Despatches from Down Under- the British Parliamentary Papers from and to New Zealand

This is the first in a series of posts from Make it Digital Award winners - University of Waikato Library .  We've invited both award winners to share their real life experience of getting their digitisation projects off the ground.

We were delighted to hear the news that we had won one of the “Make it Digital” awards. As our colleague Emma Pooley described it -we had made it as NZ Digitisation Idols!

Once we knew we had the funding though it was time to form the project implementation team and get our planning and work underway. John Robson, the Map Librarian, began preparing the documents ready for scanning while Vye Perrone (Project Co-ordinator) and Abdi Ali (Library Computer Systems Consultant) worked on the administration and technical aspects of the project. Kathryn Parsons, the New Zealand Collection Librarian is principal advisor to the project with her past experience in digitisation and her New Zealand history expertise. Fiona Rigby and Lewis Brown from National Library have offered much valuable information and support.

Our task is to digitise the British Parliamentary Papers Relating to New Zealand, covering the period from 1835 to 1882. This set of documents contains a huge amount of valuable information on a large range of subjects covering a crucial period in New Zealand’s history. It is material that only a few libraries in New Zealand hold so digitisation will make it available to a far wider audience and much easier to use.

The process:

The material to be scanned has all been removed from its old original bindings. Each document has been separated into single sheets ready for sending to the company chosen to scan it.

For each document a contents list of all the despatches, letters, etc therein has been compiled noting the sender, recipient, date, pagination of each item as well as any enclosures and maps associated with it. The project has been structured so that in the future, work can continue to cover the documents not forming part of the Library’s original set.

In the meantime too, the full specifications for the project have been developed and test pages scanned using a range of resolutions. This has been a bit of a learning curve as we dived deeply into unfamiliar technical terminology and detail. We wanted to be sure that we had a solid understanding of what would need to be done to ensure long term preservation while maximising access for current researchers. With this complete, and our understanding advanced, we are now selecting a company to do the scanning and OCRing of the Papers. As soon as that selection is made, the original sheets will be packaged and dispatched.


Kathryn Parsons
University of Waikato Library