The Library runs a very active digitising program, resulting in thousands of our collection items becoming accessible online. These include pictures, books, journals, manuscripts, pamphlets and newspapers. Currently we are digitising the newspaper the Bendigo Independent, from 1902-1918. When the project is complete, you will be able to read and search the paper online, via Trove.
Usually, the papers on Trove have been digitised from the microfilms of the paper, however we don’t hold the microfilms for this title so we are scanning from the actual hard copy papers.
The first step in the process is to bring in the 32 volumes from our warehouse in Ballarat. The Bendigo Independent was a daily newspaper (6 days a week) and was bound every six months, making it a large and heavy volume. The volumes are then assessed by Preservation staff, where tears or creases are treated. This is an arduous process requiring each page to be carefully turned and examined.
Some newspapers chopped and changed between edition size, causing frayed and brittle edges, which can be difficult to treat.
Creases are relaxed through local humidification with deionised water and a fine brush, then flattened using a small heated iron over silicone release paper. Any tears are repaired using a heat-set repair tissue.
Sometimes the pages in the volumes are so tightly bound that the volume needs to be disbound. Fortunately, the Bendigo Independent volumes open flatly enough to ensure all the text can be scanned. Once all the volumes are treated, they are taken to the digitising room; which is in one of the Library’s many basements.
With one click of the mouse an image of each page is captured and then displayed on a computer screen. The page is then carefully turned and captured again. We are capturing approximately 34,000 pages from the Bendigo Independent and the scanning will take up to two months.
When all of the pages are scanned, these files will be sent to the Trove folk where Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software is run over the pages, which will enable the paper to be keyword searchable.
The entire process of digitising an archival paper can take up to a year. When selecting titles to be digitised, we take into account many factors, such as the historical significance of the paper, the paper’s coverage, i.e. what area it represents; the age and condition of the paper and the popularity of the paper.
At the time of writing, there are over 330 Victorian titles on Trove, and this number will steadily increase over the years. We are hopeful the Bendigo Independent will be online by the end of the year.