AvoinGLAM hosted the panel discussion Crisis & GLAM at Wikimania, moderated by Patricia Diaz Rubio from Wikimedia Chile and Susanna Ånäs from AvoinGLAM with the question: What role does open access to cultural heritage play in today’s crises? The goal is to start mapping out collaborations and practices that can help combat crisis situations facing humans, the environment, and cultural heritage. We heard from Éder Porto, Nassima Chahboun, Hanna Osadchuk and Viacheslav Mamon about their experiences in responding to crises.
Patricia lead us to the discussion by telling about her own studies and interest in the narratives and memory construction around disasters, such as earthquakes that happen often in Chile.
Éder Porto, Wiki Movimento Brasil
Éder Porto continued by reminding that there is a deadline. In the global context, it is possible to act on local disasters using common digital strategies and eventually make global impact. The Brazilian community faced a devastating loss of cultural heritage in 2018, when the Museu Nacional's entire collection burned down. Wikimedians from Brazil and around the world came together to salvage what survived of the collection in digital format, and collected that in the National Museum Cross-Wiki Project. Éder highlighted again the importance of documentation. In their recent paper The Technical Infrastructure of Cultural Initiatives on Wikimedia: Three Case Studies From Brazil, Éder together with the other writers, envision the optimal infrastructure for Wikimedia to serve the preservation of cultural heritage.
Nassima Chahboun, Wiki World Heritage
In the work of Wiki World Heritage and in the WHindanger project, Nassima and her colleagues document Unesco world heritage sites that are inscribed in the endangered sites list. Their motivation is to change perception of these sites and countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen or Libya, that are usually seen though the prism of politics rather than through the diversity and richness of their cultures. With their documentation work they are helping heritage professionals in anticipation for future disasters. They are also reconnecting locals with their cultural heritage, especially youth, when they participate in the documentation processes and write articles about the sites.
Hanna Osadchuk, Wikimedia Ukraine & Viacheslav Mamon, Kharkiv State Scientific Library
Hanna reminded us about the rich cultural heritage of Ukraine and the numerous cultural institutions that are currently not functioning and that are under existential threat. Part of the Wikimedia community has managed to continue working in the challenging conditions. The Wiki Loves Monuments contest has turned into documentation of the destruction of cultural heritage sites. Hanna regretted that Open Access policies in museums or freedom of panorama legislation would have helped preserve the digital surrogates of many cultural heritage items that are now threatened. She noted that also symbolic support matters a lot, especially using Ukrainian forms of place names, such as Kyiv instead of Kiev and Odesa instead of Odessa.
Hanna's fellow wikimedian and professional librarian Viacheslav Mamon continued by recounting his experiences contributing to Wikimedia projects from a bomb shelter in Kharkiv during the time it has been under constant shelling. He plans to work on digitizing rare books, magazines and archival documents and uploading them to Wikimedia projects when it becomes possible.
What will happen next?
At the event, we proposed to set up a Telegram channel for taking these activities further. We have needed some more discussions before we can decide the most sustainable way forward. The next activity will be an interactive session on Crisis & GLAM at the European GLAM coordinators' meeting in Prague, that will be coordinated by Giovanna Fontenelle. We aim to come up with a practical call-to-action based on that.