NAA finalising new digitisation panel

With the government opening up the purse strings to provide additional funding for preservation of at-risk records at the National Archives of Australia (NAA), contenders for the work will be sweating on their inclusion on a new national panel of digitisation service providers.

Applications closed this month for inclusion on a new panel of Outsourcing Digitisation Service Providers for Photographic Materials, Aerial Film and Microforms. The panel will be used by the NAA for its four-year program and is also open to other Commonwealth Government Agencies.

It will commence on 1st December 2021 and run for five years. Similar panels for digitisation of archival records consisting of paper and printed materials and audiovisual records have already been announced.

The at-risk records at the NAA include over 200,000 items held on nitrate photographic material.

Nitrate film was the first successful plastic film base, and was used widely from its introduction in 1889 until the early 1950s for motion picture and still film negatives. It has widely varying stability and is highly flammable.

The estimated of volume of photographic materials, aerial film and microforms held by the National Archives are:

• Photographic materials – 4.9 million items including b&w and colour negatives, prints and glass plates

• Aerial film – Over 50,000 items including film rolls, negative, prints and glass plates

• Microforms - Over 50,000 items including microfilm, microfiche and aperture cards

One of the interested tenderers for the Photographic Materials, Aerial Film and Microforms asked if it was possible to send all the NAA material outside of Australia to process the work and do offshore work.

The NAA responded that this would require a written permit or certificate from the Minister under the Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986.