Digitisation policy

Download the Digitisation policy (PDF 73.3 KB) 


State Library of Queensland recognises that people increasingly expect access to content and information resources on their choice of preferred device, location and time.  Enhancing access through additional means, such as digitisation, will assist State Library to meet this increasing expectation.  

An important goal of the Library Board of Queensland (Libraries Act 1988) and subsequent amendments, is to collect, arrange, preserve and provide access to a comprehensive collection of library, archival and other resources relating to Queensland or produced by Queensland authors. 

Within State Library  of Queensland, this responsibility is predominantly undertaken by the John Oxley Library.  In the past, this has involved collection and preserving Queensland documentary heritage and oral traditions.  While continuing to collect and preserve this content State Library is now actively digitising significant collection items to supplement and enhance access and facilitate the development of new content opportunities.  

This Digitisation Policy guides the digitisation of items held by State Library. The Policy supports State Library of Queensland’s Strategic Plan 2013-17, enabling access to library collections and facilitating creation of new knowledge and co-creation of Queensland memory.  


The scope of the Digitisation Policy refers to analogue content, including print, audio and film materials.  

Collections from John Oxley Library and the Australian Library of Art are in scope and are our priority.  Information Collection items may be digitised in response to specific requests to meet our document delivery requirements.   


the process of converting diverse physical and analogue media including but not confined to  images, documents, film, sound or voice to digital form [Adapted from NSLA Digital Collecting Framework March 2013]  Example:  Paper-based book to digital
Format obsolescence
describes a state of becoming obsolete, rather than a state of already being obsolete. For our purposes, however, we are interested in identifying file formats affected by both - obviously related - conditions: ·those that can no longer be rendered (and are therefore obsolete); and ·those that are likely to become unrenderable within a timeframe demanding action (and are therefore obsolescent). Pearson & Webb, NLA 2008 Defining File Obsolescence: a risky journey
Original materials
unpublished materials such as diaries, letters and oral histories.
Analogue content 
material created in analogue form such as pictures, maps, music scores, books and manuscripts. 

Policy Statement 

Digitising State Library’s collections will:

  • enable clients, regardless of location, to access and use a range of digitised  Queensland content
  • assist with the preservation of  rare and fragile collections by preserving the original, while providing access to digital surrogates
  • ensure long term access to legacy formats no longer accessible e.g. audio cassettes, glass negatives.  

The following principles underpin State Library’s digitisation activities: 

  • we will enhance access to State Library’s cultural heritage by increasing the scale of our digitisation activities    
  • we are committed to both the protection of creator’s rights and to providing the greatest possible access to our collections, working within the legislative framework of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) and by the extensive use of the Creative Commons licences for the content we create 
  • we will adhere to Protocols for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collections 
  • our focus will be on our unique material. State Library will endeavour to provide a critical mass of digital information, enhancing community knowledge and awareness of Queensland’s history 
  • State Library is committed to the preservation and care of original items it digitises.  The production of digital surrogates will reduce the need for future handling of these items. 
  • digitisation and the management of digital objects will be undertaken in the most efficient and effective manner possible and in accordance with State Library’s standards based on international best practice which are revised regularly   
  • digital versions of materials will represent originals as closely as possible. Images will not be manipulated or improved as detailed in State Library’s standards  
  • we will  present digital content  to clients via State Library’s catalogue, on our website via our blogs, online exhibitions and in external platforms i.e. Flickr Commons, Wikimedia and  Historypin. These external online products and services will increase clients ability to discover and engage with State Library content 
  • The use and reproduction of items in the digitised collections will be in accordance with State Library’s commitment to broad access and re-use. State Library does not charge reproduction fees and any fees charged will be administrative in nature and aligned with State Library’s scale of fees 
  • State Library will continue to seek opportunities to work collaboratively with other institutions, minimising duplication and building digitisation capacity in the community, to enable increased discoverability of Queensland content. 

State Library’s Content Strategy highlights our commitment to access via digitisation “Increasing visibility of our undiscovered collections will be a priority. As a custodian of many unique collections we are committed to increasing access through digitisation.”   

What we digitise

Significance determines what we digitise from our collections. 

We do not plan to digitise everything.   

Decisions on what we digitise are based on both expert curatorial staff selections and community driven demand.  The State Library’s Digitisation Plan reviewed annually provides a curatorial framework of selection criteria and themed priorities.  

Other important considerations will include enabling access to items not readily accessible due to fragility or at risk of format obsolescence and to ensure equity of access through representation of material, incorporating both geographical coverage  and a range of subject areas.     

Additionally, a number of specific criteria will be applied in assessing material for digitisation:

  • to raise community awareness of State Library’s role, collections and services potential to generate income and/or develop mutually beneficial partnerships, either internal or external to State Library
  • requests where the full cost of digitisation is being borne by another agency or individual  

How we digitise

The following will be used to support State Library’s digitisation activities:

  • annual review of selection criteria and themed priorities special projects involving the digitisation of specific materials  integration with ongoing routine, mainstream activities  
  • scanning will be undertaken in-house by State Library staff or out-sourced, depending upon our requirements 
  • expertise to support digitisation activities will be drawn from State Library teams as required, and staff will be supported to further develop this expertise
  • commitment to the development of processes that enable increasing the scale of our digitisation activities    

State Library is committed to maintaining appropriate standards for managing digitisation activities, access, use and long-term preservation of digital items depend on the use of suitable standards. Accordingly, State Library will adhere to established, internationally accepted standards that allow both the greatest levels of current access and flexibility in the future to exploit new technologies as they emerge. Where such standards do not exist, State Library will liaise with the NSLA (National and State Libraries Australasia) and other institutions to identify and adopt international best practice.

State Library also works with the National Library of Australia as part of the Australian Newspaper Digitisation Program. This contributor model enables the National Library to undertake the digitisation of Queensland regional and community newspaper titles.   

How we provide access

State Library will use established and new approaches to ensure that the widest possible levels of access to its digitised collections.   

Digitised collections will be arranged in ways that are easy for clients to access and navigate. Items within collections will be linked to catalogue records and/or other finding aids, as appropriate.   

Digitised content will also be made available via multiple external platforms including state and national open data portals to increase visibility of the collections as identified in State Library’s Discovery Framework.   

While ensuring adherence to copyright legislation and donors wishes State Library will ensure easy access to digitised content by including clear statements on catalogue records that provide users with information regarding use and reuse. Appropriate Creative Commons licensing will be used.   

Related Procedures 

The Policy is implemented under:

This Policy is supported by:

  • Digital Preservation Policy 
  • Protocols for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collections
  • Digital Standard 1 - Metadata for digital objects and other specified resource types, v 1.5   
  • Digital Standard 2 - Digital capture & format, v 3.01 
  • Directory & File Naming Conventions for Digital Objects, v 1.06 
  • Guidelines for the use of metadata in the description of digital images, v 2.1 Standards for Transcripts, v 1.01  
  • Resource Description Strategy 1.00 (being added to website) 
  • Discovery Framework (being added to website) 

This Policy is also supported by the following documents:  

  • Annual Digitisation Plan 
  • Handle Management 1.0  
  • Queensland Memory Annual Themed Priorities  


The State Library acknowledges the following documents:  

  • Collection Digitisation Policy (National Library of Australia)
  • Digitisation Strategy 2010 – 2015 (National Library of New Zealand)
  • Growing Knowledge The British Library Strategy 2011 – 2015 (British Library)   


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