Output from the 2002 Inaugural NDF Conference

We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who come before us, and in that vein, we present here a copy of the output from the very first NDF conference that was held in May 2002. In reflecting on the challenges that were present in the early years of the new millennium, we also note that we continue to face many of the same issues and opportunities today. We should be proud of the progress made, but also reflect on the challenges that remain.

The National Digital Forum

The National Digital Forum was held on 15-16 May 2002 at the National Library of New Zealand. The Forum was convened as the result of continuing discussions between the National Library and other heritage organisations interested in the opportunities presented by digitisation.
Through developing its own digitisation projects, the National Library had started working through some issues itself. In doing so, it had become aware of other organisations undertaking or contemplating digitisation activities and saw advantages in working together and co-ordinating activities.
At a meeting at the National Library of New Zealand in February 2002, interested parties – representatives from a wide range of organisations and institutions, including libraries, art galleries, museums, archives and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage – decided a National Forum was the best way in which to progress a number of issues relating to digitisation, including:

  • Legal  – copyright, privacy, intellectual property
  • Funding Technical – especially developing common standards for interoperability
  • Maori/Treaty concerns Audiences and users – identifying and assessing demand Strategic policies – selection of materials, preservation, curatorial ethics.
  • It was felt a national, collaborative approach would: help avoid duplication of effort provide access to expertise, especially for smaller organisations facilitate problem solving provide a strong national platform from which to negotiate funding.

Desired outcomes

A forum was seen as a chance to establish if there was a mandate for collective national action on digitisation. It was hoped a forum would lead to the establishment of:
ongoing arrangements for leadership and collaboration standards and guidelines to apply to future digitisation projects a process for ongoing communications to educate about digitisation.

The Forum

There was a positive response to the Forum, with over 150 participants from a wide spread of organisations, including the cultural heritage sector, multi-media companies and strong representation from museums, university and specialist libraries and archives

Digitisation opportunities, challenges, collaboration and endorsement


  • Access – ability to provide better access to collections and institutions, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and for those who traditionally may not have been able to access the material …those in remote locations, indigenous people, those with disabilities; also improving access to unique collections
  • Resource sharing to make better use of scarce resources; breaking down silos between organisations
  • Promoting a New Zealand identity – tourism, cultural heritage
  • Preservation – of collections, fragile materials
  • Education – providing and assisting different forms of educational experience, e.g. distance learning, research
  • Funding – making best use of scarce funding and creating new opportunities for funding
  • Career and skills development
  • Promoting excellence
  • Commercial opportunities – new opportunities for wealth creation and deriving economic returns, marketing to new markets
  • Community participation – involving communities in the creation of collections; reciprocity
  • Profile-raising for individual organisations
  • Reviewing or rethinking current practices in terms of using resources, storing artefacts, managing collections policies and practices


  • Skills & training: Are our organisations/people able to take advantage of opportunities? Do they have the right skills and training?
  • Standards: How do we decide on standards? Are international standards suitable?
  • Ownership & property rights/ moral rights: How do we honour and present information correctly? How do we resolve issues of indigenous rights?
  • Sustainability/ funding: Can we maintain what we start up? Who pays? How do we care for and maintain digitised collections?
  • Why digitise? How can we work out what to digitise? It’s important to know why – we need to understand relevant information. Digitisation is a means not an end.
  • Raising expectations. If we start to provide access digitally does it raise expectations in terms of access to everything?  Good faith actions vs potential disappointment.
  • Digital divide: How do we ensure users are involved in the process and ensure access to digital collections?
  • Leadership/ responsibility: Who leads? Who drives? Which institutions? Should there be a national infrastructure?
  • Technology: How do we go about digitising? Where do we go for advice?


  • Do we support some form of collaboration?
  • What do we collaborate on and who with? There are different drivers and benefits for different institutions.
  • Will we lose our individual identity or will it be enhanced?
  • Should we create something new and monolithic or take a ‘virtual’ collaborative approach?


  • A collaborative approach was unanimously endorsed, with the following criteria:
  • Have a clear purpose, outcomes and benefits
  • What is the purpose?  Do we have clear outcomes & priorities?  Are the benefits clear and articulated?
  • Get a mandate from government, institutions – Groups represented at the Forum, and those inside and outside the sectors represented
  • Promote a project mix – Look for quick wins and small projects.
  • Use Service Level Agreements as a collaboration mechanism, based on the model used by PictureAustralia. 
  • Recognise Māori relationships as key and a core part of any move forward.
  • Work on rights management issues, including property rights and moral rights.
  • Focus on strategy – Any collaborative approach needs to be mindful of bigger picture and fit into an overall strategy.
  • Remember preservation – Important to get a balance between access and preservation.
  • Work on leadership – Identify what is needed and how to implement, both for individual projects and across the board.
  • Ensure transparency – Any collaborative approach must be transparent to all interested parties. Any group formed should be representative across the sector.
  • Link to e-government – Learn from work already under way in the e-government arena.

Three Recurring issues

First steps

Participants agreed that it was important to get the first steps right – making a successful start to the collaborative process. Discussion about how to go about this initially centred on the concept of a pilot collaborative project to take the form of Pictures New Zealand (along the lines of PictureAustralia) or Multi-media New Zealand. This would be designed to provide learning and development in training, standards and other aspects of digitisation.
Discussion on the purpose of such a project and what would best fulfill the needs of the collective group was inconclusive, with some participants keen to get a pilot collaborative project identified and under way, while others felt this was too rushed. After much discussion it was agreed by a majority vote that the steering group identify in its early stages one or more new collaborative projects and a process for ensuring maximum learning across the sector through them – in particular in the areas of opportunities and challenges raised at the forum. These include standards, skills development, funding, user access and engagement, relationships with Maori, rights management and preservation.

Group discussions highlighted the importance of maintaining integrity – of data, of collections, and of the heritage – when moving into the digital world. Dr Paul Miller  (UKOLN) said memory institutions – museums & galleries, libraries, archives – held cultural memory in trust, and had a role in actively interpreting memory.
For this to happen successfully, users must be able to trust the information presented and information providers must present the information in a way that makes this possible.
Common standards

Establishing and maintaining common standards is an important part of this process. ‘Interoperability’ was the buzzword of the Forum.


At the end of the Forum, participants agreed on a number of recommendations as a way forward.
1. Form a representative industry steering / working group to work on:

  • a) A digitisation strategy for the sector – consult and identify a strategy for moving forward
  • b) An implementation plan – how to implement the strategy.
  • c) Standards – reach agreement on a standards regime and processes for setting standards to achieve immediate and long-term outcomes
  • d) Training – increase skills within the industry and take a collaborative approach to maximise resources
  • e) Funding – explore opportunities for funding on collaborative projects. 
  • f)   Mechanisms to involve the regions – possibly regional groups or consultation groups.
  • g) A mandate from Government – include lobbying government (and other stakeholders).

2. Establish a Digitisation Register, including completed projects, projects under way, planned projects, what people are doing related to digitisation, skills, who within the community are the enablers, catalysts in this arena. 

  • a) Contribute to, use and build on the National Library Register immediately.  Steve Knight to facilitate this process with forum attendees and others in the industry.
  • b) Steering group to look at the longer term needs in terms of the register and a broader forum for information sharing and exchange.

3. Accept the National Library’s offer of leadership and facilitation.

The National Library will continue to provide leadership, in a facilitation role, ensuring consultation with other institutions (in a similar model to that used to initiate and design the Forum). It will facilitate the establishment of the steering group and develop and distribute communications from the Forum.
4. Actively support the Online Encyclopedia of New Zealand and tap into this as a learning opportunity for the rest of the sector.
5. Ask the steering group to identify in its early stages one or more new collaboration projects and a process for ensuring maximum learning across the sector through them – in particular in the areas of opportunities and challenges raised at the forum.

Presentations – précis

Opening address

The Prime Minister, Right Honourable Helen Clark

This forum is designed to lift awareness of the opportunities of digital technologies, and to ensure that we move down that path in a co-ordinated and collaborative way, to get the best outcomes and use of resources. Digitisation gives rise to issues in a wide range of areas – access, equity, ownership, copyright, and security, to name just a few. Decisions made now, or decisions that we fail to make now, will affect not just today’s citizens, but generations to come.
This is probably one of those rare strategic moments, the point at which technology is finally sufficient to allow museums and libraries to begin the digitising process. If we don’t seize the moment, a unique opportunity to maximise the benefits of digitisation in the cultural sector will be lost…The motive for this forum has been this recognition that the effectiveness of digital storage and presentation of cultural material depends very much on how the process is managed at the outset…Digitisation presents an opportunity which hasn’t been available before for sharing resources: for working together to create a whole bigger than the sum of its parts.

A framework for access to the nation’s heritage

Dr Paul Miller, UKOLN

Dr Miller discussed the role of cultural institutions in preserving and exploiting the nation’s cultural heritage, and the advantages presented by placing the heritage on-line in a digitised form. UK experiences – particularly the Joint Information Systems Committee and the Distributed National Electronic Resource – have shown the need for an overarching architecture into which various technologies can be placed. Other projects such as Culture OnLine show what can be achieved in providing opportunities for lifelong learning, while government sites – local and central – provide services to citizens and public access to information technology. These are made possible by standards mandated under the e-Government Interoperability Framework, the technical standards and policies at the heart of e-Government. Conformance with these is mandatory across the public sector.
Work continues internationally in forums such as Level 7 and the Cultural Content Forum to progress issues such as interoperability, common standards and finding out what users actually want.
Dr Miller advocates a consensus-based, evolutionary approach to developing standards, content and thinking of new delivery channels, using Collection Level Description, with complete, accurate metadata as a way forward. It gives pointers into collections, and is achievable and easier to harmonise across domains.

  • www.ukoln.ac.uk/nof/support/      
  • www.cultureonline.gov.uk/
  • www.gateway.gov.uk/
  • www.govtalk.gov.uk/               
  • www.dner.ac.uk/architecture/     
  • www.ukoln.ac.uk/cd-focus/
  • www.ukonline.gov.uk/
  • www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue29/miller/

Survey of Digitisation in New Zealand

Dr Daniel G Dorner, Victoria University of Wellington

Dan presented the findings of a recent survey of digitisation activities in New Zealand that was conducted by researchers at Victoria University of Wellington. A total of 131 organisations responded to a questionnaire about current and planned digitisation.
The results showed that 48.5% of organisations were already digitising, with a further 17.6% planning to digitise within the next two years. Photographs were the most common material being digitised, followed by maps, plans and public records. Most organisations were digitising to increase access to their resources. Other common motivating factors were user needs, preservation, and making the resources easier to use. More than half of the organisations currently involved in digitisation have collaborated with one or more partners to digitise resources.
Dan raised the issue of lack of standards in relation to metadata. 85% of the organisations using metadata apply no standards or in-house standards when describing resources. This could have implications for interoperability: lack of common standards means that organisations might have difficulty working together and sharing resources.
Most organisations identified networking and access to information and training as the activities that would assist them to further develop their digitisation projects. The survey identified a need at the national level for a register of organisations undertaking digitisation, a central source of digitisation information, and the provision of training. Regular conferences and a national digitisation policy or strategy would also be helpful.

The Digital Evolution

Steve Knight, National Library of New Zealand

Steve spoke about a range of digital initiatives undertaken by the National Library relatively recently. Each was selected to illustrate particular challenges and an increasingly complex metadata environment.  The databases discussed were:

  • Timeframes – the beginning, with single images often disconnected from core descriptors;
  • Ranfurly – melding online delivery with standard bibliographic structures (e.g. MARC);
  • Kilbirnie Oral History – creating fit between digital objects and their descriptors and presenting sound objects;
  • Papers Past – a large scale project of linear objects; and
  • Discover: Te Kohinga Taonga – a targeted and specialist multi-media resource involving the breadth versus depth debate.

Next steps for the Library will involve full-text search and retrieval with a single metadata structure.
Steve also covered some areas of international co-operation the Library has been involved with such as PictureAustralia and the RLG Cultural Materials Initiative.


Danielle Freeman, National Library of Australia

PictureAustralia is a collaboration between cultural agencies to bring their digital pictorial collections together at one website, hosted by the National Library of Australia (NLA). It includes the collections of libraries, museums, archives, galleries, universities, historical societies and other cultural agencies, giving users a single web access point to many collections and access to a wide range of images.
Benefits for participating agencies include:- increased visibility and use of collections, a diversity of users, a collaborative approach and possible sources of revenue.
A central metadata repository ensures consistency in searching and locating images.
Participating agencies place descriptive metadata for their digital images, in the simple unqualified Dublin Core format in a directory that can be accessed by harvesting software. This information includes the URLs for locating the associated digital images.
Every two months this data is gathered into a central Oracle database hosted at the NLA and indexed for searching.
Thumbnail images are hosted on the participant sites and pulled into the results sets in real time.
Users click on thumbnail images and are directed to the relevant member website to view the originals. Users can access metadata, while ‘trails’ pull together highlights on particular subjects, as a way of accessing collections users might not even know to search for.
The project was originally developed as an initiative between the NLA and the NSW state library to test the application of international standards for image presentation, digitisation and metadata. Other collaborative developments have included Images Canada, with the National Library of Canada, and an association with the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network (SCRAN). PicureAustralia has also developed a number of resources for agencies wanting to participate. Its success has led to the basis for the next collaborative digital pilot, MusicAustralia, a collaboration between the NLA and ScreenSound.   

Weaving the new net: Māori and digitisation

Robert Sullivan, Te Tumu Herenga / The University of Auckland Library

When digitising cultural materials, the important questions are:
How do we send a message that strengthens the holistic context of each cultural item and collection?
How do we ensure that both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples receive the message?
How do we digitise material taking into account its metaphysical as well as its digital life?
The challenge in building a successful indigenous digital library model is to win the trust of the people the library aims to serve, through reciprocity and a distribution of flow-on economic benefits to the people providing the content. There are projects to improve the access of Māori to technology – more are needed.
Robert proposed the term Digital Marae as a way of placing any digital initiative in its appropriate cultural context. Marae are places of information and ideas in the Māori cultural context, encompassing the idea of community involvement.
Authenticating material already held by institutions of memory – before digitising it – must be carried out in liaison with the communities where the information originated. This would need to be totally collaborative, where the final say is given to the Māori group concerned. Principles for this have emerged from the Department for Courts digitisation project.
Authenticating contemporary material is less complex and involves forging relations with iwi and forming representative committees to work through any issues. A cornerstone of an Indigenous Digital Library is that the indigenous communities themselves control the rights management of their cultural intellectual property. Local cultural protocols need to be documented and followed before the creation of digital content, and communities must be consulted about the digitisation of content already gathered by institutions of social memory.
www.dlib.org  D-Lib Magazine, May 2002 issue for the article: Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights: A Digital Library Context.

Copyright in the digital environment

Andrew Matangi, Buddle Findlay

Copyright protects the expression of ideas and information in original “works”. The Copyright Act 1994 gives exclusive rights to the creators and owners of copyright works.
These exclusive rights:
Recognise the value of copyright works to the country, both economic and social; and
Incentivise copyright creators and owners to create other works and disseminate their works to the public at large.
Copyright law must also strike a balance between the rights of owners and the legitimate needs of the users of copyright works.
Digital technology increases the risk of loss to copyright owners. In general terms, copyright applies (or should apply) to works in digital form in the same way as it applies to works in “analogue” form. The manner in which digital works come into existence and the manner in which some digital technologies and applications operate raise issues, including the difficulty of establishing copyright ownership when the length of copyright is the life of the individual author or artist of the piece plus 50 years, even if the copyright is owned by the reporter’s employer. Without the copyright owner’s consent, digitising a work infringes the copyright in the work by copying.
The recent review of copyright by the Ministry of Economic Development and the National Library of New Zealand Bill both contain information pertaining to copyright of digital materials. The Bill expands the range of documents that publishers must send copies of to the Library, to include writing on any material or information stored by means of any device that is published or produced in New Zealand, but from a copyright point of view the Bill changes little.  The Copyright Act continues to apply to the Library as a user of copyright materials and continues to provide the limited exceptions to the Library as a “prescribed library” or archive to make copies of certain works available for very limited purposes, such as to replace a work in its collection. If the Bill is enacted, the National Library will still be required to be mindful of copyright considerations in its dealings with works in which copyright exists.

On-line Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Jock Phillips, Ministry for Culture and Heritage
The first part of the Encyclopedia should appear towards the end of 2003. It is designed to be the first port of call for reliable information about New Zealand. Entries will be multi-media, searchable, interactive, frequently updated and organised by theme. Information will be layered with a point of entry at a 10-year-old reading level, increasing in complexity. Māori translations will be provided for Māori entries.
Funding is in place for 10 years. The Encyclopedia will rely on contributions from other institutions particularly for digital resources.

Digital standards

Adrienne Kebbell, National Library of New Zealand

Standards can include best practice, de facto, common practice, and national or international standards.  Interoperability in the digital environment depends on standards, which facilitate cross-searching, exchange, collaboration, data manipulation, migration (between applications and metadata schemes), longevity, future-proofing, and platform independence.
The National Library has endorsed the Metadata Standards Framework that recommends:

  • eXtendable Markup Language [XML] as the preferred syntax, providing both content structure and preservation layers
  • Resource Discovery Framework [RDF] to facilitate the modular interoperability of multiple metadata element sets
  • Dublin Core [DC] as a set of core elements for co-operative projects
  • Encoded Archival Description [EAD] as an XML-based set of elements specifically for describing unpublished or archival collections.

Decisions must be based, as far as possible, on principles, international guidelines and practices, which may be a combination of domain-specific and local practices.

Working within an overarching framework such as the Resource Description Framework [RDF] or the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard  [METS] prevents us from generating pockets of isolated information, becoming platform / system dependent, incurring the costs of maintaining ‘breakaway’ metadata sets and remaining outside global initiatives.
www.dlib.org/dlib/april02/weibel/04weibel.html   Metadata principles and practicalities. D-Lib Magazine (April 2002)

Audiences and markets

Ross Somerville & Jamie Mackay, Ministry for Culture and Heritage
For the general audience, the real value of digitisation is when resources are interpreted within a context. We must consider who are we digitising for and how to capture and retain that audience for our digital resources. We can do this by adding value to digital resources.
The Online Dictionary of New Zealand Biography will interpret a collection of digital texts and images and other material to provide an approach for a general audience as well as a scholarly and educational one. It will also attempt to cater to a Māori-language audience through a bilingual interface. Consultation with key stakeholders gave us clear priorities for digitisation.
We can only know our audience by seeing general trends and making educated guesses, using website logfiles, emails, word of mouth, electronic newsletter list, and the link between popular pages and the school curriculum. Communication with the audience is a two-way process – we provide free information and they provide passive and active contributions to the site content.
Some co-operative digital projects have developed ways to interpret digital resources to audiences, and use co-operative approaches to developing tools and templates for users and colleague institutions. Managed environments help users find resources focused on their level of interest, their area of interest, and what will fulfil their particular needs.
The goal of digitising resources should be to make those objects available to a much larger audience than would normally have access to them. By using these digital objects in our history and biography websites we can ‘add value’ to them and help bring them (and the repositories that hold them) to the attention of hundreds of thousands of people in New Zealand and internationally.

Virtual museum artefacts

Janet & Nathan Rountree, University of Otago

Virtual reality is part of the tradition of illusion that creates a sense of 3D. It has the potential to be the ultimate display medium. Janet and Nathan Rountree have developed their own equipment, java scripting and processes to produce virtual artefacts for students studying classics at the University of Otago. They described the processes and equipment used, and discussed some of the pedagogical issues raised by using such resources.

The case for national collaboration and co-ordination: A panel discussion

David Seaman (University of Virginia), Jenny Harré Hindmarsh (Te Papa), David Copeland (Copeland Wilson Associates), Rachel Lord (Sound Archives), Frank Stark (Film Archives), Ross Himona (Mäori Internet Society), and Andrea Gray, (e-Government Unit, State Services Commission) participated in a panel discussion on national collaboration for digitisation.

Issues raised included:

  • The importance of collaboration in offering:
    • opportunities to develop fruitful relationships
    • a collaborative engagement with users
    • perspectives we would not otherwise have.
  • The role of digitisation in museums
  • The importance of developing and safeguarding intellectual property
  • The role of specialist archives and the problems facing them with regard to digitisation
  • The uses of digitised resources in education
  • The contribution e-government can make to digitisation in the cultural sector.

Options for next steps

Dianne Macaskill, Archives New Zealand; Margaret Calder, National Library of New Zealand.

A range of options for moving forward with collaboration was discussed, including:

  • Sharing information on digitisation
  • Developing channels for addressing common issues
  • Agreeing on standards
  • Developing a national digitisation strategy
  • Seeking joint funding
  • Feedback – group discussions

In breakout sessions, participants considered:

  • the opportunities offered by digitisation – both for their own institutions and for the country as a whole
  • any issues or challenges presented by digitisation.


  • To NZ resources by people overseas
  • To international resources by New Zealanders
  • To unique/hard-to-get to collections
  • To published and non-published information
  • To information in different forms for different audiences
  • For disadvantaged – those in remote areas, those with disabilities
  • For dispersed Māori communities to reconnect with their resources, heritage & regain sense of identity
  • Equity issues – equalising opportunities for access
  • Brings together resources from physically separate sites
    • Brings new exhibits together
    • Puts work/artefacts into new contexts
  • Extends the life of exhibitions (virtually)
  • Reduces fragmentation
  • Electronic media allows measurement of access
  • Tap into national/international body of know-how
  • Allows 24 hour, 7-day access to material and searching across boundaries – institutional, national and international
  • Benefit to funders/ratepayers of access to work
  • Democratic participation – providing access to the public record
  • To/for those people who are not text-literate
  • Stimulation of choice


  • Extending research possibilities
    • enables independent research
  • Gives institutions more time to focus on user education
  • Enables different learning behaviours.
  • Opportunities to deliver programmes nationally and internationally
  • Motivation for the digital generation
  • Improves interpretation of NZ resources


  • Increases access to external funding sources, including private funding opportunities
  • Makes best use of scarce funding
  • Potential source of wealth creation and long-term economic returns


Market New Zealand to the world – bonus for tourism
Promotion of our own cultural identity
Empowerment back to local areas where material was derived
National and personal growth


  • Of NZ resources
  • Of fragile material
  • Increasing relevance for future generations
  • Image qualities can be improved eg TIF vs microfilm
  • Ability to save history
  • Protecting knowledge
  • New medium for cultural/ language preservation

Own institution

  • Breaks down silos between institutions – institutional structures become irrelevant to users.
  • Enables shared problem solving, skill sharing
  • Opportunities to become centres of excellence/ improve performance
  • Allows institutions to respond to enquiries more easily
  • Reduces storage issues
  • Collaborative power gives leverage for funding
  • Gives a marketing edge for institutions
  • Improves links with e-government initiatives
  • Forces institutions to ensure all materials/resources are catalogued
  • Enables interaction with the community
  • Helps promote the institution’s work in the community
  • Stimulates increased identification of material
  • Employment has new relevance for cultural institutions
  • Encourage review of collections
  • Driver for broadband/digital TV access
  • Efficiency – saves money, prevents duplication of effort
  • Skills development for staff
  • Opportunities for partnerships with commercial organisations
  • Opportunities for innovation
  • Find out what people really want from their cultural/heritage institutions
  • New paradigms – opportunities for knowledge building
  • Improving management efficiency

Issues or challenges


  • Find a practical, successful project to make a start.
  • We need to collaborate but may end up competing more intensely for the same pool of funding.
  • Potential loss of identity for institutions
  • Standards could be a straitjacket
  • Digitisation is too expensive for institutions to do alone and the real value of digitised collections is in cross-searchability.
  • How to define collaboration – shared resources? Shared projects? Niche contributors? Shared technology? Shared storage? Shared knowledge?
  • Institutions are not always sympathetic to working collaboratively…still many competitive models; working with other institutions may increase costs short-term.
  • Sort out standards. Nirvana is seamless searching across different resources, only achieved with a high degree of collaboration and compliance with standards.
  • Can collaboration be one-sided, if one partner benefits more?
  • Get terms of reference right
  • Know when to quit.
  • Potential for duplication of effort
  • Establish governance models for collaboration
  • Clear guidelines and strategy
  • How to link regional with national initiatives
  • Smaller institutions may get forced down a shared path that doesn’t suit.
  • Disclosing priorities of collaborators…will their priorities for access, charges, conditions affect mine?
  • How to come up with a working model given the diversity in size, resources, objectives?
  • Overcoming silo mentality


  • Need a clear statement of aims – why are we doing this?
  • Digitisation is a means not an end.
  • How to prioritise? What gets digitised first and why?
  • Is it worth digitising non-born-digital material?
  • Should born-digital material be captured first?
  • How to write a business case to justify digitising at this level?
  • Why do things for the national good?
  • Local needs/issues vs interoperability
  • Who controls what?
  • Who will provide leadership?
  • Cost/benefit analysis?
  • Can’t always predict what users will do with the material.
  • Digitisation can be isolating. Need to manage a dual capacity of digital and original worlds so they feed off each other.


  • Future proofing – rapid development of technology and costs
  • Quality metadata to allow good searching
  • Where does technical expertise come from?
  • Range of delivery mechanisms – more Mäori households have digital TV than PCs
  • Avoiding data flood which requires system upgrades and more operators
  • Agreement on generic metadata standards
  • National standards
  • Who sets standards? How to decide?
  • Interoperability
  • Bandwidth
  • Access to technology by smaller organisations
  • Choosing a robust technology
  • Outsourcing technology suppliers
  • How many portals are really needed?

Resources / Funding

  • Ensure funding past the pilot/ project stage …maintaining collections
  • Loss of income from making material accessible
  • Get the right people (technical, content management, owners)
  • Increase charges to fund digitisation
  • Who will pay? Should funding come from users or wider pool?
  • Who will fund upskilling?
  • Which Minister will be responsible?
  • Have to put up a business case – hard to do with long-term public good
  • Commercial pressures
  • Link public funding to standards
  • Coping with increased demand
  • Care of collections post digitisation


  • Strategic capability
  • Availability of technology
  • Integration of digitisation into workflow
  • Impact on current staff – unrealistic expectations; comfort with technology
  • Branding quality, integrity, authority of our sites
  • Dealing with unrealistic expectations from user community
  • Identifying users…who is your audience?
  • Developing infrastructure
  • Migration of knowledge from former data collection into digital formats eg, copies of originals
  • Digitisation will create a strain on resources
  • How to honour information and present correctly eg, digital marae…giving communities ownership and ability to correct mistakes
  • Attitude problems – Why do we need libraries/museums?
  • Training
  • Need to maintain collections’ context
  • Redefining roles to mediate demand


  • Striking a balance between preservation and access
  • Equity – bridging the digital divide
  • Lack of human interaction … loss of skilled interpretation and context
  • How do you engage with end users/audience?
  • Loss of feedback loop with customers
  • Cherry picking vs comprehensive coverage
  • Profiling users too closely may exclude other user groups; profiling too broadly means stretched too thin.
  • How to pick up on New Zealand material overseas & reciprocate with ‘foreign’ material we hold
  • Could mean more demand for originals.
  • How to access significant private collections?


  • Indigenous intellectual property rights
  • Privacy issues and confidentiality
  • Transparency about copyright and intellectual property issues – clarity about sites that can be freely used; sites that use images illegally
  • Technology moving ahead of the law
  • Inappropriate use of information
  • Moral rights
  • Implications for repositories/ collecting
  • Increasing concerns about various sorts of rights as access widens beyond a few people

Feedback – final session

Participants in the final breakout sessions were asked to consider several issues in looking for a way forward from the Forum. They were asked to:

  • Focus on confirming collaboration, which had already been given strong support
  • Decide on the provisos and criteria to be placed around collaboration
  • Suggest a preferred strategy for moving forward
  • Discuss the terms of reference.

Possible long-term outcomes of collaboration

  • A rich digital resource about New Zealanders, for everyone
  • Acquisition and retention of high-level digital skills by cultural heritage institutions
  • Creation of an infrastructure to sustain digital heritage (bandwidth, standards, resources, skills)
  • Positioning libraries, archives, museums to contribute to a digital resource
  • An informed, enriched New Zealand society
  • Distributed collections
  • Telling stories about ourselves
  • Technical standards
  • Agreed policies
  • A national framework that can deliver any digital framework
  • Agreed protocols and processes for the relationship between creators and deliverers of content
  • A responsible body which would also take leadership and advocacy role in relation to standards
  • Prioritised outcomes

The case for collaboration – provisos and criteria

  • Agreed policies and minimum standards
  • Common user interface to multiple institutions (CultureNet)
  • Common technology and standards used
  • Recognised credible, representative leadership group
  • Project mix – big and small
  • Māori relationships
  • Provide value to participants
  • Autonomy/ Sense of ownership retained by individual institutions
  • Service Level Agreements
  • Regularly review processes and tenets
  • Transparency
  • Accountability
  • No duplication of digital objects (single site – multiple access)
  • Vision: Tell stories about ourselves – make it easy to find out about ourselves
  • Participating organisations will bring their networks/ communities of interest
  • Deal with rights – indigenous peoples, copyright, moral, IP
  • Willingness to commit funding
  • Prioritise – collaboration needs to be in context of organisations’ strategy
  • Who should be included? Self-selection
  • Separate budgets for maintenance and creation
  • Small agencies supported in kind by larger ones
  • Everyone needs to benefit
  • Quick successes are important
  • Initiative needs a mandate from government and institutions
  • Clarity about priorities and outcomes
  • Relationship with e-government initiatives
  • Remember preservation

Preferred strategies

  • Representative of national steering group of key players to define next steps
  • Have informed regional groups
  • Embed Dublin Core
  • Identify lead organisations/coordinators
  • Support On-line Encyclopedia of NZ
  • Small-scale Multimedia New Zealand as pilot to test/develop frameworks
  • Pilot along line of PictureAustralia to:
  • Develop standards, guidelines for strategy, intellectual property
  • Test market, why/who – educate
  • Draw in Mäori
  • Activities for steering group
  • Develop good communication process
  • Promote regional activities
  • Work with interest groups
  • Develop project to pilot collaboration process

Terms of Reference

  • National Library to lead
  • Further develop key approaches: standards, pilots, structures with subgroups for each portfolio
  • Advise the Minister and industry groups
  • Find out who can do what
  • Lobby
  • Promote regional level collaboration
  • Create mechanisms for collaboration using input from this forum
  • Support and populate a register of projects – stimulate use of National Library pilot Register
  • Clearing house for information – reduce double handling by information sharing
  • Training
  • Māori networks
  • Export groups
  • Identify lead agencies
  • Use existing infrastructure