Rebecca Cooke1, Beth Crawter1
Cultural heritage repositories around the world are growing as the importance of preserving and providing access to fragile and aged information assets is realized. USC has a longstanding presence on Fraser Island (K’Gari) and in 2016 decided to increase research activity on the Island. As part of this increased interest it was recognized that there needed to be a repository for existing and ongoing Fraser Island (K’Gari) research material. Prior to the establishment of the Fraser Island (K’Gari) Research Collection, USC had not explored the cultural heritage space so this project was a steep learning curve for the Library team involved. By using creative repository solutions, a low-cost and highly visible repository of this valuable data was developed, and is now being showcased to the world.
The aim of the Fraser Island (K’Gari) Research Collection project was to establish the USC Library as a resource centre to support ongoing research into Fraser Island (K’Gari) and to expose online and print-based material held at USC. The initial USC collection primarily constitutes an archive of donated material relating to Fraser Island (K’Gari) which will be managed for preservation and provide for both digital and physical access.
The collection has multiple components which are handled separately but drawn together online. The material comprises monographs, including books and reports, photographs, correspondence, flyers, ephemera and manuscripts. The initial material was the donated lifetime collection of research resources from John Sinclair OAM, founder of the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation. As the collection involved both digitised and physical items, a solution was required that would encompass both output types in a seamless manner for the end user. Discoverability and usability of the solution was key to the success of the project. Placing both the physical and digital items together in a collection within a single interface streamlined the process of providing access to the collection of material and allowed for an optimal user experience.
The project was not without difficulties. Copyright management was required to determine access rights for digitized items from a range of sources, some with political sensitivity, including government reports, manuscript drafts and personal correspondence. With many individuals, organisations, and government departments unable to be located, a risk management approach had to be developed to allow open access to as much of the collection as possible.
A significant challenge faced with the project was the need to develop parameters around the receipt of donations of this nature and how to manage them. Without a precedent at USC, it fell on the project team to source best practice guidelines from other organisations and academic libraries, and with a large amount of trial and error, including trials into archiving and preservation digitisation which have not been part of the USC Library practice to date. The outcomes of this project though will inform the future management of the collection of Fraser Island (K’Gari) related resources at USC, and develop criteria to evaluate resources and processes for managing similar collections in the future.
This poster will examine the challenges of a regional institution setting up their first cultural heritage repository for both digital and physical objects, covering a wide variety of object formats. It will be of interest to any libraries or repository managers faced with setting up a cultural heritage repository collection, especially where low-cost is a priority.
As an increasing number of organisations and private individuals are seeking a home for their cultural heritage research collections, it is becoming increasingly critical that libraries know how to deal with this influx of interest in archival collections and the best way to manage and provide access to the content. By using a platform that was already established at the institution, a low-cost solution was provided for the Fraser Island (K’Gari) Research Collection, as well as future cultural heritage and research collections. Policy and procedural guidelines are now in place to inform collection development and curation of archival material that is likely to be deemed valuable for researchers into the future.
Rebecca Cooke, BSc (UNE), Grad Dip App Sc (Lib and Info Manag) (CSU). Research Collections Coordinator, USC Sunshine Coast.
Rebecca is the Research Collections Coordinator at the USC Sunshine Coast and is responsible for the management of the USC Research Bank and other digital collections. Starting with the ANDS funded “Seeding the Commons” project, Rebecca has also been involved in Research Data Management activities around the University.
Beth Crawter BA (UQ), Grad. Dip. Lib. Sci. (QUT). Team Leader, Research and Academic Liaison, USC Sunshine Coast.
Beth coordinates the Research and Academic Liaison team, which comprises the Liaison Librarians who provide support and training to students and staff at USC. In 2012 she led a successful Australian National Data Service “Seeding the Commons” project at USC. She is a member of the Research Week Committee, the Research Management Committee, the Faculty of Arts and Business Learning and Teaching Committee and chairs the Research Data Management Working Party