Collecting social media for the 2015 NSW state election

ALIA Library

Somes, Brendan; Wan, Stephen; Paris, Cecile

National 2016 Conference, 29 August-2 September 2016 Adelaide: Engage Create Lead
[Peer reviewed] This conference paper discusses how the State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW) collected a wide range of material around the NSW State Election (28 March 2015); foremost amongst them a collection of social media, websites and blogs. The collection of social media content relating to elections raises new methodological and technical challenges. Firstly, one must decide upon a systematic process for defining query terms to be used with social media search engines; these will collect public discussions from all the electorates and all the election topics. Secondly, monitoring the effectiveness of these terms and the topical relevance of the collected data is a time-consuming task that can quickly overwhelm library staff.
The SLNSW and the CSIRO collaborated on these challenges, using the social media monitoring tool Vizie to select, archive and analyse public digital material documenting the candidates, parties, interest groups and election issues. Specifically, the SLNSW developed a new collection framework specifically to collect digital material for elections, identifying the query terms, digital presences and sites representing the candidates, parties, interest groups, and election issues. These included Twitter accounts and hashtags, Facebook pages, websites and blogs which were utilised by the Vizie tool to capture digital posts.
This paper details a new election-specific collection framework, including the process for identifying and collecting the material, as well as novel Vizie extensions implemented to provide ongoing feedback on the collection framework.  This contribution has the potential to benefit other institutions wishing to capture meaningful collections of social media posts around specific public events, such as elections. The paper will thus also include lessons learnt and thoughts for future election digital collections.

Deakin, ACT : Australian Library and Information Association
State Library of New South Wales; CSIRO