International Researchers Value Work of Australian Libraries and Archives

Trove logoParticipants at the recent Global Digital Humanities conference will remember the prominent contributions of Australian historians, Tim Sherratt, Julia Torpey and Peter Read. But I also want to highlight the more low profile but no less important contribution of Australian cultural institutions in bringing Australian historical records to world attention.

Australian governments and other funding bodies have shown international leadership by funding significant digitisation programs that have are freely accessible to the people of the world. This contribution to the world’s bank of knowledge is inestimable. As I listened to the papers presented at the Global Digital Humanities Conference I was struck by just how significant digitised Australian historical sources are for researchers around the world.

The Trove website is the flagship of Australia’s digitisation programs. Led by the National Library of Australia, with significant contributions from Australia’s state libraries, it is truly a treasure trove of all sorts of digitised items, including its famed digitised newspapers as well as the catalogue records of hundreds of cultural institutions around Australia. It is a massive online resource.

We would expect Australian researchers to embrace this resource, as they do, but researchers from other countries are also using Trove’s resources in cutting edge work.  Every day we researchers presented papers which referred to Trove. Every day one of these papers was presented by researchers who worked for universities or cultural institutions outside Australia.

These papers, like all papers at the conference, demonstrate world class research in the field of digital humanities. As the conference proceeded it became clear that Trove has made an important contribution to leading international research. Continue reading

Pause, Reflect and Share: A Busy April

DSCN3147 Front classroom Blackboard wiped CIt is important to take time to regularly pause and reflect, however when we are busy we sometimes overlook this.  Over the last month I lurched from deadline to deadline and forgot to take a step back periodically to assess how I was going.  I hadn’t realised that I was becoming rather stressed, focussing on tasks I had not completed rather than what I had achieved. Then I decided to share with you what I have done over the last few weeks and in doing so regained my perspective.

In March I started a course at TAFE, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, which will lead me to become a qualified workplace trainer.  I have plenty of experience doing workplace training as part of various jobs over the years but increasingly employers are wanting people to be qualified.  It was time to do the course in order to back up the experience.

At the same time I was asked to conduct a workshop for historians for the Professional Historians Association of NSW which is scheduled for 18th May.  It is titled Social Media for the Cautious Historian – the Basics.  Someone working in public relations asked me to provide them individual coaching to help them learn how to use twitter effectively for their work.  I am also now one of the tweeters Professional Historians Association of NSW (@pha_nsw) and look after the content management system for their website. Continue reading

Open Access – Why I’m Passionate About it

Banner for Open Access WeekAs it is over a year since I started this blog, it is timely that I return to the reason why I started writing online.  On my “About” page I wrote:

During my time at university I noticed how much historical knowledge is generated in the academy but is difficult for the general public to access.  I have written essays arguing that it is  important that historians share their learning with the public and engage the public in historical enquiry… This blog is part of my commitment to share what I have learned…

This is what open access is about.  It is about unlocking the valuable learning that has accumulated in academic journals and freely sharing it with everyone.  In Australia the taxpayer funds most research, yet the taxpayer has to pay again if they want to read about the research they have financed.  This is unjust.  Likewise the academic who does the research and writes it up often is severely restricted in how they share their work.  They also review and edit articles for these journals but do not receive payment from the publisher for this.  The taxpayer funds the time that academics spend doing this. The journal then sells the research back to the taxpayer, to the academic and to university libraries and pockets the profit.  This does not make sense! Continue reading