Cultural Ministers Digital technology working group

I’m reading through the final report from this group, originally kindly posted by Gionni di Gravio. So far, the most exciting thing in the report is the lovely graphic showing the number of items in various state collections. Public (that is, state and national) archives make up nearly 50% of the content.Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 12.07.44 PM

I’m a little bemused by some of the categories – what are documentary photographs, and who holds them, and how are they different from other photographs? Ditto for social history archives. I’m guessing that rare books are those that are not held in the NSLA collections, but are in the other GLAM bodies. Disappointingly, the report does not include a list of definitions or a copy of the original survey.

Public libraries have most (85%) of their content available online, while archives manage 48%. I’m not sure how much this is driven by backlogs in either accessioning or in retrospective conversion from previous systems, including hardcopy, and there is no evidence that the original survey attempted to identify the causes. Which is disappointing if funding decisions are to properly targeted.

The survey revealed weaknesses in the use of standardised and machine readable metadata, and a lack of consistency and co-ordination across organisations, domains and jurisdictions,

Again, the data supporting this assertion is not provided. Given that the libraries use AACR2 cataloguing and MARC or RDA formatting for their online content and there is now a significant amount of copy cataloguing, it’s difficult to see that there is not consistency amongst that group. Similarly, the CAARA archives all follow Australian descriptive practice through series registration, but I agree that there is no central portal for CAARA archives. The same is, of course, true for the museums and gallery sectors. I can see the point in something like the previous Collections Australia Network (the domain name is now available, I think –, and Collections Victoria and the Atlas of Living Australia * are certainly raised as an example of how content can be aggregated.

The focus of the report and the recommendations is largely on digitisation and reuse of material. While there is a “recognition that some solutions, strategies and collaboration will need to be discipline/domain based”, this is not really explored. Other issues, including the current copyright debate, are also conspicuous by their absence.

* I searched for dolphins and found an unattributed photo of a 1979 Indonesian stamp as the species identifier image for the long-beaked bottle-nosed dolphin, with a description from wikipedia. Some data cleanup may be required šŸ™‚





Published by


Archivist, historian, avid reader

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s