Digitisation of Traditional Format Library Materials

Photographic portraits

Project Brief | Preservation and Handling


To provide access through the Library’s catalogue to photographic portraits in the Pictures Collection.


  1. Catalogue selected photographic portrait prints in the Pictures Collection
  2. Digitise selected photographic portrait prints
  3. Link images to catalogue records
  4. Load images to Pictures Catalogue and PictureAustralia

Description of the material to be digitised

Because of the size of the collection, not all of the Library’s c49,000 photographic portraits will be digitised in the first instance. The photographs date from the 1850s until the present and consist of black and white and coloured prints as well as negatives. A diverse range of people including Australia’s politicians, pioneers, professionals, and those involved in the arts and sports are represented in the collection. Only portraits of Australians or individuals with an Australian connection, New Zealanders and the Royal family are in scope for this project. A significant numbers of accompanying photographs (eg of a person’s home, car and activities, or associated with their occupation) will also be digitised.

Those prints located in particular drawers in the Rowan Stack and Compactus, particularly portraits of significant Australians will be given highest priority. Recent portrait acquisitions, which are located and accessioned in other parts of the pictorial stacks will not be included in this project. Pictures Branch staff may also deselect photographs that are of poor quality.

Some portraits cataloged and digitized as part of this project have copyright restrictions and so will not be immediately available via the Library’s catalogue (eg not until 2010 or 9999 after the expiry of copyright).

Preservation, care and handling guidelines

DISCLAIMER: The National Library of Australia disclaims liability for the use of the information provided in this page. The guidelines have been produced to aid Library staff in the digitisation of collection material. The National Library of Australia accepts no responsibility for the loss occasioned as a direct or indirect result of the use of the information in these guidelines.


Treatments: Generally this part of the collection is in good condition. To facilitate the scanning process, scanning staff may do minor treatments. Major treatments to any items are to be carried out by a conservator. Scanning staff may do light dusting.

Scanning: A flat-bed scanner will be used to capture the portraits.


NLA staff Other
Pictorial Collection Researchers interested in significant Australians
Digitisation Team Institutions with related collections, subject interest
Digitisation Steering Committee Public
Preservation Services  
Public Programs  
Special Materials Cataloguing  

Program of work

Item Responsibility Date completed or time period
Cataloguing Special Materials Cataloguing Unit March 2001 –
Deliver material to Digitisation Special Materials Cataloguing Unit  
Create Pictorial Manager batches Digitisation Project team  
Scan drawings Digitisation Project team  
Quality check images Digitisation Project team leaders  
Deliver material back to Pictorial Digitisation Project team  
Strip metadata from images and put in spreadsheets Information Technology Branch Overnight process
Rename images and move to Pictorial’s ‘Complete’ and ‘Completerestricted’ folders Information Technology Branch Overnight process
Check metadata spreadsheets and update any copyright restriction dates Digitisation Project team  
Change batch status on Pictorial Manager Digitisation Project team  
Create derivatives & rename for Pictorial Manager Information Technology Branch  
Load images to Pictures Catalogue Information Technology Branch  


Project owner/Driver David Toll and Margy Burn
Project manager Erica Ryan
Key information sources Pictorial Manager, Preservation Services, Digitisation Team, IT
Constraints Size of collection means cataloguing and digitising in blocks so that staff are not limited to the one collection for months


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