Under Construction: GLAMx Living Histories Digitisation Lab

Logo…also under construction

GLAMx Living Histories Digitisation Lab

The University of Newcastle Library’s Cultural Collections is establishing the GLAMx Living Histories Digitisation Lab in the Auchmuty Library to provide its students with the work experience opportunities to participate and collaborate in a range of exciting archival digitisation research projects.

The new facilities will assist in placing our young people in contact with their region’s Aboriginal and European cultural heritage, spanning 50,000 years of human expression across a myriad of formats. Think beyond digital, to meta-digital.

The GLAMx Living Histories Digitisation Lab was born when Associate Professor Marguerite Johnson brought her Sex and Scandal Class to Cultural Collections in September 2016.  The students were very interested in the work, encompassing the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) sector, and the new emerging 3D technologies and virtual reality teaching tools under development. Their guide, University Archivist, Gionni Di Gravio told them that he really needed an army of trainees to get through all the work. Much work for many lifetimes.

Following the presentation, Marguerite said that her Faculty were very keen to expand WIL (Work Integrated Learning) opportunities for their students and that they should work on something. He needed an academic champion, and she became that champion. Within a day, she had written to the Head of IT, and by the end of the month we had sign-off from the Vice Chancellor, and a collaboration was born between the UON’s Innovation Team, Faculty of Education and Arts (FEDUA) and Cultural Collections (Auchmuty Library) to establish WIL facilities to provide GLAM training and on the job experience for students.

The GLAMx Lab will provide places for ten (10) students and our co-ordinator (Dr Ann Hardy), and occupy three connected spaces in the Auchmuty Library, a Living Histories Digitisation Lab, a Artefact Conservation and 3D Scanning atelier, and a Audio Visual Digitisation lab.

GLAMx – Living Histories Digitisation Lab will contain our main lab with our flatbed scanners and workstations for our usual digitisation of documents, photographs, glass negatives and slides.

HUMA3003 Student Placement Jodi researching the Scott Sisters

GLAMx – Artefact Conservation and 3D Scanning atelier (L330)

In 2016, the UON Auchmuty library embarked on a new venture to promote and augment the established WIL course in the BA, and to provide a facility for Aboriginal and Indigenous students to be WIL placements and/or cadetships in Cultural Collections.  The focus in 2017 is on Aboriginal Rock Art and Indigenous heritage and the University’s archival holdings in Cultural Collections through two pilot projects involving the Innovation Team which are:

– 3D digitisation project of a collection of Aboriginal artefacts retrieved at the former Palais Royale, a 6,500 year old Aboriginal factory site, arguably one of the country’s most significant heritage places, in Newcastle West. Placements will select a number of the artefacts from the site, to conserve, and prepare them for 3D scanning into digital objects

– Use those 3D objects within an interactive 3D augmented reality presentation and teaching tool of the former Palais site across 7000 years.

Students will derive a diversity of experiences and opportunities working in a multidisciplinary team, and with members of the community via the Hunter Living Histories Initiative. Non-indigenous team members will gain awareness of Indigenous Cultural issues, and all will learn skills and training associated with the GLAM, conservation and digital heritage sectors.  Students are able to apply their knowledge in a practical way to artefact focused projects, through research, documentation/digitisation and interpretation.

The Transformer…from this


The Transformer…to this


Thanks to…Neil Gundry


Neil Gundry to the Rescue

GLAMx – AV Digitisation Lab (L331)

We are currently forging a relationship with NBN Television and its parent company Channel 9 to establish a Audio Visual Film Digitisation Lab and NBN Digital Film Archive as part of our GLAMx Facilities to digitise a half century of film recorded by NBN in the Hunter Region. Our students can assist in this mammoth task under professional supervision transforming the film and magnetic tape formats to digital for long term storage and ultimately preservation.

We are working with Mr Phillip Lloyd, who worked for both NBN TV and the University of Newcastle as part of the Medical Communication Unit.

Phillip Lloyd and Dr Amir Mogadam

In retirement he has become the defacto audio visual archivist at NBN digitising materials he cannot bear to see lost. He began with the magnetic tape of the 1980s, and the University’s Cultural Collections has been backing up his backups. There is an estimated million feet of footage across black and white 16mm film, magnetic tape and digital which we wish to see properly dealt with and selected items of perpetual cultural significance  to the Hunter Region (and wider world) digitised.

The NBN archive begins in 1962, and most of the original reels are spread throughout Local Studies (Newcastle Region Public Library) in Newcastle, Canberra (NFSA), and NBN Studios at Mosbri Crescent.

Our dream is to have them all brought together, and have Phillip work with our best and brightest students to transmit his skills in the art and science of transferring an analog signal to digital to the next generations, all in time for the deadline of 2025 (D-Day for AV as predicted by the NFSA).


The GLAMx facility is in the process of moving Phillip’s personal digitisation equipment, including telecine, and a whole host of machines to L331. We are incorporating this project within a work integrated learning initiative which we will be trialling as part of the GLAMx Living Histories Digitsation Lab and students from various areas of the University starting with Wollotuka and Humanities.

The Future

It’s a miracle we have gotten thus far, but we have three rooms currently being fitted out, that will enable WIL (Work Integrated Learning) students, and members of the community to be trained in the digitisation of all forms and formats of human expression, across the Hunter Region, across 50,000 years. We hope that this is a pilot for a national traineeship scheme in the cultural heritage professions. The aim being to provide students with all the skills needed in digitising and transforming 50000 years of human expression in all its forms from Aboriginal rock art and engraving sites (“archives in the field”) to artefacts, manuscript, print, audio-visual, audio tapes, film, magnetic tape, glass negs, photography, digital.

How this will all work together is that the Hunter (Living) Histories Initiative provides the monthly regional community meeting access point for people to learn what we’ve been up to at the University, and for them to let us know what they need help with. If possible, our co-ordinator will assign ‘projects’ around those objectives, and then assigns projects to our WIL students, interns, placements and community volunteers.

The digitised cultural heritage archives can then get distributed freely in high resolution across our web portals, social media and through our Living Histories @ UON Digital Platform for community use.

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist
Chair, Hunter (Living) Histories Initiative
Councillor, Australian Society of Archivists (ASA)

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