DigitalNZ's Mighty Big 2011

2011 has been a mighty big year for Team DigitalNZ.

One of the biggest achievements, (though hidden to most) was a complete overhaul of our technical infrastructure to improve performance and set DigitalNZ up for major growth. This was a very big and important job and that fact that you probably haven't noticed it is a very good thing.

Photographs for a brochure, Working model of computer controlled factory, University of Auckland Library

Photographs for a brochure, Working model of computer controlled factory,  1980, University of Auckland Library, CC BY ND SA

Being a non-techie I always imagine the new infrastructure looks a lot like this image. But I'm assured it isn't quite this exciting and that there is no blackboard.

Another significant project that kept us busy was was helping National Library of New Zealand develop and launch the new National Library Beta  - where you can search the full collections of the National Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library. Beta is built on the DigitalNZ search infrastructure and we worked with the Beta team every step of the way.

Digitalnz Card New

DigitalNZ now points to well over 25 million digital items. When we launched 3 years ago we had just over 30,000 items. How’s that for an increase?! To celebrate we gave DigitalNZ search some extra special attention. So the DigitalNZ website and our search service got a tummy tuck, a nose job and some brand new magic knickers. We are very keen on iterative development, and this is just the first step. We’ve got some ideas about improvements, and we’ve had some extremely useful feedback too (keep it coming!). Over the next year we’ll be coming up with new useful ways to make amazing NZ content easier to find, share and use.

In 2011 two fantastic new digitisation projects launched as a result of winning Make It Digital digitisation awards in 2010. We’re really proud to have supported the digitisation of two extremely rich New Zealand resources.

One award-winner was a project to digitise the The Nelson Photo News, which celebrates the Nelson region’s rich social history over the 1960s and early 70s. 

Screen shot of Nelson Photo News

The second winning entry was a project to digitise the The British Parliamentary Papers relating to New Zealand, which contains a huge amount of valuable information on a large range of subjects covering 1835 to 1882 - a crucial period in New Zealand’s history.

1280 Schedule

Copy of Schedule 1280 [title page], Auckland. 14  August 1850. British Parliamentary papers. Colonies: New Zealand. University of Waikato Library. [Accessed Dec 19th, 2011].

2011 also saw the team work hard to bring New Zealand relevant content held overseas into DigitalNZ. We’ve worked with the National Library of Australia, the Powerhouse Museum and Museum Victoria in the last couple of years, and this year we were delighted to use the Victoria and Albert Museum’s very cool API to bring in a small, but truly beautiful, collection with a connection to New Zealand. We have plans for doing more of this in 2012 – so let us know if you are aware of New Zealand content held overseas that you would like to be able to search via DigitalNZ.

It was also a year of hellos and goodbyes.  We said farewell to Elliott Young, our Technical Lead. Elliot did a power of work on Beta and the new technical infrastructure. He also built the New Zealand Picture Show which brilliantly demonstrates the power of the DigitalNZ API. Chris McDowall has now joined us and is bringing great insight into the treasure that is your metadata.

We also welcomed Chelsea Hughes as our Community Manager. Chelsea is the brains behind those tricky weekly quiz questions, and she was the classy curator of the excellent Mix and Mash exhibition at the National Digital Forum.

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Mix and Mash Exhibition at the 2011 National Digital Forum

Of course, Mix and Mash was a major activity for us this year. The competition encouraged people to mix and mash a whole lot of amazing data and content into fantastic entries. We’re supremely proud of the way the competition turned out.

We’re all taking a short break over the Christmas period, and then we’ll be back to get started on the exciting plans we have for 2012. We'll post more about this in January. Happy and safe holidays everyone!