National Library wins awards for digital transformation project management

By The Mandarin

September 7, 2017

The National Library of Australia’s is handling digital transformation well, it appears, with its efforts receiving a tick of approval from the Canberra chapter of the Australian Institute for Project Management.

The Digital Library Infrastructure Replacement Program was recognised last week as Project of the Year in the ACT round of the AIPM’s Project Management Achievement Awards after taking out the award for ICT or telecommunications projects, putting it in the running for a national award in October.

Statements from the NLA explain the $15 million job has been its “most important digital technology project in recent history” and “the IT division’s highest priority”.

Director-general Marie-Louise Ayres said the DLIR’s successful completion had “transformed the Library’s future operating capability by providing systems capable of managing and delivering ever-increasing digital collections at scale” thanks to co-operative input across the whole organisation and strong guidance from the Library Council.

“The program was the Library’s highest strategic priority over the past five years,” Ayers said.

“Firm scope control and a clear focus on the benefits the Australian public gain from online access to the national collection saw the program delivered on time and on budget, despite a tight budgetary environment.

“DLIR ensures more efficient digital workflows and the more efficient flow of information. The program’s success future-proofs our digital collecting capabilities.”

The ultimate aim is to “collect, manage, preserve and deliver [the NLA’s] rich collection of books, photographs, manuscripts, oral histories, maps, newspapers and more from its collection of more than 10 million items using world-leading digital systems” according to a statement.

“At the completion of the program, users will be able to discover billions of items through the Library’s online services,” visitors to the NLA website are informed. This refers to the longer process of digitising the massive historical collection, rather than the IT project that put the necessary infrastructure in place.

“Material available will include books, journals, gazettes, pictures, manuscripts, maps, sheet music, ephemera, and also born-digital content such as e-publications, electronic archives and websites.”

Just over a quarter of a million items had been digitised as of June this year, resulting in over 1.8 million individual digital images because it often takes several to capture a single collection item like a large map or a piece of sheet music.

In terms of the types of items, the NLA’s last digitisation update showed 185,359 pictorial items had been digitised — more than all of the books and serials, maps, manuscripts and printed music combined.

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