Tuakana: Victoria Leachman

From our contributor Sarah Powell:

There is no doubt that Victoria Leachman’s enthusiasm for copyright is contagious. As the Rights Advisor (or unofficial Copyright Queen) at Te Papa Tongarewa her passion for facilitating access and reuse of collections is infinite. Her personal agency gently encouraged Te Papa to embrace the Open GLAM philosophy, resulting in Te Papa to be amongst the first institutions in New Zealand to offer freely downloadable images. In addition to her role, Victoria arms professionals across the sector with copyright knowledge through her expert training and guidance.  She also supports Museum and Heritage Studies students by offering immensely rewarding internships and volunteering roles.

I first met Victoria during my early years of study where I volunteered at Te Papa, helping out with gaining copyright permission for objects within the muka print archive. Needless to say it was a great experience and one that has shaped my career path. Since then, Victoria has become a firm friend and an invaluable source of copyright wisdom. I look forward to us joining forces in the near future and embarking on projects that will add further value to our pool of rights resources.

Victoria adds value to the sector through her unwavering enthusiasm for connecting communities to their cultural heritage, educating her peers with the knowledge of copyright legislation and guiding emerging professionals through their first stages in the sector. Thanks, Victoria, for motivating and enabling people across the sector to tackle copyright issues as flawlessly as you.

Victoria Leachman, Rights Advisor, 2015. Photo by Norm Heke, Te Papa

Victoria Leachman, Rights Advisor, 2015. Photo by Norm Heke, Te Papa

In five words, describe your role in the sector.

Copyright, Collections, Connections, Content, & Creative Commons (I’m treating Creative Commons as one word).


What is it about the sector that you love?

The infinite variety. I am never bored.

The connections that happen when people meet collections and content no matter the platform – digital or physical. I take a lot of joy from the feeling that I’m contributing to the accessibility and reusability of the treasures GLAMs care for and generate.

I especially love it when people interact with the digital surrogates of collection items… There seem to be three types of interaction:

  • those people that love to collect and copy and save to develop their own treasure trove.

  • those that reuse digital surrogates and reproduce them somewhere else – on blogs or Wikipedia for example.

  • those that take digital surrogates and go that extra step to remix them. I love being astonished by the originality of people that do fantastic things and add to our culture.


What have been some challenges in your career?

I’ve moved through a number of different jobs in the sector – each one had different challenges. From working helping to shift a collection to a new store where the challenge was not enough time in the day. To being part of a smaller museum team in the regions and dealing with the feeling of isolation. To moving to the UK and working in one of the big museums and realising that no matter how hard you work, effectiveness only comes from getting colleagues on board and working with you. I seem to have settled into rights management for the last few years so I’ll focus on that. Learning about copyright has been a challenge and one I am still pursuing. I still feel like I don’t know enough.


What challenges can you see moving forward?

Personally right now I’m excited about being challenged to learn new ways of working with my colleagues. I’m part of the new Digital directorate at Te Papa and we’re adopting and adapting using Kanban, agile, and lean canvas methodologies to plan and prioritise our work. I’m enjoying the process of learning and these ways of working are really suiting me. I’m definitely a convert.

As far as the GLAM sector is concerned I think that there is a real challenge coming onto the horizon regarding demand. Our users and visitors constantly expect more, at higher quality, for free. How we satisfy that growing expectation with the static resources available to us will be one of the key challenges facing our sector.


What do you think people in the early stages of their careers can offer the sector?

Infectious enthusiasm and optimism.


What is your spirit animal?

After much thought I’ve settled on one that seemed to fit - A West Highland White Terrier.

P1360546d by Denis789, 2014 via Flickr. CC BY 2.0

P1360546d by Denis789, 2014 via Flickr. CC BY 2.0