Survey findings (one)

Read about the Institutional makeup of survey participants, born digital collecting, impediments to collecting, managing, preserving, what does born digital look like?, Other digital projects and processes, web archives

4.1 Institutional makeup of survey participants

Below is the break-down of respondents by type of institution. We had full participation from all the university libraries, making up 11.4% of the respondents. National institutions account for the NLNZ, Archives New Zealand, and Nga Taonga Sound & Vison. (1) The largest respondent group came from museums and accounted for almost 30%. Public libraries were well represented with 15 respondents or 14%. The second largest group (21%) categorised themselves as other and was composed largely of special libraries and archives (7 or 6.5%), as well as a number of local authority archives (5 or 4.8%) and those organisations that served dual purposes, such as combination museum and library, local authority and library, or tertiary organisation and religious archive. Finally there was one Crown Research Institute.

Table 1: Type of institution

Answered question: 105. Skipped question: 2.

Answer options Percent Count
University or other tertiary institution 11.4% 12
National institution 2.9% 3
Historical society 4.8% 5
Government agency 7.6% 8
Government library 0% 0
Public library 14.3% 15
Museum 29.5% 31
Religious archive 4.8% 5
College or school library or archive 3.8% 4
Other 21% 22

Of those participating in the survey, 71% received at least some funding from public governmental sources, with 55.8% stating that their base source of funding was governmental and 15% reported that their funding comes from a non-governmental source. Of those who specified other, the majority stated that their funding was paid for by local authorities or rates, with only one selecting private business funding and one explaining that funds came from a charitable trust.

Figure 1: Institutional type by funding type

Percentage of publicly and privately funded institutions in the NZ GLAMs sector. Over 55% are public, 15% are private, 12% are a hybrid, 8% are volunteer.

When asked about budget, including salaries and benefits for collecting and managing an institution, almost 30% reported a budget of less than $50,000; over 50% stated their budget was less than $200,000 and less than 20% reported a budget over $500,000.

Figure 2: Total budget for collecting and managing library or archives

Total budget, including salaries and benefits, for collecting and managing the organisation's library or archive. About a quarter run on less than $50,000, another quarter on $50,000 to $200,000, 15% on $200,000 to $500,000, 10% on $500,000 to $1,000,000, and 10% on $1,000,000 or more.

Based on this information it is clear that any actions or solutions to managing and preserving born digital will need to be sensitive to the limited budget environment under which most GLAMs across New Zealand operate.

4.2 Born digital collecting

We first wanted to know if cultural heritage institutions across the country were already collecting or held born-digital materials, and we found that overwhelmingly the answer was yes. 81% percent of respondents confirmed they currently hold or manage born-digital content.

Table 2: Number of institutions holding, collecting, or managing born-digital archival materials

Does your institution currently hold, collect, or manage born-digital archival materials, i.e., those archival materials created and managed in digital form and with no analogue original?

Answered question: 106. Skipped question: 1.

Answer Percent Count
Yes 81.1% 86
No 18.9% 20

When asked if their institution planned to collect born digital material in the future, an even greater number, 86% confirmed that they either plan to continue collecting or begin collecting born digital.

Notably, 100% of university libraries, 93.5% of museums, 80% of government agency archives and school archives, and 73% of public libraries reported that they expected to be collecting born digital archival material in the next two years.

Those who are not currently and do not plan to collect born digital archival collections in the future were asked a follow up open ended question as to why they do not collect this type of material. Of the nine responses received, the majority said that current or future born digital collecting is outside their mandate. The remaining responses reported that they either haven’t yet made a decision about born-digital material, or don’t currently feel equipped to deal with born digital materials, for instance one respondent wrote, “lack of time, money and proper IT equipment are large barriers for us.”

4.3 Impediments to collecting, managing, preserving

Collecting born-digital archival material is not without its challenges. We asked participants to note what they thought were impediments to collecting born-digital content. The top three issues identified in order are: Lack of staff with necessary training and expertise, lack of funding, and lack of time for planning. Lack of a technical infrastructure and lack of an institutional policy, mandate, or strategy were also identified by a large number of respondents. Regardless of how we broke down responses by institutional type, lack of staff with the necessary training and expertise was the highest ranking issue across all institution types. A number of respondents emphasised that staffing was a main issue, for example comments included: “lack of specialised digital curation staff,” “general lack of understanding and recognition of digital archives as an issue that needs to be addressed,” “ignorance and uncertainty” or “the main impediment is lack of staff with necessary expertise.” It is worth noting that 10% did state that there were no known impediments for their collecting.

Figure 3: Impediments to implementing collecting, managing, and preservation of born digital

Which of the following are impediments to implementing collecting, management, and preservation of born digital archival materials? The greatest factor is lack of staff with relevant skills, followed by lack of funding, lack of time for planning, and lack of technical infrastructure.

These results suggest that a top priority for New Zealand GLAMs is increased focus on practical experience and training to work with born-digital material. Professional cross-sector training and improved expertise in this area are needed for organisations to feel appropriately confident to manage these collections.

Table 3: Impediments to implementing collecting, managing, and preservation of born digital

Which of the following are impediments to implementing collecting, management, and preservation of born-digital archival materials at your institution? Check all that apply.

Answered question: 100. Skipped question: 7.

Answer Percent Count
Lack of staff with the necessary training and expertise 63% 63
Lack of time for planning 48% 48
Lack of funding 51% 51
Lack of support within the library or archives 6% 6
Lack of support elsewhere in the institution 12% 12
Lack of an institutional policy, strategy, or mandate 33% 33
Lack of a national policy 10% 10
Lack of technical infrastructure 43% 43
This is not the library's responsibility 2% 2
We do not expect to acquire any such materials 7% 7
No known impediments 10% 10
Other 12% 12

When asked at what level responsibility for born digital was held, over 20% stated that responsibility had not yet been formally addressed or determined. Another 29% skipped this question entirely, suggesting that they may not have had the relevant information necessary to answer.

Table 4: Responsibility for born digital archival material

At which organisational level within your overall institution does responsibility for born-digital archival material reside?

Answered question: 76. Skipped question: 31.

Answer Percent Count
In the special collections or institutional archives 22.4% 17
At the library-wide or archives-wide level 18.4% 14
At the institutional level 14.5% 11
Responsibility is decentralised or shared 11.8% 9
Not yet formally addressed 13.2% 10
Not yet addressed in any way 6.6% 5
Don't know 1.3% 1
Other 11.8 9

Next we asked if organisations had a strategy for managing born-digital materials. While only 32% reporting having a strategy or plan, it is encouraging that another 32% either had one in preparation or were planning to develop such a strategy. Comments related to this question included “the strategy is limited and needs to be extended,” “vaguely?,” “we’re sort of there,” and “Sort of? Not documented properly though.” The results suggest that though born-digital collections are making their way into cultural heritage institutions, they are as yet overwhelmingly undermanaged across the sector.

Figure 4: Institutional strategy for managing and/or preserving born digital

Does your institution have a strategy for born digital material? One third answered yes, a quarter answered no, 12% have one in preparation, and 20% are beginning to develop one.

4.4 What does born digital look like?

This survey was focused on unique born-digital material most often found in archives and special collections. That uniqueness, coupled with the continued growth in the range of born digital content, suggested to us that it was likely that institutions had a variety of kinds of born-digital content. Indeed, the results show that the diversity of born-digital material institutions currently hold is spread across the gamut of digital formats, with most (77.5%) institutions holding photographs, followed by 50% of institutions reporting holding born-digital audio and video. More than 45% of institutions also reported holding oral histories, archival organisational records, electronic records, email archives, and publications and reports. While we did not ask about specific file formats, the range of content currently being collected suggests that there is an even greater diversity of file formats held within institutions.

Table 5: Types of born-digital archival material

Which types of born-digital archival material does your special collections or archives already collect or manage? Check all that apply.

Answered question: 71. Skipped question: 36.

Answer Percent Count
Manuscripts and personal papers 38% 27
Archival records of your organisation or institution 46.5% 33
Audio 50.7% 36
Blogs 11.3% 8
Data sets 32.4% 23
Digital arts 19.7% 14
Email 46.5% 33
Electronic records 45.1% 32
Oral histories 47.9% 34
Photographs 77.5% 55
Publications and reports 45.1% 32
Serials 19.7% 14
Theses and dissertations 15.5% 11
Videos 50.7% 36
Websites 21.1% 15
Other organisational archives 11.3% 8

When asked about future collecting areas, responses were quite similar, over 80% anticipated collecting photographs. Surprisingly over 60% reported expecting to collect oral histories in the future. Perhaps the most noticeable trend was that the numbers suggest most institutions expect to collect more or new formats in the near future. For example while 38% report currently collecting manuscripts and archives, and 19.7% report currently collecting digital arts, 48.6% report expecting to collect manuscripts and archives in the next two years, and 30.6% report expecting to collect digital arts. For none of the categories, did the percentages go down.

Interestingly two large government funded research agencies both noted the importance of managing publicly created born digital research: “[we are] managing... significant digital assets, ensuring the public can not only have full access, but can actively contribute” and “where deemed out of scope for the National Library Collection Development policy, we would archive the material that is in the public interest.” Others noted that they were at the beginning steps of collecting born digital, and unsure of what was already held and how to manage it, suggesting that some coordination across the sector may be useful. Finally others reported on other types of born-digital content not noted in the table below (Table 7), these included scientific and medical media, including MRI scans, geological data, video games, and 3-D models.

While organisations across New Zealand may feel underprepared for the increasingly born-digital collections that are coming to our cultural heritage institutions, they are aware that future collecting must include a variety of born-digital archival material.

Table 6: Anticipated born digital collecting in next 2 years

Which types of born-digital archival material do you anticipate collecting or managing within the next 2 years? Check all that apply.

Answered question: 72. Skipped question: 35.

Answer Percent Count
Archives and manuscripts 48.6% 35
Audio 58.3% 42
Blogs 15.3% 11
Data sets 34.7% 25
Digital arts 30.6% 22
Email 47.2% 34
Electronic records 48.6% 35
Archival records of your organisation or institution 48.6% 35
Oral histories 61.1% 44
Photographs 81.9% 59
Publications and reports 56.9% 41
Serials 23.6% 17
Theses and dissertations 20.8% 15
Videos 62.5% 45
Websites 23.6% 17
Other 5.6% 4

4.5 Other digital projects and processes

We asked survey respondents about their current digitisation programs to get a sense of other “digital projects” organisations might already be managing. Over 90% reported having a digitisation programme, however only 45.6% reported having documented policies and workflows in place to manage their programme.

Table 7: Digitisation programme documented policies

Do you have documented policies and workflows for your digitisation programme in place?

Answered question: 72. Skipped question: 35.

Answer Percent Count
Yes 45.8% 33
No 22.2% 16
In preparation 15.3% 11
Not yet, but planned 6.9% 5
Don't know 1.4% 1
Other 8.3% 6

We also asked about other systems, from institutional repositories and content management systems, to digital preservation systems, that organisations already had in place. While few have a digital preservation system, many of the respondents do have some sort of collection management or digital asset management system, electronic document records management system, or other repository in place. It is important to note however, that as we did not define any of these terms, different organisational and professional contexts may define these differently. These results do though indicate that close to 80% of respondents have some digital system already in place to manage collections. It is possible that organisations could leverage either the systems, or the staff knowledge and expertise in managing these systems to care for born-digital material.

Table 8: Digital collection management systems already in place

Which of the following does your institution already have in place? Check all that apply.

Answered question: 70. Skipped question: 37.

Answer Percent Count
Digital content or digital asset management system 41.4% 29
Institutional repository 50% 35
Digital preservation management system 18.6% 13
None of these 22.9% 16
Other 12.9% 9

4.6 Web archives

Only 15% of respondents reported currently doing any kind of web archiving or harvesting content from the web. Comments suggested that most were collecting only their own, or related websites and only in a casual and ad hoc way. Other than the NLNZ, no organisation reported using Web Curator Tool, and no one reported using the Internet Archive’s Archive-It service. Instead respondents reported using some version of free, hand-crafted, in-house or custom designed tools. Of the kinds of web content being collected, most reported New Zealand websites, with four respondents reporting collecting from Facebook and two from Twitter.

Table 9: Web archiving or harvesting from the internet

Is your institution doing any web archiving or harvesting born-digital archival content from the web?

Answered question: 72. Skipped question: 35.

Answer Percent Count
Yes 15.3% 11
No 73.6% 53
Other 11.1% 8

Table 10: Web harvesting sources

If your institution is harvesting web content, from what sources are you collecting? Please check all that apply.

Answered question: 13. Skipped question: 94.

Answer Percent Count
New Zealand websites 61.5% 8
Overseas websites 30.8% 4
Facebook 30.8% 4
Twitter 15.4% 2
Blogs 15.4% 2
YouTube 23.1% 3
Other 38.5% 5


  1. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa also participated in the survey, but self-identified as a museum rather than as a “national institution”.