Digital Memory Toolkit Wins at IFLA 2015!

With funding from the Goethe Institut, we were able to develop a practical resource for those wishing to set up digital memory projects. The Digital Memory Toolkit (available for free HERE) aims to address a lack of digital literacy in community memory projects by giving project teams the insight and tools necessary to develop these types of projects. Projects of this nature commonly focus on preserving and sharing local knowledge and empowering community members through skills training and engagement.

Alongside Brigitte Doellgast of the Goethe Institut, Niall presented a poster of the Digital Memory Toolkit at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress. Illustrations by the talented Janine Petzer, who can be found here:

The poster won the best poster of the conference!


Access, Skills and Development in Africa
: Local Knowledge in Local Languages

Niall will be presenting on the Ulwazi Programme in Session 174a at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Cape Town on Wednesday, 19th August at 11h00.

Along with his discussion of the Ulwazi Programme, he will be offering a snapshot of the McNulty Consulting ‘Theory of Change’, which focuses on how a local language, local knowledge platform can be leveraged in terms of broad skills development, social cohesion, improved access to locally-relevant knowledge, the promotion of local languages and a knowledge society/ economy.

Omeka: Serious Web Publishing in South Africa

Together with his colleague at the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative (APC) at UCT, Dr Mbongiseni Buthelezi, Grant secured a grant from the NRF to bring Sharon Leon to South Africa. Sharon is the Director of Public Projects at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) at the George Mason University. The RRCHNM has produced two leading open-source software tools –  Zotero and Omeka – that are very widely used in the digital cultural sector. The purpose of Sharon’s visit is to work with the APC on the Five Hundred Year Archive project. She will also be giving two free public lectures and workshops on Omeka, one at Wits in Johannesburg and one at UCT in Cape Town on Monday, 7th September (details below). 

Omeka is a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions. We feel that it has much potential for the cultural sector in South Africa.


Omeka Workshop, Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative, UCT

When: Monday, 7th September 2015 at 9:00am

Where: John Berndt Thought Space (Room A17), Basement of the AC Jordan Building (Arts Block), Upper Campus, UCT

RSVP: Please RSVP to Faranaaz Vraagom ( and Grant McNulty ( before Thursday, 20th August. Space is limited to 25 participants so we ask that you send a representative from your organisation and RSVP as soon as possible.

Engagement and Access in Digital Public History (9:00am – 11:00am)

The work of public history calls for taking good history scholarship into the world to meet the needs and interests of a non-academic audience. While much of that work has traditionally happened in face-to-face encounters and at physical sites, increasingly public historians are encountering their audiences through digital means, such as social media, blogs, exhibit sites, collection and archives sites, mobile applications, and digital simulations. The possibilities for doing sophisticated digital public history work have expanded significantly since the first cultural heritage organizations began to create web presences in the mid-1990s. At the same time, the core elements and challenges of doing rigorous public history work have not changed all that much. As a result, the best digital public history work requires a blend of applied technical skills, targeted engagement strategies, disciplinary ways of knowing, and content knowledge.
Public historians in cultural heritage institutions need a practical introduction to doing digital public history that speaks to their theoretical and methodological commitments while offering clear guidance on preparing for, executing, and sustaining vibrant projects. This presentation will offer a formulation of support structures, tools, and frameworks to support the creation of user-centered digital public history work in small organizations. Bringing together the core areas of expertise in applied technical skills, targeted engagement strategies and historical content knowledge, the presentation will introduce the concept of user-centered digital public history, and then offer an outline of support materials for planning (research, strategy, and infrastructure creation), executing (building digital collections, creating rich interpretive content, and creating engaged communities around that work), and sustaining (frequent evaluation, ongoing outreach campaigns, and attention to issues of digital preservation) digital public history projects.

Taking the Next Steps with your Omeka Project (11:30am – 1:30pm)

Omeka is a leading open source (released under the GPLv 3.0) collections-based web publishing platform for cultural heritage institutions, researchers, scholars, and students, developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) and the growing open source developer community it supports. Publicly launched in February 2008, Omeka has been downloaded tens of thousands of times. Unlike many similar platforms, Omeka takes a user-centered, access-focused approach to collections, emphasizing approachable, accessible Web design and community features. As a result, a wide range of institutions adopting Omeka include the State Archives of Florida, the Newberry Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation, the University of California, Berkeley, and many college and university libraries (See the Omeka showcase for examples

This workshop will introduce participants to the basic elements of Omeka’s infrastructure: items, collections, plugins, and themes. From there, participants will learn how to publish their collections, and build interpretive websites that leverage contextual metadata, item relationships, and geospatial data. Similarly, participants will explore methods to engage visitors through a number of approaches, including social media, commenting, community-sourced contributions and transcriptions. Finally, participants will discuss the ways that Omeka is situated in the large scholarly communications ecosystem.

Online Content Emanating from Africa

Or the lack thereof… I recently attended the first pan-African Wiki Indaba in Johannesburg. Wiki Indaba was a three-day conference that brought together African Wikimedians and other open knowledge volunteers. Recognising that access to mobile devices in Africa is on the rise and will intensify in the next few years, thereby increasing Africa’s online presence, the conference sought to discuss ways in which to establish and strengthen Wikipedia and Wikimedia structures in Africa in order to take advantage of this projected growth.


The conference produced some stimulating the debate but also highlighted the lack of African content on the Internet. In terms of traffic, Wikipedia is the seventh largest website in the world but the amount of content originating from Africa is decidedly low. Afrikaans is the largest language group to which users are adding and editing content with Swahili a distant second. All of the above statistics are courtesy of Ingo Koll. See more detail HERE and HERE.

Developing digital platforms for the the recording and sharing of locally relevant content in African languages is something that we are are passionate about and have been doing for the past few years. See, for example, the Ulwazi Programme and the eNanda Online projects. It was encouraging to see that organisations like the Wikimedia Foundation are also trying to address this dearth of African online content but also daunting as there is still so much work to be done!