Gifs, libraries, and digital literacies

Posted on 05 November 2015 by Thomasin

Over the last couple of months, I've had the pleasure of spending some time with the good folk at public libraries (and a couple of clubhouses) across New Zealand.

Alongside the GIF IT UP challenge that we are currently running, I developed a bunch of different animated gif-making workshops, so that librarians could learn how to make animated gifs. The sessions are designed to support participants to run their own gif-making workshops for kids. The materials are all Creative Commons licensed so participants are encouraged to remix the workshop content for their own programmes and purposes.

I ran a pilot workshop with Auckland Libraries (thanks guys!), and then opened up the invitation to libraries across the country. I was delighted to get such an enthusiastic response and was lucky to travel to Hamilton, Tauranga, Selwyn, Napier, Upper Hutt, Nelson, Greymouth, Lower Hutt, Whanganui, and Hawera.

The idea was to make the workshops as fun, easy to run, and low-cost as possible, so they predominantly used free in-browser gif-making tools (Pixlr, Ezgif, My Space Gens), and open source software such as GIMP. If you're interested, you can find all the tutorials from the workshops here.

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Image: the team as Tasman District Libraries getting giffin'

Remix and reuse of New Zealand's digital content has always been an important part of DigitalNZ's work. We want to see more New Zealand content opened up for reuse, and also make it as easy as possible for people to see what they can and can't do with digital material.

Inconsistent or contradictory messaging about rights can be a barrier to engagement with online collections. With GIF IT UP and the associated workshops, we want to first demonstrate the interesting, creative things that can happen with content which is clearly marked as in the public domain, or has a remix-friendly Creative Commons licence.

Further, I've found that making an animated gif is not only a fun thing to do, but the process is also a chance to teach some important digital literacies:

  1. – Search and search refinement with filters

  2. – Learning about copyright and open licensing

  3. – Attribution and referencing

  4. – Digital image editing

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Image: Staff from all across the Hawkes Bay met up at the Eastern Institute of Technology for a gif workshop.

If you're interested in running a workshop at your library (or another type of organisation), or you'd like to get in contact about this work, please do!, @DigitalNZ.

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