What are the potentials for Australia’s peak book depository to take a leading role in developing the Virtual Australia vision?
The National Library of Australia’s Assistant Director General for Information Technology, Mark Corbould, said the Virtual ANZ concept ‘represents an exciting prospect for us’, but cautions that ‘we’ll probably be coming a bit later than others to the 3D visualisation party’.
Corbould said the areas of most obvious immediate interest for the Library are to develop exhibitions and special displays highlighting different kinds of data simulations and visualisations, and to extend the current programme of attaching map co-ordinates (and potentially dates and times) to locations named in classic history texts (for example the ship logs of Captain Cook).
Already the NLA has been ‘one of the first libraries in the world to expose our catalogue to Google search’ – a move which multiplied by 10 public use of the catalogue – including large numbers of offshore users who otherwise would not have access.
‘We are also digitising all newspapers that are out of copyright (older than 10 years) and are archiving websites of national historical interest. We have drafted legislation for Parliament to clarify copyright and other legal issues arising from archiving information in the digital domain. And we have introduced the Pandora program, where we ask online publishers if we can take a copy of their website. We’ve built software in-house that can go out and harvest website contents every week, month or year.’
In terms of 3D information and imagery, Corbould said the NLA is most interested in semantic data analysis – which he suggested could be activated via crowd-sourcing the coding skills of technically literate NLA supporters. ‘We have a small community of computer nerds who come in as volunteers – some of them have written over a million lines of code,’ Corbould said.