Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away (well, Gayndah to be exact), the Records Unit from North Burnett Regional Council were blessed with mountains of records to classify and archive, and throughout the department everyone was happy. Still, they sought the help of a fairy godmother. So Elly and Karen took the perilous journey through country roads and hectic Brisbane traffic, to reach Queensland State Archives – our holy land!
Once Queensland Government Protective Services Officers had checked our handbags for shredders and scissors, we were briefed on the rules before being allowed behind the scenes – whilst in the repositories there is to be no food or drink (not even water), no bags, no photos and especially no touching the archives! i
Phil, the Senior Exhibitions and Event Coordinator, kicked off the tour with an insightful talk about Matt Mawson, the artist in residence drawing his interpretation of Cabinet minutes from 1987.
Emma from Government Recordkeeping was our awesome tour guide, answering our endless list of questions and making sure we didn’t get lost. She took us exploring through various repositories, where many Government Agencies from all over Queensland have transferred their most precious documents. To be surrounded by all this history was rather overwhelming and we felt very lucky to be there.
We met Greg from Transfers, who offers advice and support to agencies on what can be transferred to QSA, checks for pests and damage, then catalogues the records to go into the repositories.
Once the transferred documents are received, Colleen from Arrangement and Description catalogues the records that go into the repository. Part of this process is researching the history of the agency as this information helps provide context to the records. This information is added to the catalogue so that the records can be found by us, by QSA and by the public.
We visited the Preservation Unit, who painstakingly restore records that are damaged by water, rodents, bugs, mould and heat. The preservation team also help ensure records are stored in the right conditions to prevent damage from occurring, or prevent further deterioration of damaged records. They also are really good bug hunters – those pesky pests are not allowed in.
Once the transferred records are safely stored in the repositories, Darren digitises records that are frequently asked for or of major interest.
If an agency requests a file back, Josh from file issue will digitise that record and send to the agency, keeping the original with QSA ii.
To finish the day, we had a meeting with some of the team from Government Recordkeeping. They answered our archiving questions, talked about how they could help us more and their upcoming training.
And just like that our tour of the holy land was over but will never be forgotten iii.
North Burnett Regional Council
A couple of notes from QSA:
i Touching and taking photos of records in the repositories isn’t allowed, but if you’re accessing records in the Public Search Room, you can take photos (without flash) and touch the records of course. And yes, we are allowed water at our desks. Food in lunch rooms only.
ii File issue also loans the physical records back to agencies. Stay tuned for more information soon on our digital delivery file issue trial.
iii The CORIM forum is an excellent platform to discuss your current projects, connect with other people passionate about all things records, and share experiences if you have had the pleasure touring QSA.