What is digitisation? Getting started

What is digitisation?

To digitise is to convert an object, data or an image into electronic format. The term digitisation is often used when diverse forms of information such as objects, text, sound, images, audio or audio-visual are converted into an electronic digital code that can be read by computers or other electronic devices.

Turning from analogue (original representation) to digital ensures that the format can be viewed by using computer software and then made available throughout the world via the Internet. We digitise at State Library primarily to provide access and to protect and preserve heritage materials for the long-term. After capturing or scanning the original, the end product is referred to as turned digital.

Born digital is material that originates in digital form and requires a digital device to be utilised. Both turned and born digital should be captured using international best practices provided by State Library to ensure long-term access and preservation. We encourage all Queensland communities to consider digitisation of  heritage collections as a way to represent, share, inform and connect Queensland memory now and into the future.

Why digitise Queensland’s memory collections?

  • Queensland memory is owned by all Queenslanders and is made up of cultural heritage materials found throughout the State in many different communities and organisations.
  • Each community can build Queensland memory by creating, sharing and preserving collection contents through digitisation of analogue materials.
  • Digitised materials also enable access in many online places, websites and archives
  • Allows access to a digital copy while putting away fragile materials.

Getting started

There is preliminary work to do before you start digitising.  You will want to put some thought behind asking yourself and your organisation the following questions:

  • What do you have in your collection that is significant Queensland Heritage content?
  • What is your key message about your heritage collection and how does it align with your community’s strategic plans?
  • Why do you want to digitise?  Does digitising support your strategic plan?
  • What do you want to digitise?
  • Where does your collection sit in your community?
  • What do you need to start?

Here are some tips

  • Create a digitisation plan and process that is based on your unique heritage collection
  • Ensure that your plan is based on your key messages and strategic plan
  • Be realistic about what you can digitise and make accessible each year
  • Do you have the right equipment and know about digitisation standards?
  • Avoid project-based digitisation, instead opt for a holistic plan about where you want to go in the future and what your key messages are for your organisation and your community
  • Ask yourself how you will make your digitised content available - which platforms will you use?
  • Ensure that you utilise digital preservation standards to ensure files are available long-term – look at the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) standard
  • Include everyone in your organisation in your digitisation planning
  • Evaluate and review your plan and processes each year and adjust as needed
  • What does digitisation success look like for your organisation?

Next steps:

  • Outline your organisation’s digitisation plan for the next year.
  • Do you have a major event happening that you need to be prepared for?
  • What do you need to do before digitisation? Purchase equipment, update skills?
  • Look for community grants for digitisation funding
  • Do you have a budget? And do you have funds ready?

Additional resources:

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