Tuesday, March 9, 2010

VALA 2010 - overview - relevance for local history

The themes in the sessions that I attended included the increased use of federated searching by larger institutions providing the ability to search multiple databases in one search, investigating how users are using online resources including catalogues and e-books - the possibilities provided by the semantic web and linked data, the use of linkages and trails to locate items, copyright issues relating to digitised collections and the increased use of user generated content on websites.

Attending the sessions was a great way to absorb an overview of what the current developments are in provision and use of online resources plus possibilities of the future.

For the local history and family history community it is necessary to keep up to date with the ever increasing resources provided on the websites of major collecting institutions - National Library of Australia, Australian War Memorial, Parliament of Australia and Powerhouse Museum are just some examples.

For those of us interested in military history, the Australian War Memorial has recently released a number of new resources including the war diaries of C E W Bean, the First World War diaries of the unit commanders in addition to C E W Bean's Official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918. It is proposed that in the future federated searching will be introduced to make it easier to locate names in the many databases online on the Australian War Memorial website.

The new web developments, especially semantic web and linked data, provide exciting possibilities for family history and local history research.

The sessions that looked at how Internet tools are used demonstrated that because the tools are available does not mean that they will necessarily be used by users of our sites. Therefore provide the tools that people may find useful and not just because you can.

The sessions of the VALA conference demonstrated that these are exciting times for the provision of online information - much of which will enhance the provision of history related resources and aid research.