Australia and New Zealand report
Notice of exhibitors, including Wikimedia Australia, at 2014 ALIA Conference, Melbourne
In September, Wikimedia Australia was represented at the 14th National Libraries and Information Association (ALIA) Conference in Melbourne. One of the keynote speakers was Roly Keating, the Chief Executive of the British Library (BL) who stopped by our stand for a talk.
Keating's presentation was inspiring as he spoke of the joy of partnerships, proactively opening resources and sensitivity to other cultures around the world. He reminded the audience that there was nothing parochial about the library of George III, 60% of whose personal library of 50,000 items consisted of international items and that this international interest was flowing through to the digital age. He outlined the many projects and partnerships in which the British Library is currently engaged, including making available documents from extraordinary moments in the history of Syria, Iraq, Ethiopia and Romania.
In unlocking the material of which the BL is custodian, as well as making English language material available, it is looking for “like-minded spirits” to help share pan-national ventures such as digitising Greek, Hebrew, Persian and Indian manuscripts, “to remove boundaries between people”.
Keating said the BL was closely involved with Europeana; spoke of H.G. Wells’ World Brain (the idea of a permanent world encyclopaedia); and described Trove (the online digital repository of the National Library of Australia) as “exemplary” – a “both-end choice” of deep rich interconnected archive. To an audience of professional librarians, Keating commented that the dichotomy between digital and physical resources is a false one. The BL, for example, helped re-stock the shelves in the Iraq library and also found records from its own India Office collections to help libraries continue their contribution to “identity, true citizenship and the real world”.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney ran an edit-at-thon on 26 October to improve the coverage of women artists on Wikipedia. The MCA had linked this to other educational events and a keen group of new editors brought their own laptops to work on the article Australian feminist art timeline and other articles on individual Australian artists. WM-Australia helped co-ordinate with the broader campaign to improve the coverage of women and the arts (See Meetup/ArtAndFeminism) and attended to help with training and help new editors. The event was covered by The Sydney Morning Herald which published Wikipedia editathon writes women into history the next day.
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