Digitising Collections SA

Digitising Collections SA

Since the start of COVID-19, more of the arts and culture sector have begun to move to online access, digital content and storage, as the need for more digital content surges. South Australia has an abundance of history, culture and knowledge to share, and digitising collections is a major way that culturally significant items, documents and information can be shared with the world.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet has provided funding to the History Trust of South Australia to develop training, resources, and a community of practice for digitisation of collections across South Australia. With support from Digital Access Consultative Group (DACG) members, Digitising Collections SA is a short-term project that aims to help increase the knowledge, capacity and understanding of the digitisation process, and provide long-term resources for any individual or organisation embarking on their digitisation journey.

The Burra History Group participating in a Digitising Collections workshop.

Surveying Current Activity

The Digitising Collections SA team conducted a survey of collecting institutions and the SA History Network in order to get a sense of current digitisation activity and needs in South Australia. After a slight extension to the timeline we received 40 responses to date.

  • 73.5% of collection organisations responding to the survey are already actively digitising collections.
  • The main three reasons given for not digitising collections were:
    • Insufficient (time of) staff (89%)
    • Insufficient know how (67%)
    • Insufficient resources (67%).
  • Material in collections ranged widely, for example photographs made up between 1-85% of collections. Particular strengths that stood out included photographs, archival material, books and 3D objects or artworks.
  • The majority of collection organisations responding (70%) have stable internet access.
  • Only 31.25% of organisations have their own own server or cloud based storage for data storage and archiving.
  • The main goals behind digitisation given were enriching information access (84%) followed by ease of collection management (81%).
  • 84% of organisations are currently not using any external guidelines or resources.
  • 89% of organisations are not currently following a metadata standard.
  • In 71% of organisations digitisation is currently carried out by one person within the organisation.
  • 90% of organisations do not yet have a solution for long term preservation of collections based on national/international standards
  • The majority of organisations (62%) have digitised collections available offline to staff
  • The main areas of digitisation organisations would like further support in are:
    • preparing processes and procedures that adhere to digitisation standards (74%)
    • digital collection storage and management (63%)
    • selecting items for digitisation/documenting a digitisation strategy (56%)

Information above from survey close at 22 February.

If you didn’t hear from us you can still get involved by filling out the survey to give us a better idea where your digitisation journey is at, and what resources will best meet your needs.

Where to now?

The Digitising Collections SA team will be working on resources through March 2022 and will run the first training sessions online in April. The first two sessions will cover:

  • Where to start: planning your digitisiation program
  • Developing your digitisiation policies and procedures

Sessions will be short overviews of discreet topics, designed to build towards further skills, so that participants can have time between training sessions to put new skills into practice and come back with further questions. Six online training sessions are planned between April and the end of June, this may be refined as the team continues conversations and gains a greater understanding of needs.

First session will be Thursday 28 April. For full details and to book visit our Eventbrite Listing.

Equipment for loan

We are procuring equipment for loan based on survey responses indicating greatest needs. A list of available equipment and borrowing procedures will be online in June.

Survey follow up

The Digitising Collections SA team have been contacting organisations who requested a follow up throughout March and April.

We will keep participating organisations updated as we continue analysis and develop programs.