Christine Yeats is the Manager, Public Access at State Records NSW.
While there is much information and interest to be found online on this topic, we’ve still been mulling it over for a while here and would like to get your opinion on some questions below. Most archival organisations, including State Records NSW, have a policy or guidelines setting the ground rules for researchers wishing to use digital cameras in the reading rooms. Our leaflet provides information about the sorts of records that can be copied by digital cameras (or scanners) and explains the researchers’ responsibilities when handling records.
Still, some researchers do arrive at the reading room not knowing this option is available and, of course, have left their cameras at home.
So, what’s the solution? What can you do when a researcher really would have liked to have had their camera with them but didn’t?
A technological opportunity or a huge headache?
We’ve been thinking of buying a digital point-and-shoot camera for researchers to use in the reading room and selling the memory cards for them to take home and load up to their computers
Which raises more questions:
- Do other organisations offer this as a service?
- How do you fare?
- Is a refundable deposit for camera use reasonable to ask?
Impact on revenue and statistics
- Is the potential loss in revenue (from the copy service) a concern?
- Would ‘too much’ digital camera use affect statistics gathering on the usage of archives?
- Does this matter?
Handling of records
- Would more digital camera use cause ‘mistreatment’ of the records?
- Would archivists spend more time supervising the use of the camera than helping researchers with their queries?
From both sides of the counter
Whether you are a researcher with an opinion or an organisation with advice, we would love to hear your ideas in the comments below.
[UPDATE 22 April 2010]
A big thanks to Dr Lise Summers from State Records WA for sending through this SlideShare presentation “From Photocopies to Photographs” on the success of their Client Copy Centre. Based on the NAA Digitisation on-demand setup, the service provides a dedicated camera connected to a computer. Researchers can save images to CD or USB.