Q&A with Donna Robertson

Donna Robertson is a librarian and editor for the amazing Christchurch City Libraries, and a big DigitalNZ fan and set-maker extraordinaire! In fact, we recently ran a search on DigitalNZ for 'Donna Robertson' and it returned 100 sets. This officially makes Donna 'Queen of DigitalNZ sets'.

In the third of our sixth birthday blog series, we had a chat to Donna about what she loves about DigitalNZ, some tips for making sets, and her ideas for the future.

Donna Sets

When did you discover DigitalNZ?

I'm pretty sure I was on board from the start, but I've just spotted my first of many tweets referring to DigitalNZ:

Big congrats to @digitalnz 'outstanding' to be sure http://www.onyas.org.nz/blog/?p=108

Dipping into DigitalNZ is pretty much an embedded part of my work routine.

What appeals to you most about DigitalNZ search?

I can search the wide and diverse collections of New Zealand from one spot. It is invaluable when I am looking for more information on a topic; I can flesh out stories with photos, news articles, and more.

As a librarian, I can say "here is our stuff" and then add in "find more on DigitalNZ" and let people loose into Papers Past, the Alexander Turnbull Library collection, and more. It enriches the stories we tell.

Ch Ch City Libraries

The ability to make sets has been a stellar addition. They can be extremely utilitarian or quite poetic—the ability to play in, and with, our collections is good fun for everyone.

In your experience, what kind of research is DigitalNZ most useful for?

I find it particularly useful for historical research. It is at its best when searching for information that spans across Papers Past, Te Ara—Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, Alexander Turnbull Library, Kete and more.

You are an amazing set-maker! Give us some tips on making sets, and what are some of your favourites?

I've made two sets about brilliant New Zealand books. Making a set is a neat way of highlighting related images and articles. Mad on Radium: New Zealand in the Atomic Age by Rebecca Priestley and Patched: the history of gangs in New Zealand by Jarrod Gilbert.

Often my focus will be on the local (Ōtautahi Christchurch); I've made sets about Christmas in Christchurch and the 4 September 2010 earthquake.

I also like to make sets related to significant New Zealand people and events, for example Parihaka and the Treaty of Waitangi Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

I love that with DigitalNZ there is the chance to discover something (or someone) interesting, do a bit of collection fishing, and make a set. Here's the splendid motor racing Sybil Lupp, and here are some rock chicks, including fab NZ on Screen videos.

Rock Chicks

You can also riff on a theme such as 'arrivals', or 'pornography and censorship'.

Or even give someone a birthday present! Here are sets for people born in 1947 and 1974.

What would you like to see DigitalNZ work on in the future?

I'd be keen to be able to embed searches and sets in a neater way. It'd be great to get that delicious content more in people's faces.

I'd also like to see more 'born digital' content and stuff from the more recent past. Part of that is to do with the collections that are sucked in by DigitalNZ.

I'd also like to see more contemporary New Zealand images from Flickr and other photo sharing repositories.