Digitising accumulated physical records

Digitising accumulated physical records (links below) provides advice on a range of issues that should be considered when planning digitisation projects and explores records management and records handling issues that arise for both the source records and the digitised records.

These include:

  • exploring the reasons for digitising accumulated paper records
  • identifying factors that need to be considered for different digitisation rationales
  • assisting agencies approach the justification and planning of digitisation projects
  • ensuring the correct technical standards are used for digitisation projects
  • making sure correct decisions are made about the source records after digitisation has occurred


Why digitise?

There are a variety of reasons for digitising existing sets of records and each agency will determine its own business requirements for digitising records. Some of the common drivers are:
  • saving space
  • improving access to information
  • protecting records
  • integration with current business information systems

Planning to digitise

The key to being able to make appropriate and cost effective decisions in digitisation projects is having a detailed and thorough understanding of the source records themselves. Early planning needs to consider:
  • why are the records created?
  • how does the business process which created them differ from the current use?
  • why are they still needed in the current business process?
  • will digitising the records add value to a current business process?

Records management decisions

Agencies need to make informed records management decisions about the source records and their digitised derivatives. Issues to consider include:

  • can the source records be legally destroyed?
  • what technical standards are appropriate for the records?
  • how will the digitised records be stored?
  • how much metadata needs to be captured?

Records handling advice

Document preparation is a major component of every digitisation project. An assessment of the condition of the source records will be needed to determine whether the source records can withstand the physical handling involved in the digitisation process.

During the digitisation process, versions of the digitised record are created for processing purposes. Decisions need to be made how these various versions will be handled.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019