Hamilton NDF bar camp: Crowd-sourcing and more!

Crowdsourcing by adesigna via CC license on Flickr

On Friday, June 21st, I attended the Hamilton National Digital Forum (NDF) bar camp at Hamilton City Library. There were 10 participants who attended from a variety of libraries – including public and academic, but unfortunately not people from other GLAM institutions in Hamilton.

Our session focused on crowd-sourcing – the expertise of our special guest Donelle McKinley, who because of the weather in Wellington was unfortunately not able to attend in person, but gave her presentation over the telephone. It was facilitated by Smita Biswas (Tauranga City Libraries).  It was a great experience and we discussed many different topics which I will do my best to summarize below.

Quick links

This is a quick list of all the resources referred to in this session; they also are included under the relevant sections.

So what’s the National Digital Forum all about?

The National Digital Forum is basically a:

network of people working together to enhance digital interaction with culture and heritage.

The key focus is all things digital and digitization! They accomplish this through a big national conference every year as well as local bar camps to involve those who may not be able to attend the conference.

So how do the bar camps work?

The format of the bar camp sessions is quite informal. We started with introducing ourselves and talking about what we are interested in and what we hoped to get out of the session. Then Smita took these topics that arose out of our introductions, and we sorted them into a number of topics to discuss informally.


  • Copyright issues – particularly with born digital objects as well as other digital objects
  • Crowd-sourcing – session with our guest speaker, Donelle McKinley
  • How to engage your community and encourage them to contribute
  • How to capture feedback/stories from published photos and digital objects
  • Social media engagement
  • Resources to assist community groups to digitize their content


We discussed a range of issues around items that are born digital and particularly those that were originally in other formats, but are now being digitized. A key point out of this discussion was the idea of digitizing theses and how to get the author’s permission to digitize the content. The problem is with theses written more than 30 years ago when the permission form that the authors signed only gave the library permission to display the thesis “in the library” not in a digital space. It was a consideration that wasn’t even thought of yet, so the issue is now contacting those authors to get permission to digitize their thesis and make it available publicly in the research depository. Now the permission form has been changed so all the people writing their thesis now give the library permission to deposit it in this online repository. 

There are two schools of thought in dealing with this issue.

  1. Put it up now, ask forgiveness later and include a disclaimer that if you are the author and would like it removed, it will be taken down.
  2. Very strict – don’t make anything available online from someone that you couldn’t manage to contact.

It was interesting discussing the larger issues about copyright and particularly thinking about it in the online environment.

Crowdsourcing – presentation from Donelle McKinley

As I mentioned before, Donelle was unfortunately not able to join us in person due to bad weather in Wellington, but she was able to give her presentation over the phone.

You can find out more about Donelle McKinley on:

She has also made her presentation available online on her blog:

Because her presentation is available online, I’ll just try to pull out the major points of her talk as well as the questions we asked her.

She talked us through the short definition of crowdsourcing:

Crowdsourcing outsources tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to a group of people or community through an open call. Howe (2009)

She also noted two key aspects of crowdsourcing:

  1. It is an online activity
  2. It is of mutual benefit to the individual and the organization

She described a number of projects that are using crowdsourcing:

She noted the important role of the website in engaging volunteers and said that the website needs to translate visitors into participants. Too often website design falls into one of these three groups:

  1. Website follows structure of technology or organisations
  2. Website adheres to familiar conventions
  3. Website is product of personal preference

She spoke about the importance of usability testing and evaluation, and the importance of looking at the entire experience of the website – how easy is it to navigate from beginning, middle, to the end? What is the number and complexity of processes to complete the desired action?

One example of this usability testing and evaluation was her heuristic evaluation of the UK RED project website, which they were considering using as a template for the NZ version. This evaluation uncovered 32 potential problems in the areas of interactivity and content. This evaluation meant that the New Zealand version will address these problems and hopefully be easy to use by participants. Evaluation is key – it is important to not blindly accept an existing template but to evaluate its usefulness and usability.

We had a number of questions for Donelle:

1. Are you able to give a example of successful incentives from one of these projects that encouraged participants to keep on participating?

  • Gamification
  • Showing the project process on the website
  • Showing volunteers how the data is being used
  • Being transparent
  • Making the results instantly available
  • Feeding that curiosity

2.  Are you able to list some open source evaluation tools we can use?

3. What are your thoughts on contribution addiction? Some participants get really involved and keep coming back for more!

  • Make sure the project always is putting up fresh new content
  • Highlight a subset of the collection
  • Exhibitions, displays
  • It is important to sustain the active volunteers

Engaging your community/capturing feedback and stories/social media engagement

This last topic session covered three of our topics and was kick-started by Smita’s presentation on Tauranga Memories (the city library’s kete). 

The key points from the session were:

A kete allows us to:

  1. Showcase our own archives
  2. Allow the community to contribute theirs
  • It is important to establish that relationship with the community and then the content will come
  • Find resources within your existing staff/resources
  • Dedicate a particular person to establishing these relationships – you may have to pull them from other work to focus on this
  • Choose content partners carefully
  • Stay alert to capture content (particularly from local events like the Rena)
  • Supplement formal results with social media (Storify, Twitter, Historypin, QR codes) and embed these into your kete pages

Take-home points

Finally, we went around and talked about our take-home points from this session.

  • Feed this information back into the community – Tauranga encourages the schools to use the Kete resources on the Rena for school assignments and then to upload those assignments to the Kete
  • Establish relationships with community partners
  • Be selective about who you select and what you choose to focus on
  • Add context and feedback – if someone comments on an object, put that information with the object as well or start a seperate discussion
  • Consider looking at NDF Skill Share – a place where you can “borrow” someone with particular skills/knowledge for a few hours/days to help you with a project
  • Consider use of Historypin with photographs and integrate that in the Kete
  • There was also some talk around using Contentdm versus Kete


It was a great session and I would strongly encourage you to attend the nearest one to you! You can check out that information here.


3 thoughts on “Hamilton NDF bar camp: Crowd-sourcing and more!

  1. Thanks for the great write up Abigail – it was really useful and thanks to all participants for being so giving of their advice and opinions. Especially thanks to Smita for organising us all!

  2. Pingback: 25.06.2013 – Hamilton NDF Barcamp. Online Info Literacy. Knowledge Hoarder. | Finding Heroes

  3. Pingback: The Octopus Librarian | #BlogJune: Looking back…

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