Labs Symposium 2021
A retrospective of the ONB Labs Symposium 2021, which took place on November 24, 2021.
The Austrian National Library (ONB) recently presented its Vision 2035, titled "Wir öffnen Räume" ("Opening Spaces"). The ONB Labs Symposium 2021 took up the theme of openness and related it to questions concerning openness in Labs of cultural institutions (GLAM Labs):
- What does openness mean for GLAM Labs environments, is providing open data enough?
- What are the criteria and requirements for openness?
- What does openness mean for different user groups?
The ONB Labs Symposium 2021 took place as a virtual online conference. Below you will find a summary of the presentations given as well as links to the presenters' slides.
Warm Up and Intro
- Labs Team ft. Max Kaiser (ONB): "Welcome note". Max announced the third anniversary of ONB Labs. He then presented the key questions concerning openness in GLAM Labs (see above). Martin Krickl (ONB Labs) collected opinions of the audience via menti. He invited the participants to share their opinion on the question "Openness can't be achieved without ...?", as well as a vote on the status quo of different aspects of openness in GLAM Labs. Participants of the vote generally agreed on the need for improvement in all aspects, especially in open participation and open methods.
- Key note by Sylvia Petrovic-Majer (OpenGLAM Austria): "Open Spaces of Experience". Sylvia set the stage for the day with a virtual introduction round (using MURAL) and an open discussion about goals, communication and access in the GLAM sector. The new EU copyright rules give a foundation for accessibility of public domain content. Nevertheless, cultural heritage institutions have to increase their commitment to open content policies for public domain objects. Sylvia stresses that open communities, like the OpenGLAM network, can be partners for opening cultural heritage institutions' archives by offering outreach methods and forming a critical community for policy making. For Sylvia, openness can't be achieved without collaboration and community building.
Session 1: The perspective of research and education
- Eva Pfanzelter (University of Innsbruck): "The digital cliff of death and the digital dark decades: the challenges for teaching and researching contemporary history". Different copyright situations (depending on time/place of publication) create difficulties for researchers: For material published in the period from 1950 to 1995, digitization efforts by libraries or archives are not feasible. For a contemporary historian, documents from this period are very interesting of course, but usually not accessible. Eva suggested interdisciplinary collaborations for big historical data gained from digitization of historical newspaper archives. She promoted integrated interdisciplinary workflows (across the humanities, libraries and computer science) that are more than the combination of singular approaches.
- Sarah Oberbichler and Nina Hechenblaikner (University of Innsbruck): "Research with digitized historical newspapers in practice: challenges, methods and collaboration". Sarah and Nina presented multiple use cases from research in the field, where the biggest challenge is gaps in digitization. They talked about the typical workflow, typical analysis tools used and how to interpret the results gained from using these tools. It is important for researchers to be able to see which data and metadata is available, to perform advanced keywoard searches, and in the end how to gather search results into datasets and download them. How then can Library Labs help researchers? By providing information on existing tools and Jupyter notebooks, as well as offering researchers the possibility for collaborations.
- Walter Scholger (University of Graz / ZIM): "Data for the classes: requirements, hurdles and ideas for using Cultural Heritage data in Digital Humanities classrooms". Walter presented the aims of the CLARIAH-AT consortium and the digital humanities Austria strategy 2021. At Austrian universities, digital humanities (DH) is taught in the form of master's degrees and individual courses with DH methods and content at multiple universities (Graz, Krems and Vienna). He outlined critical factors for access to cultural heritage (or DH) data. Those data should be open, follow FAIR principles, need to be accessible via APIs or data-driven services as well as have user-friendly interfaces. It is important that cultural heritage institutions on the one hand and universities on the other hand come together to make projects work. As positive international examples for collaboration opportunities Walter mentioned the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and the British Library Labs.
Session 2: The perspective of "Open Digital Libraries"
- Jessica Wevers (National Library of the Netherlands): "Open Digital Libraries" and "Artistic Experiments". Jessica presented the Open Digital Libraries project. The main scope of this project is to foster creative engagement with digitized library archives by means of running artistic experiments and offering virtual labs environments. Pivotal to the project is capacity building and knowledge exchange between the partner libraries (which are the National Library of the Netherlands, the National Library of Estonia and the National Library of Austria) by establishing best practice activities. As a first result, Jessica presented the outcomes of a collaboration of KB with the Royal Academy of Art The Hague. She also gave insight in the planning of an ongoing project in collaboration with the Technical University Delft for the setup of user centered multimedia workspaces. Both projects show how physical objects can become digitized items and in turn can become physical works of art again.
- Marianne Meiorg and Margus Veimann (National Library of Estonia): "Open Digital Libraries". The National Library of Estonia is currently working on the design of a virtual lab environment. They have a strong focus on user experience design. Margus outlined the design thinking process applied for optimizing the service design of the virtual lab. Margus convinced us that design decisions are an important part for usable openness, not to be neglected. In order to gain feedback from targeted users, they held a summer school. Marianne and Margus also pointed out the importance of considering legal aspects in the setup of virtual lab environments. The platform is expected to be online at the end of 2022.
- ONB Labs Team ft. Seth Weiner (University of Applied Arts Vienna): "Virtual Art Space and Web Residency". Martin (ONB Labs) presented the 2021 ONB Web Residency as our contribution to the Open Digital Libraries project. The Web Residency was a unique opportunity for international outreach and collaboration despite ongoing restrictions for physical meetings due to the pandemic. Seth (who was the curator for the Web Residency) talked about the challenging task of selecting an awardee for the residency. The award went to Rosemary Lee, an artist working with Cryptographics. She used ONB's collection of historical postcards and created an artwork similar to a poetic game. Sophie Hammer (ONB Labs), in close collaboration with Rosemary, was responsible for the conception of the virtual Art Space, which contains the result of this Web Residency and will be used for future residencies as well. The challenge was to have as much space as possible for the piece of art, while still being able to navigate the site. Our next Artistic Experiment is planned to be held in the spring of 2022.
Session 3: International Library Labs
- Sally Chambers (University of Ghent and Royal Library of Belgium): "Opening up Collections as Data: the International GLAM Labs Experience". Sally talked about two international initiatives, Collections as Data and International GLAM Labs Community. The GLAM Labs Community consists of around 300 people from 83 institutions in over 30 countries. It started out in 2018, initiated by Mahendra Mahey, as a Library Labs event and then spread out to the whole Cultural Heritage sector. A couple events were held (see BVMC Labs for some Jupyter notebooks from these events) as well as an international book sprint, which resulted in the book "Open a GLAM lab" that contains some of the knowledge in the GLAM Labs Community. At the KBR and in collaboration with Ghent University, historical newspapers were digitized and are accessible according to the "Collections as Data" methodology: How to move from the digital collection to a packaged data set; the KBR is involved in interdisciplinary research scenarios where this methodology is actively applied. At IDLab (University of Ghent) the project NewspAIper was developed, which allows to extract and display metadata of historical newspaper archives. Some new ideas at the Lab include experiments with "virtual labs" or "virtual reading rooms" that would provide secure (remote) access to in-copyright materials. Lastly, Sally mentioned two events to look out for: The GLAM Labs Community meetup on January 12 (and January 26), 2022 and the Collections as Data event on May 23–25, 2022.
- Eileen J. Manchester and Abigail Potter (Library of Congress): "LC Labs: The Library of Congress' Digital Strategy in Action". This digital strategy goes alongside the general strategy of the Library of Congress (LC) and there is a big shift in its focus to try and include all Americans. The LC Labs was created when the digital strategy was released and has no specific curation tasks or "regular" library tasks. Instead, LC Labs has initiatives on Machine Learning and crowdsourcing, and its goals also concern openness. The Innovator in Residence Program is open to all members of the public. Its focus is on collections and how to bring them to the public. Eileen and Abigail presented some of the residents' projects (Artist in the Archive, CitizenDJ, Newspaper Navigator and Speculative Annotation). The LC Labs Team also created a research guide on how to access digital materials at the LC. Additionally, (contained in the digital strategy) there exists the initiative to open channels of communication with LC staff (about the digital transformation happening at LC), during which multiple workshops were held. The new project "Born Digital Access Now!" includes copyright and restrictions review, file format review, existing access modes analysis, tools analysis and selection as well as outreach possibilities to the public, LC staff and other institutions. It resulted in a demo staff access workstation.
- Ralph Marschall (National Library of Luxembourg): "Open Data at the BNL". In 2019 the website data.bnl.lu was launched as a platform for all data at BNL that falls into the public domain, as well as tools and APIs. The data is organized into packages (similarly to phone contracts) such that people can download what they need. In the same year, BNL held a hackathon called "Open Data Challenge" to create novel interfaces/tools that ideally use machine learning. Other internally developed projects include the quality assurance tool Namalysator, a METS/ALTO viewer (where the frontend is open source) and a project about article recommendation still in its experimental stage (using spaCy to generate named entities). The team at BNL also created a pipeline for improving OCR on the whole newspaper corpus containing 200 million lines, which consists of quality assessment, binarization, segmentation, font classification and then reapplying OCR as well as finally writing the results in ALTO file format. The pipeline became an open source project (Nautilus-OCR) and the OCR datasets are also available.
- ONB Labs Team: "The ONB Library Labs so far and from now on". Martin Krickl and Christoph Steindl (ONB Labs) gave an overview of the history of ONB Labs, current projects and future commitments. The website went live in 2018 and provides access to data (i.e. metadata, full text, images, research data and some part as linked open data) from selected digitized collections of the Austrian National Library. We use open standards and protocols where possible: IIIF, OAI-PMH, SRU, SPARQL, ALTO-XML. All the resources provided by our Labs can be found on the Website, our GitLab repository and our Jupyter notebooks. Interaction with our users is happening via ONB Labs Challenge, Bring Your Project, Web Residency, Symposium, GitLab and interdisciplinary project proposals. Common problems we encounter in our work are heterogeneous data (including metadata, data storage etc), unknown or restrictive copyright, technical limitations and changing staff. In terms of future endeavors, we follow along the Vision 2035 of the Austrian National Library. There, the ONB Labs are described as a hub for openness, which commits itself to embrace Open Science principles, transparency, public outreach and agile mindset. Therefore, the Labs should become part of the core infrastructure of ONB.
All the presentations are hosted on our GitLab platform, see labs-symposium-2021. For direct links to the presenters' slides see the table below.
Open Spaces of Experience
The digital cliff of death and the digital dark decades: the challenges for teaching and researching contemporary history
Sarah Oberbichler and Nina Hechenblaikner
Research with digitized historical newspapers in practice: challenges, methods and collaboration
Data for the classes: requirements, hurdles and ideas for using Cultural Heritage data in Digital Humanities classrooms
Open Digital Libraries
Marianne Meiorg and Margus Veimann
Open Digital Library
ONB Labs Team
Web Residency and Artspace
The ONB Library Labs so far and from now on
Opening up Collections as Data: the International GLAM Labs Experience
Open Data at the BNL