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Sarah King Presenting at Making Meaning
12 March, 2020

Making Meaning: Collections as Data Symposium highlights

On Friday 6 March 2020 the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) hosted the full day symposium ‘Making Meaning: Collections as Data‘ at the library’s innovative experimentation and digital creativity venue, The Edge, in the heart Brisbane’s cultural precinct.

The State Library of Queensland put its new Digital Strategy front and centre, fostering wonderful projects such as the Corley Explorer, Unstacked and the Tunley Globe Project, investing in a day dedicated to the people working with Australia’s rich digital cultural collections.

GLAM Lab Movement

In his opening keynote, Mauricio Giraldo recounted his experiences working on the New York Public Library’s Digital Lab, which has inspired a global movement of library and GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) labs, including those in Australia, such as State Library of NSW’s DXLab, GLAMx at the University of Newcastle and the recently launched Collab in South Australia. GLAM Lab challenges traditional approaches by adopting a range of technologies to make collections available in new and unexpected ways (Open a Glam Lab, 2019).

Digital Collections Catalyst in Residence

SLQ’s new Digital Collections Catalyst in Residence was announced at the event, increasing GLAM Lab activity in Australia by offering a bursary to deliver a digital experience based on the Library’s collection data. The Library is serious about its role as a data steward and is actively creating rich digital experiences that can lead to empowerment, transformation and connection to collections in different ways, democratising the nature of digital access in the process.

New insights

The event was an excellent professional development experience for SLQ’s own staff, as well as those who had travelled to attend from other institutions. The event showcased a range of inspiring creative responses to the emergence of rich cultural datasets and digital collections to bring about new insights, such as SLQ researcher Des Crump’s presentation on renewing knowledge of Indigenous languages for the Spoken exhibition, or Find and Connect‘s Kirsten Wright on the Map of Children’s Homes, using geolocation to create new ways for people who grew up in institutional care to find their way to records and help them reconstruct the past.

AARNet was a proud sponsor of the event and is excited to be part of the new energy of discovery and sense of possibility coming out of Australia’s collecting sector, as we learn along with others, like the State Library of Queensland, to make the most of the infrastructure we provide to create, innovate and make meaning of our past, present and future.

Twitter: #slqmakingmeaning #collectionsasdata

Authors: Dr Sara King, AARNet eResearch Analyst and Adam Bell, AARNet Cultural Outreach Manager