INN530 – Reflection on learning

Look! I get to write a reflection after all. Thanks Kate.

The question is “What are the most important, biggest, interesting or surprising learning you will take away from this subject?”

The most important aspect of INN530 for me was that I discovered I was capable of understanding basic html. Before this course html was something that I was a little bit frightened of. It looked very complicated and I was in awe of anyone who could “code”. Thanks to Kate’s endlessly patient tutorials and the resources on W3C I have now started on a journey into the world of html and I am enthusiastic to learn more.

The most interesting aspect of INN530 for was/is the concept of accessibility. That’s why I’m doing my second assignment on this topic. Prior to this course I was totally clueless as to accessibility guidelines and standards. It’s become a journey of discovery and one that I feel I could become quite passionate about from an equity standpoint.

I guess these two things also fit into the categories of big and surprising as well. As always, INN530 reminded me that all learning experiences are filled with unexpected lessons. And once again, as has happened all the way through this M.IT, I have found connections between the course and my “real life”.

Thanks everyone. It’s been a great term.

NLS6 and Pinspiration

I was lucky enough to be awarded a bursary from the ALIA NGAC for travel and accommodation to attend NLS6 in Brisbane in early February. My entry was a Pinterest board which you can see here.

Wendy’s NLS6 Pinterest board

I also wrote two reflective blog posts on the NLS6 website about my expectation and experience of the conference.

Before NLS6

After NLS6

Term 3 zipped by…now for Term 1

It’s really difficult to believe it’s two years since I began my LIS studies. A lot has happened in that time. While I am not moving through the course as quickly as I would like to I have had to come to the conclusion that slow and steady wins the race. I am very tempted to take two courses this term, but after last year’s (successful) attempt at two courses in Term 1 combined with full time work and other music and community commitments I am a little hesitant. I have to get stuck into my Musical Bundaberg project properly so that will be like a subject in itself. I am also enrolled in Online Information Services which I am looking forward to tremendously. But then, who knows, over the weekend I might make the snap decision to add Information Literacy. Unlikely, but possible.

Term 2 starts on Monday

It has been lovely having a break from study but there are only so many old episodes of The West Wing and Seinfeld that I can draw on to fill in my spare time. I’m looking forward to Term 2 starting on Monday. This term I am taking one subject, Information Organisation. While I managed the two subjects in Term 1 and also managed to do well in both of them, adding them to my job and my piano teaching and my life in general wasn’t the most sensible time management decision I have ever made.

During the break I attended the RAILS8 conference at UniSA on June 25. I was a little bit apprehensive about the whole thing for a few reasons. The main one was that it has been some time since I presented a “proper” conference paper. When I say “some time” I’m talking years, not months. This is why it was great to have the excellent support of my project supervisor, Katherine Howard during the lead up to the conference and at the presentation. And in the end I quite enjoyed myself. It was also inspiring to see and hear some of the work in all sorts of areas that is being done in Australia and beyond. It made me very keen to go to more conferences. This can be difficult to achieve living, as I do, in the “sticks” but I am determined. While it looks like I won’t make it to ICA in Brisbane in August, I think I will start planning now for the February double of Information Online and NLS6 in Brisbane in 2013.

Give me a “G” for Gallery

I have made a start. Congratulations to me. So far I have managed an outline and a skeleton framework. This is not my usual way of writing. Usually I just sort of start and shape the piece of writing organically. This is not always successful, but I discovered when completing my thesis that I could make all the plans in the world and then as soon as I started writing, the plan went out the window as everything went off in different directions.

With this project I am trying very hard to stick to a plan – for the first draft at least. Then, comes the part that I don’t mind as much as the first draft. I actually quite enjoying picking apart a complete piece of writing and putting in back together, filling in gaps, ruthlessly slashing and burning different sections. Perhaps that is part of being a shaper as well.

So here I am up to what is probably the crucial section of the project – where I discuss exactly what GLAMS (or LAMS depending on what you are reading) is all about. What are its key principles? How did it develop? What is the connection to Web 2.0 technologies? I have quite a number of articles and papers which talk about the points of commonality between Libraries, Archives and Museums in the world of information technology. They talk about them as collecting or memory institutions. They talk about the importance of any collaborative project (or indeed convergence of such institutions) recognising both what such institutions have in common as well as what distinguishes them from each other. This is all fine. I understand that. What I have to be able to do is justify the “G” for Galleries. Because much of what I have read has left Galleries out of the picture – so to speak!

Thinking about it, I’m not sure why this is. They all collect things. Art, records, documents, objects. Often Museums have libraries and archives as part of their operation. Or Galleries might also have an archive or library of sorts. Of course each institution does different things with what it collects. It might exhibit it, it might preserve it and either store or display it, it might document it for easy retrieval, it might place it in historical context so it can be connected to other like records in order to identify cultural themes. It might do lots of other things as well. But I guess in the first instance, each institutions collects…it’s what happens next that distinguishes the role of the institution in our collective cultural heritage.

So when we add digitisation of collections into this mix, what happens? Is there where Galleries fall off the LAM? Surely not. A gallery can produce a digital collection based around certain exhibitions, themes or items in its collections just as easily as an Library, Archive or Museum. In each case, it is important to realise that the digital collection does not replace the physical collection. It becomes a new collection in and of itself. This is where concepts such as digital curation, preservation and archiving come into their own as the digital collection will have different imperatives and strategies in its formulating to a physical collection or exhibition. The various practices of digital collections across these institutions do in some sense level out the distinctions among them that characterised their traditional contexts. It does not, however, remove those distinctions completely. What digital technology does offer is the potential for GLAMs to collaborate across their differences in producing a different form of collection that can be searched and used online, providing greater (if different) kinds of access for participants to engage with it. Done well, this has the potential to create an addition to our heritage, collecting institutions that enriches our cultural life. So with this in mind, I think that the Galleries in GLAMs is vital.

Finally a beginning….

Yes I am still enrolled in the minor research project. Yes, I have begun doing some reading on my GLAMS topic. So far I have done enough background reading to get an idea of the main ideas and themes in and around GLAMS (or LAMS as it seems to be called in much of the literature).
Here’s what I’ve discovered in terms of potential points that could be developed into a research project:
1. There is a lot of commentary, research, analysis around the need for a specific LAMs/GLAMs curriculum in higher education of information professionals. The most important point that seems to come through here is that while the convergence of Libraries, Archives and Museums is vital in the digital world of WEb 2.0 there must also be a way of maintaining the distinctive qualities of these institutions.

2. There is also writing on cultural policies (national, international, cross-institutional) regarding the possibilities for LAM institutions into the future. This is particularly interesting at the moment with regard to the Australian government’s production of a cultural policy…something that is currently in process. Feeding into this is the need to understand government resourcing of these institutions, particularly with the move to digital access. How is this to be funded? What importance is placed on it by the government and by the institutions themselves?

3. There is writing on the technical issues that spring up when LAM institutions start to collaborate. Lots of issues around metadata and information systems. While this is clearly vitally important it is WAY outside of the scope of a 12 credit pt unit for me as I am a technical dunce in this regard.

4. Any research project on LAMs needs to set itself against the contemporary background/contextual issues of Web 2.0 – for it is this that enables the possibilities of LAMs (GLAMs) as a disciplinary area.

5. The question of “collaboration” as a concept – theoretical and practical – pops up all over the place. Some writers are developing theories of collaboration. This is interesting too but I don’t know if it is a complete research project in itself.

6. A number of bits and pieces I have read highlight the need for clarity around the various concepts – like digital archiving vs digital curation vs digital preservation etc. They emphasise the importance of not collapsing these concepts into each other. This relates back to the first point I have here.

At this stage I think I am going to focus on the cultural policy issue with a specific focus on Australia. More reading and planning to come over the next week.

Term 3 is looming……

It’s the first day of my shiny new wordpress blog. Trying to save a quarter is the progeny of two other blogs: trying to save a quarter which was started in blogger, and silence in the library which was my wordpress blog during this term’s study of Information Programs. The point of this blog is to track my journey through my library studies. It is to be a space for reflection and thinking and writing. Having finished term 2 I now embark on term 3 where I have enrolled in my minor research project. I am looking at GLAMS (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). I can’t wait to get started but before then I have other writing to tackle to do with my other research on television comedy. There is a deadline of late November for that so priorities, priorities. While I am not officially starting on the GLAMS topic I do plan to do some reading to get a handle on the area and try to refine a topic.