Driving home from the National Library of Australia’s Innovative Ideas Forum 2009 I had the great good fortune to listen to a repeat of Radio National’s Late Night Live‘s discussion of W E H Stanner‘s work. One part of the discussion struck me forcefully.
Phillip Adams asked one of his guests, Melinda Hinkson, about Stanner’s concept of ‘everywhen‘. My understanding of the discussion that ensued is that ‘everywhen’ describes something that is somewhat timeless, not fixed in the past but part of the present and the future, all at the same time. This seemed particularly apposite to events earlier in the day at the National Library.
For example:

  • Jan Fullerton opened the Forum and talked about the National Library of Australia (NLA) as an ‘early adopter’ organisation. She underscored the importance of the Innovative Ideas’ Forum to stimulate creativity and jolt thinking. She noted that the Forums have been an important NLA staff development resource but that they have become an important open forum too. Jan confirmed that the NLA encourages exploration and has established some boundaries for ‘non-catastrophic experience’.  She summarised the content of the 2009 Forum and emphasised the dynamic and increasingly mainstream use of social networks.  She concluded her introduction with a reminder that many of the NLA users want a ‘traditional library experience’.
  • Anne Summers explored the implications of web-based social networking for cultural heritage institutions and discussed the generational change that is occurring in the recording of events. She noted the richness of archived collections of papers and illustrated her discussion with her work on Sir John Monash and Sir Keith Murdoch.
  • Rose Holley raised some important questions about the enhancement and enrichment of digital content in her discussion of the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program. The program had benefitted from remarkable voluntary effort to collaborate in text correction. She emphasised the importance of transparency and trust that provided the foundation for an unmoderated correction (enhancement) service.

Whilst these presentations were occurring in the NLA’s Theatre, delegates were given access to a wireless network to encourage blogging and social networking (including the NLA’s own live blog at Library Labs). There was a lot of Twitter activity using the recommended #iif2009 tag. By the morning break the NLA was offering more IP addresses for all those wanting to log on to the network and NLA staff were putting out more power boards for delegates who had been blogging or working on-line during the first session. Some of the first Flickr photographs were appearing too with the iif2009 tag.
As I was reaching Braidwood on my journey home, Philip and Melinda were discussing Stanner’s advice to Gough Whitlam. As soon as I arrived in Mongarlowe I was able to find a record of an iconic moment held at the NLA just one hour’s drive away in everywhen time.

(Photo credit: In May 1975, Gurindji people were successful in having an area of their own land excised from the Vestey pastoral lease at Wattie Creek in the Northern Territory. Here Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Gurindji leader Vincent Lingiari celebrate the handover of the land at Daguragu. The event was recorded visually and stored here.)



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