As a first-timer to VALA I expected to find tech that would kick my imagination into overdrive and presentations to make me push myself in my role as a librarian. Lets see if my VALA experience lived up to my expectations.

I did find it amusing that originally my VALA tags said I was from La Trobe University, VIC. While I got that sorted I had an engaging conversation with the volunteer helping me about the pros and cons of excel spreadsheets. Once everything was right in the world, I set off to find some colleagues I had worked with in previous years.

Image of my fixed up VALA tags.

David Lankes with librarianship, saving the world one community at a time reminded us that librarians have been known to make a difference in the world, that we have the power to change narratives. In Australia migrant crisis (one of the many narratives David encountered worldwide) is a narrative played out in our daily media in “stop the boats” headlines.

While over at the library there are literacy support classes, events that celebrate cultural diversity and spaces for migrants to safely explore becoming apart of the culture of their new home. The new narrative? We are gateways to cultural identity, new citizen and helping families in need.

Security vs privacy is another narrative David explored. How familiar does that sound? In a world where our privacy can be breached for the “safety of all”, what is the best way to fit in librarianship values such as those found at IFLA’s Code of Conduct for Librarians and other Information workers.

Librarians and other information workers respect personal privacy, and the protection of personal data, necessarily shared between individuals and institutions.

Website  I  Book: Expect More

Making my way to Patrick and Jaye’s presentation on becoming “data neophytes” I was keen to learn more about data librarians. According to Jaye a data librarian utilities technology to describe, organise, manage and preserve resources and research data outputs. They also described the APO DOI project which is basically DOI minting to make research data more discoverable, citable and usable and to facilitate long term accessibility.

Cases Study: Using Scenarios in Introductory Research Data Management Workshops for Library Staff  I  Self guided learning: 23 things  I  Networking  I  Reading: Data Management and the Role of the Data Librarian, Research Data Self Education for Librarians

Next I went to support the Swinburne Commons team in their presentation For the Common Good: a centralised approach to university video publishing. It was stressed that while anyone (13 year olds included) could upload video content to the web, the service Swinburne Commons team provides means university content is of a higher standard, with a common brand and complies with accessibility and copyright. The software used to manage the content this team works with is EQUELLA and Kultura. Their presentation wrapped up by quoting the Swinburne Commons selection criteria for choosing content (which struck with me as something libraries and museums can also aim for): our content is open, enduring and compliant.

Anton presenting from the Swinburne Commons team.

The first VALA round table session discussed changing content and changing access to content. As I listened I picked up a reoccurring theme of communication. Librarians and aggregators need to communicate to publishers the real needs of their clients. Doing so can be as simple as picking up the phone to complain to NewsCorp (for example) about pulling their content from Press Reader. Through honest and open communication we can help each other move forward.

A work colleague had recently exposed me to GitHub and I was intrigued. Needless to say I was thrilled to see a P-plate session by Valentine Charles at VALA called Github 101. Europeana uses Git and GitHub for its own code projects because its free, open source, transparent, accessible and has a public storage system.

Readings: GitHub for Beginners, A Successful Git Branching Model

Last presentation of the day was by Lee Rainie with the puzzles librarians need to solve. Lee asked us to consider the role of libraries in the following five points:

  1. Future of personal enrichment and entertainment?
  2. Future of pathways to knowledge?
  3. Future of public technology and community anchor institutions?
  4. Future of learning spaces?
  5. Future of attention and its structural holes?

According to Pew Research librarians are one of the most trusted group of professionals, which puts us in an excellent position to make bold moves to address the above points and expand the worlds knowledge economy.


The first day of VALA solidified, in my mind, that being a data and content management librarian is one of the coolest jobs in the world and that code as exciting as I thought it would be. But did I find any tech to kick my imagination into overdrive? At the datacomIT stall I found the Magic Box. This is a fun and innovative solution to displaying rare books. So in the display case you can see the rare book, but instead of just seeing one page the glass of the case is an illuminated interactive display that shows ALL content in the book! How cool is that?!

Conclusion: VALA meets all expectations.

Till next time!
DFTBA (Dont Forget to be Awesome)