and enriching this list will help inform the shape of events we run in the future and the documentation we can write to help demystify some of the issues highlighted.

##Legal Uncertainty

Uncertainty concerning the legal status of digital reproductions and the originals themselves are some of the greatest obstacles to a more open cultural heritage.

A set of key issues have been identified in this field:

  • The status of digital reproductions of objects. Can new rights be applied to digital copies of works that belong to the public domain?
  • Rights clearance issues
  • Orphan works

##Economic issues

There are a plethora of economic issues that prevent GLAMs from opening up more of their collections. The cost of digitisation is perhaps the greatest obstacle to more freely available digitsed cultural content. But there are also costs associated with sorting data, hosting data, formatting data and exposing data, as well as the costs of clearing rights.

On top of the costs associated with digitising and opening data there is also the concern over the loss of existing revenue streams. A minority of GLAMs have made significant income from selling the data they hold about their collections. This issue is compounded by the fact that there is sometimes an expectation on GLAMs from local and national government that they turn over a profit with their data.

However, for the majority of GLAMs the fear seems to be not that they will lose an existing revenue stream but by opening their data and “letting go” of it, they will miss future, as yet, unrealised business opportunities.

##Control problems

The truth is that open data and the web involves a radical rethinking of the role of a GLAM institution and the traditional dichotomy between curator and visitor. A cultural heritage open data ecosystem is one in which non-professionals can contribute to the process of curation and data enrichment.

This often generates a concern that something disreputable might be done with data and content or that authoritative data might be degraded by the activities of non-experts.

This relates to the further fear, often expressed by those working within cultural heritage institutions, that opening up data will lead to a loss of attribution to the agency that created it.

But beyond this, there is also a discomfort many feel within the cultural heritage sector about opening up data because it will enable others to make money from it. This has proven to be something many within GLAMs are uncomfortable with.

##Technical constraints

There are a plethora of technical obstacles to opening up cultural heritage data. More needs to be done to clarify practices and standards that make cultural heritage datasets more open, more easily re-used and interoperable. Questions such as which formats (RDF, MARC etc), vocabularies (standard, ad hoc) or serialisation (xml, json etc) could be more effectively addressed.

Some of the challenges faced to a more open culture are based on misunderstandings about the nature of open data. This point was made very forcibly at the legal workshop we held in Berlin by a number of the participants. For instance, institutions are sometimes unwilling to open up their metadata thinking that this will necessarily commit them to a waiver on the rights of the content itself.

What is needed here are better more visible explanations and justifications of the key concepts within open data — both legal and technical. In the coming weeks we will be addressing precisely this problem with the team over at UK Discovery by writing blog posts on key concepts and continuing to develop freely available documentation on this topic such as the Open Metadata Handbook.

Stay tuned!

What next for Open GLAM?

Sam Leon - January 11, 2012 in Front Page, Updates

Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula. A. J. Bormeester (1685). Public domain.

Back in September we ran a workshop at the Creative Commons summit in Warsaw. What came out of that sessions was the idea to create a network of people, organisations and projects that are active in the area of encouraging cultural heritage organisations to open up the data that they hold on their collections. Ideas were sketched out for how best to form this coalition including developing Open GLAM principles, organising regular meetings and creating documentation to help cultural heritage institutions open up their data.

Since then a lot of work has been done in this area:

  • Europeana has encouraged the majority of its cultural heritage partners to apply open licenses to their metadata;

  • Wikimedia has run its Wiki Loves Monuments scheme and its second GLAMCamp;

  • COMMUNIA has developed and refined its policy recommendations on the basis of its extensive work in this area and now become an association;

  • The Internet Archive and Wikimedia Commons have continued to add to their vast collections of public domain material and have begun to serve as a portal to much of the digital content that GLAM institutions release openly.

There is, however, still a huge amount of potential for greater collaboration in this area. The Open Knowledge Foundation seeks to further the goals set out in Warsaw by: