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2 minutes to read Posted on Wednesday October 3, 2018

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Douglas McCarthy

Douglas McCarthy

Former Collections Engagement Manager , Europeana Foundation

Mexicana and Open GLAM – digital transformation in Mexico

After last month's Open GLAM México event, and with a national digital repository in development, these are exciting times in the Mexican cultural sector. Douglas McCarthy spoke with Agenda Digital de Cultura’s Vania Ramírez Islas to get the inside story.

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Conference audience at Open GLAM México, 6 September 2018
Centro Cultural de España en México
6 September 2018
Centro Cultural de España en México

Hi Vania, tell us a little about yourself and your work.

I work on digital strategy for the Mexican Ministry of Culture. I'm in charge of developing projects for the cultural sector, focusing on joint efforts to make Mexican cultural heritage available on the web through digitisation, preservation, and systems development. You can learn more about our strategy and current projects on our Agenda Digital de Cultura website.

Agenda Digital de Cultura. Secretaría de Cultura de México, NoC-MX 1.0

Last month we coordinated the first ever Open GLAM México conference, bringing together professionals from across Mexico and from overseas (including Europeana’s Douglas McCarthy) to share experiences and best practices in the field of digital cultural heritage.

How did Open GLAM México come about, and who was involved?

Open GLAM México was an initiative of the Mexican Ministry of Culture, the National Institute of Fine Arts, Wikimedia Mexico and the Cultural Center of Spain. We organised the conference to start a conversation about how we can best share knowledge, discuss the challenges of publishing digital collections, and connect institutions in a dialogue around the Open GLAM movement.

What did you hope the event would achieve?

We had three main aims: i) to share good GLAM practices and policies – in a Mexican and international context – on the distribution of data and digital objects; ii) to promote the opening of digital collections held in Mexican public and private institutions; iii) to establish an open dialogue on copyright issues focused on the use, reuse, and appropriation of digital cultural heritage.

Audience at Open GLAM México, 5-6 September 2018. Centro Cultural de España en México, NoC-MX 1.0

What were the highlights and outcomes of the conference?

Well, all the sessions were exciting! On day one, we heard from the private sector about how it encourages the publication and promotion of digital collections. We also heard from the Director of Ibermuseos on how his organisation works with museums across Latin America to open up data and to tackle shared challenges. The last session explored advances in the documentation and digital preservation of contemporary art.

On day two, we got the inside story on large-scale digital initiatives like Europeana and the Wikimedia Foundation, learning how they publish cultural heritage online, and how they tackle the complex challenges of doing so. We also heard a fascinating roundtable discussion on intellectual property and right statements, from a variety of perspectives.

Douglas McCarthy addresses Open GLAM México, 5-6 September 2018. Photo: Martin Gersbach, CC BY

What surprised you the most?

Overall, it was the passionate interest of GLAM sector professionals in these issues. A recurring question during the event was how institutions could transfer and apply the inspiration and ideas from Open GLAM México to their own circumstances, given their limited budgets and technical resources. Whilst this kind of event shows us the best practices and latest advances, we may sometimes be disappointed because we don't have the same opportunities. To see the changes that we and our users want, we need to change the paradigm in Mexican institutions.

How is Europeana relevant to the Mexican culture sector?

The example of Europeana inspired us to create Mexicana, a digital repository of Mexican cultural heritage that is currently in development. Learning from the knowledge and experience that Europeana has gained over its first decade, we’re focusing our efforts on enabling institutions to share their collections together on the web. Mexicana will be the first step in a bigger project. We expect to expand the range of national and international contributors in the coming years.

Mexicana, the forthcoming digital repository of Mexican cultural heritage. Secretaría de Cultura de México, NoC-MX 1.0

Mexicana will be the first digital repository in our country. It’s a free and open platform that will allow and encourage interoperability between digital collections across the cultural sector. The scope of the repository makes it a landmark effort in the preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage online.

Inspired by the high standards and international best practices of Europeana, Mexico will have a robust digital platform to share digital cultural heritage on the web.

Mexicana, the forthcoming digital repository of Mexican cultural heritage. Secretaría de Cultura de México, NoC-MX 1.0

What’s next?

Together with the organisers of Open GLAM México, we'll start working groups to discuss issues related to preservation, digitisation, documentation and open access. We want to support cultural institutions who wish to open their data and content, as well as organising events that promote open access to cultural heritage.

We’ll also be working to promote changes to Mexican copyright law, to accelerate open access to state and federal collections in Mexico. Stay tuned!

See the Open GLAM México agenda and follow Vania Ramírez Islas on Twitter