Breaking new ground for GLAM tech

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VALA Tech Camp 2017 t-shirt

VALA has a 40 year history and a well-earned reputation for breaking new ground in supporting library technology practice and increasingly, galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) technology practice.  This year, from 12-14 July, VALA held its first ever “Tech Camp” and around 100 technologists from the GLAM sector gathered in Melbourne to share coding skills and technology know-how. AARNet was delighted to be involved in the VALA Tech Camp as the inaugural tech partner.

The sessions ranged from learning the basics of python coding with Jupyter Notebooks, using virtual servers, to working with text corpora and using the Natural Language Toolkit or GitHub, creating SQL reports, crafting quality podcasts, getting inspiration for strengthening user interaction practices, programming robots, and managing persistent identifiers.  

AARNet contributed a workshop on: “Network know-how, data handling and problem solving” and a presentation on “Infrastructure, research, innovation, and digital capability” (video) to the mix of sessions.  AARNet is in a unique position as the provider of underpinning infrastructure (network and services) to most of the large cultural institutions and universities in Australia.  

There was a strong turnout from the library tech community and AARNet shared thoughts on how librarians can play an important community role in developing “infrastructure literacy”.  We moot that infrastructure literacy is a more technical kind of digital literacy (the library community is already supporting the development of digital literacy) and a key component of “digital capability”.  

In the UK, AARNet’s sister research and education network JISC is promoting digital capability to help broaden and deepen technical skills so that digital infrastructure can be used more effectively. We also see this as a smart way forward for institutions in Australia. (See the new community of practice and the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association survey).

Author: Ingrid Mason, AARNet eResearch Deployment Strategist

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