Collection digitisation overview

Strategy and guidelines

The National Library of Australia’s approach to digitisation of its collections is described in its Collection Digitisation Policy. The policy outlines the Library’s strategy on managing its digital collections and providing access to them. The guiding principles for the processes involved in digitisation are also described.

Progress so far

As of 30 June 2010, a total of 162 365 collection items (consisting of 491 897 master images) have been digitised. This total includes pictorial material, maps, printed music, manuscripts, and selected books and serials. The table below illustrates the breakdown of the Library’s digital collections.

Graph 1 – Number of items in the National Library’s digital collections by collection format

Graph 1, number of items in digital collections - figures below

Collection format Number of items
Total 162,365
Books & serials 3,517
Maps 10,238
Manuscripts 8,971
Printed music 12,278
Pictures 127,361


Graph 2 - Number of master images in the National Library’s digital collections by collection format

Graph 2, number of images in digital collections - figures below

Collection format Number of images
Total 491,987
Books & serials 117,081
Maps 19,032
Manuscripts 52,715
Printed music 107,752
Pictures 197,594

Table 1 above is based on the number of items in the Library’s digital collections broken down by collection format. An item usually represents a single work and may be described by a separate cataloguing record or an individual entry in a finding aid. 

Items can have an equivalent number of master images, for example an individual photograph consists of one image file. Other items are represented by a large number of master images. For example, a piece of printed music may consist of multiple images representing individual pages, or a map may consist of several parts each represented by a separate image file.

For more detailed information about the individual digitised collections follow the links to Pictures, Maps, Printed music, Manuscripts and Books and Serials.

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The infrastructure to support the Library's digital collections consists of the Digital Object Storage System (DOSS), Digital Collections Manager (DCM), Persistent Identifier resolver service, and delivery systems to support web access to our digital collections of pictures, printed music, maps, manuscripts, books and serials, and oral history audio recordings. More information is available on the Digital Collections Infrastructure webpage.

The hardware currently used for the digitisation processes includes high end Mac computers connected to capture devices and PCs for the workstations. A list of the currently used capture devices is available.


Digitised images are stored on DOSS. The DOSS architecture comprises a hierarchical storage management system which provides near-line and offline storage on tape, and online storage on a RAID Disc array. The following hardware is used:

  • SAN switching infrastructure that interconnects the application and management servers, EMC CX3-80 and CX700 Disk Array systems and an Oracle database service.
  • EMC CX3-80 system (disk array)
  • EMC CX700 system (disk array)     
  • StorageTek L700 Robotic Tape Library
  • SUN Sun-Fire V490 server connected via FC to the Tape Library
  • SUN Sun-Fire V215 server running ACSLS software to enable the Tape Library’s robotics to be shared by multiple tape management applications
  • Servers connected via FC to the disk array

Current disk capacity: 128TB (not entirely for DOSS); tape library capacity: 285TB; maximum Tape Library capacity: 1120TB.

Contact details

Digitisation and Photography Branch
National Library of Australia
Canberra ACT 2600
Ph: +61 (02) 6262 1557

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