Pilot of digital collecting capability workshops

In 2016 the Alexander Turnbull Library ran a survey about the current state of collecting and managing born-digital archival and special collections content in New Zealand. October 2017

Pilot of digital collecting capability workshops

October 2017

Born Digital in New Zealand

We found the sector wanted more training and professional development opportunities in managing born-digital collections. Lack of staff with the necessary skills was keeping organisations from implementing collecting, management, and preservation of born-digital content, and looking to the future.

Building staff expertise was the top requirement for collecting, managing, and preserving born-digital materials.

In response, the Turnbull ran two pilot workshops with the help of the Archives and Records Association of New Zealand (ARANZ) and the Library and Information Association of New Zealand (LIANZA).

The workshops

The two workshops were held in Auckland at the National Library, Auckland in April 2017, and at the Hocken Library in Dunedin in May 2017, and co-facilitated by Jessica Moran, Leader, Digital Collections Services, and Leigh Rosin, Senior Digital Archivist.

The workshops were designed with a mix of basic concepts and hands-on exercises, designed to give participants a set of tools and an acquisition and appraisal workflow they could take back to their organisations.

Participants brought their own laptops with a suite of pre-defined tools and applications already installed.

There were 20 spots available at each workshop, and in total 41 people participated. Following announcements on the library and archives listservs and the NLNZ website, both were fully booked within a week.

Attendees came from the following institutions:

  • Auckland City Libraries
  • Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Auckland Council Archives
  • Waimate Museum and Archives
  • Waitaki District Archives
  • Archives, Methodist Church of New Zealand
  • Dunedin Council Archives
  • Macmillan Brown Library, University of Canterbury Library
  • Hocken Collections, University of Otago
  • Ngāi Tahu Archives
  • Te Reo o Taranaki
  • Clutha District Council

We saw a clear appetite for further workshops; there was a waiting list for both sessions, several people have asked for more, and University of Auckland Special Collections has offered to host another Auckland workshop.


Participants unanimously believed their expectations for the workshop were met or exceeded. They overwhelmingly stated that they most enjoyed the practical exercises, tool demonstrations, workflow examples, and discussions of potential issues, difficulties, and lessons learned.

35 (of 41) people felt more confident about approaching digital collecting and management, and 37 people said they had increased their technical understanding of born-digital collection issues.

Tim Barnet, Team Leader Digitised Content and Strategy at Auckland Libraries, said

the handling of born-digital material was demystified. The workshop was a good reminder of the risks inherent in managing born-digital materials, and gave everyone a process, the tools and the confidence to accession born-digital materials into their collections.

Many participants, particularly in Auckland, suggested follow-up workshops on advanced topics, including:

  • access to born-digital collections
  • digital preservation issues
  • metadata extraction and analysis
  • file format analysis and complex digital objects.

Consultation and future planning

The workshops were developed in consultation with LIANZA and ARANZ and the success of the workshops has been reported back to both organisations. We will explore whether continued collaboration in this area is welcome, and seek further collaboration with other professional bodies across New Zealand.

As more staff in New Zealand libraries, archives, and museums gain experience working with born-digital materials and develop expertise, we may also be able to build a collaborative network of practitioners. This could lead to the development of regional digital collecting expertise, capable of delivering more regional workshops in the future.


Jessica Moran

Leader, Digital Collection Service Team

Alexander Turnbull Library