19 November, 2008

Libraries and digital futures

Yesterday I attended a seminar at the National Library of Australia on Broadband, libraries and creating Australia's digital culture, presented by Charles Sturt University, the National Library and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)

The seminar featured a number of very interesting speakers, particularly Prof Trevor Barr from Swinburne University of Technology, who spoke about the National Broadband Tender to be announced by the Federal Government in early 09. He outlined possible outcomes of the tender, which is worth $4.6 billion from the government and a further $5 - 9 billion from the preferred fibre network operator. He spoke about the central issue being what services will be offered on the new broadband and will they justify the return on investment, as there is no white paper that describes how the network will be used and what services it will provide. His view is that Telstra is the likely provider as there is no other entity able to roll out such infrastructure.

Peter Adams from CSU presented the results of a household survey that showed that most people who want broadband already have it and most do not see the need for more bandwidth than they have. My view is that once people have very fast connections they will appreciate the extra services and more applications will be found.

Debbie Campbell from the National Library described some of the initiatives the library is undertaking to create digital cultural resources, and in particular talked about Picture Australia and Libraries Australia, two world class projects that make many resources available to everyone. The NLA is working on a new portal that will bring a number of their projects together and it all sounds very exciting.

Laura Simons is the Executive Officer of Australian Digital Alliance and she spoke about some changes to copyright law - it is now legal to copy a tv show or record a song from the radio for your own use - its taken a while for the law to catch up with consumer practice!!

I spoke about public libraries and digital futures and how despite the increasing role of online information sources, libraries are still being built. I described the Amsterdam and Delft libraries and Library10 and Meetingpoint@Lasipalatsi in Helsinki as examples of where public libraries are heading. I also talked about our Web 2.0 initiatives.

It was an interesting and useful seminar, and provided some good updates on what is happening.

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