Robyn Lees: NDF 2015 highlights

Robyn Lees, library assistant at New Brighton, shares the highlights of her first ever visit to a National Digital Forum, held in Wellington in November last year.

Attending NDF

NDF2015 conference slide

The Digital Forum has many facets and the areas of interest for me at the forum were learning and digital literacy, and how we can encompass it in to our programmes and general abilities of staff. As a part of going to the forum I was able to meet learned colleagues for whom a surprise collaboration with a very real result was achieved (more on that later).

Fun and…

Raspberry Pi computer
Raspberry Pi is an inexpensive computing tool great for learning about programming and coding.

Firstly I attended a pre-conference workshop that was about a very cheap system of computing called Raspberry Pi- to explain, Raspberry Pi is basically a miniature operating system that you can hold in your hand. It is like a motherboard of a computer about 5cms square. It has an operating system and can be plugged in to any existing system or operate independently as needed.

Raspberry Pi
Playing with Raspberry Pi

The trick is that you can learn basic programming and coding with it and it’s cheap. These would be great little tools for our learning spaces as the users can make lights work, make alarms or programme it to make actions. After we were shown some demos we got hands-on with Raspberry Pi and we were allowed to fiddle with them and put some basic programming in to them to make lights flash and set off alarms and other trickery. You can plug anything in to them like keyboards and USBs and screens so they are an appealing way of introducing some fun and coding to people with limited resources.


Screenshot of #OneThread tweet
A Twitter clue in the #OneThread game

I was interested to learn about how organisations other than Libraries are engaging with new technology and using it to engage with their customers. Auckland Museum did a presentation about a Twitter campaign they ran where they used objects from their collection to convey clues accompanied by questions for users to answer. They ran a new quiz each week to keep users interested and tied it in with displays and events they were holding. It was hugely successful. This has inspired the team on to new ideas and new social media plans.

Baruk Fedderborn

Here is a clip from Auckland’s outreach librarian – Baruk Fedderborn. In general he is talking about Digital Literacy or as he terms it Post Literacy and engaging with Makerspaces in terms of Māori and Pasifika communities and how we can use our technologies to cross the digital divide and provide useful collaboration with these communities by way of language. It is best to let him explain.

Free Range

Slide from Claire Amos' keynote

In line with my interest in ways of learning I saw a keynote address that began with Disrupt, Connect and Co-Construct. These are the go words of Clare Amos who is deputy principal at Hobsonville Point School where the style of learning is much different than how we were educated. The focus is on how to work with digital natives and support their different ways of learning. Recently I had a customer whose 2 year old son was fidgeting while I was signing him up. I gave him a toy plane to play with and he was not interested in it. So what does this mean for us?

The end bits

Some of my key notes are that there was a lot of conversation around how we get all our colleagues to invest and engage in the new technologies as we dive deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. You don’t need to be 5 to understand it all –but it helps as our “digital natives” way of life changes how we offer our services. This leads on to us running programmes and designing our physical and digital spaces to fit what is happening now for customer needs and looking to build quickly in response to the fast paced changes in our society. Mostly it’s about being relevant and timely with our actions and training for Digital Literacy.

Which leads on to our most important function of customer service and making sure we are actually responding to what is needed and a small example of that is helping with CVs – it may not be glamorous but it’s important to the customers and we can use those sessions to promote all our fabulous services!

Glams 101

Baruk Fedderborn from the earlier conversation about Makerspaces and I found out that a lot of the forum attendees were keen to be able to communicate professionally with each other across the organisations there. These were Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. We discussed planned and collaborated to create a platform for colleagues to do this and settled on Facebook as a suitable platform after discovering that it is frequently used by professional groups. We started a closed group called GLAMS 101 and have since grown the membership to over 120 colleagues and counting. They are located throughout NZ and range from management to customer facing colleagues. It has proved to be a very worthwhile and unexpected learning opportunity from the NDF 2015 Forum event.

The future

The two biggest stand outs for me for the future from the forum were:

  1. That people in these organisations want to share information and collaborate.  Sharing of project information, expertise, resources etc are very possible for the future using social media platforms in addition to traditional methods.
  2. Everybody at the Forum was really excited about what will be coming in the future technology wise and how we can start to shift our mindsets to fully engage with such technologies like 3D printing and Robots which we have started to do, and think about the new ones coming like Virtual Reality and Nano Technology among many others.

Attending the Forum was a valuable experience and I recommend it to others for helping colleagues to learn and grow.

Some light library inspo to start the New Year…

Because really who wants to tackle some heavy reading or weighty issues first up in 2016?

I was fortunate enough to attend Shout! Karanga Rā, the annual LIANZA conference in Wellington in November.  Unlike the physical exhaustion I experienced in completing the my first half marathon in Queenstown that same month, post-conference it was my brain that was overwhelmed after four days of ideas, conversations, laughter, themes and information.

Speakers from New Zealand and around the world inspired, challenged and made us laugh. In the interests of keeping things light to kick off the year, here are some memorable quotes and comments that captured my attention:

“The library listens, interprets and makes awesome things happen” + The public library should be fun!” – the effervescent Justin Hoenke Director of Benson Memorial Library in Pennsylvania.

“Australia is full of bogans” – Ghil’ad Zuckermann, chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide, currently working on the revival of the Barngarla Aboriginal language. Fascinating style of delivery for his keynote opening with a Hebrew song sung to the tune of Pokarekare Ana and great application of the ‘Driver Reviver’ message to saving languages.

“Everyone f**king hates councils, but everyone loves libraries” – Nigel Latta wondering why his council doesn’t promote their libraries as their awesome service to improve credibility with their ratepayers + “work life balance is bollocks” + “practice a growth mindset” – changing your worldview from fixed to one open to change.

“The World Wide Web is the reading room of the 21st century” – Bill MacNaught, National Librarian.

“The library is the Agora of the community” + “libraries need to be more like Bowie” – Kim Tairi, University Librarian, Swinburne University.

Kim Tairi keynote
Kim Tairi keynote. LIANZA Conference. Wednesday 11 November 2015. Flickr LIANZA-2015-IMG_0853

“Do what people need but market what they want” – Ned Potter from the University of York and his Library Marketing Manifesto.

Ned Potter
Ned Potter. LIANZA Conference. Tuesday 10 November 2015. Flickr LIANZA-2015-IMG_0702


NDF 2015: Potted highlights

NDF, or the National Digital Forum holds an annual event for the GLAMs sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) that focuses on things digital. While this might sound incredibly niche it’s actually very broad – you can hear industry experts and practitioners speak on everything from data-mining to digital inclusion to social media. It’s about how we store, organise, describe, and enhance our collections and about how we present, share, and communicate them to users.

The conference itself is only two days, but workshops beforehand and other gatherings (including an AGM and newbies breakfast) help pad out the schedule. There’s a lot in there. I’ll likely write more fully on a couple of stand out sessions for me, but in the meantime here’s a selection of highlights (if anything tickles your fancy, all sessions are now on the NDF YouTube channel – lightning sessions, at only 15 minutes long are a nice length to fit in if you’re super busy)

    • The fanciest coleslawMixing and mingling at morning tea (and lunch and afternoon tea) – Networking opportunities aplenty and a good chance to catch up with people who work in other parts of the country.
    • How crowdfunding is changing the world / Jackson Wood – Something of a shameless plug for PledgeMe but fascninating nonetheless, PledgeMe has raised $8million in 4 years of operation and their single biggest funding effort was for our own “Back the Bull” campaign that raised $206,000.
    • User contributed content / Clare Lanyon and Victoria Passau – Auckland War Memorial Museum’s Cenotaph database has always been an invaluable tool for those researching Kiwi soldiers but earlier this year they started allowing user contributed content. They also talked about their mobile digitisation units which have captured even more stories and images.
    • Social media: Do you have an exit plan? / Adrian Kingston – Kingston outlined the major issues that surfaced when he did an audit of the Te Papa social media accounts. He found multiple accounts on different platforms, abandoned accounts and a lack of accountability and transparency. Great suggestions for how to assess the usefulness of social media within an organisation and knowing when to “kill” accounts.
    • Our collective connections: How we built a collections-led social media game – Staff from Auckland War Memorial Museum described their #OneThread game – a clue by clue “spot the common thread” Twitter game that was undertaken collaboratively with a group of other GLAMs organisations. The audience tried to play the game as the session progressed and it was pretty tricky and VERY engaging.
    • Collaborative Community Repository / Fiona FieldsendDigitalNZ have been hard at work creating a new home for Kete content, one that aims to be more user-friendly and streamlined. Currently in prototype and we got to have a look at it. Pretty swish from the looks.
    • What it's like making a TV programme
      What it’s like making a TV programme

      How filmmakers use your stuff / José Barbosa – Our institutions are treasure troves of heritage imagery and historical documents but how do creative people use this material and what can we do to help? Barbosa went through the process of producing the documentary series about censorship in New Zealand, “The Naughty Bits” and offered insight into how they searched for, acquired and used the treasures they found. Representative snippet “Papers Past is pretty much The S**t”.

    • Sneak peek: Papers Past Future – National Library’s historical newspapers are getting a revamp. The new interface will create a standardised search across more of the National Library’s digitised publications including magazines (like Te Ao Hou) and journals, letters and diaries, and parliamentary papers. Expect a beta version to be out in the next couple of weeks.
Papers Past new interface
Papers Past’s new interface
  • The NDF Awards – The end of the conference was marked by presentation of the inaugural NDF Awards, where clever, innovative bunnies got some acknowledgment for their efforts. I would like to see Christchurch City Libraries as a serious contender for at least one of these next year. Gauntlet thrown!

New professional reading

Those of you who are doing study towards a library qualification, or just interested in Library and Infomation studies might be interested in these new books that have been ordered for the Library Network.



Digital,Tech, and Web

Library profession, professional development, and study

Planning and buildings


Social Media

National Digital Forum – Christchurch barcamp

On Friday 19 June, a bunch of GLAM sector types gathered at the Undercroft at the University of Canterbury for the local area NDF  barcamp. It’s a chance to discuss a variety of issues and topics related to digital stuff.  Joanna Szczepanski from the Canterbury Museum wrangled us for the day.

We had two guest presenters. One was Murray Quartly who demonstrated Focus 360.  His virtual tours of the Red Zone were fascinating.

Adrian Kingston, Digital Collections Senior Analyst, Te Papa spoke about “Born Digital collecting”. His presentation Digital roles in GLAMs is online for your perusal, and is well worth a read.

There’s a Google doc that brings together some of the Christchurch barcamp discussion.

Here are some tweets from the day:

National Digital Forum