Imagine, one day in the not too distant future: you visit the PROV home page to undertake your research, or to find recordkeeping policy advice on a particular topic. Instead of being presented with a screen full of links that direct you down a multitude of rabbit holes you see a simple, Google-like search box. You type in your request – perhaps a statement (“start researching”) or a particular subject area (“soldier settlement” or “cloud computing policy”). You’re then presented with a search results page that ranks information held in all of our data stores – our corporate resources, government recordkeeping advice, extensive digital and physical collections, and our collection indexes. The results can be filtered or the search refined, and if we do our job well enough you’ll be able to very quickly home in on just the information you need.
This is the vision that we have for the future of our online services at Public Record Office Victoria. To achieve this we’ve started our online transformation project, a multi-year program that will deliver an entirely new online presence for this organisation. We have already undertaken a usability study on our current website; we have consulted with different government and researcher groups on what they want from us; and we’ll be asking for more input as the program progresses.
These changes aren’t simply about a makeover of our home page: while our pages will look different, that’s more because we will become compliant with strict web accessibility guidelines and this will shape the colours, navigation, font sizes and even document types on our website. What is of much more significance is that we’re aiming to provide a simple, comprehensive access point to all of the content that we can make available online, and this includes the content that you may create for us. We’ll be introducing the ability to contribute your own content and to undertake online volunteer activities – such as transcribing digitised text. Our aim is to make all of our information much more accessible, and to encourage you to make our collection richer with your own contributions and voluntary activities.
So watch this space! Over the next 12 months we’ll be working behind the scenes to design our new online offering to you. From time to time we’ll give you updates on our progress, and when we have the first stage ready to launch we’ll be sure to let you know so that you can hop on and take a look. And – of course – tell us what you think. Because we’re building our new presence with you in mind.
Assistant Director, Access Services, Public Record Office Victoria