Aimee Said

Aimee Said

Last updated on 31 March 2021

This post is by Matthew Burgess and Joanna Fleming; Digital Preservation Network co-leads for NSLA, and Aimee Said; NSLA Program Coordinator

National and State Libraries Australia (NSLA) is the peak body for Australia's nine national, state and territory libraries. Through collaboration, we deliver better collections, solutions and customer experiences than each library can do individually.

We also share our knowledge and expertise to increase the professional capability of our staff and to build a workforce for the future. NSLA staff networks form a key pillar of this strand of work. Networks are designed for professional development; information sharing; sharing of practical skills, methodologies and tools; and peer support.

The Digital Preservation Network is comprised of practitioners from all NSLA libraries. The network meets online quarterly to share updates and discuss issues of shared interest or concern. Digital preservation is at varying stages of maturity in NSLA libraries, with some having established preservation systems, policies and workflows and others still in the early stages.

While NSLA network members are also involved in DPC and Australasia Preserves, there are some issues-in-common that particularly benefit from sharing among those working within collecting institutions with similar remits and concerns. Our focus areas in 2021 are:

  • Preservation planning and policy
  • Workflows and technology for preserving materials held on obsolete physical digital carriers
  • Preserving complex born-digital collections
  • Audiovisual metadata and ingest.

The state libraries of Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales and the National Library are also actively involved in planning with universities and cultural organisations across Australia for future emulation infrastructure, in a project led by Swinburne University.

The following updates, from a selection of NSLA libraries, give a taste of the range of digital preservation activities in process:

State Library of New South Wales

With over 13 million files and counting in their digital preservation system, the State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW) continues with business-as-usual ingestion of image-based digitised and born-digital collections while also developing new ingestion workflows and systems integration for other digital materials. This includes documenting and establishing workflows for published born-digital material that fall outside of National eDeposit service (NED) and working with more complex collections such as emails and those stored on physical carriers.

Addressing issues that readers have faced with the current catalogue and digital collections interface, SLNSW’s Collection Experience Program has been developing a new catalogue to introduce exciting new functionality that allows for greater exploration, discoverability and interaction with the Library’s diverse collections. SLNSW’s vision is to enable readers to search and browse the collections more easily, intuitively, and enjoyably. You can try the improved search experience or browse treasures from their digital collections at

The National Library of Australia

The National Library of Australia (NLA) has been busily working on the second iteration of its Digital Preservation Strategic Plan for 2020-2023. The plan has been devised by the Digital Preservation Working Group, a part of NLA’s new digital-preservation governance structure which brings together representatives of three main stakeholders: The Collaboration, Collection and Digital branches.

The main focus of the new plan is digital material which is currently unmanaged. Most of NLA’s digital collections (including digitised picture and audio-based collection material, National eDeposit and web archives) are either fully managed (i.e., in the digital preservation system/repository) or semi-managed (i.e., bit-level preservation). However, a small but significant part of digital material on physical carriers such as floppies or CDs from the NLA’s published and unpublished collections is yet to be processed into the preservation system.

Among other priorities are improving existing, or adding new, reporting and auditing capabilities, as well as streamlining and continuous improvement of digital collecting and preservation workflows. The NLA is also preparing for a major upgrade of its digital preservation system, Preservica, and piloting use of emulation for delivery of digital-collection material in its reading rooms.    

The State Library of South Australia

The State Library of South Australia (SLSA) has spent the last 10 months in Preservica’s test environment:

  • exploring metadata exchange and synchronisation between Sierra (our library management system) and Preservica
  • establishing a subset of Dublin Core as the minimum metadata schema for ingest to Preservica
  • undertaking associated data remediation in Sierra
  • deciding how to manage security settings for digital objects
  • completing workflows for the ingest of oral history broadcast wav files and the automated generation of mp3 access files.

After hiccups in the generation of mp3s, they utilised DROID to reveal an unexpected number of variations of the .wav file format. Preservica is updating its format registry for those variations that were not previously represented, and SLSA has amended workflows to include them all.

SLSA has also built their very own ingest tool, Jester, to optimise process automation. Jester’s functionality includes:

  • multiple folder selection for ingest
  • auto creation of manifests and fixity checksums
  • creation of metadata files from the library management system using the Sierra API
  • creation of different ingest package types including zip and Preservica’s PUT and OPEX
  • secure file transfer to Preservica
  • live process monitoring of the ingest process using the Preservica API.

They are now at the outset of ingesting 15,178 oral history files into the production server. During the remainder of 2021 they will be undertaking the same processes for film and video files.

The State Library Victoria

The State Library Victoria (SLV) has been concentrating their digital preservation resources on the migration of content from Digitool to Rosetta, and this exciting milestone has been achieved! It was a long-term project (longer than they thought). Their next steps toward decommissioning Digitool are improving the user experience with existing content viewers, and creating custom viewers for transcriptions and audio and visual content.

Some exciting work has been completed around automating workflows, or sections of workflows. This is being done in an iterative manner, starting small and working up. For example, daily processing of basic turned-digital objects has been automated. Secure storage of born digital collection items has been automated and SLV is currently developing steps to enable these items to be appraised and described ready for depositing. Automation of depositing these items into Rosetta has also been completed.

Looking ahead, next major projects will be developing automated workflows around more complex deposits and looking at long-term preservation of collection items stored on obsolete carriers.

The State Library of Queensland

The State Library of Queensland (SLQ) has been working with audiovisual material and investigating how to manage modified masters and derivatives created for presentation. This includes capturing provenance information on modifications, such as removing content based on requests from collections staff, as well as working with large file sizes. In addition, SLQ is creating modified masters using the FFV1 codec in a Matroska (MKV) container.

The State Library of Western Australia

The State Library of Western Australia (SLWA) has recently acquired a Kryoflux for working with digital material on obsolete carriers. As SLWA continues to collect, digitise and transform, they are looking to the future with the aim of securing funding for a digital preservation system.

Library & Archives NT

Library & Archives NT released a new discovery system last year and is focusing on metadata, including rights and access information, Government website harvesting and automating processes.

Libraries Tasmania

Libraries Tasmania is also focusing on digitisation of audiovisual material, having set up a technical workbench to process and appraise material, and defining digitisation standards for preservation.

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