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NDF Barcamp

On Wednesday 3rd July 2013, Palmerston North City Library hosted a ‘Barcamp’ organised by the National Digital Forum.The Barcamp style of ‘mini-conference’ is designed to attract people who might not have technical knowledge or skills, to network with others who do in order to learn about and possibly collaborate on projects that use digital tools to enhance the connection the public has with its cultural heritage.

The Palmerston North session held last week began with a keynote speech given by our guest, Claire Stent from Statistics New Zealand. She asked us – Why digitize a collection? Organising the content of our collection assists in preservation and eventually the promotion of resources, but how we do this depends on the needs of our customers or users, and their needs can be variable. For example, archivists may want to provide very high resolution images for researchers but these can be expensive to create so budgetary constraints need to be managed well. Once these competing needs are balanced, the type of technology that will best meet those needs can be established.

Encompassing all of this, are our responsibilities under copyright laws. Having the right to print doesn’t automatically translate into a right to digitise and publish online. For example, after 1995 no images of people can be published online without their express permission. We discussed copyright and digital rights management issues in sessions held later in the day.

The Palmerston North City Library had several staff attending this Barcamp as we were the hosts. We each attended different sessions over the day so we could share knowledge after the event was over. Here are some of the highlights our staff found over the day.

Warrick with Pi

Warrick Taylor – Digital Engagement Team Leader

I enjoyed the brain storming that went on in the session on Social Media sparked by Photo Collection Assistant Monique Bowers queries re promoting heritage images:


One of the breakout sessions at the Barcamp was on Social Media and the question posed by Monique from Palmerston North to start the session was how to use Social Media effectively to promote heritage images from a digital library collection. The goals would be to promote the photographs, encourage the community to interact with them and inspire people to share their own collections. In the course of the discussions a number of great ideas were shared by the group:

Auschwitz uses social media to share their collections and seek additional records from the public with QR codes
Horizons Council recently promoted a new report on the Manawatu River with vinyl graphics stuck onto the footpath containing key info from the report, they all included QR codes so people could find out more if a quote sparked their interest. The graphics also formed a guided walk from the city to the river.

An idea was formed to promote heritage images in the community. To use posters, night time projection (this has been done successfully in Australia with the Last Drinks Project presented by Sarah Barns at NDF 2012 or other means to take images out into the community – e.g. a photograph on a site of what buildings used to stand there, or a person who used to live in a heritage house. Then add a QR code to the poster or location linking back into the library collections. I loved the idea of actually bringing the images out into the community and placing them in context and in people’s daily lives. I suspect this could be an effective engagement tool, even if the idea drifted a little from the original social media request!

Harley Bell – Digital Service guide


Palmerston North City Library is developing a new website, and we are currently fleshing out some of the content pages while starting to show the site to some of our customers to get their feedback.

We’ve been sitting down with different age groups of Library users 1-on-1 and giving them tasks to do on the site, as well as observing how well (or not so well!) they were able to find what they were looking for.
We’ve learnt we need to ask specific questions. A patron commented he thought the site was great and no problems – but when asked what one thing he would change if he could, he gave us four!
When testing, don’t make the tests too hard. We used a tool for designing menu layouts on the new site but almost no one finished the test because it was deemed too hard.
There’s a need for on-going collection of stats and testing. Don’t just do a flurry of testing a week before launch – collect stats about usage and usability going forward so you can make incremental UX changes over time, and it gives you a lot of data for the next thing you’re developing!

One thing I learned from this discussion? No matter how well you think your testing is going, your testers will give you both bad feedback and brilliant ideas – and we need to always pay attention to both.


“Publish now, apologise later”. This was the motto of one of the higher ups at a Library in Wales, and we discussed our approaches to using copyrighted material, which evolved into a discussion about eBook lending, Digital Rights Management and if there was any call for a New Zealand eBook publisher focused on promoting NZ authors.

Some didn’t see a problem with using photographs (either of their patrons or pictures taken by someone else of their facilities/activities), and took the approach that “we’ll put it up there now, and if they ask us to remove the images we’ll do so”. Others leaned towards more caution when using copyrighted material on their sites or promotional material. While no-one there had been burned by a copyright lawsuit yet (touch wood), they’d seen the damage that can be done and were more reluctant to tempt fate.

What I took from this session? We really need to brush up on our knowledge of the law regarding the usage of copyrighted material!

Stuart Hubbard – Digital Services Guide – adds:

As well as legally enforced copyright, our group discussed the implications of the rise of mechanically enforced copyright, i.e. Digital Rights Management (DRM) as used by many e-book and audiobook publishers, which will make the work unusable after the agreed loan period expires. PN City Library provide their users access to the Overdrive service (as part of a lower North Island consortium) and have found that DRM can create much frustration for both users and staff. Thankfully there seems to be a trend towards DRM-free e-books and audiobooks.

Jaime Ride – Digital Services Guide

This group’s discussion centred on the use of digitised photos in heritage collections and those taken within the library, at events and for social media. Some of the main points were:

What are the goals inherent in digitising photographic collections? Are we promoting resources for public use or conserving those resources? Are the goals mutually exclusive?
Funding makes a difference. Shortfalls often need to be made up from charging for research services.

When accepting donations it needs to be made clear to donors how the resources might be used. For example, is it okay for them to go online, to be used in research? Creative Commons licences might be of use in describing the distinctions between different types of use.
Using ‘crowd sourcing’ can be very valuable. Palmerston North City Library did this recently by asking our rubbish collection personnel if they recognised some unknown buildings from the collection.

The limitations of copyright laws and the difficulties of navigating the 1995 rule.
Cultural objections to digitisation are more of an issue in Australia but shouldn’t be ignored here.
Opt-in vs opt-out when taking photos. Having the right demeanour and speaking to people before photographs are taken, then getting signed consent can be a way to approach taking photos for social media.

The flip side to this is that although human beings are curious creatures but we don’t have the ’right’ to be nosy. If someone doesn’t wish to be photographed for Facebook it isn’t our place to judge.

The experience of browsing is still an integral part of the user experience at Archives and libraries. It’s similar to book/e-book debate. It’s nice to have both a physical collection of photos and the new digital, key word searchable, online archive.

Monique Bowers – Photograph Collection Assistant

I was lucky enough to experience my first NDF bar camp last week on my first day in my new position at the library. The highlights of the day for me were spending time with my new colleagues, meeting new people in the sector and the talk on social media and photographic collections. I learnt all about different platforms that can be used, depending on the users of the collections needs and wants. This gave me a huge amount of information for the direction I want to take the Palmerston North City Library’s Photographic Collection in. I also enjoyed the segment on user needs and talking about the technological divide – including those who do not want to engage in the information age, and how we must remind ourselves we still need to cater for them.

Shannon Simpson – Manager of Content

Discussions that piqued my interest in particular were:

Musings on creating a New Zealand author eBook platform – Digitization of collections should be about our relationships with our community, not copyright – How do we develop a digital strategy on a regional level to allow the digital sector to thrive and grow? – When will opting out of the digital realm cease to be a choice?

After the final session of our Barcamp we realised we had asked ourselves some pretty good questions and had raised several issues that were due some more thought and teasing out. So, we set up another, informal ‘Bar-Barcamp’ and a local establishment at the end of the month to see where we can take these thoughts next.

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