Who is this toolkit for?

This toolkit has been created for volunteers and staff in small- to medium-size organisations who are undertaking the task of digitising collections and providing digital access to their collections via the internet. The collections may include art works, paper-based materials (works on paper, archives, newspapers), photographs, objects, born digital material, scientific material, flora and fauna, and anything else held in our collections.

This toolkit is for anyone who:

  • is experienced with collections digitisation and looking for more information
  • has digitised and shared image and photographic collections online, but now wants to know about digitising the objects in their collection
  • has their collection documented in an electronic database, but has not digitised images of their collection, and wants to know how to take the next step
  • has a largely uncatalogued collection and wants to take the first step in cataloguing and digitising their collection and sharing it online
  • has the entire collection catalogued digitally and wants to share the collection online and provide digital access to the community.

Why are organisations digitising their collections and sharing them online?

Digitisation is the process of changing an item from existing in analogue format to also existing in a digital format. The scan, digital photo or audio/visual file created from the item, becomes the digitised version of the actual item, which can be stored and shared electronically.

Providing digital access and making collections available to the wider community means that deeper engagement with our collections is not just in the hands of GLAM sector staff and volunteers, but is expanded to the wider community. It is part of our role to ensure collections are cared for and shared with the community in ways that meet their needs. This includes being able to observe them and engage with them in the online environment.

Digital access opens our collections to those who may not be physically able to visit our organisations and collections across Australia, whether for financial, health or mobility reasons, or any other inhibitors.

Benefits include:

  • increased public access to collections
  • better understanding of our collections and what is held in them
  • connecting with communities from across the world
  • creating opportunities for collaboration
  • telling a more comprehensive story of our communities and collections
  • ensuring the future sustainability of our collections.

A significant example of collections digitisation and digital access was the digitisation and sharing online of the many thousands of records connected to the First World War. Many national and state cultural institutions from across Australia committed to ensuring that those records were digitised and that digital access was provided to the public by the centenary of the First World War. Not everyone wishing to view family records is able to visit national institutions in Canberra to see them. With the records digitised and shared online they can be viewed from anywhere in the world.

A digitised collection provides greater opportunities for sharing the story of our communities and our collections with the world. Digitised images, objects and audio/visual material help bring a story to life.  Online ‘mini exhibitions’ can be created that give visitors a taste of what your organisation has to offer. Some innovative examples are: