Heritage is digitised for the future
By Geraldine Brault
In late 2017, the Mission to Seafarers Victoria sought and received a funding grant from the Helen MacPherson Smith Trust.
The goal was to carry out an intensive digital photography project documenting images, selected key documents and collection items awaiting cataloguing and produce a guide and manual for volunteers; and to provide paid work experience for a new graduate returning to the workforce.
In early 2018, I commenced part-time in the position of project officer managing a primarily digital photography project to produce a minimum of 500 items to improve the quality of the visual database of this rich maritime heritage collection.
I am a recent graduate with a diploma in library and information studies with Victoria University and also have volunteer experience in digitisation at the VCA’s School of Film and Television.
And my former experience with studio photography meant I could offer a good match of old and new skills.
Now halfway through 2018, this fulfilling project meets my interests in cultural heritage and history very well.
At this stage we have produced over 700 digital images of the collection. This includes some multi-page key documents so they can be more easily preserve the fragile originals.
The next part of the project is to focus more on producing a manual for other volunteers to expand this work.
I am improving my workplace English and learning more about Melbourne and Australia (I’m originally from France) and, with my family as Docklanders for nearly seven years, I am discovering more about this suburb and understanding more fully its maritime past.
Working with the MTSV curator and heritage officer Jay Miller, is a fantastic opportunity as she has great knowledge and experience in her field.
I’m learning a lot about historical collections, their care, handling, storage, preservation and conservation.
The mission’s complex of buildings is a beautiful place and I love meeting the passionate volunteers who often share their knowledge and stories that have a link with the mission itself or the maritime world in general.