Tuesday 9 May 2017

The state of the National Film & Sound Archive - Meg Labrum divulges digitisation matters to a Senate Estimates Committee

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.

Senator GALLAGHER: Do you have resources to do the digitisation work?

Ms 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 Deadline 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.

Senator GALLAGHER: Have you costed what that might look like?

Ms 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.

Senator GALLAGHER: In terms of the work you are doing now, you are just managing that within your existing funding?

Ms 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.

Senator 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?

Senator Fifield: No, that $16.4 million was for the National Library.

Ms Labrum: We did look on enviously.

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