Digitisation and digital humanities

My first contract as an archivist was a year long contract in 1984 to prepare the records of the Colonial Secretary’s Office of Western Australia for microfilming (actually quite Big Brotherish).  When I returned in 1998, I was given oversight of the preservation program, which included identifying material to be microfilmed. I was incredibly fortunate to work with the extremely professional staff of the State Microfilm Bureau, who had been transferred to SROWA a few years earlier. Together, we identified fragile and much used materials, worked on ways of identifying them and on developing standards for the way in which our microfilm was prepared.

Very early on in this process, we knew we would also have to look at digitisation. Our first pilot project, using a small Deskscan scanner, created digital copies of maps and plans, that are the foundation of the digital objects now viewable at the SROWA catalogue. In 2001, I gave a paper at the RMAA/ASA conference in Hobart on those first tentative steps, called ‘Dancing with the Devil’.

Since then, I’ve worked with Ancestry to digitise and index previously microfilmed material, identified ways of adding digital content to our catalogues, and thought about how to preserve the digital objects that are created. I’ve also thought about how digital content can be used and reused.

Digitisation is the death of history  A debate for the History Council of Western Australia, at the School of Information and Library Studies, Curtin University,

Digitisation, linked data and Schrodinger’s cat : Birds of a feather session at Digital Humanities Australia conference, UWA, 2014

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