Data Unleashed – The data we’ve always had

Last week I attended a workshop called Data Unleashed hosted by LINC Tasmania. As the name suggests, the session was about the data collected by and are readily available from LINC Tasmania and other libraries and government institutions. Speakers discussed their use of available data for research, work and creation of informational products.

Three LINC Tasmania staff presented on various data projects:

  • Alan Mills (Tasmanian Information and Research Services) discussed rich data and how to make it valuable in LINC Tasmania. What was interesting about his project was that he used a database tool called Wikidata –  a sister project of Wikimedia – to create a visualised timeline.
  • Julie Mills (Digital Integration and Support) presented a talk on discovery solutions and requirements for their MARC records.
  • Brad Finn (Digital Integration and Support) discussed open data sharing and how they are available in different formats. LINC Tasmania has 24 datasets available via totaling over 1 million records. Wow!

There were also video presentations from:

Data Wizards by Corin Haines
A good problem to solve by Michael Lascarides
  • Paula Bray (State Library of NSW) who runs an innovation lab in cultural heritage was my favourite video presenter for the day! She showcased some of the innovative and engaging ways the State Library of NSW are sharing their library collection.
Take home messages from Paula Bray

We were also lucky to have local guest speakers:

  • Rebecca Head (UTAS) showed us how she used convict record data from LINC Tasmania to research and write her thesis.
  • Craig Smith (Land Titles Office DIPIPWE) presented a data sharing resource (integrated land and property information) available to the public. He showed us then and now images using a slider tool – (although he didn’t mention what the slider program was, I’m guessing they’ve used the Juxtapose open-source software).
  • Jon Manning (Secret Lab) an author and game maker – gave us a lightening talk on all things cool and fun on using data.  He along with his partner Paris Buttfield-Addison created a game called Beat the Press as an entry for GovHack 2016. Cool dude.
Meet the Press game by The Secret Lab

My thoughts:

Although data has been around for a long time, it’s only now that we are thinking more about it. Why? Because of the available technology enabling data to be created, manipulated and shared. I think it’s time for libraries to change mindsets  about how they manage their collection (it is no longer paper-based processes but digital integration) and how best they can provide library services in order to be relevant in the 21st century.

Data is neutral but it can be turned into knowledge as showcased by the amazing and progressive institutions and individuals in this workshop. What resonated with me most was the presentation by Michael Lascarides, Jon Manning and Paula Bray because of the creative ways they’ve used and manipulated their data to serve their customers’ needs. But whatever informational products and services libraries come up with, I think it’s important that they give meaning to their community.

NB: More photos on my Twitter feed (@Karina_Tumon) if you’re interested….




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