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More Hocken Archives Records To Go Online

More Hocken Archives Records To Go Online

Records for up to 40,000 more high use and nationally significant items from the Hocken Collections’ archives and manuscripts will be placed online by project staff over the next two years with the help of a $290,000 grant from the Lottery Grants Board.

This will bring the overall number of items online to well over 100,000. With the addition of data entry undertaken by permanent staff the total could go as high as 130,000.

The work is the second stage of a project to get details of the Hocken’s approximately 6,000 archives and manuscripts collections and a significant part of the 340,000 items held onto its Hakena database so they can be accessed from anywhere in New Zealand or around the world.

“We’ve now got a summary record on the database for every collection we hold. In this second stage we’ll be concentrating on the items within those collections that are high-use or nationally significant. Some of the nationally significant collections we hold are the papers of writers Hone Tuwhare and James K Baxter. High use items include Maori and church records,” says Hocken Librarian Stuart Strachan.

“Cataloguing for a database is intensive work. There is a lot of arrangement and descriptive work required so that the record can be easily searched from key words through the internet. All the items, which may be written records, publications, photographs, artworks, maps, or other items, then have to be packaged, boxed and labelled using conservation-quality materials,” he says.

Mr Strachan says the project is already proving its worth, with issues of archives to readers almost doubling in some months last year through people requesting items they have found on the database.

“There are some transition issues, however, because people now assume that if they can’t find it on the database it doesn’t exist. This is another reason to move as fast as we can to get items on to the database.”

“More and more people are using the Hocken’s collections and other collections of New Zealand heritage and history items. The school curriculum is more oriented towards New Zealand history, there are many people doing family genealogies, university students are doing research, and there are many television and publishing projects underway.

“There is a much wider interest now in New Zealand history than there was even 10 years ago. The Hocken’s collections are the second largest behind the Turnbull Library in Wellington and the largest not directly owned by the Crown. Getting this project completed is important for a significant range and number of people and we are delighted to have received this grant,” he says.

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