Editor's Note: At an appearance before the Senate Estimates Committee for Environment and Communications on 24 March, Acting NFSA CEO Meg Labrum was asked a number of questions. One matter covered was the digitisation of the NFSA's collection.
Ms Labrum:We have also been looking at the bigger
questions about: if we can marry up our ambitions to digitise more than a
century of the collection, which has been collected and preserved but which is
analog, and become an active deliverer in the way that people now expect to
receive material at the touch of a fingertip on a tablet or a laptop, we start
to buy into a whole new age of the NFSA.
GALLAGHER: Do you have resources to do
the digitisation work?
Labrum: That is an excellent question,
and we have some committed resources to work on digitisation and it is a
fundamental part of our program but we do not have enough. With reports such as
2025 last year, we have identified that
there is a massive amount of magnetic tape material relating, especially to
broadcast, not just with us but with other collecting bodies, which by about
2025 is going to be very difficult to be able to copy digitally. We are working
with other national institutions to, hopefully, persuade government that it
would be great to invest in a mass digitisation push, which would be both
cost-efficient and effective. All of that said, we are steadily working on
digitisation within the archive of priority material, to our capacity.
GALLAGHER: Have you costed what that
might look like?
Labrum: Yes. We have costed it and we are
looking at a proposal that is almost $30 million to deal with the priority
materials relating to six national collections, including ourselves.
GALLAGHER: In terms of the work you are
doing now, you are just managing that within your existing funding?
Labrum: We are doing two things. We are
managing it within our capacity, but we are also working very hard now on
increasing our capacity by improving efficiencies in terms of our work
processes, and that is something that is an ongoing challenge for everybody.
GALLAGHER: Minister, this might be a
question to you: the National Library just said that they got some money as
part of the government's modernisation program in the MYEFO. That is a
component of a broader package, but the NFSA was not part of that, or it would
be part of stage 2?
Fifield: No, that $16.4 million was for
the National Library.
Labrum: We did look on enviously.