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Victorian Archives Centre public opening hours

Monday to Friday: 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
(excl. public holidays)
The second and last Saturday of every month

Hamer Awards: Part Seven: Medium Agency Category

Alethea Belford and Paul Siemers of Melbourne Water receiving the Award for the Medium Agency category from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

Alethea Belford and Paul Siemers of Melbourne Water receiving the Award for the Medium Agency category from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

 

The purpose of this category is to encourage and support records management excellence in agencies that have between 500 and 2000 employees.

We would like to congratulate Melbourne Water on winning the award for the medium agency category for their project ‘Info Program’.

The Info Program was a collection of interrelated projects running over 18 months that delivered the Melbourne Water Information Management (IM) Strategy. The program had the following objectives:

  • Clear policies and accountabilities for key information sets, along with a prioritised action plan to address severe risks
  • Migration of significant documents to a system which supports effective information management (including effective governance
  • Data model and standards for Melbourne Water’s strategic data
  • Coordinated communication and training program 

The outcomes achieved resulted in a significant improvement in Melbourne Water’s IM capability. The program:

  • Established an innovative information governance model – individuals accountable for making decisions about particular sets of information (Info Custodians) and a governance body in place to make strategic information management decisions
  • Improved understanding of the organisational risks that are either caused by poor information management or can be reduced through improved information management
  • Improved the electronic document and records management system (EDRMS) user interface to enable a better user experience and configuration ‘behind the scenes’ and meet records compliance obligations
  • Alignment of EDRMS information structures with current business practices
  • An agreed model and definitions for Melbourne Water’s conceptual information holdings (enterprise information model) which assists with systems planning and underpins their governance model
  • Improved training program and IM/RM awareness
  • Established a community of practice around the integration of business practice with the Melbourne Water document management system
  • IM/RM now included in new starter induction processes and the code of conduct
  • Organisational best practice in change management, communications, stakeholder management and innovation

The ongoing challenge for the program was to strike the right balance between compliant and effective practice. As such Melbourne Water’s primary focus was to implement changes that support the way the business operates rather than to introduce additional complexity. Commitment to culture-led change was also a key factor.

Variation 2 of PROS 07/01 RDA for Records of Common Administrative Functions

PROV has issued a minor variation (Variation 2) to PROS 07/01 General Retention & Disposal Authority for Records of Common Administrative Functions.  The changes that have been made relate to the following two activities only:

  • 7.4.0 GOVERNMENT RELATIONS – Cabinet Business Management
  • 19.5.0 TECHNOLOGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS – Control

For the specifics about the changes, please consult page 4 of PROS 07/01 General Retention & Disposal Authority for Records of Common Administrative Functions and the relevant classes within the Authority.

If you have any questions in relation to this variation, please email: agency.queries@prov.vic.gov.au

Hamer Awards: Part Six: Small Agency Category

Ian McCauley and Melissa Jeal of Agriculture Victoria Services receiving the Award for the Small Agencies category from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

Ian McCauley and Melissa Jeal of Agriculture Victoria Services receiving the Award for the Small Agencies category from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

 

The purpose of this category is to encourage and support records management excellence in agencies that have up to 500 employees.

We would like to congratulate Agriculture Victoria Services on winning the award for their project ‘AVS Technology Transfer Management System Implementation’.

This project was conceived in 2010 by AVS, in response to concerns expressed by its Board that risks associated with the growing complexity of its technology transfer business were not adequately managed by the existing record management systems. The most important of these risks was ensuring that a technology was not “double licensed”, where identical exploitation rights were licensed to more than a single licensee.

The existing system consisted of two entirely separate databases – one for licence agreements, and one for technologies. Thus, “double licensing” risks had to be managed outside of the records management system.

A new TTMS “Inteum” was selected and procured in 2010. Installation, training and integration into AVS business activities was conducted largely during 2011-12 and met or exceeded all expectations with regards to deficiencies in the old system particularly in reducing the risk of double licensing. It has also produced significant gains in productivity and capability across the range of technology transfer management and commercialisation activities within AVS. Perhaps most significantly, it has provided a new focus and framework around which to build and improve our business processes, including, but far wider than just records management.

The AVS Inteum TTMS has significantly strengthened the compliance with fundamental principles of good records management, supported with effective capture, control, storage, access and disposal capabilities underpinned by a system for operational management that has become a vehicle for business improvement.

Andrew Nickson of Regional Rail Link Authority receiving the Certificate of Commendation for the Small Agencies category from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

Andrew Nickson of Regional Rail Link Authority receiving the Certificate of Commendation for the Small Agencies category from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

 

We would like to congratulate Regional Rail Link Authority on being awarded a certificate of commendation in the small agency category for their Implementation of a Project Wide Web-based Collaboration Tool for the Regional Rail Link Project.

As the single largest rail investment in Victoria’s history, the Regional Rail Link project will deliver a new rail line from the west of Werribee to Deer Park via the existing rail corridor through to Southern Cross Station. The project aims to accommodate the increased growth in rail usage in the west of Melbourne and enable direct access for regional rail services into Melbourne. Due to the large scale of works, delivery of the Regional Rail Link project has been split across six distinctive work packages, involving numerous organisations and contractors with an Authority put in place to oversee the process. 

It was recognised early on that for this project to be a success, there would be significant interface and coordination requirements between the packages and the Authority, as well as the many other various statutory authorities including local councils, and the Accredited Rail Operators. This would require a constant exchange of information that would need to be timely and accurate. The best way to streamline that exchange would be to implement one collaboration tool to be utilised by all project partners to ensure all program related information is appropriately managed and accessible. The correct tool would mean the right information could always be provided to those who need it, when they need it.

Effective project collaboration starts with managing information well. After a lengthy and detailed tender process, the Authority implemented Aconex as the platform for a web-based collaboration system to be utilised across the project to capture all project related information in a secure and traceable manner. This would simplify the formal exchange of information exchange between all parties, and mitigate risks associated with inadequate information management processes.

The project was delivered within the allocated budget, and continues to be managed and operated within the operational budget originally determined. A significant challenge for the Regional Rail Link Authority’s Records & Information Management team was to migrate the backlog of initial design and tender documentation into the system to ensure that the system would be ready to be fully utilised when each contract was signed off. This effort was rewarded when each rollout was met with successful take up by the Work Package teams.

 

Policy on Cloud Computing

PROV has released a new policy to support agencies in moving to cloud technologies.

Agencies should include recordkeeping risks when conducting a risk assessment of moving to the cloud. Particular care should be taken with placing sensitive or private information in the cloud. Cloud solutions should comply with Victorian legislation and government policy. Cloud agreements should contain terms that safeguard State information. Assistance with these requirements is contained in the guidelines for the policy.

The policy and guidelines are available from http://prov.vic.gov.au/government/standards-and-policy/policies/cloud-computing

Both the policy and guidelines have been released under a Creative Commons CC-By license.

Policy on the use of back-up technology to archive

PROV has released a policy on the use of back-up technology to archive records.

Back up technologies should not be used to archive as it places data at risk of being un-retrievable or unreadable over time.

Use of individual media as a means to archive data should be minimised and only be utilised as part of an ongoing management routine.

The policy is available from http://prov.vic.gov.au/government/standards-and-policy/policies/archiving-and-back-up The policy will be supported by a guideline which will be available soon.

Queensland government audit of ICT

The Queensland government has conducted an extensive audit of ICT across its core departments.

The audit reviewed all aspects of ICT including:

  • strategy and governance
  • initiatives
  • procurement
  • assets and services
  • service delivery models

The final report of the audit has been tabled in the Queensland parliament and is available at: http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/apps/TabledPapers/RelatedDocs.asp?RefNo=5413T2865

Note that these are very large files – the report itself is 292 pages, while the annexes are 567 pages.

Hamer Awards Part Five: Community Archives Category Two

Dr Gary Presland from Box Hill Historical Society receiving the award for Community Archives Category 2 from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

Dr Gary Presland from Box Hill Historical Society receiving the award for Community Archives Category 2 from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

 

The purpose of this category is to support the provision of enhanced records access to local communities.

We would like to congratulate Box Hill Historical Society on winning the Community Archives Category 2 for their project ‘Digitising the City of Box Hill Rate Records’.

The Box Hill Historical Society wanted to make available to the local community a complete sequence of the City of Box Hill Rate Books. A partial copy of the series of Rate Books was already held by the Box Hill Historical Society but the years between 1937 and 1946 were missing.

Box Hill Historical Society also wanted to acquire digitisation skills and knowledge to use for future digitisation projects. To achieve their aims, Box Hill Historical Society approached Public Record Office Victoria (PROV). After discussion, it was agreed (subject to a trial) that volunteers to do the hands on digitisation would be provided by the Box Hill Historical Society and that PROV would provide the facilities and access to the relevant rate books.

The digitisation project began in December 2010 and was completed in March 2012. 23 volumes of rate books (around 23,000 images) were digitised by the volunteers over 14 Mondays at PROV. The images were then transformed into a format that could be easily accessed and copied onto a hard drive supplied by the Box Hill Historical Society.

This is the first time that a collaboration project between PROV and a volunteer based local history group has occurred.

Copyright reform and archives

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has released a discussion paper on Copyright reform. It is available here: http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/copyright-and-digital-economy-dp-79 This discussion paper makes concrete recommendations as to how Australian copyright law should be reformed. 

In this blog post we describe how the changes proposed are likely to affect the services delivered by archives.

Copyright primarily affects two services provided by archives: that of providing access to material in their collection, and preserving material. An extremely useful innovation by the ALRC is to separate the non controversial function of preservation from the controversial function of providing access.

The ALRC proposes repealing the current, unworkable, preservation provisions. Instead, archives (and libraries) would get a general exemption to make as many copies as is reasonably necessary to preserve material. This exemption would be subject to a test based on whether the material was commercially available at a reasonable price – a situation that would hardly ever apply to an archive. Note that the proposed preservation exemption is based around making copies. It is not clear if this change would support preservation processes, such as migration of content from obsolete formats.

Providing access to material in archives is a lot more complex than preservation. Four types of access need to be considered: publishing material on the web, providing digital copies to researchers, allowing researchers to make their own copies, and the old fashion provision of paper copies.

The ALRC suggests four approaches that an archive could take in dealing with copyright for access: fair use, providing restricted on-line access, restricted damages for publishing orphan works, and extended collective licensing. The last two options are problematic for archives. Each of these will be dealt with in turn.

Provision of access (including publication on the web) may be fair use in some circumstances for some archives. For a discussion on the concept of fair use, see our previous blog post on copyright reform and government agencies. Characteristics that might suggest fair use would be: a statutory requirement to provide access (e.g. for government archives under their Act), that the material is provided to specific individuals upon request (and not published), and that there is little or no commercial impact on a (real or potential) market for the material.

For digital copies of material, the ALRC suggests allowing archives (and libraries) to provide digital copies, but restrict what researchers can do with it. The archive must take measures to prevent the researcher from recopying the material, ensure they cannot alter the material, and to limit the time they can access the material. In essence, this would mimic the ability of being able to attend the reading room, view a record, and take notes. A challenge for an archive is that any access to a record is likely to involve access to third party copyright material. The only way this would be feasible is if it was automated – metadata in archival systems would flag third party material and automatically apply the restricted access.

A whole chapter in the discussion paper is devoted to the vexed subject of providing copies of orphan works. An orphan work is one in which the current copyright holder is not known, and hence cannot be contacted for a license to reproduce. Orphans are a particular problem for an archive for the following reasons:

  • Fundamental archival principles require archives to publish the full record. To publish the portion where copyright is clear, but omit the ‘other side of the story’, would be to destroy the integrity of the record.
  • Copyright never expires on unpublished works, hence there is no easy date before which material could assumed to be out of copyright. Even a letter penned in 1856 is in copyright and might have a copyright owner.
  • A significant portion of an archive are orphans. The copyright of anything received by an agency is owned by the creator, and once in an archive is likely to be an orphan. This is partially because of the age of the material – the creator is likely to be dead, or the organisation ceased. But it is also because the creators are ordinary people and organisations. These  are much harder to track down than the relatively small number of published authors or publishers.
  • Archival material is unique. This limits the effectiveness of databases of copyright searches. If one library has conducted a diligent search for the copyright holder of a book, then other libraries with a copy of that book could use the results of that search. If one archive conducts a search for the copyright holder of a letter, however, this is of little use to other archives because no other archive will hold that letter. 

Where providing access is not clearly fair use, but an archive wishes to publish orphan works, the ALRC proposes restricting damages where the archive has conducted a ‘reasonably diligent’ search for the copyright holder.  What would be a ‘reasonably diligent’ search is deliberately not defined in the discussion paper – the ALRC considers that this would vary depending on industry practice, and would change as tools and technologies change. For example, the ALRC envisages the development of databases where the results of copyright searches would be recorded, thus making it easier for subsequent searches by other libraries and archives. Unfortunately, the nature of archival collections (the age, the pervasive nature of orphans in the collection, and the uniqueness of each individual document) suggests that archives would have difficulty in attaining the protection of conducting a ‘reasonably diligent’ search, particularly where conducting a mass digitisation program.

 As an alternative to conducting ‘reasonably diligent’ searches for copyright holders of orphan works, the ALRC proposes the use of ‘extended collective licensing’. In this approach, an archive would negotiate a general license to reproduce material with a collecting society. Unlike today, the collecting society would be able to license reproductions even though the copyright holder was not a member of the society, and, in fact the holder would not even need to be known. A difficulty with extended collective licensing is equity. The collecting societies receive money for distribution to their members, but this is a problem if the actual copyright holders are not members of the collecting society. For this reason, proposed extended collective licensing schemes normally include a requirement that the collecting society be representative of the copyright holders.

Unfortunately, there is no collecting society that is representative of the copyright holders of archival material, which would mean that archives could not make such deals with current collecting societies. Again, this is because the creators of archival material are ordinary people and organisations, and the age of the material means that copyright will have devolved to their descendants.  This would make it very difficult for collecting societies to be representative of the copyright holders.  Current surveyors, for example, are not representative of the current copyright holders of the material of long dead surveyors. In general, living published authors are not representative of the descendants of ordinary people.

One positive feature of extended collective licensing, however, is that under this model making copies on the web would be a licensed publication. Hence, it should start the copyright clock ticking on unpublished material. The material would consequently eventually fall out of copyright and be free to be redistributed.

In summary, the proposed ALRC copyright reforms are a mixed bag when considering archival material. The proposed general exemption for making preservation copies will be a significant step forward, but it would be preferable for the exemption to deal with preservation processes. Unfortunately, the solutions for access are unlikely to be useful for archives. In practice, the only real option for an archive would be to rely on the ‘fair use’ provisions.

Of course, this is just a discussion paper. The eventual ALRC recommendations may be considerably different, and any changes to the law may differ yet further.

However, there is the opportunity to comment on the discussion paper. The comment period closes on 31st July.

Hamer Awards Part Four: Community Archives Category One

Lisa Poulier and Jude Holt from Loddon Shire Council receiving the award for Community Archives Category 1 from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

Lisa Poulier and Jude Holt from Loddon Shire Council receiving the award for Community Archives Category 1 from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

 

The purpose of this category is to encourage and support the preservation of records of significance to the local community and the state.

We would like to congratulate Loddon Shire Council on winning the Community Archives Category 1 for their project ‘Digitisation of the East Loddon “Soldiers Medals & Memorial Register 1915-1920” to enable accessible research by the East Loddon Historical Society for the Great War Centenary’.

The East Loddon Soldiers Medals and Memorial Register was located in an inadequate strongroom that was subject to insect infestation and humid conditions.

A survey of the records of the old East Loddon Shire identified this volume very early on as unique to the collection, being the only volume of its type and providing identifying information as to the young men from the region who served in World War One. An old unused volume (for “Unused Roads and Water Frontages Act 1903, No.1894-section 4) was used to house details of medals awarded to each soldier – an alphabetical listing of surname, first name, date and place of residence. In terms of the memorials, surname, first name, name of next of kin, address, age, rank, unit, date of decease and place of decease were included. The volume also contained one surviving signed return for Clive Atkinson, dated 1 Jan 1920, which is the completed proforma sent out by the Shire of East Loddon to gather the information.

A digital image of the volume was created in March 2012 by Australian Microfilm Services (AMS) and a copy provided to East Loddon and District Historical Society in August 2012 for their three-year research project into the soldiers named on the East Loddon and districts First World War Honour Boards. A digital copy of the relevant Council Minutes and indices for the period was also provided as an aid for their further research.

This project is the first time that a historical society within the Shire has been provided with such a degree of access to Council records and is also the result of close collaboration between the Historical Society and the Shire over the last few years.

Alison Toohey and Barbara Borgas from Wannon Region Water Corporation receiving the Certificate of Commendation for Community Archives Category 1 from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

Alison Toohey and Barbara Borgas from Wannon Region Water Corporation receiving the Certificate of Commendation for Community Archives Category 1 from Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records

 

We would like to congratulate Wannon Region Water Corporation on being awarded a certificate of commendation in the Community Archives Category 1 for their project Records Transfer to Places of Deposit at Hamilton, Casterton and Warrnambool.

An appraisal project identified many old volumes of rates and finance records that were of a temporary nature and were no longer of any business value to Wannon Water. It was recognised that the best way to manage these records was to contact the local Places of Deposit and enquire if they would like to take custody of the records for use within their community.

A number of records of the Hamilton Waterworks Trust and Hamilton Sewerage Authority were transferred to the Hamilton Historical Society.

Some Casterton Coleraine Waterworks Trust records were transferred to the Casterton and District Historical Society.

Several records from the Warrnambool Waterworks Trust, Warrnambool Sewerage Authority and some City of Warrnambool Water Rate books were transferred to the Warrnambool Historical Society.

 

Copyright reform and government agencies

The Australian Law Reform Commission has released a discussion paper on Copyright reform. It is available here: http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/copyright-and-digital-economy-dp-79

This discussion paper makes concrete recommendations as to how Copyright should be reformed. In this blog post we describe how the changes proposed are intended to affect recordkeeping in government agencies.

All government exceptions for the use of copyright material would be abolished. Instead, government use would be judged under a general ‘fair use’ provision. The ALRC proposes four non-exclusive fairness factors that are to be used to judge if a use is ‘fair use’. These are:

  • Purpose and character of use
  • The nature of the copyright material used
  • The amount of the material used
  • The effect on a potential market for (or value of) the material

The ALRC then defines a set of illustrative uses or purposes that may (or may not) be fair use (these are broadly equivalent to the exemptions in the current Copyright act). Two that are specifically relevant to government use are:

  • Research or study
  • Public administration

The paper states that ‘uses essential for the proper conduct of administration [...] should be fair use’, and that the purpose and character of the use would be most relevant when determining if a specific government use was fair use. Uses that contribute to efficient and open government are more likely to be fair, while those that engaged in for commercial purposes or have a significant impact on the market for a commercial purpose are less likely to be fair.

The public administration use would apply to all three tiers of government (Commonwealth, State, and local), unlike the present situation where local government is not protected by the Crown exemption, and State and local governments are not protected for FoI purposes or for other situations where they are required to publish information.

It is also proposed that the government would be able to use other fair use illustrative purposes. Notably it may be fair use to use copyright material for research or study, as it would be for an individual or a corporation. Under the current copyright law, it is not clear if the government can use the other copyright exemptions.

For uses that are not ‘fair use’, the ALRC proposes that ‘extended collective licensing’ would be available. Under this model, the government would be able to license copyright material from a collecting agency even if the copyright holder was not a member of the collecting agency. However, copyright holders would be able to exclude themselves from this extended collective license.

To come down to tin-tacks, the following recordkeeping/governance uses are likely to be fair use under the proposed changes:

  • Normal recordkeeping/administration actions (e.g. digitising incoming correspondence and electronically filing it)
  • Copying a reasonable amount of material for the purposes of researching or developing policy
  • Publishing material required by statute (or good governance) provided there was a public good, the use was non-commercial, and the market for the material was not affected.
  • Releasing information under FoI, again provided the market for the material was not affected.

Of course, this is just a discussion paper. The eventual ALRC recommendations may be considerably different, and any changes to the law may differ yet further.

However, there is the opportunity to comment on the discussion paper. The comment period closes on 31st July.

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