Author: Public Record Office Victoria

About the program

In 2004 John Howard was voted in for his fourth term as Prime Minister, Superman died and PROV built its first digital archive. While it has served us well, as a now fourteen-year-old, it’s time to upgrade the current infrastructure. 

In order to successfully meet our objectives under the Public Records Act 1973 we need to ensure that our collection continues to be secure and that accessibility grows to meet the increasing expectations of both government and public users. 

This involves improving, not just the digital archive where we store permanent digital records, but also the systems that provide access to the digital and hardcopy records in our collection. From hardware and software through to processes and workflows - including transfer of government records to our collection - by updating our systems, we’ll ensure they’re future-proof.

What does this mean for you?

For government recordkeepers, in the long run this program will mean faster digital ingest,  greater user management capability and security, and easier record requests. In the short term, while all projects are underway you may notice that we won’t be able to maintain the same level of service in regards to new transfers and appraisal projects. Priority will be given to those projects already booked in. 

For researchers, in the long run this will provide easier website access to the records you need and allow you to contribute to the transcription and metadata associated with those records. While these projects are underway, you may notice a few web and search changes here and there. We will update this page as well as our blog and social media channels with updates on any major changes. We may also call out for feedback on what we’re doing. 

What exactly does the program entail? 

Beginning in 2017, this has been a major work activity involving almost every staff member at PROV. There are many separate projects that fall under the program. The timing of each one varies but we expect the entire program to be completed by late 2019. Here’s a brief overview of what’s happening:  

New website and search engine:  This project involves the development of a new website and search functionality which better meets the needs of users. FIRST STAGE COMPLETE.

Secondary asset management system: This system will contain copies of all of our digital and digitised records that are on open access. Once this system is in place, it will allow for our website to be able to display the records via the image transform and viewer services detailed below. We are currently in the process of loading this system with records such as those newly digitised by our volunteers and Ancestry. IN PROGRESS.

Digital archive (software and storage): This will replace our current digital archive which is now very slow and no longer able to be updated. The new digital archive will be able to ingest a variety of formats at a much faster speed than before. This project also involves a physical storage system for the digital archive repository. IN PROGRESS.

Compute infrastructure: The core compute infrastructure for hosting our digital archive and other business applications. IN PROGRESS.

Archival management system: This is the primary system used by our staff for managing and describing records and related entities. It will replace our current system and will incorporate the revised archival control model below. IN PROGRESS.

Revised archival control model: We have revised the method we use to catalogue public records (archival control model) to enhance our capacity to describe, preserve and make records accessible. The model is an extension of the previous model, designed for gradual uptake whilst remaining backwards compatible. It conforms with AS/NZS 5478 Recordkeeping Metadata Property Reference Set. Therefore PROV will be able to share and exchange metadata with other organisations more easily, and it is amongst the first in the world to align with the draft Records in Contexts (RiC) Standard issued by the International Council on Archives. COMPLETE.

Victorian electronic records standard (VERS): Principles and requirements under the current VERS standard will be incorporated within the PROV Recordkeeping Standards so that there will be one framework for agencies to use. We are also revising and broadening the VERS requirements moving from VERS 2 to VERS 3 which will allow for greater flexibility in representing digital records. Any new transfers to PROV can be either VERS 2 or VERS 3 compliant. To assist with transfers PROV is also developing a neoVEO app and supporting guides to help agencies manually create VERS encapsulated objects ready for the archive. IN PROGRESS. 

Persistent identifier: This allows for unique identifiers, like URLs for instance, to be allocated to entities to enable consistent access to records. IN PROGRESS.

Improved website experience: This involves extended search functionality to will allow all users to search for, view and request access to records through a single interface on the new website, replacing Access the Collection. This will also allow users to view digitised search results as thumbnails and then download copies in the format they require them (e.g. as JPEGS) without having to click through multiple pages with the only option being to download PDFs. We will also introduce transcription functionality enabling users to assist with transcription and other activities via our website. After logging in, users will view their own dashboard and be able to better manage their orders and research. IN PROGRESS.

Single sign on: This will allow for a single login across multiple systems. For example, in the new system, members of the public will be able to login to certain PROV resources using their Facebook or Google account. IN PROGRESS.

Application Programming Interface (API): This will allow other ‘computers’ (for instance Trove, other Libraries and Universities) access to broadscale, repurposeable data. IN PROGRESS.

Online ordering, payment and warehouse tracking system: All of the above activities are taking place alongside a program to replace the system that manages our warehousing of physical records. This includes the online records ordering system and payment of copies. IN PROGRESS.

Feedback or questions

To provide feedback or ask further questions about the Victorian Electronic Records Strategy please email us at feedback@prov.vic.gov.au.

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples