The Government of South Australia’s Arts and Culture Digital Access Plan was developed in 2020 to improve the public’s access to our irreplaceable cultural collections. The subsequent commissioning of a Digitisation Feasibility Study (2021) set out an international best practice digitisation lifecycle framework for South Australian collecting organisations. To support both the Plan and the Feasibility Study, the History Trust of South Australia (under the auspices of the State Government’s Digital Access Consultative Group) delivered a 6 month pilot training project to standardise and develop digitisation skills, knowledge and capacity across both state-funded and community collecting organisations (ie both State based cultural institutions as well as the South Australian History Network, custodians of the State’s distributed collections).

Significant outputs of the project included: a series of training resources and workshops pitched at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of digitisation; technical and lifecycle training delivered by digitisation experts; a selection of digitisation equipment ‘in a box’ kits for loan; development of a community of practice throughout the distributed collections; and a series of lasting video resources.

Current State Survey (2022)

The Digitising Collections SA team conducted a survey of collecting institutions and the South Australian History Network to establish current digitisation activity and needs in South Australia. Reliable data on 40 individual organisations was provided, and this has informed project outputs and the implementation of training, resource development, and digitisation equipment needs across the state.

  • 73.5% of collection organisations who responded to the survey were 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%) had stable internet access.
  • Only 31.25% of organisations had their own server or cloud based storage for data storage and archiving.
  • The main goals behind digitisation given were for enriching information access (84%), followed by ease of collection management (81%).
  • 84% of organisations were not using any external guidelines or resources.
  • 89% of organisations did not follow a metadata standard.
  • In 71% of organisations, digitisation was carried out by one person within the organisation.
  • 90% of organisations did not have a solution for long term preservation of collections based on national/international standards
  • The majority of organisations (62%) had their digitised collections available offline to staff
  • The main areas of digitisation organisations would like further support in were:
    • 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%)

The above survey was closed and resulting information gathered 22 February, 2022.