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GLAM-Wiki Conference 2018
More than 180 attendees from 43 countries gathered between November 3rd-5th for the GLAM-Wiki 2018 conference in Tel Aviv, Israel. During the GLAM-Wiki conference, GLAM community professionals and Wikimedians convened to discuss and share experiences, present their favorite tools, and discover new ways to create, enrich and reuse free cultural knowledge.
Co-organized with the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia Israel hosted the GLAM-Wiki Conference as part of the GLAM–Wiki initiative (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums). The initiative enables cultural institutions to share their resources with the world through collaborative projects with experienced Wikimedian editors. The previous GLAM-WIKI conference was held three years ago (2015), in the Hague in the Netherlands. Last November, Wikimedia Israel revived the GLAM-WIKI conference and opened a stage for leaders from various cultural institutions, Wikimedians and volunteers around the globe to share their practices in the field. Since 2011, Wikimedia Israel has been involved in establishing a network of local GLAM partnerships through which the chapter advocates and provides guidance about opening up digitized collections to the public. Thus, hosting the international GLAM-Wiki communities in Tel Aviv is a huge step in a long and fruitful dialog with various local institutions; an opportunity to increase awareness among GLAM professionals of the importance of accessible cultural heritage.
The program included three days of keynote lectures, talks, workshops, meetups, and social events where participants had the opportunity to examine new paths toward GLAM-Wiki collaborations and to discuss mutual interests shared between Wikimedia and various cultural institutions. The conference main highlight is the developments around GLAM and Wikidata, the GLAM-Wiki Toolset, new technical tools being developed (including structured data on Commons, which touches many GLAM collaborations), and the advantages of free content.
The first round of sessions was held on Saturday Nov 3rd, attended by Wikimedians from around the globe, who gathered at Cinematheque Tel Aviv, a prominent cultural institution in the city which hosted the conference for three days. At the end of that day, the GLAM conference team organized two tours and invited the conference attendees to walk around Tel Aviv, to learn about the city’s history and to explore the unique Bauhaus architecture.
The second day (Sunday, Nov 4th) commenced by a greeting from Mayor of Tel Aviv, Mr. Ron Huldai who kindly welcomed the conference participants stated: “Technology and democracy: this is what you are all about, and this is what the city of Tel Aviv is all about! My friends, I wish you all a wonderful conference!” The greeting session continued with remarks by Itzik Idri, Chairperson of Wikimedia IL.
The opening session included a lecture presented by Ms. Katherine Maher, Executive Director (WMF), who presented GLAM collaborations timeline and vision, and expressed the movement’s efforts to identify knowledge gaps and the global strategy process of the foundation where knowledge equity is a center ground, “By empowering communities to share knowledge and break down barriers to knowledge, particularly those communities who have been left out by structures of privilege and power.”
A second keynote lecture was given by Ms. Kate Zwaard, director of Digital Strategy at the Library of Congress, where she presented efforts and achievements made in order to facilitate accessibility to content for Internet users. On barriers throughout processes of developing digital strategies at GLAM institutions, she shares her own experience at LC: “The actual work in my mind of doing this in an institution like ours, is to just talk through the policy pathways of getting something like that approved for those of you from big institutions like ours, you know how many roles and regulations there are for many good reasons.” The Free to Use Browser Extension, for instance, was among those tools developed by the LC labs where such challenges were surpassed. According to Ms. Zwaard, “Every time we do something new, we have to hack through the forest to clear a path, this is a good example of one time we did that.” The mentioned extension allows the public to engage with digital images of the LC through browser tabs.
Later in the evening, Wikimedia IL, global Wikimedians and GLAMers celebrated the event in a festive dinner.
On Monday Nov 5th, another tour was organized in Jerusalem where the attendees visited GLAM institution like the National Library of Israel and the Israel Museum.
Both Wikimedians and professionals were introduced to up-to-date and innovative GLAM-Wiki projects. GLAM professionals from across the world learned about the importance of accessible cultural heritage. Attendees from diverse communities were provided with the opportunity to establish connections and initiate new GLAM projects.