Digital policy Australia: Challenges and opportunities for galleries, libraries, archives and museums.


Using the phrase "Australian museums must innovate or risk becoming digital dinosaurs", CSIRO has published Innovation Study: Challenges and Opportunities for Australia’s Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums.  The GLAM sector is changing as a result of changes in access, sharing and engaging with digital and social media. This is creating new forms of competition for the sector, challenging traditional authority and expertise and driving fundamental changes in interactions with GLAM organisations and their collections.

The study asks: what are the key transformations this sector needs to make to thrive in the emerging digital environment of the next two decades? Australia is seen as having areas of excellence, but a need for more widespread development and adoption of good models from elsewhere in the world
The study makes three recommendations:

Recommendation 1: Four Strategic Initiatives

  1. Making the public part of what we do – aiming for a deep transformation, both in the professional disciplines in the GLAM sector and in the organizations’ relationship to the public. This argues for a shift from traditional authority to a more “porous” approach to diverse contribution and collaboration. A fundamental shift to open access, open sharing and greater collaboration is essential.
  2. Becoming central to community wellbeing -  wellbeing a central part of each organisation’s purpose and vision. Use physical spaces and collections in fostering community memory, sense of self and pride, economic benefit, and community health and resilience for an ageing and diverse population.
  3. Beyond digitisation – creative reuse - shift from the difficulties of digitisation to possibilities of creative reuse. A transition from a “push” to a “pull” model where publics are engaged from the beginning and help pull through digitised content based on specific needs, which shapes the form of digitisation and allows for creative reuse to build cycles of creativity in which new or reshaped digital objects join the ‘collection’.
  4. Developing funding for strategic initiatives – with falling government funding, a need to shift more to funding from philanthropy, corporate and direct community support. Sector needs ways to fund big, strategic initiatives that reposition for the digital era..

Recommendation 2: A National Framework for Collaboration

  1. Cross-sector collaboration is crucial for innovation, resource and knowledge sharing in:
  2. Digitisation and access - sharing skills, standards and approaches for digitisation and collaborating on linking and aggregation initiatives like Trove, the Atlas of Living Australia and Linked Open Data.
  3. Digital preservation - requires a coordinated, national, cross-sector, standards-based approach to avoid losing access to digital heritage.
  4. National approaches to rights - unified approach to copyright, orphan works, rights of traditional owners at the same time as stimulates creativity and supports creators.
  5. Skills and organisational change - closing gap between leading practice and the national mainstream.
  6. Shared infrastructure - sharing capability, storage and networks in the sector, exploiting the potential of AARNet and the NBN for connection and collaboration.
  7. Transdisciplinary collaboration and research partnerships - communication and collaboration between professional disciplines and cultures in the sector.

Recommendation 3: National Leadership & Collaboration Forum

  1. Common forum for conversation,  leadership and pursuit of concrete initiatives. Also consider a charitable foundation to support cross-sector strategic initiatives along the lines of Europeana, the Public Catalogue Foundation of the UK and the Digital Public Library of America.

The GLAM innovation study website also has links and resources.


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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith