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What is digitisation?

Digitisation involves the conversion of a physical or analogue record to a digital representation. Digitisation is one means of converting an original or source record and is usually carried out through scanning or photographing the source record.


Benefits and risks

Digitisation can provide considerable benefits for agencies, including:

  • Improved productivity and service delivery, as records can be accessed immediately, used by multiple people and become part of monitored workflow processes
  • Greater sharing of information and re-use of previous work
  • Better decision-making as the full set of contextual and background information can be accessed
  • Savings on storage, management and access costs
  • Preservation of the organisation’s history 

However, agencies should weigh up and carefully consider the intended outcomes of any potential digitisation projects for public records. Digitisation is often an expensive and resource intensive exercise. In some cases transferring records to PROV may be a more strategic action to take on permanent value, hardcopy records.


Digitisation step-by-step

Please follow the below steps to ensure that your agency is meeting PROV digitisation and disposal requirements.

  1. STEP 1 - Planning

    The first step for agencies is to refer to the following:

    • PROS 19/07 Converted or Digitised Records Retention and Disposal Authority (RDA)
    • PROS 19/05 S1 Digitisation Specification.


    All agencies must prepare a Digitisation Plan when the digitised copy will be used as the official record. 

    Original or source records which can be disposed of under different RDA classes do not necessarily need separate Digitisation Plans—this is only required if the digitisation process, technology or tools, or way the records are going to be managed is substantially different.


    The Plan will help your agency:

    • Establish an authorised framework for digitisation and business ownership over the digitisation activities
    • Identify the types and condition of records to be digitised
    • Ensure they have been sentenced under an existing RDA
    • Undertake a risk analysis for the digitisation
    • Establish the digitisation process and image technical requirements
    • Determine how the digitised records will be managed
    • Determine disposal actions for the original or source records


    PROV strongly recommends that agencies use the PROV Digitisation Plan Template.


    Image technical requirements and output formats

    PROS 19/05 S1 Digitisation Specification includes minimum digital image technical requirements for digitising documents and photographs. See also National Archives of Australia’s Preservation Digitisation Standards for technical requirements for other types of analogue records such as audiovisual formats.

    PROS 19/05 S3 Long Term Sustainable Formats Specification sets out the approved long term preservation formats for permanent records. For records which are not permanent, agencies may choose the output file, however it is recommended practice to use the approved long term preservation formats. 


    Agency actions:

    • Refer to PROS 19/05 S1 Digitisation Specification and relevant RDAs
    • Develop a Digitisation Plan, ideally using the Digitisation Plan Template
    • Determine appropriate technical requirements and output formats



    PROS 19/07 Converted or Digitised Records RDA
    PROS 19/05 S1 Digitisation Specification
    PRO 58 Digitisation Plan Template
    PROS 19/05 S3 Long Term Sustainable Formats Specification 
    Preservation Digitisation Standards, National Archives of Australia


    STEP 2 - Authorisation

    After the Digitisation Plan has been drafted, your agency must complete the Digitisation Plan - Certificate of Compliance.

    The certificate must be signed by the Head of a Public Office or a suitable delegate (for example, the Chief Information Officer, or Section/Senior Manager).

    Once signed, your agency should email a copy of the Certificate to PROV via our online enquiry form

    While there is no requirement to send a copy of your Digitisation Plan or other documentation along with your Certificate, you must provide it to PROV upon request.


    Agency actions:

    • Complete the Digitisation Plan—Certificate of Compliance
    • Email a copy of the Certificate to PROV



    PRO 59 Digitisation Plan—Certificate of Compliance 


    STEP 3 - Disposal of source records

    Disposal actions will depend on when the original or source record was created. See the pathway below for further information.

    Digitisation Disposal Pathway
    To view full-size, click on image (recommended browser: Chrome)


    Agency actions:

    • Refer to the classes and conditions of PROS 19/07 RDA
    • Consult with PROV if you require specific authorisation to destroy certain original or source records


    PROV actions:

    • If required, determine disposal outcome of certain original or source records.



    PROS 19/07 Converted or Digitised Records RDA


    STEP 4 - Review and update plan

    Agencies should ensure that digitisation activities are covered by an up-to-date plan.

    Agencies must create a new Digitisation Plan for a set of records when the:

    • Digitisation process, technology or tools, or way the records are going to be managed significantly change
    • Existing Digitisation Plan expires


    Agency actions:

    • Review, update and create new Digitisation Plans as required

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