GLAM PEAK – Digital Access Meeting, National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) 9 May 2016

National Film and Sound Archives, Canberra

National Film and Sound Archives, Canberra (Australia)

We attended the fifth meeting of the representatives of national GLAM (i.e., Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) sector peak bodies in Canberra.

GLAM Peak Notes Meeting – 9 May 2016 by Kate Irvine

GLAM Peak Joint Election 2016 Statement

Our collective purpose is to work together to advocate for, advise on, and implement the open digital access and discoverability of Australia’s cultural collections.

Those present included: Alex Marsden, Executive Director, Museums Australia; Frank Howarth, President, Museums Australia; Margaret Allen, CEO, State Library of WA, National & State Libraries Australasia (NSLA); Roxanne Missingham, CAUL; Ann McLean, Director Reference and Information Services National Archives of Australia and representing Louise Doyle, Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities (CAARA); Jacqui Uhlmann, National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA); Lyndall Osbourne, AIATSIS; Meredith Foley, Executive Director, Council of Australian Museum Directors (CAMD); Diedre Kiorgaard, National Library of Australia; Bernadette Flynn, Online Outreach Officer, Federation of Australian Historical Societies (FAHS); Sue McKerracher, CEO, ALIA; Michael Loebenstein, Director, National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA); Tina Parolin, Director, Academy of the Humanities; Kate Irvine, Executive Officer, National and State Libraries Australia; Monica Telesny, Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).

I represented the Australian Society of Archivists (ASA) on a national level, as well as University of Newcastle (Australia) Cultural Collections on a regional level.

Most around the table would applaud our host, Michael Loebenstein’s opening statements in acknowledging what a great initiative the GLAM meetings really are, and how honoured he was to be included, and playing an active role, in together shaping the national policy and agenda evolving around the Australian community’s digital access to its cultural heritage.

The Objectives of this meeting were:

  • to review, discuss and agree scope and implementation of the revised joint project funded through Catalyst
  • to develop a short joint agenda for a number of forthcoming elections
  • to discuss common issues of concern with local government – ALGA
  • to agree on timing and issues to cover as part of GLAM Peak’s submission to the Commonwealth Budget deliberations at the end of 2016, as well as future areas of interest.


Catalyst Submission

There was good news and bad news. The good news was that we were successful in gaining funding, the bad news was that it was successful for one sixth of the funding asked for, over a period of one year as opposed to three years in the original submission. Therefore a revision of objectives was in order.

It was recommended that:

(A) we concentrate on ensuring a tangible outcome in the form of the ‘toolkit’ that would supply all organisations large or small will all they needed to know about the processes of digitisation and how to get their digital content out there. The project team would be responsible to compiling all the documentation probably already out there in various forms and distilling it into an easy to ready “how to” for cultural organisations great and small. So we can avoid re-inventing all wheels.

(B) that we will have a workshop at the next meeting of the GLAM PEAK to showcase case studies for cultural institutions that already do digital access well, and those that don’t, so that we have an idea of what is already going on out there, at all levels. This will give participants the opportunity to share what they do well, and where they don’t.

(C) that we would also identify potential business partners that would be prepared to invest in the national initiative across the GLAM sector.


Expression of Interest

Digital Access to Australia’s Collections: An initiative of the peak bodies of the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums

Expressions of interest are sought for two roles to deliver a digital access project for the GLAM Peak Bodies Roundtable. We require project management and research (desk and fieldwork). These roles could be performed by one person or by two depending on skills and experience.

The project is worth a total of $150,900, with $72,000 available for this element. The project will run from June to December 2016 with the potential for further engagement in future years.

We are seeking an individual/individuals who have project management and research skills. You must have knowledge and experience working with galleries, libraries, archives, museums, historical societies and/or in humanities research. Ideally, you will have worked across several of these parts of the GLAM sector.

The deliverables are a report, a draft framework and toolkit prototype to enable smaller institutions in the sector to make their collections discoverable online.

Expressions of interest are invited by midnight on 5 June 2016, sent by email

For further information, please contact:

Sue McKerracher, Australian Libraries and Information Association,

Kate Irvine, National and State Libraries Australasia,




Joint Agenda for Elections

To date the GLAM peak bodies have come together to provide joint statements on Copyright Reform , the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Support of TROVE. Discussions ranged over areas we could provide overarching advocacy and support in the areas of innovation, telecommuncations (NBN) infrastructure, education, research, Indigenous access and culture and disaster proofing. Repositioning the GLAM sector in the hearts and minds of the nation’s decision makers is of crucial importance to the future resilience of civil society and civilisation. For instance, imagine what can be gained by understanding Aboriginal cultural practices and heritage, embodied in the “archives in the field”,  the rock art and engraving sites, the keys to 50,000+ years of human survival and innovation on this continent. And imagine what it can teach us in managing our local environmental problems, changes due to climate change and industrial era pollution and contamination of land, sea and air. So the GLAM sector can reposition itself in the same league as HEALTH or EDUCATION, as an Australian RESILIENCE, SURVIVAL & CIVILISATION ENABLER. The digital infrastructure we can imagine as a MEMORY CULTURE SILK ROAD, or CULTURAL MEMORY HIGHWAY, enabling everyone free digital access to the wisdom of the past to enable new actions in the present that create a better future and world.

There was also discussion about creating linkages with Humanities Research organisations, in creating a unified voice as science does when speaking to Government. It was important to push for an exemption for national cultural institutions from the “efficiency dividend”. Not only are the institutions reeling from budget cuts, there is further pressure to provide surpluses. Why?

With so many young people unemployed wouldn’t it be great if we could establish as national cultural heritage-digitial humanities-creative industries GLAM AUSTRALIA TRAINEE or APPRENTICESHIP SCHEME to train the nation’s future archivists, conservators, librarians, curators, archaeologists, digital education virtualist innovators, etc etc while at the same time providing the local historical society or museum down the road with a young person (who is paid), and can help digitise their significance items for global exposure and preservation.


It was RESOLVED that a group would work on distilling the ideas from the whiteboard into a joint statement to our political leaders at Federal, State and Local levels.


There were also updates on the state of TROVE, and the copyright reforms. The National Library of Australia had appointed Deloitte Digital to investigate a variety of funding scenarios and report back by the end of June 2016. It would not affect what is already in TROVE, but there would probably be limitations on what might be possible in future. On the copyright front things were going well until the election was called, and now will have to be re-visited after the outcome of the July 2 poll.


Monica Telesny, from the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) provided a briefing on their working relationship with Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). They are the voice of local government representing over 650 councils around the nation. They employ over 188,000 people, administer funding in the billions, and expressed the importance to their members that cultural institutions such as libraries, art galleries and museums (and I hope archives) have in their communities.  They were very interested in supporting and becoming closely involved with the GLAM PEAK bodies, and we welcomed the association.


Discussions were also had over the collective image of the GLAM peak bodies, ideas ranges from GLAM AUSTRALIA to GLAM PEAK AUSTRALIA, finally deciding we would be known as GLAM PEAK.

Those interested in the fields of digital humanities and what can be achieved with archives & records need to see Professor Hamish Maxwell’s trail blazing Digital Panopticon presentation delivered at 2015’s Australian Society of Archivists’ Conference in Hobart, it was ground breaking and exciting and essential viewing for GLAMers.

NEXT MEETING is scheduled for late July – Early August 2016 and will include a workshop.

The day concluded with a tour of the amazing fascilities and film and audio specialists deep within the labyrinth of the National Film and Sound Archive.



Greg Andrews, Director, Arts Sector Investment, Creative Victoria emailed an update on the report prepared by the Digital Technologies Working Group of the Meeting of Cultural Ministers.

This final report is now publicly available from the MCM website at via the Work of the MCM webpage.

The report establishes a baseline of activity, practice and achievement in the use of digital technologies within state-owned collecting organisations. It also canvasses barriers to increasing access through digital technology, as well as opportunities for collaborative action and issues relating to community collections. The report also demonstrates a wide variety of innovative ways in which state-owned institutions are currently using new technology to extend access to collections, target new audiences and engage the public interactively with collections.

Questions regarding the report can be referred to Greg Andrews or Chrisopher McDermott or on 03 8683 3202.


Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist, UON
Councillor, Australian Society of Archivists (ASA)
Chair, Hunter (Living) Histories Initiative (Coal River Working Party)




  1. Hi Gionni

    Thanks, as always, for your comprehensive and entertaining reports. There’s a lot going on!

    With respect to the Catalyst funding, I am concerned that the toolkit will spend valuable resources in duplicating the already excellent work done by Digital NZ, FADGI, JISC and the state and national authorities you mention in the latter part of the report. I also think there needs to be some clarity of terminology as digitisation and digital access are not synonymous.

    It’s great to see the ideas about creating a combined voice to speak to government – it was what the Cultural Collections Council was supposed to do, in part, and I think there has been a gap there since the Council was dissolved.

    I’d like to see some more detail about the idea of cultural apprenticeships – are we talking paid internships aimed at students undertaking tertiary study at TAFE or University level, or trainee programs for the volunteers who run so many of the smaller GLAM organisations, attached to something like the now defunct Certificate in Museum Studies at Edith Cowan University, or something like a work employment project?

    Local Government do indeed have archives, both through local studies and local history collections, but also with their state archives bodies, so I’d really like to hear more about that from the ASA perspective 🙂

    Once again, a great initiative with a lot of ideas to consider!


    • Thanks Lise, the cultural apprenticeships idea is a hobby horse of mine, since my first job was belting out metal in the Apprentice Training Centre at BHP along with a whole heap of 18 years that didn’t have a clue what they were doing! Come into the 21st century, and everyone’s talking about “creative industries”, and so I ask myself, where is the apprenticeship training schemes for the modern young, that mirror the ones established for the 20th century industrial age?

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