No alcohol required - the specimens we’re maintaining are documents, photographs and emerging forms of media and data.
If you’ve ever stored receipts in shoeboxes; decided which photos to keep or delete from your laptop; or moved your music collection from vinyl to CD to MP3 and streaming formats, you’ll have some idea of the strategies and effort required to manage the Australian Museum’s 180 years of records.
The Archives and Records Unit works with other teams in the Museum to preserve, in other words, to sustain or futureproof the administrative, scientific and cultural records of our institution for the public.
So where to start?
For physical objects, if you want to repair paper damaged by insects, treat mould on photos or carry out more complex preservation procedures, the Materials Conservation and Analytical Resources Unit provides some excellent step-by-step conservation tips.
For all records, the framework issued by NSW State Records sets the rules and provides guidance on creating, organising and managing official records, which are increasingly in digital format. Their Future Proof blog delivers practical advice on how to deal with transient new forms of communication and business systems: interactions on social media, Outlook calendars, documents scanned on photocopiers, and mass volumes of data in various forms – these are all records which may need to be preserved for future communities.
To give the work you produce in 2014 a better chance of surviving the next 100 years, consider this:
1. Get organised
At the Museum we use HP TRIM, a records management system which stores files securely, classifies files in a consistent way and helps simplify the process for the thousands of operational records created and managed by staff each year.
2. Make it accessible
At the Museum our photographers and DigiVols Unit save original images in lossless file formats such as RAW, DNG and TIFF. Transcriptions of notebooks and manuscripts are saved in the database for future export in CSV and other formats. The editor of our scientific publications section assigns a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to every publication to ensure that irrespective of any changes to our website and the metadata, the document can always be located.
3. Think of a future without Google, Microsoft, Adobe…
And so we will continue to explore the best processes for ensuring the Museum’s operational, scientific and heritage records are able to be retrieved, made readable and usable for now and long into the future.