Digitisation of Traditional Format Library Materials

Walter F. Stringer collection

Project Brief | Cataloguing guidelines

General description of the proposed project

The W.F. Stringer Collection, acquired in 1994 under the Tax Incentives for the Arts Scheme, documents the performances of major Dance companies in Australia or touring Australia between 1940 and 1992. The companies featured are Ballet Rambert, Borovansky Ballet, Ballet Russes, Bolshoi Ballet Ensemble, Royal Ballet, Australian Ballet, National Theatre Ballet, Victorian Ballet Guild, Victorian Ballet Company, Ballet Victoria, Sydney Dance Company, Australian Dance Theatre and Kolobok Dance Company. Performances range from the classical ballets such as Nutcracker, Swan lake, Coppelia, Giselle, Le carnaval, Aurora's wedding, Les sylphides, to a small number of photographs on Spanish dancing, national dancing and modern dance.

In addition, the Collection contain photographs of the following dancers in performance: Kelvin Coe, Kathleen Gorham, Marilyn Jones, Maina Gielgud, Garth Welch, Margot Fonteyn, Paula Hinton, John Meehan, Katherine Lamb, Natalia Makarova, Gary Norman, Graeme Murphy, Janet Vernon and Paul Mercurio.

It is proposed to digitize selected material from the almost 20,000 colour and black and white photographs and slides that constitute the collection.

Because of time constraints, it has been decided to divide the digitisation of the collection into two projects, Stringer 1 and Stringer 2. This proposal refers to Stringer 1, which will cover images selected from album 912, volumes 1-19 containing 3,500 photographic prints (of which c.360 have been selected to date) and album 1016 containing 15,000 slides. 

Digitisation will be from the original collection material.

Collection material of relevance to the project

A complete list has been made of the items selected for this digitisation project – ie albums 912, volumes 1-19 and 1016, volumes 1-3. Selection has been made initially on the basis of the need to fill in gaps in the present digitised dance material. But as Stringer took candid shots rather than posed ones selection is also based on whether an image has captured the performer at a relatively flattering (from a dance perspective) moment.

Levels of use and user groups – current and anticipated

It is estimated the collection will attract medium usage by researchers, teachers and students (Dance is one of the current curriculum subjects for the HSC), and members of the Australian and international dance community. At present one in ten enquiries for digitisation on demand relate to items in the Library’s Dance collections. Once digitised the material will be also be available over the Australia Dancing website (currently due for release in December as either www.nla.gov.au/australiadancing or www.australiadancing.org). The current version of this site gets c. 5,000 visits per month and we anticipate that in its new enhanced form, which will provide many more links to NLA and other online services, this figure will increase.

Bibliographic coverage of the collection

There is a collection level record for this collection on the Library’s catalogue and Kinetica - AN23741373. This record refers to another 10 sub-collections, each with their own AMICUS number. The two parts of the Stringer 1 collection selected for digitisation are AN23741660 (PIC/6558 LOC ALBUM 1016/1-5), and AN22966492 (PIC P554 LOC ALBUM 912/1-19).

This collection would be a candidate for the template and guidelines approach that has been used for other pictorial collections that have passed through the Library’s Digitisation Project.

Intellectual property or other rights

Before his death in May 2001, Walter Stringer gave copyright of his collection to the National Library of Australia.

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.

General rules:

Cleaning: Light dusting can be done with a soft brush ie hake brush.

Cropping: Crop to the edge of the image area leaving 1 mm border (maximum 2mm).

Scanning: Oversize items should be scanned with a camera. Flat-bed scanners will be used otherwise.

IT requirements

No additional investments would be required from an IT perspective – scanning devices in the Digitisation Project work are could be employed. The digital images will be available as part of the Library's digital collections and managed within the Digital Collections Manager (DCM). Delivery to users will be via the Pictures Catalogue, Australia Dancing and PictureAustralia service.

Resource requirements

This collection can be absorbed within the 2002-2003 financial year digitisation work plan to meet the established targets.


Digitisation of the W.F. Stringer collection will complement the dance portal, Australia Dancing. This portal, which expands on the directory to the Australian Dance collection developed as part of the 'Keep Dancing' initiative, has as its main component a directory of dance resources held in major Australian collecting institutions. The National Library’s dance materials across a range of media will form the crux of this enhanced directory.

The publication of the National Library’s Collector’s Book of Australian Dance will also lead to greater use of the Library’s dance collections, making the digitisation of the Stringer Collection timely.


The target completion date for ‘Stringer 1’ is the end of November 2002. The digitisation of the rest of the collection will have to wait until identification, captioning and selection has been undertaken.

Other considerations

Dr Michelle Potter has been identifying, selecting and providing captions for images for digitisation. This is a highly specialized task, and given the large number of items in the whole collection, is unlikely to be undertaken or accomplished by anyone other than Dr Potter. Her current contract with the National Library ends in December 2002.

Contact officer: Michelle Hetherington, Pictures Branch


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