Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Towards a Connected Commons: Two case studies examining New Zealand collecting domain establishing Open GLAM practices for digital collections

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Version 1 2021-11-15, 23:57
posted on 2023-09-22, 01:42 authored by Powell, Sarah

As pressure grows for cultural institutions to provide online access to images of collection objects, issues regarding copyright and reuse of materials arise. Yet little research has been conducted on the way heritage institutions within New Zealand have tackled these copyright issues and how they reach decisions to allow the reuse of digital content from their extensive online collections. Furthermore, there is a lack of academic investigation into what value any newly introduced reuse practices and policies can bring to cultural institutions and users of their digital content. My research explores how and why New Zealand’s two collecting domains, the National Library of New Zealand and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, provide openly licensed digital images of artefacts through online collection databases.  While literature on the topic of reuse of digitised documentary heritage collections is limited, previous research shows that there are myriad barriers surrounding the reuse of digitised collection objects, some of these include finding best practice for orphan works, acknowledging indigenous sensitivities, dealing with issues of trust and balancing commercial imperatives with public expectations. The body of literature also shows the opportunities and benefits that international cultural institutions have gained from establishing reuse practices for their digital collections, yet none offer insight from a New Zealand context.  Guided by this gap within the literature this dissertation investigates the establishment of use and reuse policies and practices by the National Library of New Zealand and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and what value they feel this practice may bring to the sector. It explores each respective institution’s journey towards a connected commons through two in-depth qualitative case studies and concludes with a cross-case analysis. Within the cross-case analysis an Open GLAM Licensing Framework is proposed for Aotearoa that draws on the work that these institutions, along with other leading cultural institutions, have done in establishing reuse practices and policies for digital collections. This research contributes to Museum and Heritage Studies discourse by providing a snapshot of reuse in a New Zealand context and provides a valuable framework to evaluate the current motivations and processes of institutions establishing Open GLAM philosophies.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY 4.0

Degree Discipline

Museum and Heritage Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Museum and Heritage Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Museum and Heritage Studies


McCarthy, Conal; Wellington, Shannon