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Digitisation policy

1 Introduction

1.1 Purpose

This document provides principles for determining decisions and actions by PROV about the digitisation of records particularly when partnering with our stakeholders.

The policy statement below is published to the website and guides our interactions with digitisation partners.

1.2 Scope

This policy applies to the digitisation of public records by PROV. The primary focus of the policy is on the systematic digitisation of records in PROV’s custody at its various repositories. The policy allows that PROV may engage in activities to digitise public records in places of deposit and non-PROV custody including that of individuals and bodies such as government agencies and community archives.

1.3 Background

This policy has been developed in response to:

  • Increased demand for online access to records from remote users
  • A reduced number of reading room visitors in contrast to increasing website usage
  • The challenges in providing equity of access to records in PROV’s custody
  • The requirements of the Public Records Act 1973 to provide access to records

One of the key outcomes and strategic directions of the PROV Corporate Plan 2013/14 – 2016/17 is:

Increase the use of PROV’s unique collection through enhancing its discoverability and usability, employing innovative and resource effective ways to present and promote it and making more content available online. We will promote the collection and improve its discoverability through pursuing funding opportunities and engaging in partnerships. Our content will be highly discoverable and much utilised.

Initiatives include a large scale partnership digitisation and indexing program, a transformation of our online content discovery and presentation platform, and an expansion of our volunteer program to prepare records for digitisation.

2 Policy Statement

2.1 Scope

For the purposes of this document, ‘digitising’ and ‘digitisation’ should be understood to refer not just to the act of scanning a document into digital form, but as a series of activities that results in a digital copy being made available to end users via the internet or other means for a sustained length of time. The activities may include:

  • Document identification and selection. Some series may be best served by transcription or indexing projects rather than by scanning.
  • Document preparation, which may include preservation treatments, access review and screening, processing or reprocessing, listing or indexing.
  • Descriptive and technical metadata collection sufficient to allow retrieval and management of the digital copies and to provide contextual information for the user.
  • Digital conversion in a consistent, repeatable, auditable manner according to agreed quality standards.
  • Quality control of digital copies and metadata.
  • The creation of digital files and metadata according to formats and quality standards that allows them to be managed and made available online in PROV’s Digital Archive.
  • Providing public access to the material via online delivery of reliable and authentic copies.
  • Providing online ordering for reproduction services at quality or quantities beyond the capacity of an end user.

2.2 PROV’s Digitisation Goals

By digitising its collections, PROV aims to:

  • Build a critical mass of digital content relating to Victoria’s documentary heritage to support research.
  • Enable people, regardless of location, to directly access and use records online without having to visit PROV reading rooms.
  • Engage with new audiences in an online environment by making our collections available for use by different communities employing innovative technologies.
  • Support PROV’s online education, publishing and exhibition programs.
  • Preserve collections or items identified ‘at risk’ (i.e. fragile obsolete technologies, or iconic records) by providing alternative access to them.
  • Support Victorian Government agencies to appropriately manage public records and provide appropriate access to public information.

2.3 Principles for digitisation

The following principles guide PROV’s digitisation activities:

  1. Improved access to public records will be facilitated.
  2. The preservation of public records by reducing wear and tear on original records will be enhanced by ensuring they are digitised once only and according to PROV’s relevant standards and specifications.
  3. Digital copies of items and series of items represent the original records directly.
  4. Record series will be digitised in their entirety unless PROV elects to digitise only a portion of a series or consignment necessary to support its charter.
  5. Digitisation will capture, preserve and provide contextual information about the digitised records.
  6. The use and reproduction of digitised records will be in accordance with PROV policies on access, including for example policies on intellectual property and user charges. Digitisation activities will comply with the Public Records Act 1973 and other applicable legislation, including the Copyright Act.
  7. The digitisation of records in the collections will not weaken PROV’s commitment to the preservation and care of the original records that have been digitised.
  8. PROV’s ongoing digitisation activities will consider community and staff suggestions, evaluation and feedback about the digitising program.
  9. Where it provides strategic value, PROV will seek to connect digitisation partners and custodians of public records at all stages of a record’s active and archived life.

2.4 Principles for partnerships

  1. The basis for partnerships will be to support the goals of increased access and enhanced preservation of public records.
  2. PROV may enter into partnership arrangements including with other collecting and research organisations, government, commercial, community based and not-for-profit organisations, institutions and individuals to undertake digitisation projects
  3. Partners may participate in digitisation projects in a variety of ways including through full or partial funding, grants, donation, sponsorship and in-kind contribution.
  4. PROV will structure partnerships to balance the interests of the Victorian public with a partner’s financial investment in the project. There will be no single required partnership model.
  5. PROV will seek to protect and enhance the interests of the State, while at the same time respecting the interests of its users and its partners.
  6. Agreements with partners to digitise public records will be non-exclusive.
  7. The security and safety of original records being digitised will be assured at all times during the digitising process. We will also ensure that reasonable accessibility to records is possible.
  8. Partnership agreements will require a full set of digital copies produced by the partnership and created according to PROV standards for format, quality and metadata to be provided free of charge to PROV. Other terms, or returns to PROV or its partners will be subject to agreement between the partners in a partnership arrangement.
  9. PROV, on behalf of the State, will maintain legal ownership over the digital images and their associated metadata and all intellectual property contained therein, including original copies and copies produced in a partnership agreement. PROV will use digital images created in a partnership agreement to meet its statutory obligations at any time and will expect to make such images available through its website and Digital Archive in due course.
  10. Any use of digitised images by a partner that is permitted by the partnership arrangement will include acknowledgement of and referral to PROV, on behalf of the State, as the source of the original authoritative records.
  11. PROV will not permit digitisation partners, whether they are other collecting and research organisations, commercial, community based and not-for-profit organisations, institutions and individuals, to digitise public records which are closed under sections 9, 10, 10AA or 15 of the Public Record Act 1973. PROV may permit government users to digitise closed records in limited circumstances.

2.5 Standards

PROV is committed to maintaining and promoting appropriate standards for creating, managing and providing access to its digital collections. It adheres to established international standards and adopts best practices.

Records are digitised according to PROV’s standards and include image creation to a resolution appropriate to the item and quality control assessment as a routine task.

Relevant PROV’s standards include:

Policy Review

A review of this policy will be undertaken annually.