Cataloguing in Gippsland

Musings of a Cataloguer at Large in Gippsland. Just personal thoughts - absolutely no bearing on the thoughts of any organisation with which I am working.

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Location: Victoria, Australia

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Veterans' Heritage

Louie Riggall

Memorial Plaque to Louie Riggall, Maffra Library

Reminder - there is a Veterans' Heritage workshop at Sale on 27 September - it is designed for RSLs, however those collections that also hold war history material are welcome to attend. It consists of basic collection care workshop by Euan McGillivray, and a session on the Victorian Collections (an online cataloguing database) by Peta Knott.

News on the Public Record Office facebook page that a new database of Victorian War Heritage is now available. You can search it in a number of ways.

Briagolong War Memorial

Briagolong Cenotaph

It is easy for me to find photographs for this post - I have them all ready in my Flickr set for Gippsland War Memorials.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Using Flickr

I've been using Flickr for years, and love it. It is a free online site for photo-sharing, but you do not even have to dive in that deep. You can go over there right now, and browse other people's photos without even signing up.

Here are some for a start:

Stratford Historical Society

Maffra Historical Society

My own personal pages

and the really good one I "found" the other day:

Carnamah Historical Society in WA. They found me. When you find a member you want to see again, and see what they are uploading as they put up new photos, you add them as a "contact". Carnamah added my historical societies above, so I popped over to have a look at them (as you do, adding you as a contact is sort of an announcement that you are out there as well) and I was really impressed. They are organising a lot of photos into sets, making a very impressive web page.

So, to produce a webpage like this, you don't have to know how to write web pages. It is free, no matter how many photos you load, but you can only see the last 200 in your photostream. It doesn't cost much for an annual membership, and you can have as many as you want.


So when you find an excellent photo such as this one, you can just pop it up on Flickr, put details with it, link it to a blog (more about that next time), and generally have all sorts of fun with it. You can see the full post at Flickr HERE.

You can form sets of your photographs, such as this one of the Museum Restoration at Stratford, or Objects in the Collection.

But wait, there is more. You can form or join groups, to share all sorts of information. Here are some:

Places of Deposit (PODS)
- more members welcome!

Gippsland History - people welcome to post both old and new photos

Small Australasian Museums
- send your photos here.

Remember - the commonest thing that people search for on the internet, after their own name, is a town or place name. Especially if they are coming to visit. Good way to get your name out thee, and show locals what you are up to.

Go on, go and do it. Head over the

You will find all sorts of people there, such as the

Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV)

Australian War Memorial

Heritage Victoria

Kununurra Historical Society

and on it goes. You find someone you like, click on their profile, go to the bottom of their profile page, see who their contacts are, and you can make all sorts of discoveries.

It is what social media is all about.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

File Names for Photographs

I am exercising my mind about file names for photographs. Not, for the moment, for the photographs or scans of collection items, where I am 90% happy with the management in place, but for for all the things that go on around collections.


A while ago, I took this photograph at the Stratford Historical Society, and a short time ago I posted it on Stratford's blog. It is of two hard-working members of the Society, early on a cold morning, as part of the phenomenal restoration and upgrading work that has been taking place there. The process I am using to number photos like this at Stratford, from bitter experience, is to give a file name of the date taken, with a letter of the alphabet for order.

So this is photo 2011-08-09bVSFH.JPG.

It means it is the second photo I have kept that I took on 9 August. It is filed in the building restoration folder on the computer. I'm a bit ambivalent about adding the VSFH to identify it as a Stratford photo - we are unlikely to mix it with others in a database, so maybe I should go for


putting my initials in there to show I took it. Not that it is all that brilliant a photo, but it may be that some others may take exceptionally brilliant ones and hand them into common files, so we should keep track of who photographed what.

Why the date? As part of our celebrations for the presentation of an RHSV Award of Merit to our President, Wemyss Struss, I have been making a powerpoint presentation. It shows the wonderful period through which Wemyss has led us. I just wish I know what date some of the photographs were taken. In some cases the editing has removed that information from the file data, in other cases, it is obvious there were photos taken with an incorrect date on the camera. A date several years out.

One thing is for sure - starting the file name with the date will make it easy to keep track of them. Sorting them into folders by themes (Building Restoration / Activities / Exhibitions etc) makes them easy to find. We tend to so easily take quick snaps of activities these days, which become our de facto organisational history (unless someone keeps a set of state-of-the-art minutes). We need to make sure we get maximum value from these photos.

There is a photo management suggestion in the Victorian Cataloguing Manual, but I don't think it deals at all well with objects, and it is rather complex.

And what were George and Martin doing?


They were taking over a hundred years' worth of mould off the building. You should see the colour in the sandstone footings!

You can see some more of the progress in this set on Flickr.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Just Digitise It overview

So, what did I bring away from the Just Digitise It workshop?

We are basically on the right track, but I have now got a few more ideas, and understand a bit more now about photograph formats, and may even be able to watermark. (Note - must experiment. Ideal way to get a gratuitous photo on this post).

I know bit more now about how archivists work, and I have met the Dublin Core protocol, for ensuring that when material is loaded onto the net, the fields generally mean the same thing. (I wonder if the Dublin Core was run over the Victorian Cataloguing Manual). This is all a little too deep and meaningful for me, but it is good to know it is there.

The bottom line is, what we learned was basically the view of things as they are for archivists (who are very nice people!), but we are working with integrated collections of objects and paper-based materials, so I think it was a case of taking away what we could from the workshop, and seeing how we could apply it to our own structure. Rather than think "Okay, this is what we need to change to doing, what we have been doing is wrong".

The Victorian Cataloguing Manual (download HERE) is silent on the subject of documents (although it does deal well with photographs). Well, not actually silent. When it is explaining why it does not include treatment of documents, on page 9, it explains that the POD (Places of Deposit) program from the PROV now exists, “which makes it unlikely that community museums will acquire archives”.

There are a few things that are wrong in the Manual, but that is the silliest. The POD program means collections will have more documents (in the case of the one I administer, more bound unique books), not less. We need to know how to integrate them into a catalogue with objects.

So some of us are moving down the track of serious consideration of cataloguing for integrated collections, and now I understand a bit more of the jargon. It was fascinating to hear Catalogue Sheets referred to as "Meta Data Sheets".

The local groups who were present from the City of Latrobe, with some nearby friends, have now decided to meet on a regular basis to further work on digital issues (read that as self-help on things like Photo Shop, Flickr, image management and blogging).

So all-in-all, two days well spent.

(Although I still haven't had time to experiment with watermarking. There goes the gratuitous photo for this post. Maybe I will just go and find a something and post it for the fun of it.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just Digitise It Mark II

Desktop copying setup

Second day of the workshop just as good as the first.

Main thing I learned today - when they talk about "capturing meta data" (a phrase that used to scare me a bit), what they really mean, is Cataloguing It. With a few minor variations.

I didn't know I had been out there capturing meta data. Well, there you go!

More, when I get myself organised.

But in the meantime, if you want to see a better photograph of this setup above, CLICK HERE.

Just Digitise it at Traralgon

First day down of the most-excellent Just Digitise It workshop at Traralgon. Excellent content (just at the right level), good spread of people (from Orbost to Melbourne, and a nice lot from South Gippsland), and very useful handouts.

Thanks PROV! If you get a chance to attend the upcoming one in Melbourne or Mildura (see link above), go for it!

Full report (and maybe a picture) tomorrow.

But in the meantime, is everyone aware of the PROV blog? I especially like this post.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sharing data

Many years ago, I started to type the baptisms from a local minister into an XL spreadsheet, but gave up when I couldn't read the writing well enough to be satisfied with the accuracy.

Recently I picked them up again, and realised it was really, really old work. From before the issue of the Victorian indexes to births, deaths and marriages. Suddenly I had a way to cross-check the data. So I was up and at it - there were 498 in there when I started it again, and 1,400 have now been entered in the finished index. But I am still cross-checking the early work.

So what are the issues? Where do I lodge it? The moment anything digital leaves your hands, it is certain-sure that someone will copy it, and everyone will then have it. Does that matter? I wasn't aiming to make any money from it. But again - it goes back to respect, where people feel they have a right to stick a flash drive into a computer when no-one is looking, and acquire whatever they can, there is a lack of respect for the work. But then again, in the words of Spencer from Maffra - "We are here to help people".

Now, if they had something of equal value they were prepared to swap, it may be another matter.

The other, more positive issue? I have been doing a little work with importing from spreadsheets into InMagic, and this index lends itself to a new little database. Which would allow me to sort and manage the data so much better. And add further information about the families. Maybe if I did that, and was only prepared to hand it over as an InMagic database (with the Runtime reader), it would encourage more people to learn how to use a wonderful program. And stop it being handed out to all and sundry.

But then, we are here to share information, aren't we? Is it right to build barriers?

And it is a wonderful database. From 1865 to 1915, with the Minister dying suddenly on a train home to celebrate fifty years of ministry in what was then described as North Gippsland. Lots of children in there where I cannot find them (well, under those details) in Victorian registrations.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Journals - Just Experimenting


Most historical societies publish their own journal, and most also receive them from other societies by exchange. The material in them is invaluable, but often difficult to find, or even learn about.

I have been experimenting how to catalogue them, and this is what I have come up with at Stratford. Needless to say, the Victorian Cataloguing Manual is totally silent on this subject.

If you are reading this, and not a cataloguer, skip right to the bottom now.

Stratford Historical Society published a Bulletin in the 1970s (from memory), and then operated a combined one with Maffra Historical Society in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2005 they started a new series of Bulletins on their own.

So the first thing is - I don't have a long run of them to catalogue. The older ones however are quite extensive, but there are indexes to them both in one form or another. So what I have been wanting to do, is somehow incorporate a broad summary of what is in each issue of the new series in the catalogue, possibly in a format that I can use to then also catalogue other newsletters in detail, especially from nearby societies. Something where I didn't have to do them all at once, or can send off to someone to do the main part in a word processing file would be good, too.

So I have issued one catalogue number (03201) to the whole series, and described it in general. (I will issue the next numbers to other journals, and not initially describe them in detail) I then issued 03201.01 to No.1 in the new series, and included several abstracts of major items in the description for that record. Beauty - off I went and created 03201.02 for Number 2, and continued on thus. (had to use .01, .02 etc, as when I got to .10, InMagic wouldn't accept it, as it couldn't distinguish from .1). Subjects were issued from the GIPPSDOC Thesaurus for each record, and chit-chat and organisational stuff was ignored.

Then I thought - why not use this as the basis for a record on the net, that people could use to purchase copies? *Lightbulb* And if anyone out there is as silly as me, and cataloguing their journals in this depth, they can just go in there and get the abstracts for Stratford by copying and pasting.

But how will people know there is a new newsletter, or a new set of abstracts?

Simple. Start another blog.

Last para - non cataloguers, start reading here again:

There is a new blog HERE. It is very set in its format, but you can either use it to find back articles in Stratford Historical Society Bulletins, or subscribe to the blog via blogger, and be advised each time a new Bulletin is issued. Or if you are a cataloguer, you can just use it to pick up the abstracts for your own cataloguing.