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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

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.

Hamer Awards Part Three: Most Valuable Transfer to PROV

Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records, presenting the award for Most Valuable Transfer to PROV to Arthur Dallas, Manager Laverton, Land Victoria, at the Sir Rupert Hamer Awards 16 May

Justine Heazlewood, Director and Keeper of Public Records, presenting the award for Most Valuable Transfer to PROV to Arthur Dallas, Manager Laverton, Land Victoria, at the Sir Rupert Hamer Awards 16 May

 

The purpose of this category is to highlight efforts to preserve and make accessible records of a high and ongoing value to the people and State of Victoria.

We would like to congratulate Land Victoria on winning the category ‘Most Valuable Transfer to PROV’ for their transfer of Crown Grants, Titles and Leases.

The Land Victoria transfer of Crown Grants, Titles and Leases filled a significant gap in the PROV State Archival Collection, ensuring the capture of a much fuller story of events, decisions and activities for future users.

The transfer includes mining leases, crown leases and freehold titles, dating from 1863 to 2002, and is the largest physical transfer to be undertaken to Public Record Office Victoria (PROV). The records will occupy approximately 2.5km of PROV’s storage space.

Land Victoria carefully planned for the transfer of 3.8 million paper land titles to PROV. Due to the scale of project, the transfer has been managed in stages over a 3 year period. In October 2012, a third of the records were transferred into PROV to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Torrens System. The remaining two thirds will be transferred into PROV custody in 2013 & 2014. The methodology used to manage this transfer project could be re-used for future large scale transfers.

Planning commenced once Land Victoria determined the administrative use of the paper based records had concluded. The paper titles were converted into a digital form as part of a Titles Automation Project carried out between 1999 and 2002. With the introduction of Victorian Online Title System (VOTS) in 2002, the updating of the hardcopy land titles ceased. The digital converted title images became the official record of the business and are used to update information on a land title.

New NSW advice on moving email to the cloud

State Records Authority NSW has just published advice on information management and governance issues to consider when moving corporate email to the cloud.

The main issue identified is not specific to cloud solutions, it is actually the risk of routinely deleting email after a specified time irrespective of what the email documents. The advice discusses some approaches to manage this risk. It is consequently worth reading even if you are not considering moving your email to the cloud.

The advice can be found at http://futureproof.records.nsw.gov.au/information-management-and-governance-issues-to-consider-when-moving-your-corporate-email-to-the-cloud/

 

Thank you to our Sponsors: Hamer Awards: Part Two

Events like the Sir Rupert Hamer Awards cannot happen without the considerable support of many people. Public Record Office Victoria would like to extend a very big thank you to all those who sponsored the event. We appreciate your involvement and generosity.

Our main sponsor for the event again this year was Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia. This association has given great support to PROV over many years, both as sponsors of these Awards since the beginning and as a professional body providing a voice for those who are employed in the records management field across Australia.

The prizes for winners of the various Hamer Awards categories were provided by Records and Information Management Professionals Australia; Australian Society of Archivists; Archival Survival and Genealogical Society of Victoria. Prizes included memberships, books and archival supplies.

The Sir Rupert Hamer Awards ceremony was brought to you by the following Sponsors (in alphabetical order):

 RIMPA  ASA_Australian_Society_of_Archivists  Archival Survival  Genealogical Society of VictoriaRoyal_Historical_Soceity_Victoria

Acrodata    Change factory logo-LR  CommandoDoc-U-Store  ELO Logo Vector File MAIN

 Enterprise Knowledge-LR  Fort Knox  FYB_logo  GRACE_RM+100YRS_RGB300 

RecordPoint   Records_Solutions_NEW_Logo  STE_SIGNATURE_HORIZ   The_Information_Management_Group

 

Hamers Awards Thursday 16 May 2013: Part One

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The Annual Sir Rupert Hamer Awards for excellence in records management were held on Thursday 16 May 2013 at the beautiful Queens Hall, Parliament. Around 140 people gathered to share in the celebration, enjoy the nibbles, drinks and music of the Lucca Ensemble before the awards began.

As well as being the 15th year of the Hamer Awards, this year Public Record Office Victoria celebrates its 40th anniversary. These milestones are an excellent reminder of the vital role records management plays in preserving the culture and history of our state, and in holding the decisions and actions of government to account. As always, the Hamer Awards are an opportunity to celebrate this work and recognise the very best of Victoria’s recordkeeping achievements.

This year the major sponsor of the Hamer Awards was Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia. As well as supporting Public Record Office Victoria by sponsoring these awards for many years now, they play a vital role as a professional body for those in the records management field across Australia. Tim Newbegin, President of the Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia Victorian Branch spoke of the importance of recognising records management excellence.

Last year Greater Shepparton City Council received a Hamer Award for their project, ‘Going Digital with Financial Information’ in the category of Regional or Rural Agency. Laurienne Winbanks from Greater Shepparton City Council spoke about their project, and the significance of the award. In particular, how winning a Hamer Award helped to raise the profile of records management at Greater Shepparton City Council at the senior management level.

Keynote speaker for the event was Grantly Mailes, who is the Deputy Secretary of the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation and the State’s first Chief Technology Advocate.

 Mr Mailes has the responsibility for delivery of the Government’s new ICT strategy and spoke of working together with the Public Record Office Victoria. He highlighted the ever changing technological environment that information and records is managed within. Such a challenging environment meant that solutions needed to be innovative. Projects that have received a Hamer Award were examples of the kind of innovative thinking Victoria needed.    

Please see our website for the winners of this year’s Hamer Awards < http://prov.vic.gov.au/government/sir-rupert-hamer-awards/current-hamer-award-winners>

Watch out for our next Hamers blog post, coming soon.

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