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Getting started

Decide on your approach

Hold a meeting with your volunteers, committee members, board or staff to discuss collection digitisation and digital access and what these things mean. It is very important that all of those involved understand what the process means and are ‘on board’ with the project. There is little point undertaking a collection digitisation project within a community group if you are the only one who believes in the project and you are trying to do all the work by yourself.

Your organisation may decide to just ‘dip your toe in the water’ when it comes to collection digitisation.  This could involve only digitising and sharing a handful of key significant items from the collection, to see how it goes.

Do your research

There is no one-size-fits-all with collections digitisation and sharing, so look around at what others are doing and see where you can get help to set you on your path.

  • Look at what other GLAM organisations are doing, not just the organisations like yours. Useful information can also come from organisations outside your state.
  • Do web searches on topics you are dealing with, such as ‘How to photograph a painting’ or ‘How to photograph an object’. There are also many video clips on these types of topics that can help you.
  • If a collection management system is required, ask around to see who is using which systems, and what they like and don’t like about the system they are using. If there is an organisation close by, pay a visit to see how their system is working and if it would work for you. Be sure to get advice on a range of options, rather than going with the first thing you see. Some collections management systems allow the option of sharing collection straight to the internet and, even though it is not mandatory, it is worth exploring this option.
  • Contact your state or national GLAM support agency for advice and support (see Useful contacts).

See what others are doing

Take a look around your area for those who may have already undertaken a digitisation project and provided digital access to their collection. Or look for similar organisations to yours that have done it. Consider:

  • What advice, tips or pointers can they give to get you started on collection digitisation and sharing?
  • Are there websites with good advice they can direct you to?
  • Is there someone at your local council you can ask for advice or assistance with digitisation?
  • Is there someone local with equipment such as scanners and cameras that you can borrow whilst you get started with digitisation?
  • Is there someone at a local gallery, library, archive (such as a university archive) or museum that you can contact to seek advice and direction on collection digitisation?
  • It may be worthwhile to look beyond your own sector and see who outside could help. Is there a local education facility that has students that could help? These could be computer or photography students who need to develop a project.
  • Consider applying for grant project funding to undertake collections digitisation projects with other local organisations. Discuss how you can work together, to digitise your collections. Also consider getting your local council involved in the project. 
  • Collaborating with other organisations can bring great benefits as you pool your resources, funds and expertise leading to a shared result. Below are links to virtual museum websites where the creators have worked together as a collaboration to develop virtual museums using their digitised collections. For example:
    • Our Rivers Our History was created with a group of museums in collaboration with their local arts officer and local tourism staff on the mid-north coast of NSW
    • Wollongong Heritage and Stories was created using objects from 12 GLAM organisations on the south coast of NSW
    • Carnamah Museum in Western Australia has been working with its digitised collection to share stories online.

Once you have gathered all of the information you need, you will be ready to make a digital access plan.