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Australian Data Archive

Digitisation and Archiving of Paul Memmott’s Indigenous Data Collection

released over 5 years ago

ADA archivists from the University of Melbourne and the University of Technology, Sydney provide expert advise on the digitising and archiving process for the Paul Memmott Indigenous Data Collection.

The following report provides an overview of the work in progress.

 

Report: Digitisation and Archiving of Paul Memmott’s Indigenous Data Collection

December, 2011.

 

About the Paul Memmott Indigenous Data Collection

The Paul Memmott Indigenous Data Collection is an accumulation of over 30 years of work focused on Australian Indigenous groups, their cultures and environments. The Collection functions as an archive of artefacts, including bibliographies and associated collections of literature, manuscripts, digital and still photographs, slides, maps, genealogies, interview material, cassette recordings, video footage, architectural drawings amongst other types of artefacts. The Paul Memmott Indigenous Data Collection is an invaluable national resource. The Paul Memmott collection is currently held in the Aboriginal Environments Research Centre (AERC) at the University of Queensland.

The Digitising and Archiving of the Paul Memmott Indigenous Data Collection

In 2011 a Major Equipment and Infrastructure grant was awarded to the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR). Among the uses of this funding was the digitisation and archiving of the Indigenous Data collection, held at the AERC. The ISSR works with the Australian Data Archive (ADA) and currently leads the Longitudinal and Qualitative nodes of ADA.  ADA archivists from the University of Melbourne and the University of Technology, Sydney were commissioned to provide expert advise on the digitising and archiving process for the Paul Memmott Collection. Over three days in September, 2011, Archivists, Michael Jones, and Elizabeth Mulhollann conducted the accession of the Collection, and instructed the research team from the AERC and ISSR on how to digitise the artefacts, how to archive, and how to use the Heritage Data Management Software (HDMS). At the conclusion of the accession, several outcomes had been achieved, including the identification of ‘at risk’ items in the collection that required immediate preservation, and other very rare items. 

Summary of activities during accession and instruction workshop

Over the course of the three-day workshop, the ADA archivists led the accession of the Memmott Collection. The accession involved a detailed and systematic recording of meta data of the contents of the Collection, as they are found. Details such as the location, rationale for organisation, contents, identifiable features and state of preservation of materials are noted. The Collection was accessioned at the provenance or series level, depending on the nature of the artefacts. Once the accession was completed, instruction on the HDMS was provided by Michael Jones. Other activities and practical sessions completed during the workshop included:

  • An overview and practical demonstration on the use of the digital camera and scanning equipment, used to digitise artefacts. The Spinifex slide collection was used during the demonstration.
  • A theoretical discussion on the archival process. The main four parts of the archival process was reviewed, that is, accession, provenance, series and inventory. Key references for further reading were provided (see Deegan and Tanner 2006; CCSDS 2002; Beedham et al 2005).
  • The workshop also identified series within the Collection that were considered to be at risk of deterioration. This included the slide series. These series were prioritised for urgent digitisation.
  • During the accession, ‘secret sacred’ material was encountered. It was noted that this material must be handled with extreme care and caution and could only be accessed with express permission from Paul Memmott.

 

 References

Deegan, M. and S. Tanner (eds.) (2006) Digital Preservation, Facet Publishing: London.

Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS), Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS), Recommendation for Space Data System Standards, Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems Secretariat, January 2002.

Hilary Beedham et al. (2005), Assessment of UKDA and TNA Compliance with OAIS and METS Standards, UKDA, University of Essex.

2012/03/27

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