International Congress on Archives
the lack of personal notification that requests have been processed.
Initially, we promised our researchers a 30-day turnaround time. However, the high volume of requests has
meant delays of over 80 days at times. We now simply tell researchers at what date requests currently being
digitised were received. Currently turnaround is about 4 to 6 weeks.
Investigations have shown that it is possible to install an automated system to notify customers by email
when their request is loaded onto RecordSearch. We plan to implement this change in the future.
At some stage, the Archives would like to be able to make digital copies of moving film and sound records
available over the website. This poses a considerable challenge for the Archives as we hold reasonable
quantities of records in this format. We have loaded only a small amount of this material so far.
This item is a film of a visit by our Deputy Prime Minister Frank Forde to the
United Nations Conference in 1945
And this is a still from the film.
In addition to digitising records in response to requests by the public, the Archives selects particular records
for digitisation. Criteria for inclusion in our proactive digitisation program include:
records of particular significance to the history of democracy in Australia, such as records of the
Federal Cabinet and of Australia's Prime Ministers;
records of high public interest (as demonstrated by public and official inquiries as well as
digitisation on demand requests), such as early naturalisation files;
records that because of their high public use may deteriorate if they continue to be issued to
reading rooms and repeatedly photocopied, such as the service dossiers for each Australian man
and woman who served in World War I (over 350,000 files are currently being digitised and
progressively loaded to RecordSearch); and
records that are difficult to give access to in their original format but can be made available
digitally, such as photographic negatives.
Digitisation has enabled us to work collaboratively and build alliances with other cultural institutions. An
example of this is the Prime Minister's website. The National Archives of Australia has created this website
to enable users to explore significant and original documents online. It makes original records accessible
through a portal to many archives and libraries large and small in Australia and overseas, not just to our
The Archives is a member of PictureAustralia (www.pictureaustralia.org), which allows users to search
many significant online pictorial collections from one site. PictureAustralia harvests thumbnails and related
metadata from our photographic database PhotoSearch and makes them available through a
PictureAustralia search. Visit statistics for our website show that significant numbers of people visiting our
site come from PictureAustralia.
Over the past ten years the Internet has become a central part of the way we communicate and conduct
business. Our current digitisation on demand service and our proactive digitisation program is only the
beginning. While we have achieved greater use of our collection through this service, there is much more to